Climate change hits already marginalized communities the hardest. Dozens of isolated Maya-Q’eqchi’ communities in Izabal, near Guatemala’s Atlantic coast, are currently facing devastating flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Eta, which tore through Central America last week. In the weeks and months to come, these communities will be relying on health promoters trained with Hesperian’s materials, including our Community Guide to Environmental Health. This has always been an essential text for health promoters. It provides practical information on making water safe for drinking, emergency and long-term sanitation, preventing erosion and mudslides, etc., all in ways that are sustainable for people and the planet.
The Community Guide to Environmental Health is used around the world and is available online for free in 6 languages and in print in 17 languages! It is also used in the US where this year’s hurricanes, fires, and heat waves have proven that climate change isn’t just an emergency waiting to happen — it’s a crisis here and now. Hopefully, the incoming Biden administration will follow through on its campaign promises to undo the more than 100 environmental rule reversals of the past 4 years, rejoin the Paris climate accord, and begin treating climate change as the emergency it is.
As Greta Thunberg of the Sunrise Movement said recently, “As long as we don’t treat the climate crisis like a crisis, we can have as many conferences as we want, but it will just be negotiations, empty words, loopholes and green wash”. Community organizers and health workers use our materials to support the immediate needs of people affected by climate disasters as well as to organize their communities against the threat climate change poses to our health and survival. As we work to transform environmental health in our communities, we also must keep up the pressure on the politicians. Again, as Greta put it: “I wish there was one politician or one party that was strong enough on these issues. Imagine how easy it would be if you could just support a politician.”