“All breakages must be paid for!” A sign that makes you stop and think, and hopefully tread more carefully to avoid any costly fines. When it comes to the climate, who pays for breaking that? We are past the point of debating whether or not it’s broken as we witness even more catastrophic weather, lives lost and increasing environmental destruction. 

In March Cyclone Freddy delivered a year’s worth of rain to Malawi in the space of four weeks. Since then the death toll has soared, there has been mass displacement and homes and livelihoods have been destroyed. Many farmers saw their crops washed away, just as they were ripening for harvest.

Christian Aid works with the Nandolo Farmers Association to encourage pigeon pea farmers to join and reap the benefits of being part of a large cooperative.  Our partner’s work has been at the heart of this year’s Christian Aid Week appeal.  The pigeon pea is a legume. It’s hardy, protein-rich and resilient: it thrives when the rains fail and has been invaluable to communities adapting to prolonged periods of drought. Nandolo works with farmers to help them command better prices for peas by storing them to sell when prices are favourable, as well as supporting families to diversify their incomes.

At the start of 2023 the cooperative was full of optimism about the export opportunities presented by the global pigeon pea market and there was hope that the farmers could set up a processing plant. Cyclone Freddy has disrupted those plans.  Susan Chimbayo, chair of Nandolo, told us: “This year we worked tirelessly to have bumper yields as we were told that we could export Nandolo (to India). This was a motivating factor for many farmers under the network and we distributed lots of seeds and the fields looked so promising, but alas, many of our fields have been washed away, taking away the hopes that we had for the year.”

 Although the hardy pigeon pea will eventually bounce back, the immediate challenge is for families who have lost everything. It’s yet another example of the loss and damage that climate change wreaks, specifically on those who’ve  done the least to cause our climate emergency. Who pays to fix this? Christian Aid believes that these climate disasters have been caused by the biggest polluters, and that it’s time for them to pay up. In a recent Savanta poll commissioned by Christian Aid, 8 in 10 of Scots polled said they felt it was wrong for oil and gas companies to make record profits, without taking responsibility for the damage caused by their activities.

We’re calling for the UK Government to ensure that the biggest polluters contribute the most to the loss and damage fund, so that people can get back on their feet when disaster strikes. We all need to tread more lightly on the earth to ensure everyone can live a life free from poverty and injustice.  To find out more please visit: www.caid.org.uk

Val Brown is Head of Christian Aid Scotland