December 8, 2015

Drought Emergency in Gadaisu

The 40,000 delegates in Paris are telling us that COP21 is our last chance to prevent climate change. That boat sailed a decade ago and the idea that climate change is a future threat is absurd. It’s already destroying communities, families and lives. We just don’t hear about it because it happens on the other side of the world to people we don’t know.

That’s changed for us at Cool Earth.

In September we launched a new partnership with the Gadaisu village in Papua New Guinea.

We have already told you about the three villages halting the destruction of 140,000 acres. What we haven’t said is this has been achieved during the worst drought in living memory.

El Niño caused the usual rainfall to fail this year. Vegetable gardens are by now dried out and crops failed across our three partner villages. Access to drinking water became difficult, with water wells drying up or becoming saline and the rainwater storage tanks are now empty. Our partners are having to travel by dinghy to a neighbouring village to fill tanks with drinking water.

The severity of the drought across the entire country has intensified forest fires, one of which was close to the western edge of the partnership forest boundary. The air across the country became grey with smoke, much of which was blown over from the extensive fires in Indonesia. The record breaking burning of so much forest across the region only highlights the urgent need to protect the community forest that still stands.

The drought couldn’t come at a worse time for Gadaisu. The village is still recovering from Cyclone Nathan that hit at the beginning of the year. Earlier on in the year several houses were washed away by huge waves and winds. The entire village is still in danger of being lost to the encroaching sea and ten houses need to be moved back from the receding coastline.

Your donations strengthen the community’s ability to deal with these erratic and increasingly intense climatic impacts. In the short term we need help to make sure the community has enough food to cover the lost crops and each household has the water storage facilities to ensure that if the rains fail again they don’t run out. In the long term, healthy forests protect the climate locally and globally.

Your support is keeping trees standing and families safe.

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happy boy on tree in papua new guinea
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  • MB says: says there’s a 90% chance of drought for this region. If you click the Weather button, you’ll see 10mm is the average rainfall for December, based on a 20 year average, and about that for January-March. I donated; but, I’m a bit confused why drought would be an issue. Wasn’t it expected and planned for?

  • Chloe Rickard says:

    Thanks so much for donating.

    This is, as you say, the dry season and there are often droughts as there are usually storms are February. However El Niño has been much stronger this year which makes the drought last far, far longer and the conditions much worse than in previous years. It also made the storms earlier in the year worse than ever, washing away homes for many of our partners.

    Our partnership with the village of Gadaisu was launched in September with a community who just don’t have the resources to cope with a disaster like this. We are working hard, with your help, to resolve this.

    With an ambitious plan to improve water storage and sanitation across the partnership, as well as investment in sustainable livelihoods, our partners can make sure that when – inevitably – the droughts come back this badly again, they are strong enough to withstand it.

    I’d also draw a comparison with the recent terrible flooding in the UK, where emergency aid was needed and thankfully readily available. Even in a developed country, the extreme and worsening conditions are starting to put pressure on communities and resources, so you can imagine that in a developing country things are a lot tougher.

    Hope that helps explain a bit.
    Best wishes,

    Communications Manager, Cool Earth

    • MB says:

      This morning there was a Thank you e-mail for my donation in my INBOX.

      But, instead of saying it would be used for this PNG drought relief campaign, it said it “will go directly to the villages in our Asháninka Partnership for them to safeguard their forest and their families” in Peru.

      Is that a mistake (caused by an automated computer generated response for all donations) and it will it really go to this?

      I already donate monthly, with no designation as to how the funds should be used; I thought this was different.

    • MB says:


      Thank you for your reply.

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