Trócaire Blog


September 13, 2016

September is Creation month

September is Creation month. It’s a month to respond to Pope Francis’ call for a new way of being, free from the slavery of consumerism and asks that we take good care of Creation, protecting and preserving it for future generations.

In a special video message, Pope Francis highlights the link between poverty and the fragility of the planet

In his landmark encyclical of the same name – ‘Laudato Si, Care for our Common Home’, Pope Francis discusses the grave implications of climate change, one of the most pressing challenges of our time.  

Climate change is having a devastating impact on people in the world’s poorest regions. 

Right now, there are 60 million people around the world experiencing extreme food shortages due to drought. 

This is just the latest example of the increasingly severe impacts of climate change being visited on the women and men in developing countries, a problem created not by them but primarily by consumption and production in rich countries. 

In Laudato Si, Pope Francis highlights the need for lifestyle changes in response to climate change. 

Importantly however, he also emphasises the need for structural changes including the urgent, progressive replacement of fossil fuels and other highly polluting technologies that are major contributors to climate change.  

Pope Francis’ calls to action are at the heart of Trócaire’s climate justice campaigning.  Earlier this year Trócaire joined a movement of more than 500 institutions, with a collective value of around $3.4 trillion across the world committing publically to take their money out of the fossil fuel industry.  

This global fossil fuel divestment movement is capturing the imagination of a diverse range of people from student activists to religious congregations to financiers.  

In a few short years the movement has become the fastest growing divestment campaign in history. 

Divestment has been a tool for social justice campaigning for decades and was a notable strategy employed by people and organisations in efforts to isolate the apartheid regime in South Africa.  

A public commitment to move your money out of fossil fuels – the problem, and into just and accessible renewable energy solutions, is a highly symbolic action.  It sends a clear message to society and importantly to political decision-makers – that the fossil fuel era must end.  

Trócaire’s campaign calls on the Government to divest the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), formerly the National Pension Reserve Fund, from fossil fuels, and to adopt a 100% renewable energy investment policy instead.

Successive Irish Governments have stated deep concern about the urgent threat of climate change, and yet have persistently failed to act in line with Ireland’s international obligations. 

Ireland’s Green House Gas emissions per person remain one of the highest among industrialised countries. 

To add insult to injury, the Irish government continues to invest public money, via the ISIF, into fossil fuel companies that are directly responsible for the problem.  

The irony is that many financial experts are highlighting that fossil fuel companies are performing poorly and are an increasingly risky investment. 

This Government must divest the ISIF of all fossil fuel investments as part of a substantive and symbolic step change in climate action in Ireland.  

Trócaire itself has committed to divesting its staff pension fund from fossil fuels.  Any divestment commitment requires some time and persistence to deliver. In many cases, and indeed in Trócaire’s experience, this involves engaging with those currently managing your funds to ensure they will support you to achieve this.   

The efforts needed to deliver on a divestment commitment are no reason to shy away from making one.  Indeed, they are part and parcel of the transformative conversations, decisions and actions that are needed to respond to Pope Francis’ call for us to create an entirely new way of being.  

In his reflections on climate change, Pope Francis describes the weakness of political responses to date as ‘remarkable’, and the need for pressure from the public and civic institutions in order to challenge the entrenched mindset of short-term gain and results which dominates present-day economics and politics. 

Pope Francis describes every act of purchase as ‘a moral – and not simply economic – act’.  

As we respond to the Pope’s plea for this Creation Time in various ways, we invite reflection on how we spend and invest our money, and how it is invested on our behalf by our Government.  

By pursuing one’s own divestment and or supporting Trócaire’s campaign calling on the Government to divest the ISIF, everyone can play a part in creating a new way of being, one that is both just and sustainable. 

August 22, 2016

5 fossil fuel myths busted

By Antoin McDermott

5 fossil fuel myths

Carbon emissions released from the fossil fuels we use are a leading cause of the global temperature rise causing climate change. 

Climate change is already causing devastation across the globe, with escalating storms, floods and drought hitting the most vulnerable communities. 

80% of known fossil fuels reserves must stay in the ground if we are to have a chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change. 

So we need to know how we can quit these fossil fuels that we are addicted to. 

