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Aid charity combats climate threat
Posted: 30 Sep 2006

On the eve of the UN's 6th World Habitat Day (October 2), a leading British aid agency is predicting that tens of millions of the world’s poorest people face death and devastation, and risk of losing their homes and means of making a living due to climate-induced floods, drought and conflict.

But, says Chritian Aid, it doesn’t have to be this way. The UK charity says it is working across the world on initiatives to combat climate change. It is one of theh first examples of a mainstream development agency taking up one of the key environmental challenges facing life on the planet.

These new projects are being showcased in an exhibition at the Grand Designs Live show at the Birmingham’s NEC on 6-8 October, 2006, where visitors will see how climate change hits some of the world’s poorest communities – but by adapting their ways of living thousands of lives can be helped.

In Christian Aid’s recent report The Climate of Poverty, published earlier this year, the charity outlined how 182 million people in sub-Saharan Africa could die of disease directly attributable to climate change by the end of the century and millions more would be left homeless and no livelihoods. The exhibition at Grand Designs is highlighting how these problems are being tackled.

TV garden expert Diarmuid Gavin, is designing the garden and has recently visited Kenya with Christian Aid to see examples of life-saving climate-adaptation projects in action.

Diarmuid Gavin said: "This is one of the most exciting and challenging projects I’ve undertaken. The idea of sustainable living is becoming more important, both here and around the world. This is a message that simple solutions work. It was a real joy to see projects like the multi-storey garden which conserves soil and water. In a country like Kenya, where droughts are a real issue, it makes me hopeful that people are using agriculture to take on changes to the climate in ways that are going to work."

Preparing for hurricanes

Professor Susan Roaf, a leading authority on ‘future proofing’ the way we live in order to stave off the worst excesses of climate change and soaring energy costs, commented:

"It seems so unfair that we, who are the richest people in the world and create the greenhouse gases that are driving climate change, will be among the last to suffer from it, while those
who use so little energy in the developing world are on the front line. We have to change the way we live and even now we are discovering that no one is immune from the changes ahead."

Visitors to the display will how people in Honduras, Central America, are building houses in preparation for a predicted increase in the intensity and frequency of hurricanes and tropical storms.

The Bangladesh and Indonesia sections show how poor people are copying with rising sea levels in their countries while in Africa the focus is on preparing for potential drought and food crisis in Kenya and Malawi.

Christian Aid is encouraging people to take action on climate change by reducing their own carbon emissions and pressing governments to take action to stop global warming. Homes and transport are responsible for about a third of the UK and Ireland’s carbon emissions. The UK section of the display will demonstrate easy measures and tips that individuals can take to live more sustainably.

People will also be able to support the charity's work by ‘purchasing’ a virtual Present Aid gift, some of which are featured in the home, including tree saplings, disaster-survival kits and solar panels. These are gifts that keep on giving by helping people in developing countries to prepare for the challenges of the future.

Source: Christian Aid, September 27

Note: Tickets for the Grand Designs Live show can be obtained from

See also Christian Aid's Green Pages featuring its ECO House.

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