The global poverty agenda in 2021 was dominated by two of the biggest challenges our clients will ever face: the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, challenges that affect all of us, and are expected to push more than 100 million vulnerable households into poverty.
These are challenges that affect our clients today, and in the future. In 2021, our partners in India and Indonesia helped clients through the pandemic, and with the support of our donors, we will continue to provide vaccination camps, health education and other support for as long as support is needed.
In the same way that our microfinance partners are playing a role in helping clients deal with COVID-19 today, we expect them to expand and develop the services they offer to build resilience in our clients to cope with the increasing threats from climate change in the future.
We reported last year on the research we have been undertaking to understand how our partners might adapt and expand the services they provide to help build clients’ resilience. As we have learned more about the challenges our clients face, and the support they need in a changing climate, we are also appreciating the need for collaboration across the development sector, combining expertise in microfinance, climate change, environment, agriculture, health and other disciplines.
Last year was a milestone year in the climate change story, with COP26 in Glasgow the key event on the agenda. Alongside the scientific and political platforms, the COP26 Resilience Hub brought together development practitioners and community stakeholders in Glasgow – and on virtual platforms – to discuss efforts on the ground to build greater resilience.
Opportunity International, together with our research partners University of Rwanda and Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) hosted one of the Resilience Hub’s 70 events, sharing an update on our research in Rwanda alongside a panel including the European Microfinance Platform, the World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), and the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research.
This was an opportunity for us to test the preliminary findings of our research, to discuss how financial inclusion might contribute to greater climate resilience in vulnerable communities, and to consider how we might work together with other key stakeholders to promote climate adaptation.
What we found was a shared belief that the microfinance platform has a role to play in promoting climate resilience. At the same time, much work still needs to be done to understand how financial services can be adapted to best promote resilience, and in particular to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable clients can benefit from financial services that meet their needs, particularly for Smallholder Farmers, and clients working in agriculture.
Through our participation in COP26, we also learned how others are working to understand climate issues including food security, water management and agricultural productivity. We are exploring options to collaborate with CGAP on further research on these issues. We will also make our research findings and any reports publicly available, as well as promoting lessons learned with our own network of microfinance partners.
Our climate resilience research in Rwanda will be concluded in the first half of 2022, but that will only be one step in our journey to develop more climate resilient services for our clients. It will take collaboration across all types of civil society organisations, government and the private sector to tackle climate change, and to help the most vulnerable communities adapt to the effects of climate change.
“Opportunity will only be one part of that much bigger picture, but we are determined to play a role in promoting resilience and providing a brighter future for our clients.” - Calum Scott, Global Impact Director, Opportunity International Australia
Opportunity's work - meeting the United Nations' SDGs
If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and end global poverty, it will take many different services, working together to address the needs of those living in poverty. This diagram shows the direct and indirect contribution of Opportunity’s work to the SDGs.