It's not God, it's Climate Change

constance okolett photo

Constance Okolett at entrance to her kitchen in eastern Uganda Asinget village Osukuru sub county Tororo district. Image credit: Oxfam International/Flickr
This post was written by Constance Okolett, a farmer from Tororo district in Eastern Uganda and a mother of seven. She is also a community activist and chairperson of the Osukura United Women Network.

Climate change is happening. I know this because it is hurting my people.

In my village in eastern Uganda, climate change has thrown the life that my neighbors and I have always known into chaos, leaving us to struggle with the most basic things in life. It started three years ago, when we had a tremendous flood that swept away our entire village. It rained and rained until all the land was soaked and our houses were submerged in the water. This forced us to move to higher ground and by the time we came back, all the houses had collapsed, our granaries were destroyed and our food was washed away. The remaining crops were rotten, and our food was no more.

We struggled to rebuild, but it happened again a year later and much worse. Flooding destroyed the school and the children were not about to go to school for months. Malaria broke out, leaving many sick and killing others. And of course, our crops were ruined again, leaving us without food to eat or to sell to earn money.

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In recent years Constance and her community have been hit hard by erratic and extreme weather. Image credit: Oxfam International/Flickr

But the problem is not just flooding, it's also drought. Sometimes it won't rain for months. The last time we went five months without rain, we watched as our livelihoods wither in the sun. We had never experienced such heat, all of the crops dried up and the wells where we used to collect water were also dry.

Growing food is always a gamble. We don't know when to plant, when to harvest, whether we'll harvest or not.

We didn't understand why this had happened to us. We wondered what we had done to make God so angry. But we now know it's because of climate change.

So we organized ourselves to fight back. But we can't do it on our own.

That's why I came to Washington with Oxfam's "Sister on the Planet Campaign." I came to ask Americans, to help us, to stop damaging our lives. And to have some funds for us, at least to adapt to climate change.

I have asked ever leader I met in Washington to help us stop the cycle of floods and drought that are destroying my community. I have told them about how the rains destroyed our schools and left scores sick with malaria. We want to work but mother nature is working against us because of climate change.

We know this problem is man-made, but the solution is too. I ask you to help my community fight the climate change that destroys our houses, increases diseases and stops our children from attending schools. That's what I am asking on behalf of my fellow villagers.

Read more dispatches:
Olivia Zaleski Talks to Dessima Williams About the Plight of Island Nations
20% of Mekong Delta Submerged With Rising Seas by 2100 - 10% of Ho Chi Minh City Will Go Under, Too
Amazon Tribe Already Feels the Pinch From Climate Change & Deforestation

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