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Climate change and the rural African woman

I am a rural African woman. Too poor, too hungry and too ill
Too tired and too illiterate to understand the science of climate change

But, I have good eyes and good ears to see and hear what is happening to my world

In the last year or so, there are not many words I have heard
as often as climate change

When I have no water, I am told it is because of climate change
When I have no food, I am told it is climate change
When I get malaria, I am told to blame climate change
Even my poverty is blamed on climate change
What is worse is that even I am blamed for causing climate change. But nobody has told me how

I know though that climate change affects my grandmother, my mother, me, my daughter and my granddaughter much more than it does my male relatives
I know it is not just the women in my family

You know I cried when I heard that a woman in a neighbouring country had given birth on a tree. They told me it was climate change that had caused the floods that made the people suffer

My niece has AIDS and I was told to give her good food
Sometimes she does not take her medicines because she has not eaten as there is no food, I have no money to buy food because I am a poor rural African woman

I have tried to grow food for my family
Last year all the crops failed because there was no rain
They told me it was drought caused by climate change
This year I planted all the seed I had, and then came the rain, lots of it. It rained so much that some of my crops were washed away. What remained drowned and turned yellow
This time I was told that these were floods caused by climate change

Where I come from, as a rural African woman,
I am responsible for fetching firewood to cook food, warm water and warm the house in winter
I have had to travel further and further away to collect sufficient firewood

I am also responsible for supervising children’s homework.
As they arrive late, tired and thirsty after walking 5 kilometres on a dusty dirt road,
We have to do the best under the flickering light of the smelly kerosene lamp
We cough and splatter and our eyes are stinging and red
But we have to persevere otherwise my children will end up like me, rural, uneducated and poor.

Can you blame me then if someone from far away tells me to grow jatropha in my field?
Because it will give me a cleaner light and faster way of cooking my grains. There must be other ways but no one has given me a better alternative.

I am a rural African woman
I am here today because a relative who lives far away in a country called Ethiopia told me that the 16th of October is World Food Day. Is it my day too as a rural African woman?
I am told that this year the world is talking about food and something else to do with some fuels and again climate change

Yes I may be a poor rural African woman. Too insignificant to be listened to. Too illiterate to understand the science of climate change. But I need no one to tell me what it is doing to me
It is starving me. It is hurting me. It is killing me.
Someone please give me the tools so that I can fight this monster called climate change.

Mildred Mkandla
Addis Ababa 14.10.08



heatherc67's picture


This is very powerful. I glad you shared it.

Many blessings,


mboneenie's picture

Thanks Heather

I am glad you enjoyed it.

Ms Rosemary Olive Mbone Enie
Geologist/Gender Ambassador/GEN Ambassador
GEN Africa Council Member
Executive Director, Tanzania Women Miners Association (TAWOMA) Tanzania
International Coordinator
African Mayors Action on Climate Change (AMACC)

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