Here are some of the main myths surrounding fossil fuels that are slowing our transition away from them...

Myth 1: We need fossil fuels or civilization will collapse. We all use them and we can’t just stop using them. 

Although we can transition to a world of 100% renewables and zero carbon, we do need fossil fuels today for society to function and to fuel the transition; however, our reliance on them needs to decrease dramatically and soon. 

This is not happening. Fossil fuel consumption is increasing. The increase in consumption of fossil fuels was 2.6 times the increase in renewables in 2015. 

Even though we know we can only burn one fifth of fossil fuel reserves, fossil fuel companies are still exploring for more. 

One of the best ways to stop this is to cease investing in the companies that want to increase fossil fuel use in order to make money. 

When massive investments are made in fossil fuel companies, they receive large subsidies from governments, and they have powerful lobbyers, it makes it difficult for alternatives to become more widely available and competitive. 

A world free from fossil fuel use will only come about when fossil fuel companies have less power. 

‘Divestment’ is one way to take that power away. 

Myth 2. Moving my investments out of fossil fuels won’t really have any effect. Others will invest in the fossil fuels if I don’t.

It’s true that others could invest in the fossil fuels shares you divest from, but, if divestment spreads, less will do so. 

More than 500 institutions, with a value of over $3 trillion, have already committed to divest from fossil fuels within five years.

As more and more people and institutions divest it creates a stigma around fossil fuel companies. 

It undermines their influence and makes it more difficult for governments to justify their subsidies. 

It also highlights the fact that fossil fuels are increasingly a bad and risky investment. 

Both, the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, and the head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, have recently both warned of this. 

Divestment is therefore a very effective way of fighting climate change and reducing risk in investments.

Myth 3. It's better to use the power of being a shareholder to change the fossil fuel companies.

It would be very difficult to convince a fossil fuel company to effectively put itself out of business by not selling its product. 

The renowned British environmentalist, Jonathan Porritt, tried to engage with fossil fuels companies for years and found that it was a waste of time

Anything that helps fossil fuel companies reduce their sale of fossil fuels is worth attempting, but divestment from the companies themselves is much more effective.

Myth 4. There are a lot of jobs in fossil fuels, it wouldn’t be fair to get rid of these.

Transitioning to renewable energy will create a large number of new jobs. 

The trade union Sustainlabour predicts that Europe alone could gain 6.1 million new jobs by 2050 from going 100% renewable. 

8 million people were employed in the renewable sector across the globe last year. 

While research claims we could create 100,000 jobs in Ireland by transitioning to 100% renewables

There has also been considerable employment in developing countries. This is not to say that jobs in the fossil fuel industries would not be lost. 

Therefore, it is vital that the right approach is taken to ensure the transition is as smooth and as just as possible. 

Much of the technical and managerial work that is needed for the fossil fuel industries are similar to that needed for renewables. 

Reskilling and retraining programmes are also essential. The key would be to start making this transition now so that the right time is given for this to happen. There also needs to be more jobs made available in renewables. Investing in renewables and not fossil fuel companies can allow this to happen.

Myth 5. Fossil fuels are needed by developing countries to develop.

The transition away from fossil fuels must be a just transition domestically and globally and there cannot be unintended impacts on the rights and resilience of vulnerable communities. 

Allowing developing countries as much of the remaining ‘carbon budget’ as possible and the means to transition to renewables, in order to enable their development, is central to climate justice. 

The citizens of developing countries with fossil fuel reserves seldom benefit from the extraction and sales of these fossil fuels. Fossil fuel investments have not delivered access to energy for the people living with extreme poverty.

The impact that climate change is having on the rights and dignity of women and men living in poverty is what has brought Trócaire to the issue of fossil fuels. 

Sign Trócaire's petition to stop the Irish government using the public’s money to invest in fossil fuels

You can also talk to your financial provider to see what fossil-free investment options are available for you. If there are no options available, ask them to make sensible fossil-free investments available now. 

July 27, 2016

Mary Robinson visits families hit by El Nino drought in Honduras

Mary Robinson arrives in Honduras today, where she will visit Trócaire projects that are helping families overcome the disastrous impacts of the El Nino drought. 

