May 15, 2015

African Countries Told to Help Enrich the Continent’s Position on Climate Change

George Mhango
News Analyst
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
May 15, 2015

State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Ethiopia, Ato Sileshi Getahum urged Malawian delegates and those from other African countries to come up with good recommendations to enrich Africa’s position on climate change ahead of the next Conference of the Parties (COP) in the next few months. This in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during a three-day meeting aimed at launching the first-ever climate smart agriculture (CSA) alliance forum organised by the NEPAD Agency and the African Union Commission.

The forum is part of an integral part of Comprehensive Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in relation to attaining the productivity, food security, prosperity and resilience goals as said in the 2015-25 Results Framework endorsed at the Malabo African Union (AU) Summit held in June last year in Equatorial Guneau.

Climate change as a result of global warming continues to cause havoc in various parts of the world, drying up farmlands that livestock used to depend on.

Climate change as a result of global warming continues to cause havoc in various parts of the world, drying up farmlands that livestock used to depend on.

Getahun also urged Africa to continue to pressurize industrialized countries to step up their efforts and save humanity from imminent catastrophe that climate change and variability is leading to.

“As we learnt from the recently published IPCC reports, no matter how well some of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol performed, to this day, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have not stopped rising. Parties therefore must make substantial progress this time in COP21,” she said.

Getahun said this, therefore, needs a bold 2015 agreement which should include necessary means of implementation, capacity strengthening, appropriate technology transfer and the finance required to manage ecosystems to ensure food and nutrition security, sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

“With agriculture the mainstay of Africa’s economy, it is important that we invest in and practice climate smart agriculture. We need to show the rest of the world our adaptive capacity and remain positive that more development partners will come on board to help Africa upscale all the various CSA investments on the continent,” she explained.

But in her remarks, Minister Councilor Ms Tove Stub of the Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa backed the launch of the CSA Alliance Forum, saying it shows that African countries are committed to championing positive agricultural production in view of climate change effects, a point NEPAD Director of Programmes and Coordination Estherine Fotabong alluded to.

Stub stated that Africa through NEPAD is the first continent to develop such an agenda which is also aimed at sharing knowledge, new farming technologies and developing policies to promote CSA.

“The launch of the CSA Alliance Forum is a crucial step to the African agenda of promoting CSA considering that agriculture remains central to development on the continent. In fact NEPAD is to chair a global alliance and this experience from this first-ever alliance on CSA will assist globally,” she said.

Speakers from Malawi indicated that Lilongwe has developed policies that are meant to move in tandem with initiatives of NEPAD and African Union on how to mitigate effects of climate change thereby boosting agriculture production.

With Malawi’s economy described as agro-based experts and farmers are likely to use the session as a tool to boosting agricultural production considering that the model is in line with sustainable land and water management (SLWM) also championed by NEPAD.

May 13, 2015

Ethiopia: NEPAD Launches Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance

George Mhango
May 13, 2015

In what could be described as major breakthrough in bringing farmers, agricultural experts, policy makers and members of the private sector together, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has launched the Africa Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA).

Speaking during the launch on Wednesday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Estherine Fotabong, NEPAD programs director said the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance is the first such continental platform following the 2014 Malabo Declaration for mainstreaming climate change in agriculture.

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, resilience and adaptation, as well as contributes towards reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.
It therefore leads to overall food security and nutrition in the face of climate change.

Fotabong emphasized the importance of building capacity at all levels, especially for smallholder farmers and institutions in order to attain the goal of 25 million African farmers practising climate-smart agriculture by 2025.

Fotabong also stated that the Africa CSA Alliance needs to recognize interventions that respond to both the challenges and opportunities that climate change brings.

“In order to make rural transformation attainable, climate change needs to be also mainstreamed in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), Africa’s instrument for agricultural growth and economic development,” said Fotabong.

At the 31st African Union Summit held in Malabo in June last year, Heads of State and Government were clear in their resolve to commit to action on the agriculture-climate change nexus issue.

In the Summit decisions on NEPAD, the Heads of State and Government endorsed the NEPAD programme on agriculture climate change, including its components on women empowerment, intensified support to small-holder farmers and the setup of an African Climate Smart-Agriculture Coordination Platform as means in pursuit of what was endorsed as the African Union Vision to have at least 25 million farm households practicing CSA by 2025.

A Farmer Irrigates his Crops in Matwiku village of Laikipia County in Kenya

A Farmer Irrigates his Crops in Matwiku village of Laikipia County in Kenya

To achieve this, Africa is leading a country-driven and regionally-integrated Initiative that will provide the tools for action and platform for partnerships that will deliver results. Centred on Nepad, the initiative will be fully aligned with and an integral part of the CAADP framework, as well as cultivating the necessary multi-sectoral engagements, including the environment, natural resources and climate change policies and programmes.

