Search This Blog

Loading...

Pages

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Every dry, hot day brings the crisis closer

A major funder was in town this week for its annual perforance evaluation of the Honduran non-profit that I work for. So off we all went to the little town of La Cumbre, where 30 or so people from a dozen neighbouring villages had gathered to share their stories.
As always, I was struck by how little margin for error there is in the lives of these people. One misstep, one bad harvest, one unexpected turn of events can sink a family. Rural Hondurans are exceptionally resilient, but I do have to wonder how they're going to manage with climate change.
In Canada and the U.S., climate change tends to be one of those off-in-the-distance kind of things - something you know you'll have to worry about one day but that right now just means you think more about turning off your idling car or buying reusable shopping bags.
That's not the case in Honduras. In a country full of subsistence farmers who rely on seasonal rains to water their food crops, the impact of climate change is as real as the May rains that start  a little later and end a little earlier each year. Simple agricultural strategies that rural Hondurans have practiced for generations can no longer be counted on to produce enough corn and beans for the family.
In Canada, a dryer growing season forces farmers to rely more on irrigation, which increases costs. It brings new plagues and insects that require more labour-intensive strategies to combat. It reduces yields, which in turn reduces a farmer's already tight profit margin. Climate change complicates the life of a farmer anywhere in the world.
But in Honduras, a bad harvest isn't just a blow to a farmer's profit margin. It's the herald of a famine.
There are no irrigation systems to turn to for backup when the days run long and hot. There are no other sources of income to turn to for buying food. There isn't so much as an extra centavo in most rural Hondurans' households for new treatments that might ward off opportunistic bugs and fungi being unleashed by climate change.
Everybody sees what's coming for Honduras, and they're urging economic diversification before it's too late. There's some real doomsday stuff out there on the impact of climate change on corn, bean and coffee crops in Honduras over the next five years. Nobody's taking those reports lightly.
But few Hondurans have the savings, education or time to explore new ways of keeping their families fed. Nor is there a culture around market development, or any meaningful plans in the country to do something about the hopelessly poor infrastructure that prevents goods from getting to market regardless. There aren't even jobs in the big cities to fall back on; Monday's paper brought news of almost two million Hondurans looking for work, a quarter of the country.
Coffee has been relied upon to put badly needed money into Hondurans' pockets for many years now. But this year, a coffee-leaf fungus known as la roya is causing unprecedented damage, fuelled by hot, dry conditions resulting from climate change.
This year's harvest will be down by as much as 50 per cent as a result. The declines are anticipated to be even more calamitous in the next three years. The older plantations that marginal producers tend to have (coffee plants are ideally replaced every eight years, but poor people can't afford to do that) will likely have to be destroyed. Where will the money come from for new plants, or to get growers through the three long years before a young coffee plant starts producing?
Honduras is no stranger to disaster. But the aftermath of a hurricane is so much easier for the world to get its head around than the slow-motion crisis that's unfolding in the country right now. Whatever has to happen, it needs to happen soon. 

1 comment:

KMK Real Estates said...

Wonderful information, I had come to know about your blog from my friend nandu , hyderabad,i have read at least 7 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your website gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanks a ton once again, Regards,
Fully Furnished office space for rent in KPHB Colony
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Paradaise Circle
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Khairathabad
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Hi-Tech City
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Secunderabad
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Hyderabad
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Kukatpally
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in HimayathNagar
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Ameerpet
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in S R Nagar
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in SD Road
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in SP Road
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Gachibowli
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Kondapur
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Madhapur
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Kavuri Hills
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Jubilee Hills
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Banjara Hills
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Panjagutta
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Somajiguda
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Rajbhavan Road
Fully Furnished Office Space for rent in Begumpet