Honduras is the most vulnerable country in the world to the effects of climate change. There are currently over 1.3 million people in the country at risk of food shortages due to drought. 

Between 1980 and 2014, Honduras was affected by more than 50 natural disasters, resulting in 15,548 deaths. Annual economic losses due to climatic events are estimated at US$667 million (2.6% of GDP).

Mrs. Robinson is visiting Honduras as part of her role as UN Special Envoy for Climate Change and El Nino.

Thanks to the support of people all over Ireland, Trócaire is currently providing emergency support to 7,500 families - approximately 40,000 people - in Honduras. Our support targets the most vulnerable through food distribution, provision of seeds, irrigation and other methods aimed at improving food production and nutrition in the face of the drought.

Mrs. Robinson will meet with families in the Pespire region, where many young people have been forced to migrate because of the ongoing impacts of climate change. 

Over 85 per cent of the population rely on agriculture but the majority of farmers earn less than €400 a year. As droughts, storms and other extreme weather events continue to become more frequent, many young people are moving to cities or to the United States to earn a living. 

Farmers in Pespire say that climate has changed in the last 30 years. Temperatures are much higher during the day, it is raining less often and when it rains the amount of water that falls in a short period of time is high. Maize yields have dropped to less than 40% of the average yields in Honduras. 

As a result of the scarcity of available food, prices have gone up, especially maize and beans. At the moment the price of maize has increased in Pespire by 70%. 

The situation is tense and conflicts erupt because of water scarcity. In some communities there is hardly any water left for human consumption and in most places rivers and streams are too dry to be used for irrigation. 

This is a situation facing growing numbers of people in Central America. The humanitarian situation along Central America’s Dry Corridor has reached crisis levels, with more than 3.5 million people facing food insecurity in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. 

Guatemala and Honduras have been the most affected. As a result, 2.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including food, health care, and activities to recover livelihoods and increase resilience. 

Mary Robinson last month visited Trócaire projects in northern Ethiopia, where people are experiencing food shortages due to the same El Nino drought that is impacting Honduras. 

Mary Robinson in Ethiopia with Trocaire

Mary Robinson visits a Trócaire project in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, earlier this month.


She visited one project in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia where Trócaire has been working with the local community to protect them against extreme droughts. 

By building irrigation and improving water management, Trócaire is helping to ensure people have access to water even when the rains fail. 

Globally, 60 million people have been impacted by the El Nino drought crisis but Ethiopia has been worst affected. Ten million people in Ethiopia are facing food shortages because of the drought. Thanks to the generous support of people in Ireland, Trócaire is supporting 600,000 people in Ethiopia with emergency relief. 

We are also responding in Honduras, Guatemala, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. 

These relief efforts are the incredible result of people in Ireland supporting vulnerable people overseas in this time of crisis. 

You can donate to the emergency appeal and give support to people who urgently need it. 

July 18, 2016

The movement to stop burning fossil fuels

By Antoin McDermott

Trócaire’s ‘The Burning Question’ campaign is part of a global movement of organisations and individuals who are demanding an end to the fossil fuel era and a faster move to a cleaner, more sustainable future. 

global divestment figures

View full infographic

Everyday, Trócaire staff working in developing countries see the devastating effects of climate change, which is driven to a large extent by the burning of fossil fuels in more developed countries.

They are witnessing increases in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events like droughts and floods, the loss of crops and livelihoods, and the increasing threat of hunger and malnutrition. 

So where did this movement to end the fossil fuel era start, how big is it and how successful has it been so far?

The birth of a movement

The movement originated in 2012 from a climate action organisation based in the US called

One of its founders, Bill McKibben realised that a campaign was needed to break the bond that had developed between fossil fuel companies and politicians as it was preventing political action on climate change. 

He saw that by campaigning against investments in fossil fuel companies, a stigmatisation of these companies’ practices would arise, making it hard for politicians to support them. 

The campaign really took off when McKibben published an article for Rolling Stone magazine called ‘Do The Math’ in which he explained how 80% of known fossil fuel reserves would need to stay in the ground in order to prevent the worse effects of climate change. 

He explained that to ensure that the fossil fuels remain in the ground we have to stop investing in the companies taking them out. The article went viral online.

