November 17, 2015

African Experts Urge the Continent to Address Livestock Methane Emissions

Joyce Chimbi
November 17, 2015

Though increasing calls for Africa to reduce methane emissions from livestock continue to be met with controversy, livestock scientists say that methane is a forgotten short-term climate pollutant with significant global warming potential that Africa cannot continue to overlook.

On one hand critics say that in the absence of a significant body of science to back the premise that methane emissions from livestock in Africa is becoming a major contributor to climate change, the continent must ignore calls to reduce methane emissions.

For total livestock emissions, beef cattle account for the highest methane emissions. Photo Joyce Chimbi

For total livestock emissions, beef cattle account for the highest methane emissions. Photo Joyce Chimbi

But on the other hand experts such as Asaah Ndambi say that though Africa accounts for only three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, “we have the highest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of livestock product.”

Statistics by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) show that livestock methane emissions account for an estimated 14.5 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Ndambi, a livestock scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya “we cannot run away from the fact that the methane emissions per unit of output in developing countries-particularly Africa and Asia- are significantly high in comparison to the same animals in industrial countries due to the low productivity of animals in Africa and Asia.”

Ndambi was speaking during the annual media briefing on climate change for Global South journalists held in New Delhi, India this year by the Center for Science and Environment where he said that methane emissions if ignored will present a major challenge in the future.

According to FAO, livestock contributes both directly and indirectly to climate change through the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

Further stating that methane emissions from livestock account for about 80 percent of agricultural methane and 35 percent of the total anthropogenic [man-made] methane emissions.

Methane emissions mostly occur as part of the natural digestive process of animals and manure management in livestock operations, Ndambi says.

Methane’s Impact in Warming the Earth
Emmanuel Oladipo, Professor of climatology, Climate Change Network in Lagos, Nigeria says that “though there is need for more research into livestock methane emissions, we cannot ignore what preliminary studies are showing, methane is a potent gas.”

According to Prof. Oladipo methane has global warming potential of 23 times more significant impact in warming the earth compared to carbon dioxide.

Studies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report released in 2014 show that temperatures on the African continent, particularly in the more arid regions -where a vast majority of the population is pastoralist- are likely to rise more quickly than in other land areas.

As arid and semi-arid rangelands face warmer days, with frequent heat waves as predicted by the IPCC report, experts say that with the right interventions, the current generation has an opportunity to experience the phasing out of methane as a potent greenhouse gas.

According to IPCC, between 65 percent and 80 percent of carbon dioxide-which is the most significant man made greenhouse gas-released into the air dissolves into the ocean over a period of about 20-200 years.

Nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas is removed from the atmosphere through a process that could take up to 114 years.

Methane is consequently considered a short lived climate pollutant since it takes 12 to 14 years for it to be completely removed from the atmosphere but is much more potent as a heat-trapping gas, with experts saying that as the temperatures rise, continued increase of methane emissions will outpace that of carbon dioxide.

Calls for Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies
Towards addressing livestock contribution to greenhouse emissions, experts at the New Delhi Climate Change Media briefing said that a two-pronged strategy must be employed.

“We must look into the contribution that livestock methane emissions are making, we also must have adaptation and mitigation strategies,” Ndambi expounds.

He said that Africa must embrace fewer but more productive animals, a call that is already being received with resistance by pastoralists communities as well as other communities which keep domestic animals for religious purposes.

We have communities that keep their livestock long after they have stopped being productive, these animals continue to emit methane until they die. We are encouraging livestock farmers to slaughter such animals,” he said.

The situation might get even more complicated with experts such Sarah Akinyi, a Nairobi based Nutritionist saying that consumption of animal proteins among the poor in developing countries is too low “and we are encouraging more production and consumption.”

Further saying that with the exponential population growth in developing countries, “there will naturally be more production and consumption of animal proteins.”

In as far as total livestock [average emission per animal multiplied by total number of animals in a country] emissions are concerned, according to ILRI, beef cattle account for the highest methane emissions, followed by dairy cattle, pigs, buffalos and chicken respectively.

This means that emissions for beef can be high because we have more beef cattle in the world or because the emission per cattle is high,” Ndambi says.

Sheep and goats also have high emissions per kilogram of meat but they are fewer in number which makes their total methane emissions lower compared to cattle.

