Farmer Mary Sakala is a member of Pan Africa Climate Justice Alliance and Climate Change Network. Although she had to attend the COP 17 – and speak for herself – she was unable to secure a delegate accreditation. She spoke to Lindile Ndlovu of the Children’s Resource Centre in Cape Town and Khanyisile Xulu of Genuine Magazine in Durban.
Why are you in the COP 17?
I am a farmer and we are aware that the western countries are the ones that produce the most pollution. Farmers produce only 3% pollution.
What do you want to achieve in the COP 17?
The policy makers from different countries – including ours (Zambia) – always say that they speak on our behalf as farmers. They forget that we have our own voice and our own feelings. We wanted to be given just a day to say what we want. They limited our delegation and selected those they thought will speak on our behalf.
Are you expecting any positive response from COP 17?
I don’t think the outcomes of the COP 17 will be on our favour because there is no farmer that will speak for us. We don’t understand why they cannot allow us in for a day.
What problems do you have with the climate change?
It rains for a very long time, sometimes for three to four months or more. It starts raining from October and until April the following year. And sometimes it stays dry for too long. If there are floods our crops don’t grow and if there is drought there will be totally hunger. Both these extreme weathers bring different sicknesses: cholera, malnutrition, stagnant water, etc.
How does climate change affect you where you live?
There are times when we don’t have enough food. I have to give children all the food available and I am forced to fast for a long time. In some instances there are people who encourage us to be vegetarians. This is difficult for us because the cattle we farm are our only source of income.