The movement catches fire

McKibben took ‘Do The Math’ on tour like a rock band would, with strobe lights, musicians and celebrities. 

He called on the crowds to start what had been named ‘divestment’ campaigns after the successful anti-apartheid divestment campaign in the 80s. 

He asked them to push their colleges, churches, charities, and pension funds to stop investing in the top oil and coal companies. 

The impact was immediate. In just three days after the tour started Vermont College announced it would divest. 

By the end of November 2012, one hundred divestment campaigns had started. 

And by the end of 2014, that number had become more than a thousand. 

The campaign took off in the UK under the ‘Fossil Free’ banner in 2013. It has now become the fastest growing divestment campaign in history.

Big wins

There have been a number of big wins in this global campaign:

  • In September 2014, the heirs to the Rockerfeller withdrew all the fossil fuel investment in the $860 million Rockerfeller Brothers Fund.
  • Syracuse University committed in April 2015 to divest its $1.18bn endowment and to seek new investments in clean energy technologies.
  • In the same month, the Guardian Media Group divested its £800m fund.
  • In May 2016, the District of Columbia government in Washington D.C. announced that its $6.4 billion pension fund has fully divested from its direct investments in 200 of the world’s most polluting fossil fuel companies.

Notable supporters

The campaign also has a number of notable endorsers including former president of Ireland and UN envoy on climate and El Nino Mary Robinson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein, Ban Ki-moon, Barack Obama, Al Gore, 
actor Leonardo Di Caprio, actor and comedian Russell Brand, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and actor Tilda Swinton.

Where is it today?

Today, the approximate value of the institutions divested from fuels is $3.4 trillion, with well over 500 institutions in total divesting. 50,000 individuals have also divested about $5.2 billion.

Jamie Henn of recently said that “when we started fanning the divestment flames we had no idea what a wildfire would quickly spread around the world. People instantly understood the power of challenging institutions to put their money where their mouths are.”

You can be part of the movement

In Ireland campaigns to divest are happening in a number of colleges and other institutions with some successes, but what would give a really big boost to the campaign would be if the Irish government was to divest its investments in fossil fuels. This is Trocaire’s campaign. Sign up to our petition here.

July 08, 2016

Five powerful quotes on climate change from Mary Robinson

Former President Mary Robinson was in Ethiopia this week to bring urgent attention to the food crisis affecting millions of people in East and Southern Africa.

She visited projects funded by Trócaire to bring emergency food, seeds, water and sanitation to people suffering hunger due to drought, which has been fuelled by climate change and El Niño. 
                Mary Robinson at a Trócaire project in northern Ethiopia that is delivering emergency aid and irrigation.

Mary Robinson at a Trócaire project in Adigrat, northern Ethiopia, which is delivering emergency aid to 30,000 people and irrigation systems to protect against future drought. (Photo: Eoghan Rice / Trócaire)

The current U.N Special Envoy for El Niño and Climate has made strong statements to bring focus to this serious humanitarian emergency. 

As a passionate campaigner for climate justice, she has spoken out on behalf of those whose voices are not being heard. 

Five powerful climate change statements from Mary Robinson – an inspiring humanitarian leader 

1. “Now, because of climate change, it has become so bad. And it really is bad…it is bad here in Ethiopia, where they do good climate work, where they cope well with climate and they're used to it.

"Yet they now have 10.3 million additional people who are malnourished and could suffer very badly before the end of this year…

"It brings home to us that we must cut emissions very fast. Ireland must become more of a leader in understanding the importance of renewable energy.” Newstalk, Pat Kenny Show, July 2016 from Ethiopia. 

