A year on from Durban, Lindi and Ndivile bring their story to Doha

Richard Casson

Blog post by Richard Casson

Oxfam Great Britain, Digital Campaigner
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"What the people in there need to understand," Lindi Nzwana says to me as she points her finger toward the door of a meeting room, "is that we cannot wait any longer. For us, climate change is something that we are experiencing today. That we are going through now."

The people that Lindi is referring to are the government representatives meeting this week at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha. Because although Lindi may be walking the same halls as the politicians gathered here, her background – and her experience of the impact of climate change – could not be more different.

"We used to know when to plant crops," Lindi says. "We would plant and then sell. And then we would be able to provide for our families. But now we are no longer harvesting as much."

Back home in South Africa, Lindi helps to run an organisation called Women, Energy and Climate Change Forum (WECCF) – a grassroots group of women who work to hold the South African government to account, who pressure for more support for women who work in agriculture, and who campaign for investment in low-carbon development.

Lindi travelled to Qatar along with her colleague Ndivile Mokoena. And even here at the UN climate summit, where there's plenty of talk of extreme weather, few people can have experienced a force of nature quite as powerful as these two. When climate negotiations were held in Durban last year, Lindi and Ndivile joined thousand of people at a vibrant march including hundreds of women from across Africa.

In the twelve months since the Durban climate talks, WECCF has been reaching out to more South African women, helping them to stand up for their rights, and campaigning tirelessly to put their country on a path to low carbon development.

And now, Lindi and Ndivile have come to next round of talks to continue to tell their story.

"When things go wrong, it is women who pay the price," Ndivile says. "They are the ones who have to provide for their families. Climate change is making it more difficult to grow our crops. And it is women who are feeling the greatest pressure."

In sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of farmers are women. But despite this, they often lack government support and investment. And in some countries, only a small fraction of the agriculture budget is targeted at women.

At the Doha climate talks taking place in Qatar this week, Oxfam – along with Lindi and Ndivile – is calling for rich countries to not only cut their emissions, but also to provide cash to help poor communities avoid the worst impacts of global warming. If delivered in a sustainable way, the cash raised could help pay for life-saving projects such as irrigation or rain water-harvesting systems – guaranteeing a more secure future for the most vulnerable.

"Promises were made," Ndivile says when I ask whether there has been any progress since the meetings in Durban. "But the politicians are having the same arguments. For years they've been meeting and telling us they would listen. But still very little has changed."

Related links

Photo blog: Behind the scenes with Oxfam's team at UN climate talks

Blog: Three facts and three photos about extreme weather in 2012

Blog: Time to dig in deep at Doha: COP18 and climate finance

Oxfam's work on climate change