Archive for December, 2014

December 22, 2014

Malawi: President Mutharika Speaks Out On Water Situation in Blantyre

George Mhango
December 22, 2014

Malawi President Peter Mutharika says his government is geared at not only solving the water challenges in Blantyre for now, but set the Blantyre Water Board (BWB) to ably supply sufficient water for the population of year 2040.

Mutharika said this during the national address to the public, which was broadcast on public radio and television channels. In his 15-page document, the President said: My fellow Malawians, I am very aware of the water challenges in Blantyre, and I assure everyone that government is determined to supply sufficient water to all residents.”

Arthur Peter Mutharika, the President of Malawi

Arthur Peter Mutharika, the President of Malawi

He said Blantyre Water Board’s infrastructure is aged and has out-lived its design capacity which was meant for a population of 500 000 residents up to the year 1999.

“Today BWB has over 1 million customers. Further, due to inadequate rains in the year 2012/13, the Mudi Dam which produces about 10 percent of the Board’s water production dried up by October 2014. Thirdly, electricity, which costs BWB about K270 million per month to pump water from Nkula, 40 kilometers away from the City has been another challenge,” said Mutharika.

According to Mutharika, his government embarked on a total rehabilitation of the Blantyre Water Board production facilities and replacement of pumps at Walkers Ferry and Chileka Pumping Stations, and by March 2015, the board will be able to meet all the demand of 96 000 cubic meters per day, up from the current 74 000 cubic meters production capacity.

“In addition, we will construct a water supply system from Mulanje Mountain at a cost of about US$ 15 million, to provide an extra 8 000 cubic meters of water per day to Blantyre and surrounding areas.

December 5, 2014

COP 20 | CMP 10: 2014 Will Likely Be the Hottest On Record, WMO Warns

Wambi Michael,
PAMACC Team in Lima
December 05, 2014

World Meteorological Organization says the year 2014 is on track for being one of the hottest, if not the hottest, on record, according to preliminary results issued at the side lines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru.

The changes according to the estimates are largely due to record WMO high global sea surface temperatures, which are predicted to likely remain above normal until the end of the year.

The report says High sea temperatures, together with other factors, contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others.

The high January to October temperatures according to WMO, Secretary General Michel Jerraud occurred in the absence of a full El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

ENSO occurs when warmer than average sea-surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific combine, in a self-reinforcing loop, with atmospheric pressure systems, thus affecting weather patterns globally.

During the year, sea surface temperatures increased nearly to El Niño thresholds but this was not coupled with an atmospheric response. However, many weather and climate patterns normally associated with El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) were observed in many parts of the world.

“The provisional information for 2014 means that fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century. There is no standstill in global warming,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud,” he said.

He says what was observed this year is consistent with what they expect from a changing climate.

Jarraud explained that record-breaking heat combined with torrential rainfall and floods destroyed livelihoods and ruined lives. He said what what is particularly unusual and alarming this year are the high temperatures of vast areas of the ocean surface, including in the northern hemisphere.

Record-high greenhouse gas emissions and associated atmospheric concentrations according to Jarraud are committing the planet to a much more uncertain and inhospitable future.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commenting on the report expressed fear that then changing climate the risks of extreme weather events will have an increased impact on humanity.

“Fortunately our political climate is changing too with evidence that governments, supported by investors, business and cities are moving towards a meaningful, universal climate agreement in Paris 2015”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

She explained that an agreement that keeps a global temperature rise below 2 degrees C by putting in place the pathways to a deep de-carbonisation of the world’s economy and climate neutrality or ‘net zero’ in the second half of the century is urgently needed.

WMO’s provisional statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2014 indicated that the global average air temperature over land and sea surface for January to October was about 0.57° Centigrade (1.03 Fahrenheit) above the average of 14.00°C (57.2 °F) for the 1961-1990 reference period, and 0.09°C (0.16 °F) above the average for the past ten years (2004-2013).

The reports says if November and December maintain the same tendency, then 2014 will likely be the hottest on record, ahead of 2010, 2005 and 1998. This according to Jarraud and his forecasters confirms the underlying long-term warming trend.

Highlights from the Statement

Land Surface Temperatures

Average surface air temperatures over land for January to October 2014 were about 0.86°C above the 1961-1990 average, the fourth or fifth warmest for the same period on record.

Western North America, Europe, eastern Eurasia, much of Africa, large areas of South America and southern and western Australia were especially warm. Cooler-than-average conditions for the year-to-date were recorded across large areas of the United States and Canada and parts of central Russia.

Heatwaves occurred in South Africa, Australia and Argentina in January. Australia saw another prolonged warm spell in May. Record heat affected northern Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and southern Brazil in October. Notable cold waves were reported in the U.S. during the winter, Australia in August and in Russia in October.

Ocean Heat

Global sea-surface temperatures were the highest on record, at about 0.45°C above the 1961-1990 average.

December 5, 2014

COP 20 | CMP 10: El Nino looms over East Africa

Peter Labeja,
Pamacc Team in Lima
December 05, 2014

Few days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of worst climate ahead, the East African Meteorologists have moved to issue El Nino alert over the region.