“We need to explore appropriate feeding strategies that increase productivity while at the same time reducing methane emissions from enteric fermentations. Strategies will therefore include feeding livestock on improved forages such as feed supplements,” Ndambi explains.

Emissions Per Capita
“Though emissions per capita are lower [this divides a country’s total annual emissions by its population] emissions per unit of output or rather per one litre of milk or a kilogram of beef are high,” Oladipo explained.

ILRI says that other strategies will include exploring various feed additives, including plant extracts as well as improving feed conversion efficiency.

Ndambi explained that the amount of feed consumed per unit of production, helps to decrease the amount of methane produced since more efficient animals have been shown to produce less methane.
This can achieved thought giving animals diets that are more highly digestible.

FAO also encourages creating awareness of appropriate strategies and technologies for reducing methane emissions from livestock and for mitigation purposes.

Article first published by Inter Press Service

November 13, 2015

Over 40000 People to Attend the 2015 Paris Climate Conference

Fredrick Mugira
November 13, 2015

Over 40,000 persons are expected to attend the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) in December this year. This is according to François Richier, Ambassador of France to India.

Richier says the French government would offer free visas to journalists. He was speaking during the final day of the Annual Media Briefing on Climate Change organised by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), an environment think tank based in India.

(L-R) French Ambassador Francois Richier, CSE Director General Sunita Narain and Zambian Deputy Ambassador to India Sikapale Chinzewe at the final day of the conference.

(L-R) French Ambassador Francois Richier, CSE Director General Sunita Narain and Zambian Deputy Ambassador to India Sikapale Chinzewe at the final day of the conference.

Over 100 journalists from the continents of Asia and Africa attended this two-day event held at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi at the beginning of this month.

In her remarks, the CSE Director General Sunita Narain petitioned the developing country to negotiate powerfully during this conference.

It is important for developing countries to negotiate strongly in Paris. It is critical that countries from South Asia and Africa send their best people and negotiate hard on climate change,” said Sunita.

Most speakers during this event blamed the developed countries for the present state of global warming.

The world is already looking at the prospect of not containing climate change within 2 degrees Celsius. And to achieve this, the Zambian deputy high commissioner Sikapale Chinzewe who also spke during this occasion, insisted that climate change resolutions must be legally binding.

Speaking in a session to discuss American consumption trends, CSE Director General Sunita Narain said that if the US did not make serious changes to its “conspicuous consumption”, climate change mitigation efforts would not be as successful as US needed to lead the way, having been the highest emitter in the world.

Earlier, CSE Deputy Director General Chandra Bhushan said that the per capita annual emission of the United States would be 12 tonnes while that of the European Union would be five tonnes in 2030.

People live well in the EU. Americans need to scale down their lifestyles,” he said.

Some of the journalists from Africa who attended this two-day event in India.

Some of the journalists from Africa who attended this two-day event in India.

One of the journalists, Kaah Aaron Yancho, from Cameroon, who is also a member of Water Journalists Africa and writer for WaterSan Perspective lamented that the western media was shaping the agenda in developing countries instead of the indigenous media in these countries.

We need to ensure that our policies are not affected by the powerful but biased foreign media,” he said.

October 15, 2015

Have You Washed Your Hands Today?

By Ama Kudom-Agyemang,
Accra, Ghana
October 15, 2015

Today Thursday October 15th, 2015, is Global Hand Washing Day and Belinda Kotoka of the Konsuaso community in the Kejebi District of Ghana’s Volta region, is demonstrating that it is possible to wash one’s hands under running water no matter where.

It is an issue of simple ingenuity – “get a gallon, make a small hole and plug with a stick, fill it with water and then mount it on two sticks. When you’re ready to use it, just remove the plug and bingo, you have running water to wash your hands.”

Belinda Kotoka of Konsuaso, Kejabi District of Volta region in Ghana washing her hands

Belinda Kotoka of Konsuaso, Kejabi District of Volta region in Ghana washing her hands

Belinda and her entire community understand that simple hand washing is the single most inexpensive effective way to prevent the spread of infections especially among young women and children.

The fact is that we pick up germs with our hands from various points including when we use the toilet, during playing or working, from objects such as doorknobs and stair railings as well as from hand shakes. So when we forget to wash our hands, we can spread these germs to other people or give them to ourselves by touching our eyes, mouths, noses or cuts on our bodies.

