Jubilee Debt Campaign Birmingham

DEBT AND CLIMATE CHANGE.

Posted on: January 25, 2009

merrynbmp1Merryn Hellier from Hereford a long time Jubilee supporter  makes the link on how debt repayments add to the problems of climate change….

In summer 2007 I walked 1000 miles across Britain with Christian Aid’s Climate Change March. We were publicising the disastrous climate changes already devastating the most poverty stricken areas, and lobbying MPs on our route to demand a much stronger Climate Bill as it went through Parliament.

10 walkers from Britain were joined by 8 Christian Aid partners from across the world. The terrible situations our overseas walkers described had a very profound influence, both on the British walkers, but also on all who heard them at the meetings where we spoke each night on our way down. It is some of these stories that I would like to retell.

p10100061Mohammad came as a very angry young man from Northern Kenya because he knew that climate changing pollution came from the West, while the worst effects came to non-polluting areas like his own. Their weather patterns used to be predictable, but now 70% of his people’s cattle had died through drought, while crops were either washed away in torrential rain or dried up. His work was to develop water harvesting and flood control. Realising that many people were already concerned and campaigning in Britain, he redirected his anger to becoming a brilliant public speaker.

That however, was before our global financial crisis. Kenya is a poor country, over $6 billion in debt, and I know from working in a Kisumu shanty town that life on the edge is very precarious. Kenya’s debt arose in similar ways to those we are experiencing now. The difference is that Western banks received huge bail-outs while poor countries were told to sort themselves out and forced to follow highly damaging measures that made poverty even worse.

Around three decades later they’re still paying out over $200 million every year. Mohammad has every right to become very angry again.

Merryn Hellier.

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