KISUMU, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Maurince Otieno has been a fisherman for over 15 years. He inherited this outstanding skill of fishing from his late grandfather George Omollo Otieno who was a renowned fisherman in his time.

For the past several months, Otieno who does his fishing along the shores of Dunga beach in Lake Victoria has been experiencing difficulties in his fishing expedition despite his bloodline skills.

Otieno, currently in his late 40s says he no longer harvests sufficient fish to meet the needs of his immediate and extended family that depends on him.

This has made him a very scared man. He is afraid of what the future holds for him and his family as his only source of income continues to diminish very fast.

“We are doomed. I don’t know how I will support my family now that I hardly have any catch. I am a worried man,” he says as we set out for a fish expedition along the shores of Lake Victoria in Dunga beach.

Ever since the passing on of his father more than 10 years ago, Otieno notes he has been eking out a living out of the turbulence waters of Lake Victoria.

He observes that his father and grandfathers, were all fishermen and they passed the skills of fishing on to their siblings.

But Otieno notes that the tradition that has always been passed down from one generation to another was bound to come to an end in his life time as fishing spots continue to diminish along the shores of Lake Victoria.

“I am certain that my generation will have nothing to pass down to coming generation as it has been our norm and tradition,” stresses Otieno in a low tone with a sense of disappointment.

He notes that his family has been forced to find alternative ways to make a living besides fishing which has been their bloodline.

“I don’t know what is happening to our God given lake, we hardly catch any fish,” narrates Otieno as he jumps into his dilapidated boat.

“You see all these,” he says as he hands me a life jacket and shows me a fleet of abandon boats that were on the verge of rotting, “the owners abandon them here due to declining fish in the lake.”

With disillusionment evident in his hoarse voice, he engages the forward gear to his boat and the engine roars as we begin to drift and gain momentum as the boat accelerates.

I engage a handful of fishermen that we find and their sentiments were similar.

After three hours of fishing with no success, we docked the boat at the shores of Dunga beach.

It was at this beach that I was lucky to bump into a researcher and scientist who according to Otieno has been doing “serious research “of the lake.

Dickson Wallace, the scientist and researcher says she has been conducting research on the lake for over three years.

Wallance notes that the lake was adversely being impacted negatively by the climate change that is common with extreme weather patterns over a period of time.

He attributes extreme weather changes to climate change, which he says was also being experienced not only in Nyanza region of Kenya but also across other neighbouring towns.

To this end, he observes that the rampant variation particularly in temperatures, may have been the cause of declining marine life at Africa’s Largest Lake - Lake Victoria.

“It is no doubt that a significant number of aquatic marine are usually affected by extreme weather conditions caused by climate changes,” he says.

A report released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) this year which assessed the extinction risk of 651 freshwater species in Lake Victoria  including fish and aquatic plants found that up to 24 percent of these species are being threatened with extinction.

The world nature watchdog cautioned that, "three-quarters (76 percent) of these endemics are at risk of extinction."

Will Darwall, the co-author of the report who heads IUCN's freshwater biodiversity unit said in the report that although "the Lake Victoria Basin is incredibly rich in unique species found nowhere else on Earth, its biodiversity is being decimated."

Apart from climate change, the report attributed this to Industrial and agricultural pollution, invasion of the deadly water hyacinth, over-harvesting of fish and wetland degradation among others.

One of the worst affected fish species is the African Lungfish, according to this report.

As discovered by this report, Kibet Chemiron, a marine expert and fellow at the University of Port Elizabeth in South Africa, confirms the negative effects of climate change on freshwater species in Lake Victoria.

According to Kibet, most aquatic animal species that are used for human consumption are poikilothermic (animals whose internal body temperatures change with the temperature around them) and are usually affected by extreme weather brought by climate change.  

Chemiron explains that any changes in habitat temperatures usually influence fish metabolism, growth rate, productivity, seasonal reproduction, and susceptibility to diseases and toxins.

“Fish population may be reducing drastically as a result of these factors emanating from climate change,” he says.

Rose Anyango, a resident who has a mini food joint at the beach says they no longer have access to clean water.

“The dams where we used to access clean water are now filled with mad caused by flooding water,” she states.

This article was made possible thanks to support from InfoNile and Code for Africa.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (PAMACC News) - The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) has been re-launched in South Africa, with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Royal Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs investing some US$ 9.2 million.

“My hope for the new CDKN is that the impacts will be felt mainly by vulnerable groups that are most impacted by climate change.” said Dr Shehnaaz Moosa, director of the new Dutch-Canadian supported CDKN, which was formally launched by Pamela Moore, Chargé d’Affaires of the High Commission of Canada to South Africa, and Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands on 21 June.

