Wednesday 21 February 2018

Trocaire's Meabh shines light on climate change

Swords woman Meabh Smith with Ernestina Muyeye from Malawi. Photo: Jeannie O’Brien
Swords woman Meabh Smith with Ernestina Muyeye from Malawi. Photo: Jeannie O’Brien

Nicola Donnelly

A SWORDS aid worker is heading a campaign to raise awareness of protecting the planet from climate change and saving the planet's water.

Meabh Smith of Trocaire Ireland is also raising awareness through this Lent's Trocaire campaign about living more sustainably.

'Despite the fact that in Ireland we seem to have an endless supply of water and rain, it is still very much a precious global resource,' said Meabh. 'Nationally, we use 70 per cent more water today than we did 40 years ago with the average Irish adult using 150 litres a day. But not everywhere has easy access to water.'

She said Enestina Muyeye (9) from Malawi, who is featured on this year's Trócaire box, has just 20 litres of dirty river water to use each day and her community grapples with frequent periods of drought that dries up the land and rivers.

'I spent time with Enestina and her family last year and was shocked to see how insecure their access to water is. Her family lives on a relatively small quantity of polluted water that frequently makes them sick and they face five hungry months, because a lack of rain means they can't grow food.'

This Lent, Trócaire is highlighting the global water crisis, which has left almost a billion people without clean drinking water and millions more without water for sanitation and irrigation.

'A critical issue related to the global water crisis is the global climate crisis, which links back to our consumption patterns in the West,' said Meabh. 'Ireland is among the highest carbon polluters in Europe per capita. By polluting the atmosphere with harmful greenhouses gases, we are warming the planet and this is being felt in poor countries like Malawi, where people are suffering annual cycles of drought.'

According to the UN, based on existing patterns, almost half of the world's population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030.

'While we have to address our carbon emissions at a government level, we can also do our bit at an individual level, which will not only save the planet but save money,' said Meabh. 'For example, when we think of our use of water, we instantly think of the water we drink, but much of the water we use is invisible. It takes 2,500 litres of water to produce a hamburger, 9,842 litres of water to make a pair of jeans and ten litres of water to produce one sheet of paper.

'Living more sustainably is about being more conscious of our consumption and waste by reducing, recycling and reusing more, so that we are less wasteful of precious resources such as water in our homes and workplaces.'

This Lent Trócaire is encouraging people to take a pledge to try and live more sustainably by making some small lifestyle changes. A wide range of tips on how to live more sustainably can be found on

Suggestions include turning off the tap when brushing teeth or washing dishes, spending less time in the shower, cycling and walking more frequently, switching to low energy light bulbs and fully switching off appliances such as televisions and computers.

Trocaire's Lenten Campaign runs until Easter Sunday 20th April. Trocaire boxes are available in parishes throughout Dublin, by visiting or by calling 1850 408 408.

Fingal Independent

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