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PLANET EARTH:OUR LOVING HOME The Gathering Storm: The Human Cost of Climate Change - P1/2   
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Intelligent viewers, welcome to Planet Earth: Our Loving Home where we are presenting the first in a two-part program featuring a number of short films from “The Gathering Storm: The Human Cost of Climate Change.” This series is comprised of 16 brief films and covers the effects of climate change across Asia and Africa.

“The Gathering Storm” was produced by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a humanitarian news and analysis service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The work has garnered numerous awards, including being named a winner at the 2009 Bangkok HRA Festival and Kos International Film Festival.

This week we will show five chapters from the series: “Harvesting Rain,” “Drip Irrigation,” “Escaping Floods,” “Highland Malaria,” and “Coastal Erosion.” As we will see in some of these films, communities have found ways to adapt to aspects of global warming and still survive. However such measures cannot be considered permanent solutions as even more extreme weather patterns and natural disasters are projected if we take no action to stop the warming of our planet. We begin with “Harvesting Rain.”

The Gathering Storm Harvesting Rain

Ithumba Kitui, Kenya

It’s 8 o’clock in the morning. And Mary Maticia is cleaning the house while her friend from a neighboring district, Grace Niva, sets off to fetch water from the nearest river. It’s a six kilometer walk for Grace. And when she gets there, she finds the river dry. So she starts to dig. Back in her village, Mary has finished her housework. And now she, too, sets off to fetch water.

But no long walk or digging in the sand for her. Her water's on tap. And it’s all thanks to this rock. When it rains, water runs down the face of the rock and gathers in this reservoir, then down through these pipes, and into a storage tank. This one holds 150,000 liters and can keep the community going for months.

The project was built and is now managed by the community it serves. And everyone who joins the project shares its benefits.

Now we have time to take care of our cows and crops, because we have water near our homes. Before, we only had time to fetch water.

Most communities levy a charge for the water, three US cents per 20 liter-jerry can is typical. And some well-established communities are now turning a profit and reinvesting.

Here the community has bought a plot of land and is setting up a model farm to teach farmers how to use techniques like drip irrigation.

The money we collected from the water catchment, we put into an additional work project. And the way to extend it to the farmers, is to prepare an experimental farm where people can learn what to do in their shambas (vegetable gardens).

Back at the dry river bed, Grace is still scraping water from the bottom of a hole. And as long as women are left to carry this burden, their communities will remain rooted in poverty.

The Gathering Storm Drip Irrigation

Ngohe Ndioffogor, Senegal

Michel Dember is on his way to work the fields. Life as a farmer here in southern Senegal has never been easy. But lately it’s been harder than ever. Droughts have become more frequent, and last year Michel lost his entire peanut crop because of a lack of rain.

Rain has been unreliable for the past few years. Our harvests have been bad.

But instead of driving out to their ancestral lands, which now lie largely unused, Michel and his brother Engor are heading off to school, farming school.

Here, Michel and a hundred other farmers are being taught how to drip irrigate their crops. Water is stored in the tanks and is then released through the pipes and directly onto the plants. Agronomists believe drip irrigation is twice as efficient in its use of water than normal methods of irrigation. And Michel is putting the technology to the test with a field of okra and cucumbers.

Here we have control. We don’t have to wait for the rains. I am sure my harvest will be better.

The Gathering Storm Escaping Floods

Chokwé, Mozambique

Amelia Michaiae has lived in the village of Chicadala all her life. At the heart of the Limpopo River Basin, this place is used to be Mozambique's breadbasket.

But years of war and neglect mean that farmers produce little more than subsistence. To make matter worse, heavy rainfall along the length of the river in recent years means that floods are now common here. So although the land is fertile and crops flourish, they’re always in danger of being washed away before they can be harvested.

We prepare the area and plant maize, then the flood comes and destroys everything. The flood of 2001 was the worst we’ve ever had. We’d never seen anything like it. We weren’t prepared.

But since then, Amelia has learned to be better prepared.

During floods, we learned to build silos in trees, not only for the seeds but goods and people, too. I have a silo myself and if the floods come, I grab the blankets and clothes, and we run and put everything in the silo.

As global weather patterns become ever more extreme, simple technologies like this one can make a world of difference to people like Amelia.

The Gathering Storm Highland Malaria

Mount Kenya

When we were young there was no malaria here. But nowadays there’s a lot more. If you go to the hospital, you only find malaria.

In the highlands around Mount Kenya, malaria used to be unheard of. The cold nights and thin air better suited to tea farming than the malarial mosquito. But warmer temperatures mean that the disease that already kills a million Africans a year now threatens hundreds of communities that thought they were safe. The local hospital is now filling up with malaria patients. Children are the worst hit.

Most of the children are coming here with high temperatures and when we take a slide for malaria, it comes out positive. Malaria is really increasing. In the olden days, you would not see people coming with malaria positive. Nowadays, most of the people are coming malaria positive.

Esther Kinyua meanwhile has arrived at the hospital and is helping her 86-year- old mother to eat. She’s suffering from cerebral malaria, and frequent fits of delirium mean hospital stuff have had to restrain her. And as temperatures continue to warm around the world, malaria looks set to strengthen its hold over communities like this.

The Gathering Storm Coastal Erosion

Saint Louis, Senegal

Forty-five-year-old Mukhtar Gaye works as a laborer in the historic town of Saint Louis. But no matter how hard he works, he can’t take his mind off events back at home.

Two kilometers away on the Senegal’s Atlantic coast, rising sea levels threaten to claim the homes of thousands of people like Mukhtar.

Every year, the sea gets closer. It used to be far and now it’s next to us. Everyone is affected, everyone. You see, from here to there, everyone has the same problem.

Mukhtar spends an average of two full days a week, trying to keep the sea at bay. But he knows that he’s fighting a losing battle.

And as the sun sets and the tide comes in, he’s left wondering if tonight is the night that a wave will take away his house.

You don’t sleep well. You can’t eat well. You can’t go to work. You leave and you think that at any time (your house could be taken away).

As we’ve seen today in five chapters from “The Gathering Storm,” climate change is severely disrupting the lives of people across Africa. The conditions for many are becoming more and more arduous every day. What can be done about this frightening situation?

The organic vegan diet is simply the fastest and most effective way for people around the world to put a halt to climate change. An organic vegan lifestyle is ecologically friendly in all aspects and helps prevent the release of human-induced toxic greenhouse gases that accelerate planetary warming, the majority of which come from the production and consumption of animal products.

Please join us next Wednesday on Planet Earth: Our Loving Home for the conclusion of our program where we will present further chapters from “The Gathering Storm” that show how climate change is affecting people living in Asia.

To view and download “The Gathering Storm” and other films produced by the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), please visit www.IRINNEWS.org Find out about the United Nations Environment Programme at www.UNEP.org

Virtuous viewers, thank you for your presence today on our program. Next on Supreme Master Television is Enlightening Entertainment, after Noteworthy News. May a brighter tomorrow soon be ours through more eco-conscious living.
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