Statistics compiled by UNICEF indicate that hand washing with soap at critical times – including before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet – can reduce diarrhoea rates by more than 40 per cent and cut down the incidence of acute respiratory infections (ARI’s) such as influence and pneumonia by around 23 per cent.

Hand washing can also be a critical measure in controlling pandemic outbreaks of respiratory infections. Indeed, hand washing with soap has been cited as one of the most cost-effective interventions to prevent diarrhoeal related deaths and diseases.

The theme for this year’s Global Hand washing Day is “Raise a hand for hygiene.” It’s an action oriented theme to identify one as a hygiene champion. It is also a reminder that it is possible for governments to count how many people wash their hands and have access to hygiene facilities in homes, schools, and healthcare facilities. Additionally, it is a call on governments to measure hygiene indicators to know where resources should be concentrated.

Global Hand washing Day was created at the 2008 Annual World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden and initiated by the Public Private Partnership for Hand washing. The Day was first celebrated on October 15, 2008, to coincide of 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation by the UN General Assembly.

The campaign was initiated to reduce childhood mortality rates, related respiratory and diarrheal diseases by introducing simple behavioral changes – hand washing with soap. So the message is simple and clear: “WASH YOUR HANDS TODAY, BE A CHAMPION FOR HYGIENE AND GOOD HEALTH.”

In Ghana, the Community Water and Sanitation Agency is facilitating the national celebration of Global Hand washing Day with a ceremony in Tamale.

October 9, 2015

Ethiopia: AU Proposes a Fund to Support Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment Related Initiatives

Nancy Imali
October 09, 2015

The African Union together with its partners have put forward a proposal to introduce a new financing option – Malabo Facility, dedicated to funding the functions of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment.

The proposal was announced at the on-going meeting of Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment (ARDWE) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Specialized Technical Committees are composed of Ministers or senior officials responsible for sectors falling within their respective areas of competence. They are responsible for preparing projects and programmes of the Union and submit it to the Executive Council. They also have the duty to ensure the supervision, follow-up and the evaluation of the implementation of decisions taken by the organs of the Union and the coordination and harmonization of projects and programmes of the Union.

Komla Bissi, the coordinator for Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) addressing journalists in Ethiopia

Komla Bissi, the coordinator for Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) addressing journalists in Ethiopia

Komla Bissi, Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) coordinator tells journalists in an exclusive interview that the facility will be expected to leverage additional financing from different sources, to support member countries in implementing the Malabo commitment programs that have been identified.

Currently, CAADP is in consultation with member states to seek a way on how they would want the Malabo Facility to be channeled, and which elements of their programs the finances should be directed to. We recognize the need for us to put a financing mechanism that addresses expert financial gaps within the countries, in the context of implementing the investment plans,” said Mr. Bissi.

He was however quick to note that the facility will not undermine the existing financing plan at the national level, but rather compliment efforts that are in existence. Also he pointed out that the facility will be more flexible than the previous CAADP multi-donor trust fund that they have had in the past.

Bissi was hopeful that the on-going discussion would be successful and the specific recommendations presented to the Ministers for consideration.

October 9, 2015

Media’s Role Crucial In Food Security and Sustainable Water Management Awareness

George Mhango
October 09, 2015

Communication breakdown between Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) officials and farmers could remain a challenge towards the achievement of food security and sustainable water management in farming production if nothing is done.

CAADP coordinator Komla Bissi said this in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the adoption of specialized technical committee (STC) after experts from Africa’s regional blocs set up terms of references (ToRs) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The observation comes amid news that some farmers are not aware of projects or declarations initiated by CAADP such as climate smart (CSA), conservation agriculture (CA) as to how to utilize such opportunities due to breakdown of communication.

Nepad research also shows that climate change effects are becoming more frequent and more severe, threatening the reliability and productivity of agriculture, exacerbating already extreme levels of poverty, and reinforcing persistent inequity and chronic under-nutrition.

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.

Researchers have also hinted that the challenge can be avoided through adoption of more resilient, productive, sustainable, equitable and efficient farming practices apart from involving the media for publicity.