2. “I don’t think the impact of El Niño, aggravated by climate change, has received the attention that it should have from the international community.” July 2016 from Ethiopia

3. “We shouldn’t underestimate the scale and the transformative nature of the change, which will be needed. We have to go to zero carbon emissions by about 2050 if we are going to stay below 2C of warming and that means that we have to leave about 2/3 of the known resources of fossil fuels in the ground.” Ted Talk, May 2015

4. “We have a responsibility to move in the direction that Paris has given us – well below 2C as far as possible to 1.5C – a world that leaves no one behind. A world that is fair and inclusive … We can do it. And we will have a much better and more equal world if we do.”  The Guardian, 16 March 2016

5. “Climate change is a fundamental problem that we must solve and not merely pass on to the generations to come…We can’t let our children and grandchildren look back on this critical period in time and say that we failed them.” Trócaire conference: Meeting the challenges of climate change – from evidence to action, Maynooth University, St Patricks College, Maynooth, June 2015

Trócaire's Burning Question Campaign

Burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is a major cause of climate change, leading to drought and hunger. We must move to cleaner renewable energy to protect the poorest people from more drought and suffering. Trócaire is asking the Irish Government to stop investing in fossil fuels. Find out about our campaign.

June 16, 2016

2016 must be Ireland's year for climate action

By Joanne McGarry, Campaigns Officer

It’s time for Ireland to take action and keep its promises on climate change.

While Ireland signed up to the global Paris Accord on climate change and finally enacted a Climate Law for the country in December 2015 – tangible, concrete action has yet to be taken.

Earlier this year, Trócaire launched The Burning Question campaign calling on TDs to address the inadequacy and incoherence of Ireland’s response to climate change to date.

Woman holding climate change sign


Ireland’s investments in some of the world’s most polluting fossil fuel companies through the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) for example, are completely at odds with its commitments to become a decarbonised society which plays its part in addressing the climate change crisis.
Following lobbying from Trócaire and its Burning Question campaigners, our TDs looked into the issue of Ireland’s investments in the fossil fuel industry, and they responded to us.
We’ve heard that the government’s existing fossil fuel investments will be sold ‘over time’, which is good to know.  

But there is no clear commitment as to when this will happen, and there is no guarantee that the government won’t re-invest in these or other fossil fuel companies in the future - so we have to keep the pressure on!
We are now asking supporters to sign a petition telling the Irish Government to stop investing in fossil fuels.  

This petition will be handed to the Minister for Finance, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment who are responsible for the investments Ireland makes and in which industries they are made.
This is our chance to ensure the government cannot invest in fossil fuel companies in the future. 

Please sign our petition

June 09, 2016

Answering the call of Laudato Sí: one year on

Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change

This week we are celebrating the first anniversary of the ground-breaking papal encyclical Laudato Sí, published on the 18 June 2015.  

In the encyclical, which is now an integral part of Catholic Social Teaching (CST), Pope Francis called on everyone across the world, not just Catholics, to stand up and take action on the destruction of the environment and the worsening and unjust impacts climate change.  

“At all levels, a change of mindset is needed.  It is the same mindset that is needed to tackle both climate change and world poverty.”(Laudato Sí 175)

What you can do

Climate change is an urgent crisis which requires action from all of us, on behalf of the world’s poorest.

Trócaire is inviting parishes and communities to take this opportunity to take action to mark the anniversary of Laudato Sí from the 13 to the 19 June.  

Here’s some suggested activities: 

Quote from Pope Francis: We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels [...] needs to be progressively replaced without delay.

June 02, 2016

Disaster preparedness in the bordos of San Pedro Sula, Honduras

By Santiago Agra Bermejo

Teresita sells corn tortillas for a living in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. 

But this tiny woman is not just a street vendor, she is a community leader trained to respond to natural disasters. 

Teresita lives in Gavión, one of the bordos of the city. These are illegal, impoverished settlements built over the earth dam erected to protect the city from flooding. 

Three members of bordo Gavión emergency committee. Teresita is in the middle.

Three members of bordo Gavión emergency committee. Teresita is in the middle. 

People without anywhere else to go, like Teresita in 2002, build shanty houses in areas prone to floods, landslides and now earthquakes. 

There is no sanitation, and fires from illegal energy connections are common. The maras, Central American violent gangs, control the neighbourhoods. 

Life here is tough, and climate change will only worsen it. 

But now 10 of these communities of San Pedro Sula and Choloma, including Teresita's Gavión, have their own trained local emergency committees (CODEL). 

More than 36,000 people have benefited from a Trócaire project co-funded by the European Commission and Irish Aid.  

The Mennonite Social Action Commission  (CASM), the NGO Association (ASONOG), along with the Honduras Association of Factories, trained local people how to respond in case of emergency. 