Uganda National Meteorology Authority is calling for preparation of the members of the public for the occurrence of the adverse weather event. According to the alert, El Nino is expected to occur between December 2014 and February 2015. El Niño is a weather condition characterized by unusually long rainfall conditions with the possibility of flooding and landslides.

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Jackson Rwakishaija, the Acting Executive Director Uganda National Meteorological Authority says there are adequate factors putting the probability of occurrence at up to 70 percent.

He says the Pacific Ocean has shown renewed signs of El Nino development in recent weeks adding that, above average temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean typical of El Nino conditions have warmed further in the last fortnight.

The World Meteorological Station concurs with the authority. It says the Southern Ocean Oscillation Index has generally been in excess of El Nino thresholds in the past three months. According to Rwakishaija, not all factors responsible for development of El Nino have been satisfied. He says regardless of whether or not El Nino fully develops, warmer than average tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures combined with cooler waters currently observed to the north of Australia increases the chance of El Nino like impacts over the East African region.

Rwakishaija concludes that this suggests above average rainfall during the month of December and January over Uganda. The authority warns that when the predicted El Nino comes, it will be stormy accompanied by strong winds and sometimes hail stones. Uganda’s capital Kampala has been experiencing heavy rains in recent weeks that resulted into flooding. El Niño conditions tend to occur once in every five years.

The last severe El Nino in Uganda occurred in 2006 causing massive flooding in Teso, Lango and Acholi regions. Mountainous areas like Sironko, Kapchorwa, Mbale, Bundibugyo and Kabale face the increased risk of landslides during severe El Nino. The Alert comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned the world of the worst climate conditions ahead.

Dr. Rajendra Kumhar Pachauri, the head of United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told negotiators at the Lima Climate talks that the increase in temperatures observed in 2014 is much more than any observed in the last 10 years. Currently, planet earth is experiencing a phenomenon known as global warming of 0.8 Celsius degrees increase in temperature.

The increase climate scientists warned is bad enough to trigger many adverse weather conditions across the world. The cautions have triggered a series of coordinated actions including reductions in emissions of industrial greenhouse gas to prevent the temperature increase hitting the 1.5 Celsius degree mark by the end of the century.

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

Back in East Africa region, the Kenya Meteorological Department has also reported that there will be enhanced rains in many parts of the country till next year.

James G. Kongoti, the acting Director of Kenya Meteorological Services and permanent representative of Kenya at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says the October to December season indicates that much of the country is likely to experience enhanced rainfall.

He attributes this to the expected evolution of global sea surface temperatures that is favorable for the development of a weak El Nino during the season. According to the Kenya Meteorological Department, the sea surface temperatures off the East African coastline are expected to revert to neutral conditions early in the season.

The findings have been consistent with earlier measurements. In August, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) appealed to the national and county governments to adequately prepare for the El Nino rains expected by October this year.

KRCS Chief Executive Officer Abbas Gullet said with the rains experienced in recent weeks, signs were clear that Kenya will have El Nino rains later this year. “We already know the October-November short rains will have an El Nino effect. The rains we have been getting a few weeks ago are freak rains which are a precursor to the main El Nino,” he cautioned.

“How prepared are we all the time… whether it’s a county government or a central government? So we don’t want to be shocked when we see those pictures,” he warned.

According to Gullet – whose society has been at the forefront in providing humanitarian aid in drought or flood hit areas – the El Nino warning should be taken seriously right from the national government to the counties to alleviate the effects that come with heavy flooding.

In October, United Nations scientists urged preparation for weather-disrupting El Niño phenomenon which they said recur after every two to seven years. They said the warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean in 1997-98 changed the patterns of the wind and moisture overhead, resulting in severe weather around the world.

The Climate disaster that swept through the horn of Africa region also affected Kenya. It was blamed for thousands of deaths in storms, heat waves, fires, floods, frost and drought. Property damage was at least $32 billion. “The 1997-98 event was a wake-up call,” said Michael Glantz of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

“Awareness of what El Niño can do to societies and economies is now high,” said Glantz, a longtime El Niño researcher and senior author of the report. According to the UN scientist, the government of Peru saved the day when it formed a task force to coordinate activities and went to the World Bank for money to clean up rivers and canals and shore up bridges and roads a head of the 1997-98 El Nino.

On the other side of the coin, he said, Kenya had the forecast in June of 1997 and the government didn’t act on it. “When heavy rains came, roads collapsed, train routes collapsed, bridges, etc.,” he said.

It may be that the forecast influence of El Niño on Kenya was less clear to officials, he said, but by organizing regional groups to prepare and increasing education this can be overcome.

December 2, 2014

COP 20 | CMP 10: African Fish Industry in Danger As Global Warming Intensifies

Arison Tamfu and PAMACC TEAM, Lima
December 2, 2014

Peru, Lima, December 2, 2014: Ana Faustor, a middle-aged Peruvian lady takes a passionate bite at a grilled fish as she follows proceedings at the UN Climate change talks in Lima just outside the hall where deliberations are taking place.