The STC, which will comprise African ministers in agriculture, water, rural development and environment, is due to be established this week to champion such matters at continental level and beyond with blessings from the African Union Commission (AUC).

On this, Bissi said to avert such challenges, CAADP is working with African journalists to help bring awareness close to every farmer on how to champion CSA and CA apart from following up on declarations governments and leaders recently agreed upon.

For example, the media should ably show that in the field of CA there are many benefits that both the producer and conservationist can obtain. CA can change the way humans produce food and energy. CA is shown to have even higher yields and higher outputs than conventional agriculture once CA has been establish over long periods.

“There is need for the media to report vehemently about CAADP projects so that farmers adhere to modern farming messages in view of climate change effects, which have negatively agricultural production in Africa,” said Bissi.

He said the media should simplify such messages which champion climate smart agriculture and comprehensive agriculture for farmers to understand and how to apply them in their farming endeavours.

“The establishment of networks of journalists reporting on agriculture and water, among others remains a critical part of CAADP in ensuring that Africa food basket.

Last year, CAADP championed the Malabo Declaration, which calls on African leaders to walk the talk on investment, end hunger, champion matters by 2015.

African heads of state and government agreed to the declaration after its formulation in Equatorial Guinea.

The Malabo Declaration is a follow up to the Maputo Declaration, another major blueprint championed by CAADP, which called on various governments to commit 10 percent of their budget towards agriculture.

Initially, Malawi is one of the shining examples of a country which has over the years committed about 10 percent towards the annual budget for the farm input fertilizer subsidy programme (FISP).

October 6, 2015

Nepad, AU Want STC to Focus on COP21

George Mhango
October 06, 2015

A meeting of experts convened by the African Union and Nepad aimed at establishing specialized technical committee (STC) has agreed to present agriculture, water, rural development and environment as major issues during the Cop21 in Paris, France.

The Conference of Parties (COP) 21 is expected to be held in December this year with continental experts likely to present what they perceive as challenges following thorough research and consultations.

Cop21 Logo

Cop21 Logo

News has it that COP21 will be a crucial conference, as it needs to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

To this effect, the STC, which comes into effect this week following revision and examination of terms of reference (ToRs) is expected to do just that on behalf of the continent with clear backing of Nepad and AU.

Head of Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Dr Augustin Wambo Yamdjeu said in an exclusive interview on Monday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa that the idea to have the STC makes the work of the department easier because water, agriculture, rural development and environment are directly linked.

The STC will have to have something in their folders ahead of the COP meeting. This also follows what the Malabo Declaration called for and that is multisectoral approach as backed by the AU decision in 2011 to have a fully-fledged integrated governance structure to champion such matters,” he said.

The Malabo Declaration, which calls on African leaders to walk the talk on championing agricultural matters, is a follow up to the Maputo Declaration which called on various governments to commit 10 percent of their budget towards agriculture.

Initially, Malawi is one of the shining examples of a country in which has over the years committed about 10 percent towards the annual budget for the farm input fertilizer subsidy programme (FISP), according to local and international economists.

Dr Yamdjeu said a lot of research findings show that climate change has had an impact on food security, water and environment, despite that CAADP is advocating for climate smart agriculture (CSA) and conservation agriculture.

We hope that after Paris something will be agreed upon for Africa and other countries. Africa needs to critically rethink on the matter, hence the need for the committee to come up with pertinent issues to be presented to COP21,” he said.

He said ministers responsible for agriculture, water, rural development and environment as part of the specialized technical committee will take the matter to the conference of parties (COP) 21 as an area that needs more attention.

Currently experts through the established bureau are behind closed doors to craft a working template for the STC.

The STC, which will comprise ministers from member states of the AU will have a mandate of examining, reviewing and considering adoption of policies and strategic frameworks designed to develop agriculture, water, rural development and environment on the continent, among others.

Notes from the 2011 meeting also show that STC’s shall be responsible to the executive council of African Union in championing water, agriculture, among others for the betterment of the African continent.

October 6, 2015

Ethiopia: CADDP Boss Urges Youth To Embrace Agriculture For Improved Livelihood

Nancy Imali
October 6, 2015

African youths living in rural areas have been challenged to embrace agriculture as a way of improving livelihoods and eradicating poverty across the continent.

