(The picture above is of Interfaith Peacemaker Teams in Uganda working together in their collective farm.)
At the Accompaniment Circle on Sri Lanka, Benedic Raj described what it feels like for him and his wife to go to bed hungry because they must feed the children. As a tea plantation worker, he is among the least paid workers in Sri Lanka. Please click here to watch his video.
Florence from Buliisa, speaking at the Accompaniment Circle on Uganda, shared with us what happens when women aren’t able to cook a meal for their families. Hunger causes a variety of other problems, she said. Malnutrition causes our children to be stunted, children also can’t go to school, domestic violence increases as does divorce, as poor women go looking for men who have the means to feed them and their children.
Today,October 16th, is World Food Day, when we pause to reflect, take action, and promote awareness of the massive problem of hunger that has reached unprecedented levels. This year’s theme "Water is Life, Water is Food. Leave No One Behind," underscores the need to acknowledge the critical need of water for food security.
"Water is life," under the reality of human-induced climate change often means too much or too little water. In many places, extreme events in the form of heat waves, drought, and floods are creating impossible conditions for poor communities to grow or raise the food they need to survive. OMNIA’s Interfaith Peacemaker Teams are working every day in countries that experience climate change induced food insecurity, hunger, and unstable water supplies.
We have four observations:
First, we are aware of the severity of the problem of hunger because we are in close touch with the people on the ground. Ours is not an academic knowledge of hunger. Our sisters and brothers of our Interfaith Peacemaker (IP) Teams are going severely hungry. Their children are becoming stunted and aren’t able to go to school. Their families are being torn apart by the struggle. This is not only true in Sri Lanka and Uganda, whose stories are recounted above, but in Nigeria, Kenya, Liberia, and Togo where we have IP Teams.
Second, most of our countries are agrarian economies. In Uganda, 70% of the population are subsistence farmers. They depend on water. There was a time when water was a reliable resource. They had a consistent rainy season and a dry season, and farmers knew when to plant and when to harvest. But today it’s all mixed up. Severe droughts followed by torrential rains cause havoc on agriculture and small-holder farmers who have no resources to take remedial steps. No one knows anymore when to plant. They also know that they are not the ones causing rapid climate change, but that it is other nations’ greenhouse gas emissions. There’s nothing they can do to stop it.
Third, countries that are most vulnerable to climate change disasters are also the ones least capable of addressing this loss and damage because of their lack of adequate financial, technical, and institutional capacities. These climate change events have affected the human rights to life,health, food, water, housing, livelihoods, education, and development of millions of people. The intersectionality of these issues that arise out of food insecurity demonstrate that human rights are at the core of the climate change and food security nexus in the countries where we have IP Teams.
Fourth, OMNIA is documenting human rights violations that these countries suffer. We are now preparing a response on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka, an Amicus Curiae brief to the International Court of Justice, following the request of the UN General Assembly to establish the legal accountability of those states responsible for the climate crisis and to demand justice for those affected by it.
By working cooperatively, religious communities have learned how to solve most problems in their own villages and neighborhoods by themselves. The problem of climate change induced food insecurity, though, goes beyond the local to national and global levels, to the decision-making processes of secular governments.
OMNIA’s religious leaders bring a unique perspective to any such conversation. They have learned how to plumb the depths of their own traditions to find their universal application. In that depth they not only see but are inspired and resourced by the potency of their own, and of others' spiritual traditions. This capacity provides a new source of wisdom and skill to adapt to and overcome limits that tend to govern the processes of secular governments. This is a compelling skill for solving many existential threats and problems, including the contextual impacts of climate change.
OMNIA training provides Peacemaker Teams a Lego-like platform on which they can build whatever they like.Learn More