Work Toward Pro-Poor Climate Change Policies: Catholic Charity in Malawi to Global Leaders

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There is need for those at the helm of global and regional institutions to work toward climate change policies that directly target poor populations, the leadership of Trócaire, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, in Malawi has said. 

In a Tuesday, August 24 report, Trócaire Malawi officials underscore the need for “sufficient global leadership and financing.”

“There is an urgent need for the heads of global and regional groupings, states and governments to formulate, implement and adequately resource pro-poor climate change policies and actions,” they say in a report compiled by Trócaire Malawi’s Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Officer, Phillip Nyasulu.

They add, “Without sufficient global leadership and financing, the problems created by climate change cannot be solved. And it will only lead to more injustices and the inability for the poorest to access their basic needs.”

The officials of the Catholic Charity in the Southern African nation further note that “without sufficient global leadership and financing, the problems created by climate change here in Malawi cannot be solved.”


Malawi's vast majority depend on agriculture for their livelihoods but "the impacts of climate change threaten the production of staple foods that families rely on and are putting lives at risk,” they say. 

"The fact that agricultural production is largely rain fed with little irrigation farming and therefore more susceptible to the vagaries of the unreliable rains and extreme weather only serves to heighten this risk," Trócaire officials say. 

They also note that climate change affects other sectors such as forestry and fisheries, which provide food and income to rural communities in the landlocked nation.

"The need to respond to the severe impacts of climate change is urgent as it is already having a detrimental impact on Malawi," officials of the development agency of the Catholic Bishops in Ireland reiterate, and add, "It is the rural Malawians who are being impacted the most though it is the actions of those on different continents that are most to blame for the devastating changes they are experiencing.”

They highlight the 2019 Cyclone Idai as an example of the effects of climate change on the people of God in the Southern African country and the region. 

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Cyclone Idai caused an estimated £220 million in damages and directly impacted over 975,000 people, killing 60, injuring 672, and leaving more than 86,000 without homes, according to officials of Trócaire in Malawi.

The Catholic charity officials who were on the ground days following the cyclone say, “Fields that had been full of crops nearly ready to be harvested were destroyed, livestock which used to roam within communities, and which were so vital to the survival of communities, were gone – carried away by flood waters.”

“Where there once were houses teeming with families, all that was left as rumble on the ground,” they further describe the effects of the cyclone.

They add that the cyclone, which the UN described as "one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere" wiped away many of the gains that had been achieved through years of locally led initiatives. 

"Even against this some might ask, was there not more that these vulnerable communities could have done to reduce the impacts of the cyclone?" Trócaire officials pose in the August 24 report, adding that the people worked together to mitigate the effects of the disaster through community led actions before, during and after the disaster. 


"Activities such as strengthening riverbanks using sandbags, not planting near riverbanks, planting trees, digging swales and coordinating community structures took place,” Trócaire officials further say.

The highlighted activities, they add, “helped communities both prepare for, and respond more effectively to, disasters and meant that the losses registered and the number of lives lost were less than would have been the case otherwise."

They add referencing the Catholic charity’s findings on the impacts Cyclone Idai, "Trócaire resilience programming had contributed to strengthened household and community capacity to build resilience and had helped to minimize the impacts of the cyclone on some communities." 

"This shows that community led adaption and mitigation efforts are key to addressing the impacts of climate change but communities cannot tackle this problem alone," they say, and add, "What is needed is strong coordinated global, national and regional action."

Trócaire officials go on to suggest that the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) scheduled to take place from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow, United Kingdom, be used to address immediate intervention for the environmental challenges. 

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“We believe that the current COP26 summit is the best platform for world leaders and politicians to use for discussing immediate and determined political action to address climate change before it becomes irreversible,” Malawi-based officials of the development agency of the Catholic Bishops in Ireland say in the August 24 report.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.