The Head of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CADDP), Dr. Augustin Wambo Yamdjue made straight this statement at the on-going five-day Inaugural meeting of Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“African youth are the backbone of everything we try to do and it is time for them to stand up and claim their space.” said Dr. Yamdjue.

CAADP is Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all.

CAADP is Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all.

He further urged the youth to refrain from moving from rural areas and increasing the bulge of people living in shanty towns in the cities.

I can see how the overall transformation is taking place. I believe in reversal of goals. Let the youth stay in the village where the possibility to create sustainable livelihood system for themselves and their families through farming is realistic.” said Dr. Yamdjue.

The CADDP boss further emphasized the need for countries to invest more in rural transformation and territorial planning as a way of decreasing rural-urban migration.

According to him, CADDP has a strong programme known as Rural Futures, a framework that the organization is promoting to accompany the transformation of rural areas in Africa.

He further explained that for regions to be successful in agriculture, other factors relating to it have to be put in place.

If indeed we have to tap the youth into embracing agriculture, then rural areas have to provide the opportunities that people are looking for in the towns, ranging from basic social services to agricultural financing.” Dr. Yamdjue added.

The Rural Futures is a flagship program of NEPAD that is a people-centered rural transformation based on equity and inclusiveness, where rural youth can develop their potential and reach their aspirations, whilst securing environmental sustainability.

October 6, 2015

Wise Up To Climate Partnership Discusses Planned Pwalugu Dam

Ama Kudom-Agyemang
October 06, 2015

All things being normal, in about 15 months from now construction works will start on the Pwalugu Multi-purpose Dam (PMD) on the White Volta River, a tributary of the Volta that passes through Pwalugu along the Tamale – Bolgatanga highway in the Upper East Region. The Volta River Authority (VRA) is the implementing agency of the dam, for which preparatory work is steadily progressing. And as it was with the construction of its two sister dams – Akosombo and Bui, communities around the catchment area are in a high state of expectancy that includes a possibility of a “new and better” way of life.

This is the feeling one gets from reading the brochure on the project, the components of which comprises boosting the country’s energy supply; developing the irrigation potential of the area to support regional and national agricultural productivity; and enhancing the area’s fisheries industry.

It is worthy of note that 50 years on after Akosombo, some communities are yet to realise their expectation of even getting light. Bui also has its own issues with community members as they struggle to adjust to the changes it has brought to their lives. Fortunately, these two, provide vital lessons to be captured into the construction of the PMD.

WISE UP’s Views on the PMD
Various initiatives such as the WISE UP to Climate partnership is working towards ensuring that the PMD will not just serve its intended purposes, but will additionally enhance the integrity of the ecosystem utilised, and ensure that it continues to provide the services on which the people are dependent.

Furthermore, such physical facilities built on natural ecosystems, should equip and position riparian communities to adapt to climate change, which as the experts say “will get worse and worse.”

The partnership’s position on the development of any physical infrastructure such as a dam in a water basin like the Volta is that it should eventually result in a “multifunctional climate resilient balanced facility within a basin.” That is an ecosystem whose functioning is enhanced, and is supporting and enriching the socio-cultural and economic lives of dependent communities.

Multifunctional Climate-Resilient balanced basin

Model of a Multifunctional Climate Resilient Balanced Water Basin
Findings of preliminary studies in relation to the planned PMD conducted by the WISE UP to Climate partnership indicate several levels of challenges. First of all, the existing climate induced challenges such as delayed on-set of rains and floods that affect harvests, and secondly, the operation of the Bagre dam in Burkina Faso that results in increase base flows and unregulated spills causing floods and damage. The findings suggest that once the Pwalugu dam is constructed, these challenges could be addressed through harnessing the increased base flows for irrigation, flood mitigation and flood recession farming.

The understanding is that the flow of water should not be curtailed in any way by the construction of the dam. This is because, sustained natural flow is an essential requirement for the generation of ecosystem services that support both the effectiveness of the infrastructure built on it, and the livelihood of the riparian communities. But according to members of the partnership, “this will only happen dependent on the dam’s operation decisions.”

Some Issues Raised at Recent Meeting
These issues were discussed at length by members of WISE UP to Climate partnership from Ghana and Burkina Faso at a recent meeting in Accra. Among other things, the discussions raised some bothersome questions – Will the appropriate trade-offs be done to ensure balance once the construction is completed? Has the expected efficiency of the dam been defined? And if ecosystems are destroyed during the construction, how will they be accounted for in relation to political gains?

