Nowadays, however, many climate scientists believe that these extreme weather patterns are occurring more frequently, more violently and less predictably because of climate change. And it particularly affects the poorest, most rural communities. Many smallholder crops are instantly destroyed, impacting earnings generated from farming and creating the need for additional sources of income.
For Lorena, this initially took the form of a small ‘sari-sari’ (which means ‘mix-mix’) kiosk to sell her husband’s rice. To set it up, she applied for, and was granted, a small agricultural loan of 25,000 PHP (€ 470) by ASHI.
ASHI became an Oikocredit partner in 2011 and uses Oikocredit’s investments to expand its operations across more than 20 branches around the Philippines. They focus particularly on providing microfinance and other support to female agricultural entrepreneurs living in poor, rural areas and vulnerable settlements near river banks.
Jimmy Ramos, head of ASHI operations, told me that their pastoral approach “begins with ensuring that each client - or nani (an affectionate term for ‘mother’) - comes from the poorest agricultural groups so that our mission, and their progress out of poverty (PPI), can be measured from the outset”.
Before a nani is granted an agricultural loan, she must join a small group of like-minded women to assess her ability and commitment to pay off the loan, and to attend regular meetings that are designed to monitor and support the group financially, practically and emotionally.
Thirteen years on from her first loan, Lorena’s life has measurably improved. Whilst ASHI has granted Lorena further ‘incentive’ loans for home improvements and educating their 13-year old daughter, Madeleine; Enrico has also contributed by working as a machinist in Korea and Dubai for many years so that they could build their dream house and expand his farming activities.