Helena Christensen photographing Mez at Kakuma. Photo: Drew Doggett/Oxfam
Helena Christensen met communities affected by climate change, in Turkana, Northern Kenya

From drought-hit northern Kenya, Oxfam Ambassador Helena Christensen joins final call for climate action at Durban

“It is shameful that some of the biggest emitters and most powerful nations, like the US, are blocking real progress that could prevent millions more people in Africa and elsewhere being driven into hunger.”
Helena Christensen
Oxfam Global Ambassador
Published: 9 December 2011

Just hours before the UN climate talks taking place in Durban (South Africa) wrap up, Oxfam Global Ambassador and photographer Helena Christensen urges ministers to agree a deal which delivers for the world’s poorest people who are already suffering from the impact of climate change.

Helena is currently on project work for Oxfam in Turkana, in Northern Kenya, one of the many regions in the Horn of Africa affected by a severe drought which has put over 13 million people at risk. Helena is witnessing, first-hand, the impact that extreme weather events – which are set to increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change – pose to food security in pastoralist communities, at a time when the price of food and fuel are sky-rocketing.

"Having spent the last few days speaking to pastoralists who have been terribly affected by persistent droughts, it is clear that ministers meeting in Durban must respond to the calls for urgent action to tackle climate change. It is shameful that some of the biggest emitters and most powerful nations, like the US, are blocking real progress that could prevent millions more people in Africa and elsewhere being driven into hunger,” said Helena Christensen.

"I spoke to, Kiyonga, a 64 year-old woman, who used to depend on her cows and goats to feed her family. But drought has killed all the animals and she has been forced to abandon her village and her whole way of life. She now survives by growing crops but is at the mercy of the devastating change in weather patterns."

"Kiyonga's biggest worry is not being able to send her children and grandchildren to school to have a better future, she uses the little money she makes to buy very basic food. This is yet another mother to tell me the price of maize had doubled over the past year."

"Michael, a 53 year-old blind man, outlined the struggle of his community in Lokore, where people are facing two huge problems: rising food prices and climate change."

"It's people like Kiyonga and Michael who urgently need to see the money that rich countries pledged for the world's poorest at the Copenhagen summit two years ago. Ministers in Durban must find a way to make this happen.”

Tim Gore, Oxfam's climate change lead, said:Rich countries must now deliver the money they have promised to help poor countries adapt to climate change and develop in a low carbon way. New sources of long-term finance to flow through the Green Climate Fund must be agreed as soon as possible for the sake of the world’s poorest people whose lives are already being devastated by the impacts of climate change. A carbon charge on shipping is one such source which could ensure that the fund does not remain an empty shell.”

Read more

UN Climate Change Summit 2011, Durban (South Africa) 

Notes to Editors

To download photos: http://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/?c=10432&k=5b0e171ebd

To download footage: http://bit.ly/szWeBT

This is Danish supermodel and photographer Helena Christensen's third trip with Oxfam, the previous ones being Nepal and Peru two years ago, when she also attended the UN climate talks in Copenhagen to ask leaders to act. More at http://www.oxfam.org/en/about/ambassadors/helena-christensen

Contact Information

In Kenya: Angela Corbalan: + 32 473 56 22 60 / angela.corbalan@oxfaminternational.org

In South Africa (Durban): Georgette Thomas: +44 (0)7824 503108 / +27 81 5820726 / GThomas@oxfam.org.uk

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