The Director of the Water Research Institute (WRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr. Joseph Ampofo; a lecturer of the University of Ouagadougou, Professor Dogola Eraristec; and the President of Green Cross in Burkina Faso, Ousseini Diall, stressed the need for the construction to have a holistic view and take into account all considerations. In their view, once this happens, “PWD will bring about a win-win situation that will benefit people at the local level and the countries at the national level.”

The Executive Director of the Volta Basin Authority (VBA), Dr. Charles Biney, was hopeful of the PMD creating a transparent trans-boundary governance system for a vibrant Volta basin. He said, “the discussions at this point are critical since it is possible to pioneer the ideas generated for other river basins in the Sub-region.”

Romanus Gyang of CARE International Ghana said since the construction is still in its preparatory stages, “there is need to generate reliable data such as climate information to feed into the decision making process, for proper projections to made about how the lives of the people will be affected and the options that will be available for them.”

A lecturer with the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Kumasi, Dr. Ronald Adamtey who is a research partner in WISE UP urged VRA not to be just interested in generating energy from the PWD. “VRA,” he said, “should also be interested in maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem, since the dam’s sustainability will depend on a healthy ecosystem.”

About WISE UP to Climate
WISE-UP is the acronym for Water Infrastructure Solutions from Ecosystem Services underpinning Climate Resilient Policies and Programmes. It is a global partnership involving the Water Research Institute (WRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSRI) in Ghana; the African Collaborative Centre for Earth System Sciences (ACCESS) of the University of Nairobi, Kenya; and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). Others are the UK Overseas Development Institute (ODI); the University of Manchester; the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This partnership has brought together a wide variety of expertise including resource scientists, engineers, computer modellers, governance and political economists, water managers and climate change specialists. WISE-UP is being funded by the International Climate Initiative (ITI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

WISE UP to Climate is working in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Kenya over a four year period – to demonstrate that natural ecosystems or infrastructure are nature based solutions for climate change adaptation and sustainable development. The essence of the demonstration is that without healthy ecosystems in well-functioning watersheds, the infrastructure built for irrigation, hydropower or water supply may not function sustainably, let alone achieve the economic returns necessary to justify investments made.
(The writer is an environment, climate change and science journalist. Contact:

October 6, 2015

Ghana: ECOWAS Water Resources Coordination Centre Establishes New Trans-boundary Basin Authority

Ama Kudom-Agyemang
October 06, 2015

The Water Resources Coordination Centre (WRCC) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has concluded consultations to establish a new governance body for the trans-boundary river basins of Comoe, Bia and Tano, in the West Africa Sub-Region.

At the end of their meeting in Accra, representatives of the four countries and officials of the WRCC agreed that the body should be called “Comoe-Bia-Tano Basin Authority.” Its’ operations will cover the four riparian countries of Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cote d’ Ivoire and Mali. This is because Tano and Bia respond to a bilateral regime as they are exclusively shared between Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire, while the Comoe is a multilateral type since it is shared by all the four countries.

The establishment of the Comoe-Bia-Tano Basin Authority brings to six the number of such governance bodies set up to manage trans-boundary river basins in the ECOWAS region. The others that have been operational for some years now are Niger Basin Authority, Senegal River Basin Development Authority, Volta Basin Authority, Lake Chad Basin Commission and Gambia River Basin Development Organisation.

The Accra meeting also agreed that the Summit of Heads of States will be the supreme organ of the Authority, while the Council of Ministers will be its decision making body. Other things the meeting agreed on were the appointment of an Executive Secretary to steer and coordinate the affairs of the Authority and setting up of a Technical Committee to facilitate the sessions of the Council of Ministers and Conference of the Heads of States as well as assist the Executive Secretary in the discharge of his or her functions.

In an interview, the Executive Secretary of the Water Resources Commission (WRC), Benjamin Ampomah said:

We’re now going to develop the convention and statues that will define the operational modalities of the Authority.”

Mr. Ampomah who is the National IWRC Focal Person added that “moves are also being made to obtain legal authorisation from the various governments and key actors.” He said discussions are underway on the mobilisation of financial resources towards the setup of the Authority, based on lessons learnt from the Volta Basin Authority (VBA).

