In 2007 farmers in Yasothorn Province, north-east Thailand, experienced the longest dry spell during a rainy season in decades. The dry spell, lasting from June until late August, reduced crop yields, lowering farmers' income and reducing their food security. However, statistics from the Meteorolgical Department suggest that the dry spell that ocurred in 2007 is not a one-off phenomenon, but part of a gradual trend that has developed in the past decade, due to rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns caused by climate change.
Noograi Snagsri was one of the farmers affected by this dry spell. Oxfam and partners worked to build an integrated farming system where water is piped directly into the fields. It is this kind of intervention which climate adaptation finance can help support and implement across Southeast Asia.
Photo Credit: Mongkhonsawat Luengvorapant/ Oxfam
Habibah, a 52-year-old fisherwoman from Marunda, North Jakarta, has to spend 17 hours every day to earn money for her family since catching fish is getting more difficult. In the morning, she sells fish at the market, and then goes to work for a middleman, peeling the skins of shells. She also makes shrimp paste, and sometimes bakes cakes from mangrove leaves, which she sells at bazaars.
“The climate is unpredictable now. The waves are too high for fishing and the west monsoon causing this bad weather will not end until December. But we need money for our food and household expenses. Our lives have become harder because of this," she said.
Langging, from Southern Mindanao, in the Philippines, had to give up her hopes to go to university as the changing weather has meant her family are no longer earning enough to pay for her tuition.
“Because of the rising temperatures we know it will be really hard for us to farm, so we know the changing climate will affect us a lot. If it’s hard to grow crops now, what about the next few decades?” Langging said.
But instead of waiting for governments to act, she’s inspiring other young people to talk to the people in power about what action is needed.
“It is important for us to voice our concerns and needs to the people in power and call for support in fighting the impacts of climate change.”
For Khea Sao, a mother of four from Pursal Province, Cambodia, water is getting scarce due to climate change. She needs water for her crops and for raising livestock - which she used to depend on for her income. So to fight back against climate change and ensure she can still feed her family, she has turned to growing vegetables and fruits resilient to heat: pineapples, sugar cane jack fruit and mango. She also works as a farm labourer to supplement her income and allow her to send her kids to school.
Saltwater intrusion threatens Trang and her family’s livelihood in the Mekong Delta region, in Viet Nam. Salt water affects the quality of the soil for growing rice, resulting in poor harvests - and therefore not enough rice for her to feed her family, or money to pay for her children’s schooling..
Adaptation funds can help pay for different seeds or training on how to grow in a different way to ensure families are able to support themselves still when climate change hits harder. “It’s important for me and my husband to receive trainings on using salt water-resistant rice seeds or on new cultivation methods and climate-adaptive livelihood options. These will help our family grow food for own consumption and food we can sell and earn from so we can send our children to school.”
Because of the projected scale of climate impacts and disasters in developing nations across the world, international agencies estimate that between $150 Billion and $300 Billion is needed for developing nations to adapt to or adequately prepare for climate change delivered from 2020 onwards. This sum of money is called climate adaptation goal.
How will developing nations like Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Viet Nam and the Philippines use their share of adaptation funds? Here are some examples:
There are more climate adaptation needs, and these vary from country to country but what is important for all is that the adaptation funds from the Paris global climate deal will be dedicated solely to adaptation and not also for mitigation, and are on top of other forms of aid promised by developed nations.
World leaders, including ministers and presidents from Asia, will be meeting in Paris this year to sign a new global agreement on climate change.
Adaptation and mitigation
This agreement will aim to spell out commitments from developed nations to cut their carbon emissions, which cause climate change. This is called climate mitigation.
The agreement will also discuss how much money developed nations will give developing nations to prepare for climate change impacts. This is called climate adaptation goal.
Developing nations to suffer more
Movements across the world, including Oxfam, demand this money is secured at Paris because while developing nations will suffer the worst from climate change according to the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of the world’s leading climate scientists, it is developed nations who caused climate change in the first place.
Rapid industrialization which made developed nations wealthy had been fuelled by coal and released large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, enough to cause global warming and wreck the global weather system.
The global climate talks
World leaders have been meeting over the years to talk about climate change. In 2009, the climate talks were held in Copenhagen, which saw thousands across the world calling for climate action. In 2014, an unprecedented number of people joined the global climate march in New York, timed around the United Nations General Assembly which many world leaders attended, a month before the climate talks in Peru.
Many movements and developing nations look to Paris as an important moment in winning the battle against climate change before it’s too late.