“To support countries, a virtual and physical African Alliance was established where knowledge is exchanged to identify best practice and partnerships across stakeholder groups are catalysed,” she said.

Fotabong said the alliance will also foster a coherent African CSA Agenda as well as sustaining the collective power and urge for action. It will also facilitate assessment of individual (country, region, sector, etc.) performance against continental and even global benchmarks.

Ethiopian State Minister for Agriculture, Sileshi Getahun stated that the Africa CSA Alliance provides an opportunity to take concrete action in climate change for the benefit of African agriculture.

“The field trip for participants at the Forum to Ethiopian projects will enable them to witness first-hand the interventions in climate-smart agriculture in the Ethiopian national strategy. We need to show the rest of the world our adaptive capacity and up-scale such practices,” Getahun said.

Ethiopian Minister for Women, Children and Youth Affairs, Zenevu Tadesse called on all stakeholders, including governments, civil society and private sector, to support local systems and expand to scale up climate-smart agriculture. The Minister stressed that the Africa CSA Alliance is an important instrument towards achieving climate-smart agriculture in Africa.

Minister Councillor Tove Stub of the Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa, maintained that the Africa CSA Alliance is an important milestone following the 2014 Malabo Declaration in dealing with the challenges of climate change for the benefit of smallholder farmers.

Launched as Africa’s Strategic Approach for Food Security and Nutrition in the Face of Climate Change, the Africa CSA Alliance was attended by about 150 representatives and participants from governments, regional economic communities, farmers’ organisations, private sector, civil society, specialised agencies and development partners.

May 8, 2015

Malawi: Government Rehabilitates Water Plant

George Mhango
May 8, 2015

The Malawi Government has completed rehabilitation of Mudi Pumping Station and Walkers Ferry Treatment Plant as well as the construction of three reservoirs, each with a capacity of 5 000 cubic metres together with their booster stations, pumping and supply pipelines in Blantyre.This is according to the President of Malawi Peter Mutharika.

President of Malawi Peter Mutharika

President of Malawi Peter Mutharika

Mutharika says such works will go a long way in alleviating acute water shortages in the city of Blantyre.

“Government further is commenced to upgrading works on Kamuzu Barrage in Liwonde in order to address the structural stability concerns of the barrage and to improve its water regulatory capacity

“We finalized construction of Songwe Water Supply System; and undertook integration and expansion of Salima Lakeshore and Kasungu Water Supply Schemes,” he says.

Mutharika also notes that government will rehabilitate and expand twelve gravity fed schemes that will entail construction of 600 cubic metres localized storage reservoirs and break pressure tanks and 2,925 Communal Water Points.

“In addition, we will commence construction of 450 new boreholes and 166 sanitation facilities at public institutions such as schools, health and market centres,” he says.

May 6, 2015

Kenyan Pastoralists Shift to Crop Farming As Drought and Water Shortage Hit Harder

Mary Mwendwa
May 06, 2015

Meet Diba Jibalo, a father of seven from Merti Division, Isiolo County Eastern Kenya who has suffered a lot while rearing livestock due to water shortage and has lost many when droughts strike.

In this radio feature, produced in Kiswahili language by Mary Mwenda, Diba narrates how his life has been transformed since he started farming maize, water melon and vegetables.

His family is now food secure as a result. He is among many Kenyan farmers in dry land who have adopted by practicing agropastoralism which has proved successful as they can now save lives and keep grains for future use.

Also in the same feature below, Alex Alusa climate change expert gives insights on why policy is important on climate change adaptation.

April 27, 2015

Cultural Turn to Biodiversity Conservation

Fredrick Mugira
April 27, 2015

Summary
Indigenous people have a broad knowledge of how to live sustainably. However, formal education systems have disrupted the practical everyday life aspects of indigenous knowledge and ways of learning, replacing them with abstract knowledge and academic ways of learning.

Suggested introduction
The dominance of the western culture in Uganda and several other developing countries has drawn the young generation away from their culture. This has undermined the potential of indigenous knowledge in solving social problems such as environmental degradation. And yet it is apparent that even with rapid advancement in western science and technologies, the global environment of the twenty first century is still being degraded.

This feature by Fredrick Mugira calls for a cultural turn to biodiversity conservation.

CUE IN: “While I was growing up …
CUE OUT: …sustainable biodiversity and ecosystems.”

April 25, 2015

University Of Florida Boosts Visualization of Water Purification Designs

George Bradley and University of Florida
April 25, 2015

Did you know that up to 748 million people rely on contaminated or unprotected water sources and 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities worldwide?