The launch, which brought together partners new and old, included reflections on the first phase of the programme by former director Sam Bickersteth and highlighted the shift in focus for programme in its new form.

“It’s a really exciting moment to see CDKN move into a new phase which will build on the legacy of eight years of work, and to see it being led from the region to which it is delivering,” said Bickersteth, adding that Shehnaaz Moosa had been a “very steady hand on so much that CDKN has already done,” and an obvious choice to take the programme forward.
 
CDKN will now focus on providing developing countries with enhanced knowledge resources to support ambitious climate action, as well as boost climate leadership and learning on climate compatible development.

The network’s global and Africa programme is now led from South Africa, with Latin America and Asia regional hubs managed from Ecuador and India. Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Royal Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs will fund CDKN’s new chapter to the value of 9.2 million US$ (12 million Canadian dollars), and it will run from 2018-2021.
 
Speaking at the launch event in Cape Town, the Special Envoy said: “The Dutch development policy for the first time focuses on the interconnectedness of climate change and root causes of poverty, political instability, conflict and migration. The knowledge and experience of CDKN to support complex policy realities, to work in partnership with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, and to connect human development ambitions and environmental sustainability is a very valuable asset in this strategy.”
 
Ms Pamela Moore said: “Climate change is a shared global challenge and Canada is committed to working together with partners around the world on climate action. Canada is pleased that a refreshed Climate and Development Knowledge Network is being launched. We are excited to be part of this global partnership for large-scale change that enables vulnerable communities adapt to climate change, mitigate its impacts, and transition to a low-carbon economy.”
 
CDKN will work to enrich decision-makers’ know-how and help them to accelerate climate action. “The challenge now for us is to navigate the great amount of climate information and find what’s most useful, adapt it and tailor it for developing countries’ needs,” said Dr Moosa. “Climate-vulnerable countries are eager to access and apply knowledge about ‘what works’ in climate-compatible development. That is exactly the challenge that CDKN’s new initiative aims to address.”

Knowledge for implementation
 
CDKN will be expanding its knowledge-sharing services. It will tailor the wealth of evidence and learning from the first eight years of CDKN and other international climate programmes to produce highly targeted knowledge and tools to support policy design and implementation. This could include best practices for building climate-resilient water infrastructure or approaches for integrating climate information into agricultural planning.
 
Facilitating climate leadership and learning
 
CDKN will continue to bring developing countries together to share their experiences on delivering climate action on the ground. It will facilitate South-South learning, helping to connect professionals who face similar climate and development challenges. Through targeted training on climate and development as well as mentoring and skill-building, CDKN aims to strengthen the capability of individuals in government, business, academia and other spheres to navigate the growing body of climate knowledge and experience, and further cultivate a new generation of climate champions.
 
“While the effects of climate change are increasingly evident in developing countries, the knowledge that is generated by these countries to adapt to change is becoming more relevant by the day. Therefore, we are happy to support CDKN's work to mobilise Southern knowledge and capacities to overcome climate-related development challenges,” said Robert Hofstede, Associate Director for Climate Change at IDRC.  
 
The initiative will focus initially on the Andean countries of Latin America, parts of Africa and South Asia – with the possibility for collaboration with other countries to join its wider learning and exchange activities. From 2018, CDKN is managed by a new alliance led by non-profit organisation SouthSouthNorth, working with Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia, and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

OPINION

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - The next few days and weeks are arguably historic in the emerging sector of climate finance. On June 23-29th, Green Environment Fund (GEF) is holding the Sixth GEF Assembly in Vietnam. The GEF was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems.  Since then, GEF has provided over $17.9billion in grants and mobilized another $93.2billion in co-financing for over 450 projects in 170countries. One of the global environmental challenges in question is climate change. This meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam paves way for its 7th funding cycle, commonly called GEF-7.

During the same week, 1st to 5th July, The Green Climate Fund(GCF), the most capitalized, hence the largest international environment fund (focused on climate change), has historic events lined up. The 20thquarterly GCF Board Meeting (dubbed B.20) will be in the Korean smart city of Songdo. The Board Approves applications for funding made by both public and private entities seeking to safeguard sectors and entire economies from adverse impacts of a changing climate.

A third fund, also created under the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) like GCF and GEF, is the Adaptation Fund. It helps countries build resilience and adapt to climate change. It has so far committed US$477million in 76countries since 2010.