Emergency committee members of Bordo Bográn.

Emergency committee members of Bordo Bográn.

Around 4000 workers have also benefited from the project. Factory employees can address emergencies in crowded environments, and they know how to protect each other. 

The companies have also pledged to support communities in this task and to reinforce the local and national emergency system. 

"Before the project, it was every man for himself" remembers Doña Santos, who has been living in the Dixie bordo for almost 15 years. 

"But now we know what to do, we can help people", Teresita says. She is in charge of keeping larders and distributing food to people affected by emergencies. 

“People recognise us as somebody able to help, they look to us because we are trained", Eli Mercedes, from Bográn bordo, adds while she tries to study for the final exam of her disaster risk management course. 

"Now we know how to put out fires", a proud Claudia from Bográn states. Firefighters can't access the bordos, so the neighbours are by themselves. 

"The other day I witnessed an accident, and I was able to give first aid and call the ambulance", tells Dalsia, a mother of three from Dixie that earns a living recycling rubbish. Many of the CODEL leaders are women, as they represent the majority of the bordos population. 

"Men don't like to accept women's orders, but here they are pretty submissive!" Teresita says, trying not to laugh.  

People from the bordos also deal with violence, high HIV rates and stigmatisation. Inhabitants of these areas are usually discriminated against when applying for jobs and have a very low self-esteem.

This project has also helped participants to grow personally. "I have overcome my fears, and I don't feel vulnerable anymore, now I have my little business, and I have plans for the future", says Melkin, a new leader of the Bográn community who benefited from leadership training. 

"I want to be a psychologist," says Claudia.  "I would love to study business management", Wendy, one of the youngest CODEL members, adds. 

Thanks to the private sector involvement, some of the beneficiaries have been offered jobs in the factories that support the project. 

Eli Mercedes stops studying for a second to say "I love to feel part of something important, I am a new woman now, I do what I do firmly and with all my heart."

 "We won't give up. We are ready to keep going. Always," Claudia says smiling. 

"We won't disappoint all the people that have helped us", Teresita says while she keeps selling tortillas on the dangerous gang controlled streets of San Pedro Sula. 

April 21, 2016

Trócaire calls on Ireland to withdraw public money from the fossil fuel industry

Trócaire today launched a major new campaign calling on the incoming government to fully divest public money from the fossil fuel industry and to prohibit all future public investments in the industry.
Last year Ireland had investments of approximately €72m in the fossil fuel industry through the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), the successor to the National Pension Reserve Fund.

Trócaire said that it was unacceptable for the government to continue to invest public money into an industry that is driving climate change, leading to drought, hunger and humanitarian crisis in the developing world.

Woman holding climate change sign
Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan said:
“There are currently 60 million people across the developing world suffering food shortages due to drought. Irish people have consistently responded to humanitarian emergencies brought about by climate change, but these investments undermine those efforts. By investing in fossil fuel industries, Ireland is funding climate change.
“Ireland has committed itself to phasing-out fossil fuels as part of its role in combatting climate change. It makes no sense for the government to continue to invest in the very industry it is committed to phasing-out.
“In 2008 the then government enacted legislation to prohibit state investment in the cluster munitions industry on ethical grounds. Given the scale of the climate crisis facing the world, the time has come to do likewise with the fossil fuel industry.
“Withdrawing the ISIF investments would be hugely symbolic. Divesting from fossil fuels and prohibiting future investment in the industry would send a powerful message that there is a step change in Ireland toward a more ambitious and coherent policy on climate change.”
Today’s launch of The Burning Question campaign, asking people in Ireland whether their money is being used to fund climate change, sees Trócaire join the global divestment campaign calling for an end to investments in the fossil fuel industry. As of March 2016 more than 500 institutions around the world, with an approximate value of $3.4 trillion, have committed to divestment from fossil fuels.
Éamonn Meehan called on Irish institutions, organisations and companies to join the global divestment movement:
“Climate change is the biggest crisis of our time and compounds poverty in the developing world. Every day, Trócaire responds to the impacts of climate change in some of the poorest communities in the world. These people have done nothing to cause the problem and yet they are suffering the most through droughts, floods and storms made worse by climate change.
“The UN Paris Agreement adopted last December commits governments around the world to limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, but we know that this is not possible on current emissions levels. We need a rapid increase in ambition and action in order to meet international targets and save the world’s poorest people from even more extreme effects.
“The current refugee crisis will only grow into the future if we stand back and allow huge swathes of land become essentially uninhabitable and continue to make people even more vulnerable to extreme weather. The global divestment movement is demanding more ambition from political leaders. We are calling on Irish people to make this a political issue and to demand that TDs refuse to accept continued Irish investment in an industry that is destroying the planet.”