World Health Organisation estimates that 1.8 billion people use a fecally contaminated drinking water source, 2.5 billion lack access to improved sanitation facilities and more than 840,000 people die from water related diseases annually.

Contaminated water is the number one cause of death in developing countries, causing diseases such as cholera, hepatitis, typhoid fever, malaria, ascariasis, dengue fever and many other deadly illnesses.

In fact, contaminated water is the number one public health concern globally based on its impact to society, according to the WHO. Fortunately, the WHO estimates that 10% of the global disease burden could be prevented with improved water supply and sanitation.

In light of this, a number of innovations and technologies are providing growing solutions to this problem.

The University of Florida in USA has created an infographic that can help people to visualize five water purification designs that would greatly benefit third world communities.

UF Online Infographic: Five Water Purification Designs for Third World Communities
UF Online B.S. in Environmental Management

April 24, 2015

Then and Now: Malawi Residents Cope With Flood Aftermath

George Mhango
April 24, 2015

Several communities in Malawi are still counting losses, three months after floods ravaged different parts of the country destroying people’s property and forcing them to seek for refuge in Displaced People’s Camps (IDPs).

The flash floods were a result of heavy and intense rains. They left close to 180,000 people displaced.

Although the situation is slowly returning to normal in some of the affected communities, quite a lot of affected people still live in camps

One of the major challenges that cropped up following the floods was lack of safe water after flood waters mixed with sewerage.

George Mhango has just been in Bangula camp in Nsanje district on the boundary between Malawi and Mozambique in the southern region of Malawi. And as his pictures below indicate, things seem to be getting to normal in the camps as seen by the affected people drawing and drinking safe water from taps.

A child drinking water from the tap in  Bangula camp in Nsanje district of Malawi

A child drinking water from the tap in Bangula camp in Nsanje district of Malawi

Children fetching water in Bangula camp in Nsanje district of Malawi

Children fetching water in Bangula camp in Nsanje district of Malawi

Women and Children fetching water in Bangula camp in Nsanje district of Malawi

Women and Children fetching water in Bangula camp in Nsanje district of Malawi

April 18, 2015

7th World Water Forum Backs Inclusion of a Dedicated Water Goal in Post-2015 Development Agenda

Fredrick Mugira
April 18, 2015

The 7th World Water Forum came to an end Friday with participants backing the inclusion of one dedicated water goal and water-related targets in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

“We reaffirm that water is at the core of sustainable development and support the inclusion of one dedicated water goal and water-related targets in the Post-2015 Development Agenda,” the declaration noted.

7th World Water Forum Logo

7th World Water Forum Logo

There are 17 proposed SDGs and 169 targets. SDG six focuses on water and sanitation. It has eight targets.

Others five SDGs have seven targets directly or indirectly linked to water-related issues. A high level summit to adopt the SDGs takes place in New York, USA in September this year.

“We are committed to working together to ensure a successful outcome at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” the declaration further stressed.

The 7th edition of the world’s largest water event gathered participants from the international water community: academics, research institutions, enterprises, professional networks, governments and policy-makers, IGOs and NGOs, as well as representatives from various fields such as agriculture, food or energy in the city of Daegu, South Korea under the theme, Water for Our Future.

Earlier during the week, the legislators from all over the world promised policy support for water issues and rooted for increased cooperation between countries.

Some of the legislators during the 7th World Water Forum in South Korea

Some of the legislators during the 7th World Water Forum in South Korea

“Developed countries should provide active support, while developing nations should in turn invest in efforts to bring about positive changes,” the legislators urged in their joint statement.

The 7th World Water Forum focused on the implementation of the solutions that were identified during the 6th edition in Marseille, France in 2012. It was composed of cultural events, a Water Showcase, the World Water Challenge, water prize ceremonies, side events, a water exhibition and fair, as well as a Citizen’s Forum, including a Youth and Children’s Forum, to raise citizens’ awareness in favor of water.

The World Water Forum is the world’s largest meeting on water. Every three years since 1997, the World Water Council (WWC), has held each World Water Forum on or around World Water Day

March 31, 2015

East African Community Parliament to Start Forum on Climate Change

Adella Mbabazi
March 31, 2015

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has agreed to form a regional Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change.

The proposal was made during a policy dialogue on Climate Change and Gender for members of EALA to identify the role of parliamentarians in implementation of gender sensitive climate change policies.

Flags for East Africa Community Countries

Flags for East Africa Community Countries

The dialogue held on 27th and 28th March, 2015 in Bujumbura, Burundi, was organized by the EAC Secretariat in partnership with the EALA Women Forum. It was also attended by the EALA Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources and the General Purpose Committee.

