Poverty and Climate Change

In Burkina Faso, there is only one rainy season. That means that farmers, who work to support their families and make a living from their crops, have one rainy season to provide for everything they need.

With the changes in the climate, the rainy season has become irregular and unpredictable—creating a huge challenge for farmers.

Despite these obstacles, cotton is helping to bring hope to families in the village of Vrou Sissili Province in Burkina Faso because farmers have learned how to improve their crop yields and the quality of cotton—ensuring they are bringing in more income to support themselves and their families.

Nacro Arzouma is one such farmer who has experienced this impact. Nacro’s wife Marie and 9-year old daughter Viviane, are shown here in the cotton field during harvest.

Nacro says, “we have a lot of support with CRS since the project started, [they] provide training on how to produce cotton and the organic process.” Not only that, but “technicians come into our fields to assist and guide us.”

He notes that climate change has impacted their harvest each year. Despite the hardships it brings, like erratic weather patterns, he, and others within the project, have been able to increase their production.

“Before we sold our cotton for 320 francs/kilo and since CRS has intervened we are earning around 376 francs/kilo. It’s because the quality of the cotton has improved with new farming techniques.”

What’s more, Narco and others within the project are farming more sustainably, helping to improve the environment. “We now fumigate organically with compost and straw. We also follow a calendar for treating the cotton now. Whereas before, we burnt the remaining organic material after the harvest, now we compost it and can put it the fields for the next harvest,” he shares.

This increase in production and income is transformative. Narco explains, “with this extra money, it’s been possible to pay the school fees for our daughter, farming materials and household needs.”

The farmers with him, the majority of whom are women, live in the village surrounding the fields and help each other to pick the cotton in each other’s fields during harvest time.

This program aims to improve the lives of 10,000 vulnerable smallholder producers, at least 30% of whom are women, and is one story of transformation from programming authorized in the Farm Bill.

The Farm Bill’s international programs help farmers sustainably grow more of the food and crops they need—helping to care for creation and to support themselves, families and communities.

Here’s your climate action update:

Since March, we’ve been raising our voices in support of the international food security programs that are authorized in the Farm Bill. You know these programs are critical to addressing climate change by conserving and transforming barren landscapes, helping people when disasters strike and supporting communities in poverty become more resilient to the effects of climate change.

At the end of June, the House and Senate voted on and passed their respective versions of the Farm Bill. The Senate Farm Bill protects not only protects funding for international food security programs, it makes even more improvements that will help the programs become more efficient and sustainable—ultimately reaching more people experiencing hunger. It also protects critical funding for domestic hunger and nutrition programs. It’s good news, but our work is not over.

What’s next for the Farm Bill? Congress is now working to come up with a final bill that is a compromise between the Senate and House versions. We’ll be sure to let you know when your action is needed to ensure the final bill protects our common home and supports those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and subsequent hunger. Here’s a statement from the USCCB, CRS, CCUSA and Catholic Rural Life that illustrates these key priorities.

You’ve also been a steady force urging Representatives to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in Congress, which seeks to learn about the impacts and find solutions to climate change. As of today, there are now 86 members of the Climate Solutions Caucus, and it’s growing! Check to see if your Representative has joined and send a message to thank them or to urge them to join.