Basics

Why should we even be talking about climate finance? Why is it becoming such a central topic in today’s global economy? It is because the climate has and is actually changing. What is causing this change is often open to debate. That the climate is changing is undisputed. Farmers are devastated by either too much rain or insufficient rain. Countries are unable to feed themselves because crops and livestock are failing year in year out. New diseases are developing and old ones spreading to geographical locations they never existed.

Sabotaged Development

So, countries often called developing or least developed(all African states fall under this) need to factor in the elusive climate risks. Kenya spent anunplanned KES245.3 billion (USD 2.45 Billion)in 2017 on foodstuff imports to address a food crisis because the country faced severe drought. In 2018, the country has faced the worst floods in 60years according to the Climate Change Resource Centre. What follows is famine because crops were destroyed. The infrastructure swept away will cost fortunes to fix and/repair. These resources would have gone to other development needs but have to be diverted to tackle these climate events and impacts leaving a big gap in financing national development like universal healthcare, manufacturing or education. So, climate change directly sabotages development. This financing gap is filled by climate finance.

The GCF

The GCF is now valued at USD 13billion. Applications for financial support can be made to the Fund, to implement transformational changes in their economies. For instance, most African states depend immensely on rainfed agriculture. The 2016 Climate Change Exposure Index (CCEI) by VeriskMaplecroft, a risk analytics firm, show that relying on rainfall posed “high” or “extreme” risks- up to 85 per cent. These risks mean economic shocks. Countries may therefore miss the sustainable development goals and national aspirations unless they mobilise sufficient climate finance to safeguard the economies.

GCF and Africa

To date, the GCF has 76 projects under implementation valued at USD1.4 billion. That is an average project size of USD 18.4million. Of these 76, only 28 (36.8%) are in Africa. Some African states have several projects funded. They include Egypt, Namibia, Morocco, Senegal, and Zambia with more than 10projects among themselves. Which leaves just 18 projects for the other over 45countries of Africa.

Since GCF is fairly new, the understanding and capacity in Africa to interact with the Fund remains acutely limited. The traditional methodologies of relying on external international entities such as UN Agencies and International Development Banks will not sufficiently deliver the urgent changes required to protect these fragile African economies from devastation. And GCF recognizes this.  That is why they have a strong emphasis on Direct Access Entities, which are local institutions being accredited to help the country to directly access GCF resources. There is just a handful in Africa so far. Overall, the pace is wanting.

Current Players

There are organisations in Africa playing a crucial role of offering support to both countries and to accredited entities to access GCF and other climate finance. Dr.Aliou Diouf, head of Climate Finance at Africa Sustainability Centre (ASCENT) says, “GCF recognizes the work we do;currently supporting over a dozen countries in Africa to understand and access GCF funds. We also support Direct Access Entities and others like UNEP and IFAD to better support countries.

Zeph Kivungi is a Senior Programme Officer at the Africa Sustainability Centre (ASCENT).

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - Cameroon journalists have been enjoined to take interest in reporting climate information data and services, cardinal instruments in development planning for policymakers and other stakeholders.

The call was made by officials of the African Climate Policy Center (ACPC) of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Advanced School of Mass Communication, ASMAC Yaounde , at a two day workshop, June 25-26,2018 to enhance the reporting skills of communicators on the use of climate information services in development planning.

“The media has an important role to play in informing policymakers and end users on the use of climate services and data to better address environmental challenges,” says Professor Nana Nzepa, head of the Information technology department, ASMAC.

The overarching goal of enhancing the uptake of Climate Information Services (CIS) is geared at providing people and organizations with reliable, timely, user-friendly information tailored to reduce climate risks related losses as well as in capitalizing on emerging opportunities for development noted ACPC.

“Hence, factoring CIS into policy, planning and practices are crucial for Africa to achieve its development aspirations for enhanced trade competitiveness, reduced poverty and sustainable economic growth,” Journalists were told.

According to Charles Muraya, Information Management Officer ACPC, the uptake and use of climate info of CIS in Africa is influenced by the lack of reliable historical observations, coarse scale of future climate projections, weak coordinated CIS delivery, among others. On the side of the users, the main obstacles for poor uptake and utilization of CIS include limited awareness about the existence of specific climate information, poor data accessibility, and lack of capacity to use climate information in decision making processes.

“The media has not been very proactive in providing the correct information and in time for decision making. Engaging media in climate information dissemination is therefore an important step in ensuring that climate information is packaged in a form that can easily be understood and that it is also received in a timely manner,” he said.

It is against this backdrop that the training of over 30 journalists in Cameroon was organised under the theme" the use of the e-learning platform on climate information and services mainstreaming in the planning and economic development processes".