Delegates at Cop20 Opening Session in Lima, Peru

Delegates at Cop20 Opening Session in Lima, Peru

Inside the hall, officials reflect on how dangerous climate change has become to mankind and insist that the time to act is now but Ana`s thoughts are buried in nostalgia of the days of abundant fish and how she used to go fishing with her father in Chimbote, in the north of South American country, Peru.

“Things have changed now. Fishing is becoming difficult and fishes are disappearing,” she says regretting how good fish is becoming rare in Peru, a country that holds second place in the worldwide production of aquatic species.

As the UN Climate change conference opened in Peru, Ana hoped for an outcome that will mitigate the impacts of climate change across the globe.

“That is why I am attending the conference. Things are getting out of hand. We do know what to do,” she laments. Millions of miles across the Ocean in Limbe, a town in West African country, Cameroon, Enoh Joseph shares her sentiments.

“My catch has reduced drastically. Sometimes I stay for days without going to fish because of bad weather. Sometimes I wonder what we have done wrong to nature,” says Enoh who has been fishing for over two decades.

Ana may be worried about the dwindling production of fish in Peru but for African fish traders and fishermen like Enoh, it is a question of life and death.

“Fishing is my life. I feed my family from fishing; send my children to school from fishing, in brief all my life is about fishing. I fear for the future so much,” says Enoh.

The West African region is home to about 43% of the total population in Sub Saharan Africa.

The fisheries sector plays an enormous role on the national economies of the region and constitutes the main livelihood for a majority of people living along the coasts and in riparian areas.

Countries like Senegal, The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Ghana largely depend on fisheries for their national economies and as a major source of foreign revenue. In Cameroon, Benin, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal, more than half of the population consumes fish products daily.

According to a report by UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in 2006, high demand for fish and associated products led to more than five million fishers, fish processors and fish traders in the region, besides other jobs such as boat building and small scale business in the fisheries sector.

In Cameroon, fisheries provide jobs for marginalized groups- mostly women who dominate processing, retailing and local trading of fish products but climate change is threatening the flourishing industry.

“Here at the UN climate change Conference in Lima, the scientific report made it clear that the impact of climate change will be more intense and more frequent and the fishing industry is not left out. Because of rising sea levels and floods, fishermen are finding it difficult to go fishing with the boats in the troubled waters. Many have to stop fishing.
So the fishing industry is affected. In Cameroon for instance, fishermen are complaining they can`t go into the sea because of the wild waves. Therefore the market chain is affected and that goes across Africa” says Robert Chimambo, a member of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), a continental coalition of Civil Society Organizations defending the position of Africa in climate change talks.

Forecasts of fish production in the future indicate that majority of the fisheries will be affected by climate change, and may cause food insecurity. With regional fish stocks already on the decline, per capita fish consumption has declined.

It is speculated that demand for fish will exceed supply in West Africa, with an annual decrease in fish supply by 4% per year, leading to a supply deficit of 3.6 M t in 2015.

“The fisheries productivity of West Africa is highly vulnerable to projected impacts of climate change. The region is ill-prepared to safeguard the fisheries sector from these projections. Consequently, the traditional support provided by the fisheries such as food security is threatened if not in deterioration, and it is not well known whether the region would be able to meet its nutritional demands under the worst case scenario of climate change,” says Robert Katikiro who has researched extensively on the impacts of climate change on the fish industry in Africa.

In a study conducted in 2012, Robert Katikiro and Edison Macusi found that the magnitude of the problem in terms of its severity and proportion of the population affected differ from country to country even at household level.

According to the study, food production has declined in countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Senegal leading to their dependence on food aid.

“The reliance on foreign food staples means that no country in the region is self-sufficient in terms of food production,” says Katikiro

FAO estimates that Africa will need adequate food supplies for 18 million additional people each year and to improve the nutritional status of the 94 million people currently undernourished if it is to meet the Millennium Development Goal.

Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairperson IPCC speaking during the opening ceremony of COP20 in Lima

Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairperson IPCC speaking during the opening ceremony of COP20 in Lima

Experts are unanimous that urgent actions need to be taken to improve awareness of fishers and fishing communities about the impacts of climate change on their livelihood.

“Concerted efforts should be taken from local to regional level to address adaptation to climate change. Fishers and fishing communities should be empowered to make them venture to other livelihood occupations and their Fisheries should be climate-proofed,” says Kitikiro.

Chimambo who is actively taking part in the UN Climate Change talks in Peru is committed to ensuring that activities that make people, ecosystems and infrastructure less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are raised and fully discussed at the Conference.

“Basically the whole process of adaptation is to try and raise those issues. How do our people get compensated for this damage? That is why the negotiations for loss and damage are crucial. And our people (Africans) did not cause the damage; they are victims of climate change which is caused by developed nations. The technology that we were using when the sea was normal is getting out of place. So we need research to introduce new methods of fishing. And that requires investment, not from African governments’ budgets but developed countries that are responsible for climate change,” he says

For the two weeks (Dec.1–12) of climate change talks here in Lima, genuine and universally accepted decisions need to be taken to rescue people like Ana and Enoh from perishing with impact of climate change.

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