10 Jan 2020

Climates are impacting how the humanitarian sector operates.

From Summer Times, 9:30 am on 10 January 2020

The impacts of a changing climate are having a huge impact on the way the humanitarian sector operates, and yet the harrowing stories at the centre are largely invisible.

Brianna Piazza works in the emergency communications department for World Vision, and has traveled the world, reporting on the widespread and unpredictable ways climate change is affecting communities.  

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Photo: Supplied / World Vision

Her work takes her across the globe and she says climate related emergencies are becoming more and more widespread. 

“Just recently I got back from Angola and Zimbabwe, two countries that are being affected by drought in Southern Africa. It’s a major crisis that’s quite invisible to the rest of the world, a lot of people don’t actually know what’s going on there.”

Prior to that she was in the ebola zone in the Democratic Republic of Congo where there had been a spike in cases in certain regions. 

“It’s taken me to a lot of different corners of the earth and I’ve privilege to be able to see some of the work World Vision does, along with other agencies, but also meet people with these incredible stories about how the survive humanitarian emergencies.”

She says that it’s hard for people not to get compassion fatigue when these issues play out over a long period of time. 

“I personally battle with it. For example, when you look at the DRC and the ebola crisis which is actually still ongoing, people are still dying now - particularly children… but the way the 24 hours new cycle is, things come and go so quickly.” 

In Afghanistan, for instance, more people have been displaced by drought than the war on terror in the country but most coverage focuses on conflict in the region. 

“Here in Australia, we’re no strangers to drought. It’s happened my entire life. But the thing that hits home for me is that you don’t see drought forcing kids out school or leaving parents and farmers with absolutely no way to survive. In Afghanistan they’re literally dying because of it, the situation is really terrible.” 

Piazza says World Vision assists people by helping them prepare for climate related disasters and weather changes. In Zimbabwe, they’re teaching farmers different techniques to improve crop yield, and in coastal areas they’re helping communities get ready for sea-level rises and storms. 

“It’s not just about development work and humanitarian aid anymore, climate change has had an inevitable impact on people we’re trying to help and that impact is largely invisible to the rest of the world unfortunately.”