Participants were empowered using teaching tools and skills in the dissemination of climate information and services and the need to mainstream climate information in their different media content and programmes to better inform policymakers and end users.

“We expect you communicators to better advocate and sensitize legislators, decision-makers, the private sector, investors and other stakeholders on the issue and role of Climate Information Services (CIS) in development planning processes,” says Professor Nana Nzepa.
“But to do this you must first of all understand the basic notion of climate information services and data,” he said.

The different participants from community radio, national and private newspapers, radio and television appreciated the training, acknowledging its importance amidst growing climate threats.

“ It is time for the voices of Journalists to be heard in the fight against climate change, thanks to the two days training  I now know the importance of climate information services,” notes Jean Didier Ayisi, journalist and workshop participant.

Cameroon just like many African countries today suffer from the effects of climate change with many economic and social sectors increasingly vulnerable to floods, droughts, heavy winds among other calamities.

Environment experts say the dissemination of climate information services by the media for the benefit of specific users remains essential to support Africa's response to climate change.

“The fight against climate change can only be effective if decision makers and especially the population have ample climate related information,” says Augustine Njamnshi of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, PACJA Cameroon.

Development actors say innovative ways of delivering CIS initiatives that provide science-informed solutions is vital for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Africa.

Thus investment in the deployment of robust climate information and  services  delivery  system  for  the  effective  implementation  of  Nationally  Determined Contributions (NDCs) and associated mechanisms established through the global climate governance processes is crucial according to ACPC.

The Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) was designed by the UK Department for International Development (DfiD) in 2015 to facilitate the uptake of climate information by policymakers and vulnerable groups especially young people and women. Its pan-African component is led by the African Center for Climate Policy (ACPC), which is a hub for demand led knowledge on climate change in Africa.

Heat waves and droughts in the tropics would make life unbearable for people living near felled forests in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa; Climate agreements only tackle half the climate threat to forests

OSLO, Norway (PAMACC News) — An emerging body of research on the non-carbon impacts of deforestation reveals that destroying tropical forests significantly alters the Earth’s delicate energy balance, rainfall, and wind systems, leading to warmer and drier conditions near cleared forests and out-of-whack weather patterns across the globe, according to a new report by leading forest experts to be released at a major global forest gathering on June 27, 2018.

The research suggests these “new” impacts of deforestation, rooted in the flow of solar energy through forests across the upper atmosphere, disruptions to the atmosphere’s chemical cocktail, and dramatic declines in water cycling are just as damaging to the climate as the carbon released into the atmosphere when trees are cut down.

“We’ve known for a long time that chopping down tropical forests spews dangerous amounts of carbon into the atmosphere,” said Nancy Harris, Research Manager of the Forests program at the World Resources Institute and working paper co-author.. “Now we are learning that removing trees from the earth’s surface also throws off the energy, water and chemical balances that make it possible for us to grow food and live our lives in predictable and productive ways. If we continue to cut down trees, we’ll have to rewrite what we know about the weather—and we can forget about global goals to keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

The working paper, “Tropical Forests and Climate Change: The Latest Science,” is one of nine studies released today at the opening of the two-day Oslo Tropical Forest Forum, an event hosted by the Norwegian government to celebrate results and identify remaining challenges 10 years after reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) was included in the climate change negotiations, and to advance strategies for mobilizing forests to help achieve the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The working paper synthesizes findings from a slew of recent studies that, when they come together, conclude that large-scale forest loss in any of the three major tropical forest zones— Latin America, Southeast Asia and Central Africa—would lead to a rise in local temperatures, and disruptions to the water cycle locally and half a world away. These studies use sophisticated modeling to determine the physical, chemical and reflective impacts of removing forests from the surface of the earth en masse, and satellites to measure the changes that have already happened.   “When you add up these impacts of forest loss, one thing is clear: people living closest to deforested areas face a hotter, drier reality,” said Harris. “These changes won’t hit Brazilians, Indonesians, or Congolese sometime in the future—they are hitting them now, and they’ll only get worse as more forests disappear.”

Areas in the tropics that experienced deforestation in the last decade have seen significant and long-lasting increases in local air surface temperatures. “Observed local temperature impacts of deforestation are in one direction: hotter,” said Michael Wolosin, Forest Climate Analytics’ President and working paper co-author. “Daily average temperatures went up by a degree, and maximum temperatures by 2 degrees C, in just a decade. Over the same period, the global carbon and GHG impact was less than one fifth as much – 0.2 degrees C. Deforestation is wreaking havoc on local climates across the tropics.”

