The world's poor are those most exposed to climate change that often brings drought, flooding, and other extreme weather.
DM2009 finalist projects aim to protect the most vulnerable from these disasters, while also helping them to develop economically. Overall, such initiatives are called "linking adaptation to development."
In Mozambique, droughts keep about 500,000 people in chronic food insecurity, and indications are that dry periods aggravated by climate change will stretch out beyond the current "hunger period" of October to January.
Helvetas Mozambique, one of the finalists, describes what happens:
"Without access to quality seeds, subsistence farmers practicing rain-fed agriculture continue recycling grain that has been exhausted after generations of cultivation, producing poor yields. Subsequent storage losses cause 22 percent of rural households to run out of stocks and suffer from food shortages during the..'hunger period.'"
To break this cycle, Swiss-based Helvetas proposes what it calls a "zero-emission fridge" consisting of low-cost storage facilities run by community-owned seed banks that "distribute quality seeds of improved crop varieties and serve as a social safety net to benefit 10,000+ rural households -- focusing particularly on the most resource-poor and vulnerable groups" (photo at left).
In the Andes region of Ecuador, flooding is a continual threat. The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), working with the Catholic University of Santiago de Guayaquil, has a project that would produce flood-resistant elevated bamboo houses costing under US$400 per unit. The houses would be built in Guayaquil, in coastal eastern Ecuador, where, according to INBAR, "roughly 40 percent of the population...lives in unauthorized, poorly-constructed housing, with low levels of urban services (eg., sewage disposal, refuse collection, water and electricity)."
Production of the houses would not only provide better shelter for those who need it most, but also create jobs in growing bamboo and converting it into building material (photo at right), and, as well, help the environment by restoring clear-cut bamboo forests.
Other finalists, coming from 47 countries in all the regions of the world, also have projects that focus on protecting the most vulnerable and improving their livelihood, and, in many cases, reversing environmental degradation.