Tearfund ambassador Laura Young writes from COP28 on why today’s announcement from the Scottish Government is crucial to help meet our responsibilities to those whose lives have been destroyed by the climate crisis.
I’m here at the UN climate talks in Dubai and today I’m feeling hopeful as we welcome the news that the Scottish Government will allocate funds to Tearfund to support survivors of the devastating floods in Pakistan last year.
These vital funds, totalling £250,000, will enable communities who have suffered enormous losses to rebuild their lives. The funding allocated to Tearfund forms part of the Scottish Government’s £3 million additional commitment to climate-induced ‘loss and damage’ this year – the most recent tranche announced by First Minister Humza Yousaf at COP28 on Saturday.
It signals that the Scottish Government recognises the importance of taking seriously our responsibilities as a global neighbour. As a relatively wealthy nation with a history of high emissions, we have a moral obligation towards countries suffering the worst impacts of the climate crisis. It’s about fairness and responsibility.
Countries such as Pakistan, who have seen floods tear their communities apart time and time again, have done the least to cause climate change. Yet, they are affected by it the most, on a scale most of us would struggle to imagine.
Tearfund is one of four organisations receiving funding for loss and damage through the Scottish Government’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund, for projects in Pakistan, Zambia, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Rebuilding after loss in Pakistan
Tearfund’s Country Director in Pakistan, Johnathan Johnson, gave me an insight into the havoc being wreaked there by the climate crisis. The floods that hit Pakistan last year were the worst in the country’s history. Many communities are still suffering as a result of this climate disaster and are struggling to restore their livelihoods.
Scottish funds will help communities, particularly women, to rebuild and meet their most urgent needs.
Johnathan said, ‘On behalf of Tearfund Pakistan, I'd like to express our deepest gratitude to the Scottish Government for their generous support which will empower communities to meet the most urgent needs they themselves have identified.
'We're particularly grateful for the Scottish Government's recognition of the disproportionate effect climate change has on women. In Pakistan, women are often the primary caregivers for their families, and the first to feel the effects of such devastating loss.
‘This funding will play a pivotal role in helping women affected by the floods to rebuild their lives and livelihoods, and recover their livestock businesses. It will also help vulnerable farmers increase their agricultural production, and support communities to access clean and safe water once again, which is absolutely vital for their health and wellbeing. And crucially, it will help make communities more resilient in the face of future climate challenges.’
Restoring hope for vulnerable families
Sakina Mai is a widow with three young children living in Pakistan’s Rajanpur district. In the floods of 2022, Sakina lost the 20 hens and two roosters which were her livelihood. She has barely been able to survive since losing her income. Sakina’s family don’t own any land and she now depends on the goodwill and handouts from neighbours.
She said, ‘Selling eggs every day was what we needed to meet our family’s needs. I have tried my best to get a loan from lenders in the village, but no one is willing. They have refused because I have nothing to give as collateral and they say I have no capacity to repay the loan. It is difficult for a single woman to find support. But I am determined to restart my business.’
Shakeela Bibi, who lives in Rajanpur too, has also struggled to survive since the flood swept away all her livestock.
She said, ‘It was a huge loss for the family. The cost of living is rising daily and we were already poor before the floods. Now we have no assets and struggle to meet the most basic needs. The loss of my livestock has pushed us deeper into distress.’