5 green solutions to help the world’s most vulnerable cope with climate change

Apr 19, 2021
Across the globe, we all feel the effects of climate change, whether it’s wildfires in Australia, California and western Canada, or unprecedented flooding in the UK. Now, imagine living in a dangerous and complex place like Afghanistan where a sereve drought followed by flooding has meant thousands of people have lost their homes; or Uganda, where climate-driven food shortages are forcing refugee families to choose between hunger and returning to their war-torn homes in South Sudan; or like the Solomon Islands where rising sea levels are causing people to abandon their homes.

The world’s most vulnerable countries contribute very little to climate change, yet they often pay the highest price without the support systems in place to help them recover. Hundreds of millions of children and their communities now face a changing world in which they are at greater risk from more violent storms, worsening droughts and floods, and environmental degradation.

World Vision has a long history of working to address the impacts and causes of climate change and to help families survive, recover, and build a future. 

Here are five simple, green solutions that are helping the world’s most impoverished cope with climate change:
  1. Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration
  2. Fuel-efficient cookstoves
  3. Solar lanterns
  4. Solar panels
  5. Beekeeping

1. Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration

For 19-year-old Ruth, climate change isn’t just an abstract concept—it’s real, it’s here and it’s having a measurable impact in her community in Kenya. 

“Because of climate change, we have lost animals, crops, rivers dry up—people move from place to place looking for pasture and even some die because of famine,” she says.

Agriculture is the backbone of life and livelihoods in Ruth’s community. But, Kenya has been dealing with environmental issues like deforestation, overgrazing, and desertification for decades. And climate change is pushing communities like hers to innovate to survive.

FMNR is more than just a strategy; it’s a lifeline for youth like Ruth. Restoring the land doesn’t just improve soil quality and productivity; it directly alleviates climate impacts by lowering carbon emissions and reducing heat and evaporation. There are other benefits too.

“We are not missing school as our caregivers give us enough food, our performance has improved; we easily get firewood from [the] FNMR plot [and] get enough time to study and do homework,” adds Ruth.

2. Fuel-efficient cookstoves

Rajkumari lives in Bundhelkhand, northern India—a region with a long history of drought. For years, she used a traditional mud chulha (stove) to prepare meals for her family. The chulha consumes piles of wood, and Rajkumari would spend hours collecting it, often walking four to five kilometres outside her village. 

Her daughter Roshni, 15, and son, Rishab, 5, have felt the impact of indoor pollution. The family of four cook, dine and sleep in a shared one-room space. Smoke from cooking makes it hazardous, especially for children. And with families spending more time at home because of the global pandemic, the issue has become more critical. The use of a fuel-efficient cookstove has reduced the risks and allows them to spend time together indoors more safely. 
An Indian woman smiles at 2 children. They sit on the floor inside next to a small stove.The new fuel-efficient cookstove Rajkumari uses to make nutritious meals for her family is reducing the harmful impact of indoor air pollution for her children, as well as the effects of deforestation in her community, in a region that has long struggled with drought conditions. Photo: Jim Wungramyao Kasom
These fuel-efficient cook stoves have found their way into the heart of 1,200 homes across the region. This is a major shift that could have profound impact on deforestation and indoor air pollution in this region with a long history of drought. 

3. Solar lanterns

Roughly five hours north of Nairobi, Isiolo County, Kenya has seen a rise in temperatures, a decrease in rainfall and faces frequent periods of drought. And climate projections suggest this is unlikely to change soon. Climate change is impacting households in this farming community, making it more difficult for families to earn a living.

A recent survey revealed that 25 per cent of household income in the county is spent on costly, low-quality sources of energy, such as charcoal, car batteries, and dry cell batteries. 
two Kenyan girls kneel on the grown outside smiling and each holding a box with a picture of a light on it.These solar lanterns are helping children and families cope with climate change and the global pandemic. Photo: Wesley Koskei

This arid region of Kenya gets lots of sun, so World Vision Kenya developed the One-Light-Per-Child program to help families adapt to climate change. The program seeks to empower and transform lives and livelihoods through sustainable quality solar solutions. 

This includes providing children from vulnerable households with re-chargeable solar lanterns they can use at home to study and do chores after the sun goes down. Families can also use the devices to charge their mobile phones, an important tool for improving access to health, education, security and livelihoods in the remote region—which has never more been needed than now during a global pandemic.

4. Solar panels

“I remember when I was 12 years old; I waited the whole day to fetch water, but then the sky became dark and it was late, so I [was forced to turn back] home,” recalls Qudrat. 

Now 23, Qudrat has a family of his own and works as a farmer in Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and one of the least prepared to handle the impacts. Experts say drought, flooding, extreme weather, displacement, conflict, and child marriage will only get worse.

For years, the lack of access to clean water in Qudrat’s community meant missing school in search of clean water and often meant resorting to contaminated water. 

“My brother always felt weak,” Qudrat remembers. “When we went to the doctor [we were told] that it was the effect of using unclean water resulting in diarrhea and dehydration.”
This year, for the first time, a water supply network powered by solar panels was installed in Qudrat’s village. Before, villagers relied solely on river water to drink. When the river dried up, they were forced to go to surrounding villages to fetch water, spending hours waiting in long lines.  

solar panels
Qudrat is relieved that he won’t have to sacrifice precious working hours to fetch water. These solar panels power the water supply network in his community. Photo: World Vision Staff

“I used to waste all day waiting in the line, but now [the tap] is close to my house so any member of my family can fetch water easily,” he says.

It’s community-led projects like this one that will help people survive, recover, and rebuild as climate change, conflict, and COVID-19 encroach on their lives.

5. Beekeeping

Felix Bautista, 44, and Roberto Perez Hernandez, 41, collect honey from their beehives in the 
forest near Felix's home in Yamaranguila, Honduras. Beekeeping is now possible because of a water system that includes clean drinking water piped to each home, and an additional system for irrigation. 
Two Honduran beekeepers check their hives. They are wearing white protective suits and hold a tin with smoke coming from it.For Felix Bautista and Roberto Perez Hernandez, the bees they keep provide honey for the community to eat and sell, as well as serve as pollinators to improve the yields of the fruit trees they grow. Photo: Jon Warren

Irrigation makes for healthy crops of passion fruit and better-quality coffee, which is the main crop in the region. It also makes beekeeping possible. 

Honeybees drink water just like other creatures, but they also use it for other things. In winter they use water to thin honey that has become too thick, and in summer, they use water to cool the hive to the right temperature for raising baby bees.

Of course, bees also have an important role to play in agriculture. They pollinate crops, increase yields, and create nutritious honey to eat and sell. 

For communities like Felix and Roberto’s beekeeping is improving their livelihoods and their environment, not to mention the delicious honey their kids can enjoy with their breakfast. 

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