Climate change activists held an exhibition depicting giant onions on Saturday to highlight the impact of climate change on food security in the Maldives.
Co-founder of the Maldivian Youth Climate Network, Aisha Niyaz, said extreme weather events were becoming increasingly frequent and severe all over the planet due to climate change.
With the Maldives dependent on imports for 90 percent of its food, the country remained vulnerable to food price fluctuations when extreme weather events decreased crop yields in other parts of the world.
The onions symbolised the dramatic increase in onion prices in 2010 and 2011 after flash flooding caused extensive damage to onion farms in India. The price of onions throughout the country jumped from Rf 12 (US$ 0.8) to Rf 25 (US$ 1.6) Aisha said.
“It’s not just sea-level rise or erosion that we should be worried about. Climate change has a huge impact on Maldives’ food security,” Aisha said.
Only 10 percent of land in the Maldives was suitable for agriculture in the Maldives, Aisha noted and expressed concern over the lack of storage facilities for food in the Maldives. The Maldives only had storage capacity to store three months-worth of food, she said.
“We are very concerned about food security in the Maldives. Climate change is not something that is to happen in the distant future. We are feeling the effects of it even today,” she added.
The campaign has rallied communities from 188 countries around the world, celebrating May 5 as a global “Climate Impacts Day” to highlight the connections between climate change and extreme weather events.
350.org advocates for carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to be reduced from its current level of 392 parts per million (ppm) to below 350 ppm to preserve the plant. “350 means climate safety,” the organisation said on its website.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) youth wing members also held an event to mark Climate Impacts Day, wading into Malé city’s lagoon to call attention to flooding in the city due to high tides. The campaigners also called for democracy to be reinstated to the Maldives.
The MDP alleges the transfer of power on February 7 was a coup d’état and have called for fresh elections.
“On May 5, Maldives experienced the biggest full moon of the year, and the highest tide of the year. This led to flooding in some areas, especially on the eastern side of Malé near the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital,” MDP youth wing president Aminath Shauna said.
“We are vulnerable to flooding even from a full moon. So we wanted to call attention to how vulnerable the Maldives is to climate change and associated sea-level rises,” she said.
“Most importantly, if there is no democracy, we cannot address larger issues such as climate change,” she added. Shauna was the former administration’s focal point for United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC).
Shaviyani Atoll Kandhitheemu islanders also held a rally on its beach to emphasize Maldives’ vulnerability to sea level rise.
In 2009, former President Mohamed Nasheed led an underwater cabinet meeting calling for carbon dioxide levels to be lowered to 350ppm.