The Amazon region of South America, home of the world’s largest rainforest, would feel the most heat and drought from forest loss. Complete deforestation would lead to regional warming of about two degrees Celsius and a roughly 15 percent drop in annual rainfall. Researchers have already linked the 2015 drought that hit Brazil, impacting people, crops and industry, to forest loss in the Amazon.

“In its focus on ending greenhouse gas emissions, the Paris Agreement only takes the first step in addressing the drastic consequences of deforestation on the climate,” saidWolosin. “If global and national policymakers fail to come up with an action plan for staving off the immediate and debilitating impact of deforestation on local and global weather patterns, they could put the lives of millions in peril. The question is, what’s more important – the short-term income generated from fields after fields of soy or palm oil, or a stable, predictable weather patterns for generations to come?”  

Tropical forests drive the global movement of air, water, and heat in diverse ways, leading to profound impacts on the climate. Through the process of evapotranspiration, trees pump water from their roots through their leaves as water vapor, humidifying the air and causing surface cooling. Because forests have more leaf surface area and deeper roots than grasslands or croplands, they cycle more water. The water pumped through a single tree can cause local surface cooling equivalent to 70 kWh for every 100 liters, enough energy to power two household central air-conditioners per day. Removing these trees can lead to local flooding, soil erosion and droughts.

Impacts from these tropical forest cover changes on water and heat cycling extend well beyond the tropical regions themselves through “teleconnections”, associated with the mass movement of air and conditions in the upper atmosphere. An increase in temperature in the tropics due to deforestation generates large upward-moving air masses. When these hit the upper atmosphere they cause ripples, or teleconnections, that flow outward in various directions, similar to the way an underwater earthquake can create a tsunami.  

According to one landmark study about this phenomenon, complete deforestation could put the climate in some of the world’s most important agriculture regions off kilter. These variations in rainfall and spikes in temperature could occur across the world. For example, complete deforestation of the Amazon Basin would likely reduce rainfall in the US Midwest, Northwest and parts of the south during the agricultural season. The complete deforestation of Central Africa would likely cause declines in rainfall in the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the US Midwest and Northwest and increase it on the Arabian Peninsula. There could also be precipitation declines in Ukraine and Southern Europe.  

“Halting deforestation, allowing damaged forests to grow back, and keeping undisturbed forests intact, are necessary to ensure the stability of the climate” said Frances Seymour, Program Chair of the Oslo Tropical Forests Forum and lead author of Why Forests? Why Now?. “Fortunately, we know a lot about ways to stop deforestation, but developing countries can’t do this alone. Donor countries should ramp up funding of efforts by tropical forest nations to halt deforestation, and address the global consumption, trade and investment patterns that drive forest loss.”  

ACCRA, Ghana (PAMACC News) - Hundreds of illegally imported mattresses confiscated by Ghana’s customs authority were recently burnt openly at a landfill site.

The destruction of the impounded goods is in line with laws prohibiting the entry of used mattresses into the country.

It is common place to see thousands of cartons of cigarette, canned food, drugs, wax prints and other restricted or unwholesome goods burnt openly.

Environmental concerns have however been raised about the practice of burning such materials, due to the gases emitted into the atmosphere.

Kwaku Abeeku, who manages Green Energy and Logistics Consults, says Ghana as a signatory to various international agreements on climate change, including the Paris Agreement, must reconsider alternatives to the burning of impounded goods as soon as possible.

“In the case of these open burns, aside the issue of Carbon Monoxide, these imported mattresses are mainly synthetic foams containing petroleum based chemicals and sometimes even fire retardants,” he observed. “Aside emissions, people living in the immediate environments of these burn sites and the country at large are put in a rather bad situation as we commit to global moves in combating climate change”.

Ghana, in its international obligations as a Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is guided by its own commitments in the nationally determined contribution (NDC) to climate change mitigation.

As an obligation at the multilateral level, Ghana reaffirms its resolve to support global efforts to define a common future that seeks to safeguard the collective interest of all nations by supporting the 2015 Paris global agreement on climate change.

The implementation of climate actions is expected to help attain low carbon climate resilience through effective adaptation and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction.

In 2017, Ghana at the UN Conference of Parties (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, pledged the country’s commitment to help combat climate change and adapt to its effects.

The destruction of contraband mattresses, clothing, food and pharmaceutical products through open burning is therefore regarded as negating the country’s commitment to climate mitigation.

Kwaku Abeeku has challenged the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and other institutions responsible for best environmental practices to help halt the open burning of materials.

“I believe the time to make climate and environmental concern a culture and environmental responsiveness a mandatorily measured policy is now,” he said.

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