Searching out sustainable solutions to deal with the effects of climate change

Published: 18 November 2011 10:36 CET

By Catherine Ntabadde

In light of the latest report summary from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warns that the world is likely to face more extreme weather events, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on governments to be better prepared to manage the impacts of climate change.

The IPCC findings are consistent with IFRC reports gathered through its global network of national societies.

Through disaster risk reduction initiatives such as early warning systems, and by strengthening disaster laws, the impacts of climate change can be reduced.

IFRC Secretary General Bekele Geleta says Red Cross Red Crescent socieities are focusing on disaster risk reduction and community resilience. “We believe that communities have a key role in managing the risks they face, and can reduce the impact that come with an increasing number of extreme weather events,” he says.

The effects of climate change can be seen in Thailand, Cambodia, Tuvalu and many other places around the world and in most cases, the people most affected by floods, landslides and drought are the most vulnerable.

“We believe that climate change is just one factor that has an impact on vulnerable communities,” Geleta says. “Urbanisation, migration and border changes also affect a community’s ability to adapt to extreme weather events.”

In Uganda, where the IPCC has launched the report summary to policy makers, persistent heavy rains have caused landslides and flooding, and the Red Cross is showcasing innovative, community-based approaches to reducing disaster risks and responding effectively when needed.

The Ugandan Red Cross Society, working with communities, has designed a flood resistant hut built using locally sourced materials. Huts are raised above the ground and have a special layer that prevents them from sinking during floods. Moreover, a programme of tree planting initiated by the society will protect areas prone to landslides.

Other innovations include a fuel-saving basket that has been developed to reduce the amount of firewood needed to cook a meal, and also free up time for women to work in their gardens and create more sustainable food sources.