A new report says minority and indigenous people are the hardest hid by climate change and often the last to receive aid.
The report, from Minority Rights Group International, says unless policymakers pay urgent attention to the effects of climate change, the very survival of these groups may be at stake. It says the close relationship of many indigenous people to the environment makes them especially vulnerable to climate change.
David Pulkol is the chairperson of the Africa Leadership Institute in Uganda and comes from the Karamajong people, pastoralists in Uganda. From London, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about how climate change has affected his people, who he says, “live in the margins in northeastern Uganda.” He says their struggles can affect Kenya, Sudan and even Ethiopia.
“We occupy a very fragile environment. There are many changes we have seen. One is the shrinking of the natural resource base, both in quantity and quality. So, there’s desiccation of the soil in terms of moisture. There’s destruction of the vegetation cover. The drying up of water springs and rivers that used to flow deep into the dry season. And also droughts are becoming more frequent, floods more volatile and more frequent diseases both for animal livestock as well as for humans,” he says.
Pulkol says he’s seen these changes take place since the 1960s. “You really see a progressive decline. But unfortunately, the crop failures that that used to be…after every four years are becoming almost more frequent than that. We used to have six months of rainfall and six months of dry season. Now, we seem to have only four months of rainy season. Its occurrence is a bit more erratic. Because of this shrinking resource base, it is also hastening the resource-based conflicts as people scramble for pastures…and the castle-rustling phenomenon has heightened. Therefore, death and destruction as people try to raid cattle to replace what they had when they (cattle) die either of drought or tick-borne diseases…. It’s hastening conflicts in that whole belt, given this proliferation of small arms,” he says.
He says that “marginalization and discrimination” against minority and indigenous peoples must be addressed as part of the solution to the problem. Pulkol says that while efforts are being made to end discrimination against women and the handicapped, for example, much less is being done to end it against indigenous people.