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Building climate resilience in Toledo District, Belize

05-12-2017

Humana People to People Belize, the local partner of the Foundation in this country, is developing a project in the Toledo District, co-financed by the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund, a fund managed by the Caribbean Development Bank, to help the local population adapt to the consequences of global warming and to be more resilient in the face of natural disasters. The action is based on the Farmers Club model to support small farmers.

The District of Toledo is characterized by poverty rates higher than the average for the whole country. The effects of climate change, moreover, are more pronounced here, due, among other elements, to the torrential rains that cause frequent floods.

He himself, Justaquio Tush, Minister of Agriculture of Belize, says that 'if we do not face the effects of climate change, we can lose much of the country's agriculture. Hence the importance of the support we give to projects like Farmers Club, which include the improvement of crops, the introduction of greenhouses or the breeding of small livestock, for example.

Keith Emmanuel, representative of the National Emergency Management Organization NEMO, involved in the action, says that 'Toledo is a region very affected by flooding due to torrential rains and tremors as a result of earthquakes that occur in neighboring Guatemala and Honduras'.  Elizabeth Muchamp, Project Leader, points out that "one of the most positive elements of this project is that it focuses on training local communities to be able to face the consequences of any type of natural disaster."

Early alerts, agriculture and training

Muschamp highlights three main elements of the project:

  • Tools for early warning of natural disasters, such as, for example, through radio communication between communities or the implementation of rain measurement systems to control rainfall levels. In this case, the project also works on the establishment of drainage systems to channel and evacuate water or the construction of shelters in which the population shelters until the storms pass.
  • Agriculture: putting the accent on the recovery of the fields and crops once they have suffered heavy rains and possible flooding. In this sense, the representative of NEMO considers it very important that the project works on issues such as food security.
  • Training and awareness of the population, both in terms of the effects of climate change and issues related to agriculture or gender equity. Justaquio Tush himself highlights as one of the keys the full integration of women in the project. Proof of the progress that is being made in this regard is that the Toledo District has won the Female Farmer of the Year award granted by the country's government for the past three years.

Both Icario Coy and Elvira XI, two of the farmers involved, are really satisfied with their participation in the project. Coy believes that the training they receive is key: thus, for example, thanks to it they have learned the advantages of using natural fertilizers, compared to the chemicals they used previously.

Building climate resilience in Toledo District, Belize. Video of the project

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