If weather is unpredictable

by Terre des hommes | Terre des hommes (Tdh) - Switzerland
Thursday, 17 April 2014 10:44 GMT

@Tdh/François Struzik

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* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

If weather is unpredictable


Climate change is a reality today: extreme weather conditions such as floods, cyclones and droughts are occurring more frequently all over the world with devastating consequences for local populations. Terre des hommes (Tdh) donors found out at an exclusive event how these changes in weather develop and how they affect Tdh work in developing countries.

Will the doom and gloom be followed by sunnier days? There has scarcely been a more talked about subject then the weather. The weather is something which affects us all to varying degrees. There can be no denying that the changes in weather can now be felt and more so in certain regions which are in particular danger. Last year alone three cyclones hit Asia – with fatal consequences. Sandra Boner, weather presenter for SRF and Tdh ambassador, and Nathalie Praz, Tdh programme manager for Asia, are well acquainted with the weather and its effects. As speakers at the event they both tried to build a bridge between the climate changes experienced today and the humanitarian aid to be given tomorrow and provided fascinating insights into their respective work.


More than ten years on the rooftop for the programme Meteo

A weekly television game show in a familiar setting or an elaborate entertainment gala in front of a large studio audience: the event took off with a guided tour of the SRF television studios – Sandra Boner’s place of work – enabling the guests to see how things work behind the scenes. Boner, who trained as an occupational therapist, has been presenting the weather forecast programme “Meteo“ for more than ten years on Swiss radio and television. Boner and a team of seven meteorologists use indicators such as air pressure, temperature and humidity to predict weather reports for the coming days. As presenter of the programme she aims high: all the way up to the top of the “Meteo” roof on the 14th floor of the SRF building in Zurich’s Fernsehstrasse from where she tells Mr and Mrs Switzerland how the weather will be the following day. According to Boner, a native of Solothurn, it does not matter if it is windy, rainy or stormy – the show only takes place inside if there is “a bad thunderstorm and lightening”. Even after ten years Sandra Boner is still enthusiastic, “every day brings different weather and thus new challenges.”

The effects of climate change on developing countries

Thanks to programmes such as “Meteo” people in Switzerland can use the detailed forecasts about storms to prepare themselves; in many parts of the world people are not so lucky and storms usually come as an unpleasant surprise. The numbers of women and children killed following natural catastrophes are disproportionately high. Many children go missing and are separated from their families. Material damage is also enormous: damns collapse, houses and schools are destroyed, fields are flooded. “Paddy fields which are flooded with salt water cannot be used again for three years,” declares Nathalie Praz, Tdh programme manager for Asia. She explains to the guests how families lose their livelihood and our no longer able to sustain themselves. Regions which are affected by natural catastrophes on a regular basis also have to struggle with long-term problems: “more and more children suffer from malnutrition and diarrhea and have no access to clean water,” explains Nathalie Praz.

Terre des hommes tackles the root of the problem

Last year alone three cyclones swept through Asia (“Mahasen” (http://www.tdh.ch/en/news/bangladesh-reconstructing-now-for-better-prevention-in-the-future) in Bangladesh, “Phalin” (http://www.tdh.ch/en/news/india-emergency-aid-and-rehabilitation-cyclone-phailin) in India and “Hayian” (http://www.tdh.ch/en/news/philippines-20000-people-benefitting-tdhs-emergency-response) in the Philippines) with devastating consequences for local populations. As a result, Tdh started three emergency campaigns. The foundation led the way by providing immediate relief and coordinating reconstruction and development. First of all immediate needs must be met. The foundation then pushes for the rebuilding of infrastructure which can resist catastrophes. Tdh also strives to raise awareness among people living in particularly vulnerable areas and teach them relevant skills and competences so that they can adapt themselves better to climate change and increase their levels of resistance. The flood- and highwater-resistant vegetable gardens are a good example of this kind of project:“since the gardens are built at a higher level they are protected from floods and the family can still harvest their vegetables,“explains Nathalie Praz. These gardens are particularly popular in Bangladesh and are a good example of the little things local populations can do to protect themselves from the immediate consequences of climate change.

Every year, Terre des hommes offers sustainable solutions and a better future for over two million children and their relatives. Learn more about our emergency aid projects (http://www.tdh.ch/en/topics/protection/humanitarian-crises).