• Climate change - my grandmother's story

    Posted by Micah Challenge

    11 October, 2011

    Growing up in the city of Nairobi, Kenya, my favourite thing about visiting my grandmother in the rural countryside was the sounds of the roosters crowing in the morning and the cows mooing in the afternoon sun.

    The contrast between Nairobi's noisy hustle and bustle and the fresh smell of country air, with green, luscious, endless fields, was always refreshing.

    Nothing was as good as sitting next to the smoky fire having dinner and telling stories till midnight. We would walk under a star studded night sky and during the day, bath in the nearby river with the sound of crickets and birds all around.

    There's nothing like childhood memories... but in recent times these memories have been changed by a new reality.

    Every time I visited my grandmother when I was young, she would give me a chicken, potatoes, green bananas, arrowroots - "everything good and healthy," she used to say. When we'd leave she would load us upwith delectable country treats for us to take back to the ‘big city'.

    Now that I'm grown up, it's a very different story. Whenever we go see grandma, we have to buy her food at the local supermarket. The river I played in during my childhood has dried up and the chickens whose sounds made the country so beautiful have all but disappeared. Even the numbers of cows have decreased, with only one remaining. The recurrent lack of rain has taken its toll and now my grandmother can barely feed herself and the people she lives with, let alone us.

    The term ‘climate change' is not something my grandmother can say in English, let alone understand or read about in a newspaper, but she can talk about it from a personal perspective. Once upon a time she had enough food to feed herself, those around her and give us enough food to last us a month. Fast-forward less than a decade and now when we visit her, we are sent home empty handed, as the farm struggles to produce the bare minimum for her to survive.

    Although she doesn't understand the scientific reasoning, her experiences tell her the land and climate is changing.

    When they say climate change is not real, I think to myself they should ask my grandmother. She would tell you more about climate change than most scientists or experts.

    To her climate change has meant that she has less food, the river she would get water from has dried up and she can barely support her family.

    Where in decades past the land was plentiful, it no longer produces as much food as it did, the rains are shorter and scarcer, the sun shines longer and brighter in the same sky; so much has changed... and I wonder where did all our food go?


    Ann Njiru is a Micah Challenge supporter who is currently living and studying in Adelaide. For more information on climate change and how it's impacting the MDGs, visit our Climate Justice page.