This is crucial as reliable sources of funding and sustainable releases of funds will determine the operationalisation of the Authority and the means to respond to the expectations of member states.

The existing framework to guide the Authority’s financial regime specifies that the main source of funding will be equitable contributions from members based on certain criteria. These include the area of the river basin occupied by each country, the population size within the catchment of the basin, a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and the rate of investment in the basin by a country.

The Director of the WRCC of ECOWAS, Dr. Ibrahim Wilson said his outfit is committed to supporting the successful functioning of the “Comoe-Bia-Tano Basin Authority.”

Dr. Ibrahim Wilson, Director, WRCC OF ECOWAS

Dr. Ibrahim Wilson, Director, WRCC OF ECOWAS

Ghana’s Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Dr. Kwaku Agyemang Mensah welcomed this move by ECOWAS saying:

We view this initiative, as an opportunity that should be nurtured for the benefit of Ghana towards the quest for mutual understanding, peace and economic development with the other member countries.”

He looked forward to the strengthening of this initiative as well as the evolving of new ones, which will create opportunities of regional cooperation for improved and sustained management of the water resources within the sub-region that benefit all the people.

Dr. Mensah emphasised the importance of shared water resources management by riparian countries and to support his point, cited two of the four cardinal international water law principles enshrined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigable Uses of International Water Courses. The principles are “that the parties have the duty to cooperate and to negotiate with a genuine intention of reaching an agreement,” and “that there should be prior consultations with all relevant stakeholders.”

The Comoe-Bia-Tano Basin Authority’s establishment is in line with the Ouagadougou Declaration of 1998 on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) for the sub-region. It urged member states of ECOWAS to pursue integrated water resources management processes based on Country Water Action Plans; and create regional cooperation framework for integrated water resources management, harmonise water policies and regulations as well as share experiences.

A cross section of participants at the meeting.

A cross section of participants at the meeting.

The Declaration, adopted by Ministers of Water and Heads of Delegations of governments of ECOWAS at its 1998 conference in Ouagadougou, further called for the creation of consultative platforms between riparian countries for joint management of shared water basins. It additionally, asked members to develop national and regional strategies to raise funds to support integrated water resources management.

Member states of ECOWAS include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea and Guinea Bissau. The rest are Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Mauritania.

October 6, 2015

Inaugural STC Conference Kicks Off In Addis Ababa

Nancy Imali
October 06, 2015

Ministers, senior government officials and development partners have convened at the African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the Inaugural Conference of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment in a bid to concert action for improved livelihoods in Africa.

The five-day conference co-organized by the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission and NEPAD Coordinating and Planning Agency is cognizant with the new role of the STC. This is after the AU organs considered the need to streamline and adopt the configuration of STCs as Organs of the Union in January 2009, and modalities for their operationalization in July 2011.

Some of the OParticipants at the Inaugural Conference of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment. Photo by African Union

Some of the OParticipants at the Inaugural Conference of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment. Photo by African Union

Addressing participants at the conference, the commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the AU, Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace urged the STC to meet at least every two years in order to discharge responsibilities vested upon the STC’s by the AU Assembly.

You are, therefore, here to review relevant strategic goals, facilitate mutual accountability and identify synergies, linkages and complementarities in on-going agriculture, rural development, water and environment related initiatives, and their implications on the achievement of the overarching goals set out in Malabo on CAADP, the 10-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063 and in line with the Common African Position on SDGs, among others,” she said.

As a measure for the delivery of key goals on the Malabo declaration, the STC will also be required to review emerging guidelines and terms of reference on how to ensure a mutual accountability plan at their respective country Joint Sector Reviews (JSRs), and the continent-wide Biennial review.

Speaking to journalists during a recess session, head of CADDP Augustin Wambo Yamdjeu was quick to note that even if a majority of the governments implement the 10% of their budget towards agriculture, the goals of CADDP will not be fully achieved.

“Governments need to bring on board the private sector, who are the biggest financiers to the agriculture sector. They need to use the 10% budget allocation to create public goods, conducive environment, capacity building and create a space for the external and domestic private sector to come in and drive agriculture forward.”


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