“We used to live well. We used to have food”

By Crystel Hajjar

“We sit and cry that God is upset with the people, then we found out it was climate change.”

This is what a Ugandan mother of seven described her communities’ reaction to the series of flooding followed by droughts that destroyed the agricultural infrastructure that her community lived and prospered on. Eastern Uganda was a major food producer to many neighbouring countries. Since 2007, the weather conditions have significantly altered the dynamics on which the society functions causing extreme poverty and famine, in the region. This prosperous agricultural society was severely hit by climate change turning it upside down in a relatively short time.

Suddenly, womyn were burdened with a heavier workload, having to walk further distances to get water, while ensuring the functionality of their homes. This workload is magnified by the fact that womyn are the primary bread winners and “without a womyn, you can’t get a home moving” in these communities.

Extreme flooding coupled with poor infrastructure destroyed agricultural lands, contaminated drinking waters and spread multiple infectious diseases such as Cholera, Malaria and Measles leading to many deaths especially among children. Moreover, due to poverty, children can no longer afford to go to school which has long term implications on the ability of this community to re-establish itself and adapt to the worsening conditions of climate change.

As I sat there listening to those powerful words, I felt upset, mad and outraged. I cried. How is it allowed that people can play God and alter the climate and then get to run away and cowardly hide behind “money” once they are called to correct their mistakes?

An entire community has questioned its faith, blamed God for its miseries and then found out that it was the result of a manmade problem. Humans are capable to harm each other in the way a God would punish people! And this is not acceptable. Nor should it be accepted.

Humans have a history of domination and harm; we’ve gone as far as altering the climate. We’ve destroyed ecosystems, polluted water and air, disturbed agricultural communities who were living peacefully, deprived communities of water, a basic human right that should be available for free, and all for what?

All so that a few can have money, build corporations and gain political influence. From water resources, to clean air, to plant patents, to agricultural seeds, to buried oil in the sands, etc. I absolutely cannot comprehend nor accept how is it that some people still cannot see the problems with this structure. How can people go on with their lives knowing that injustices have gone far and beyond realisation?

It is about time that the guilty serve a sentence.

It is about time we stop exploiting every resource nature has blessed us with and sentencing communities to irreversible destruction.

As it is voiced by the community: “we don’t need fertilizers, we need climate justice and we can feed all the countries currently suffering from famine like we used to do”.

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