“We need to establish a parliamentary forum on Climate Change for EALA so that it can feed into the global parliamentary forum and also provide leadership in the regional framework on climate change,” said MP Abubakar Zein. The resolution on this proposal will be passed during the next EALA sitting in May.

The impact of Climate Change is most severe for the world’s poor and marginalized communities who often live in stressed environments and have fewer means for coping. Women are especially vulnerable because of their limited access, control and ownership over resources, unequal participation in decision and policy-making, lower incomes and levels of formal education and high workloads.

As such climate change impacts men and women in different ways and interventions aimed at addressing climate change impacts must include a gender perspective.

Valerie Nyirahabineza, the leader, EALA Women Forum, stressed that Africa is most vulnerable to climate change and noted that the region’s communities and governments are sometimes constrained to handle challenges of climate change. “Women play a critical role in food and nutrition security and are also responsible for growing, buying, selling, and cooking the food.

Climate change is behind the increasing frequency of extreme weather hazards in Africa

Climate change is behind the increasing frequency of extreme weather hazards in Africa

Majority of food produced in developing countries is by women, yet only 2% of land is owned by women,” she said. She added that there was need for the legislators to address the underlying causes of gender inequality such as unequal land rights and land tenure through legislative reforms.

Speaking during the same session, MP Dora Byamukama noted, “Unless women feel secure as users and owners of land, there will always be a problem of climate change.”

The parliamentarians agreed that climate change be considered in the EAC Partner States budgeting process, and pledged to make individual contributions to the Fund. The Climate Change Fund was established in 2011.

March 29, 2015

Kenya: Water Stressed Farmers Turn to Groundwater Dams to Survive

Mary Mwendwa
March 29, 2015

Matwiku village horticulture farmers in Laikipia County of Kenya can now breathe a sigh of relief after a water harvesting technology came to their rescue.

Through constructing dams that save water for domestic and farm use, they are able to meet their water needs despite water challenges facing the county. Kamwenje and millima Tatu hills are the main catchments for the water supply in the village.

A Water Dam in Matwiku village of Laikipia County in Kenya

A Water Dam in Matwiku village of Laikipia County in Kenya

According to Peter Ngugi, chairperson, Matwiku Self Help Group, “Dam water harvesting technology has seen this area of Matwiku remain food secure. Laikipia is generally a dry place and therefore issues of water shortage are not any news. My group, we use drip irrigation that has seen us use less water in the farm where we grow onion, tomatoes , bananas and other horticulture crops.”

Ngugi also points out that some dams have run dry in recent times. He gives an example of a dam that has existed since colonial times, Kariaine Dam.

“Last year saw a revolution in this village, we recorded the highest number of farmers who ventured in horticulture farming, and many of them pump water using generators to their farms, and maybe this is what has contributed to the drying of this Dam. This was the only permanent water source here; we are mobilizing farmers and educating them on how to use water sustainably by using drip irrigation.”

The group has a one acre of land which was installed with a water pumping system using fuel that cost them around 360,000 thousand Kenyan shillings , donated to them by partners to run the horticulture project.

Ngugi appreciates the fact that as a group they have had to face some challenges which have proved a learning experience to them.

“We used to share a dam nearby and at some point we were kicked out because the original owners of the dam divided days for water supply and we were left hanging. This made us think and come to a conclusion to dig our own dam where we will have continuous water supply with no interference,” notes Ngugi.

A Farmer Irrigates his Crops in Matwiku village of Laikipia County in Kenya

A Farmer Irrigates his Crops in Matwiku village of Laikipia County in Kenya

During a farmers’ field day where over 100 farmers gathered to interact and learn from experts about farming, it emerged that there was need for more education on how farmers and their households can use the little water they have sustainably.

One by one each speaker called on proper water management to avoid wastage during this time of drought.

Celina Njeri, a resident at Makwitu village says that she has seen many dams dry in the last ten years of her stay.

“Those people who don’t use drip irrigation end up drying the dams very fast, we are happy here because since the drip irrigation system was introduced we enjoy continuous flow of water.”

Washington Ngare, Extension Agricultural Extension Officer, Mithiga Ward views the water harvesting technology of using dams as a savoir to Laikipia residents.

“This is a dry region by nature, but something encouraging our farmers are tapping into innovations that would help them cope with changing climatic conditions. Like now it is very dry, signs of drought knocking, but we have some dams with water.”

Ngare cites the biggest challenge farmers face in the region as human wildlife conflict and soil health status.

“Many farmers do not test their soil samples to know what kind of fertilizer to use, and this has made some farmers record loses. We are encouraging them as a ministry of Agriculture to take their soil for testing to understand its status,” he recommends.

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