Stories For Change 49

Dear all,
2010 brings a fresh start. Copenhagen did not bring the results we hoped for so what is imperitive now is that we campaign to let governments know how seriously we take these issues.
Commitment for Life wishes you all a justice filled and hopeful New Year.

Being 19 years old, pregnant, single and living in a small rural community may not be the ideal situation for any young woman. But Gabrielle Walker of Mount Vernon, St Thomas, is plucking for herself a brighter future through chicken rearing.

Walker is one of more than 100 women who have been benefiting from the Creating Sustainable Livelihoods EU/Christian Aid project being implemented by the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre in five St Thomas communities.

As part of the project, Walker received 100 chickens in May 2009 and effectively charted a new path. Prior to that, she said she used to plant pepper and carrots with her father, an ex-banana worker, but now she has created her own enterprise.

“I sell (chickens) to people in Morant Bay. I sell to restaurants and household,” said Walker, who is assisted by her family. “The biggest money I made when I sold chickens one time is $15,000,” she shared shyly.

Securing a market sometimes proves challenging for many farmers across the country. For Walker, this concern is no less compelling.

“When I have chicken to be ready in six weeks, I start looking the market four weeks before, so I already look the market before the chicken ready,” she said.

The young businesswoman also networks with key persons in the area to secure orders. She credits some of her business savvy to the training she has received from the project.

“We get marketing training from RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority),” she emphasised.

In spite of the gains made so far, her main

challenge lies in collecting money from sales.

“Sometimes, you don’t get the money from the market same time. Sometimes it takes one month to get the money,” she explained. But Walker is equal to the task and plans to keep raising chickens in the New Year.

In fact, the young farmer intends to use her profit to fund her tuition for nursing school after the baby is born.

“That is the plan, and if I go to school I will raise chicken same way,” she said. Ultimately, Walker believes the “project has been good to me so far and it has helped the community to be involved in (development) activities”.

The Creating Sustainable Livelihoods project was initiated following the decline of the local banana industry, from which many women earned their living. In December 2008, the livelihoods project first engaged community members in committees to identify areas of concern and then later provided tangible benefits such as providing cash crops, chickens and other livestock. In a bid to produce and market chickens on a collective basis, Walker and the other 27 beneficiaries in Mount Vernon will soon benefit from the construction of a slaughterhouse. The abattoir will be completed in a few weeks.

Article reproduced from ‘The Jamaician Gleaner’- permission given


Bangladesh felt they were entitled to ask for at least 15 percent of any climate adaptation fund pledged by developed countries at Copenhagen. They see themselves as the most vulnerable country to climate change and know the world has already recognised that they need assistance for adaptation. At least 20 million Bangladeshis, of a total population about 150 million, would be displaced if sea levels rose by one metre. Many more would be affected if glaciers on the Himalayas melted due to global warming. During the Copenhagen meeting Bangladesh demanded that

the twenty nine developed countries mostly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions should contribute one point five per cent of their GDP to a climate adaptation fund. Another key demand of Bangladesh at the conference was the need for transfer of technology from the developed countries to those most vulnerable.

The prime minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina said ‘An agreement has been agreed upon taking in most of all our concerns.” She was speaking hours after the world leaders hammered out a deal.

The Copenhagen Accord has been strongly condemned here as a back-door deal that excludes the poor and dooms the world to disastrous climate change. Hasina appealed to the wealthiest countries to cut carbon emissions, which are blamed for climate change, by 45 percent of 1990 levels by 2020, exceeding the pledges made by any of them.


With the IMF tentatively assessing Zimbabwe’s future, civil society and politicians in that country are beginning to discuss the possibility of debt cancellation once the country is on a firmer footing. Already intense debate has begun as to the appropriateness of the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) scheme to Zimbabwe, with many in civil society and the Movement for Democratic Change pushing for debt audits and cancellation on the basis of illegitimacy.

At a recent international donor conference in Berlin in October 2009, several donors called for Zimbabwe to be classified as a HIPC but there are problems with this: HIPC takes a long time and is tied to a whole range of controversial conditions. Perhaps most important, there will somewhat ironically be a significant increase in the external debt service burden over the short-term as Zimbabwe is forced to clear its arrears to the multilaterals – an essential step to HIPC status. Sometimes donors fund this, but often with loans, leading to large amounts of new debt not covered by the debt cancellation process. Some political analysts in the country have argued that there are two possible routes for the country:

1) the HIPC Initiative

2) the ‘look-East’ option, i.e. to mortgage Zimbabwe’s significant natural resources to emerging lenders which do not exert policy conditionalities on the country.

According to the IMF, Zimbabwe is already in “debt distress”. As at the end of 2008 Zimbabwe’s public and publicly guaranteed (PPG) external debt stood at $5.1 billion. In relative terms, Zimbabwe’s external debt is approximately 166 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and 320 percent of annual export receipts.

Taken from Jubilee Debt Campaign policy Update December 2009

ACTION 2010: Time for climate justice

So many people from United Reformed Churches all over the country marched at London or Glasgow for the big Wave event before the UN Summit in Copenhagen. If the government needed clarification that climate change is an issue people feel strongly about, they will be in no doubt now. To see images of URC campaigners, go to and click on the photo of Revd David Coleman on the home page.

Copenhagen was a failure by the rich countries to deliver the emission cuts and finance needed to secure a legally-binding agreement. Instead there was a weak ‘Copenhagen Accord’ that has not even been agreed by all countries, and which is completely inadequate in addressing the urgent climate change crisis. This lack of political will is a huge blow to the world’s poorest. With such a weak outcome in Copenhagen we need to make sure we do not let up on the campaigning. Christian Aid, as part of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, are asking you to email Gordon Brown at
Campaigning for climate justice will continue in 2010. We are all needed to continue the fight to ensure the world’s poorest do not carry the burden of a problem they did not create.

How about encouraging a young person in your community or church to do something really life changing? Platform2 is a global volunteering scheme for 18 to 25 year olds who wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit a developing country and get involved with global issues of justice and poverty. For more details go to:

Linda Mead – Commitment for Life Programme Co-ordinator,
Mission Team, United Reformed Church
01702 315981
Commitment for Life is here to help United Reformed Churches work for a fairer world and for peace with justice, recognising that change and response starts with each one of us.

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