Poverty and Climate Change

Ethiopia is suffering its worst drought in 50 years. Coping with the effects of drought and climate change have become daily challenges for millions of Ethiopians.

It may be hard for us, living in the United States, to fully comprehend that so many of our brothers and sisters are struggling just to survive. Sada Mohamed and her family experience the effects of drought and climate change in ways we cannot even imagine: her 1-year-old daughter became so malnourished that she had to be hospitalized. No child or family should have to go through this.

With prolonged drought, erratic rainfall and land degradation posing challenges that have pushed people to the edge, Sada knew she had to do something to help her family become more resilient. She joined REAPP, Resilience through Enhanced Adaptation, Action-learning and Partnership, a CRS-led project that’s helping nearly half a million people learn new practices and technologies to mitigate the devastating impact of drought. This 3-year effort will help people like Sada in 6 vulnerable districts in the state of Oromia to better withstand climate change.

Through REAAP, Sada joined a Savings and Internal Lending Community that enables women to pool their savings and take out small loans. With a $24 loan, she bought a pregnant goat and started buying and selling eggs and vegetables. The benefits of this small investment are enormous.

“Previously, I was a housewife who expected everything from my husband,” Sada says. “Now, things have changed for me thanks to the support of REAAP. I learned how to make small money big, how to generate income out of it, and how to use the money to feed my children well.” Within 3 months, Sada repaid the loan, enabling others in her SILC group to help their families become more resilient too.

Climate change is impacting everyday life for people around the globe. There is constant need for adaptation, but for the most vulnerable, like farmers who depend on rain-fed agriculture and withering livestock, this is particularly difficult. Funding from USAID and the State Department supports lifesaving and life-changing programs like REAAP in Ethiopia.

In Laudato Si, Pope Francis has urgently called on the Church and all the people of good will to discuss the issues affecting the environment and seek solutions that are more responsive to the needs of the poor and vulnerable at home and abroad. The U.S. Catholic bishops’ Environmental Justice Program (EJP) offers a series of resources to help you start the conversations and figure out ways to protect our common home.

Although international assistance provided by the United States only makes up 1% of the U.S. budget, it does a world of good. The president is proposing drastic cuts to international assistance. Please join the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and CRS by calling or emailing your representatives. Tell them how 1% does a world of good for Sada’s family and millions more!