Additional notes:

1. The Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), the successor to the National Pension Reserve Fund, is an investment vehicle of the Irish Government funded by tax payer money. According to its most recent Annual Report, the ISIF had investments in some of the world’s most controversial fossil fuel companies, to a value of €72million.
2. The ISIF has invested in some of the planet’s worst climate offenders. Particularly concerning are investments in TransCanada, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipe in the US that was vetoed by President Obama, and Peabody Energy, a coal company which refers to climate change as ‘a non-existent harm’.
3. The UN Paris Agreement will be signed in New York on Friday, April 22nd. This Agreement commits governments around the world to decarbonisation, limiting global warming to well below two degrees Celsius, while pursuing a more ambitious limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
4. The White Paper 'Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030', launched in December 2015, commits Ireland to achieving 80-95% decarbonisation by 2050 and full decarbonisation by the end of the century.
5. Trócaire works in over 20 countries throughout the developing world, including some of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This includes Honduras, Malawi, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Guatemala.
6. For further information please visit

March 21, 2016

An oasis in the desert: Greenhouses transform drought-stricken community in Kenya

By Catherine M Waking’a, Trócaire East Africa

Turkana County is an arid area in north-west Kenya which has experienced significant drought in recent years due to climate change. 

Most of the people living there are pastoralists, relying on livestock for survival, who have to trek long distances in search of water and pasture. 

Following the devastating drought in East Africa in 2011, Trócaire established a recovery project with funding from Irish Aid, Caritas New Zealand and St Vincent de Paul in the areas of Turkwell and Turkana Central. 

The project aimed to reduce the need for humanitarian assistance in the area, by increasing resilience to climate change and improving livelihoods. 

In Turkwell, five greenhouses were established, supporting 50 households. The target group was comprised of vulnerable pastoral and agro-pastoral community members whose livestock and livelihoods were severely affected by drought in 2011. 

Greenhouses in Turkana

The project has also provided communities with safe water for consumption, through the construction of shallow wells and safe water storage tanks. 

The water from the shallow wells is used for human consumption by households that used to travel long distances to collect water and at times had to consume unclean, unsafe water from the Turkwell River. 

The greenhouse project faced some initial challenges, with traditional communities learning completely new ways of farming and cooperative working. 

The Diocese of Lodwar, with funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), conducted several complementary trainings on soil management, fertility, crop management, marketing and savings, seed distribution, and has supported farmers to manage the greenhouse committees in the most effective way. 

The greenhouse farmers now focus on growing high-value crops like spinach, tomatoes, capsicum, kales, eggplants and various vegetables consumed in homes across Turkwell. 

Some of the crops produced in the greenhouses are sold in nearby markets and these proceeds buy additional food for the community. 

Esther Aboi, a farmer in the project, says the greenhouses greatly contributed to improved livelihoods and says that community members now have food and consistent income.

She says: “We don’t go to sleep hungry and depend on wild fruits like we have done before”.

Esther Eboi and Napei Timat Longoli

Caption: Esther Eboi and Napei Timat Longoli tend to tomatoes in their greenhouse in Turkwell, Turkana County

The farmers are optimistic that with additional training on greenhouse farming they will continue to increase their crop yield. They are also working with the Diocese of Lodwar to improve their access to markets to sell their produce. 

Esther Aboi: “If we can access better markets and increase sales we will educate our children and change the face of Turkana County. We are encouraging more farmers to form groups and benefit from similar initiatives which help eradicate the culture of dependency.”

Now, the farmers are looking forward to exchange visits and study tours on greenhouse farming – to foster inter-community learning and motivation. 

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