NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - It is imperative for African Civil Society Organisations (CSO) to advocate for innovative solutions to overcome environmental challenges facing Africa, UN Environment regional director for Africa, Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo said on Sunday.

 “This continent has the capacity and the knowledge to innovatively overcome our environmental challenges. We need to move faster from the ‘business as usual’ approach and devise ways and means to address issues such as rising energy costs, poverty, environmental degradation, pollution and social inequality or changes in legislation” Koudenoukpo told a cross-section of CSOs in Nairobi during a two-day consultations to prepare for the seventh special session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) and the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly. The meeting, co-organized by UN Environment and Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) brought together 120 participants from accredited organizations across Africa.

“African countries need, more than any time before, to invest in innovative solutions to unlock its economic and social potential and create inclusive wealth for the wellbeing of their populations” she emphasized adding that innovation should happen at the policy, finance, market and partnership levels.

“Remember that people, especially youth, should be at the heart of driving this process. Our youth have so many innovative ideas and initiatives that can make a difference in transforming our societies” Koudenoukpo said.

The commitment and genuine involvement of all social groups are critical to the effective implementation of the policies and projects in the field of environment and sustainable development, Koudenoukpo said.

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Kenya’s Karura Forest Reserve sits on a prime land in the city of Nairobi, covering an area of over one thousand hectares.

The Forest features three natural caves and a 12m waterfall on river Karura, which attracts approximately 20,000 visitors monthly.

Through ecotourism, the forest generates enough revenue to cover its expenditure and makes good profit which is ploughed back into the management of the forest, according to forest manager, John Orwa.

The local community is also empowered under the Forest Act 2005 to demand best practices in the management of the forest – no tree is removed from the forest without community engagement.

Jacqueline Mbawine of conservation NGO, A Rocha Ghana, is inspired by the Karura story, as she shared the experience of community action in restoring degraded savanna, forest and mangrove areas in Ghana at the 2018 Global Landscapes Forum.

“I think it’s very possible to have forests within our cities,” she said. “In recent times there have been talks about urban forestry and effort being taken by many countries and organizations. In Ghana, the Forestry Commission is making efforts at establishing some urban forestry within the Weija enclave and I think this can be brought further down to Accra, the capital and other cities in the country”.

Jacqueline is however unhappy that community efforts to restore and protect landscapes are not recognized and appreciated.

“A current challenge we have is our Atewa rain forest reserve which has a wealth of Bauxite but also key in providing water supply to about 5million Ghanaians. However this forest is under great threat and it’s currently being exploited which is going to affect the people who get their livelihood and most especially their water supply from this landscape,” she observed.

Restoring 2m hectares in Ghana

Transitional and forest zones of Ghana are being threatened by mining, charcoal production and unsustainable agricultural activities.

The country’s Northern Savannah Ecological zone is highly vulnerable to environmental degradation and climate change due its geographic location and the dependence of its population on natural resources, rain-fed agriculture and transhumance systems.

This area, rich in biodiversity, was identified as one of the priority zones which need immediate attention under the Ghana Strategic Investment Framework (GSIF) for Sustainable Land Management (SLM).

In 2015, Ghana joined the AFR100 with a restoration commitment to plant 2million hectares of trees.

The AFR100 is in accordance with Ghana's national priorities and commitments to the three Rio Conventions; namely the UN Convention to Combat Drought and Desertification (UNCCD), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD).

Losing the forests implies that about 60 percent of the Ghanaian population who depend on the forest for their source of livelihood would be challenged.

The 2012 Forest and Wildlife Policy has some significant provisions to increase the country’s forest cover whilst addressing issues of tree tenure, which is a major cause for deforestation.

“We have managed to put into policy some steps to reform tree tenure, in which case government hands over off-reserve areas to communities to manage,” observed Albert Katako of Civic Response, an NGO.

He however said “it’s about time the government puts thoughts into action,” said.

Putting commitments into action

Trees and forests sustain and improve water availability, increase harvests, make communities more resilient to weather extremes, mitigate climate change, enhance food security and combat rural poverty.

Restoring degraded lands for agro-forestry contributes to soil fertility and enhances the availability of food, fodder, fuel wood and other products.

The 3rd AFR100 Annual Partnership meeting in Nairobi, Kenya had the theme “Taking Restoration to Scale: From Commitment to Implementation”.

The meeting brought together leadership from AFR100 partner countries, restoration champions, private sector operators, and technical partners to share lessons and good practices to further the implementation of forest landscapes restoration.

The meeting comes at a time when momentum is growing for a UN Decade on Landscape Connectivity and Ecosystem Restoration.

AFR100 not only contributes to the Bonn Challenge goal of bringing 350 million hectares into restoration by 2030, but also fulfills the African Union’s mandate to bring 100 million hectares into restoration by 2030.

To date, 26 African countries have pledged to restore 91.4million hectares through the AFR100 initiative.

Mamadou Diakhité of the AU’s NEPAD Agency points to a strong political commitment to the AFR100, but says there is the need to move to the grassroots level for investments on restoration to reach the local communities, especially women and youth.

“We know that there are a lot of economic potentials, in terms of job creation, increasing productivity while restoring and working for sustainable development goals,” he said.

Describing the environment as central to economic development, Wanjira Mathai, an advisor to the AFR100, also acknowledged the political will of African leaders to landscapes restoration.

She however says enforcement of environmental legislation is most important, adding that “we’ve got to move from those pledges to implementation” by looking at critical issues of planning, monitoring, resourcing mobilizing and financing of restoration activities.

Forests for sustainable economies

Forest landscape restoration can drive economic development in Africa and enhance human well-being through enhancing agricultural output and securing livelihoods.

Reforestation and landscape restoration as means of combating climate change are now high on the agenda of many governments and organizations, especially in the wake of COP21 in Paris.

Wanjira Mathai says it is only prudent not to encroach on the forests but to be efficient in the management of available space and be creative about the built environment.

“The environment, the parks, the green spaces are very much a part of livable cities,” noted Wanjira, whose mother, the legendary Wangari Maathai put her life on the line to save the Karura Forest from land grabs. “If you destroy your environment, you destroy yourself; a healthy environment supports healthy people”.

Jacqueline Mbawine is hoping Ghanaian and other African leaders will take a lesson from the Global Landscapes Forum to pay more attention to efforts to restore lands and to conserve the wealth of natural resources available for the betterment of the people.

“Forests play key role in managing forest system and given the fact that there is increasing effect of climate change, the presence of forests in our cities will help people have more healthy lifestyles, would have cleaner air and a wealth of wellbeing by the way we keep our environment”.

KIGALI, Rwanda (PAMACC News) - An international research organisation has called for urgent action to tackle the global spread of invasive species, which they say is a major threat to sustainable development.

The Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) has called on counties to ensure that they have national invasive species strategies and action plans in place by 2020 including a national priority list identifying their highest outbreak risks and targeting national efforts accordingly.

“We are falling behind, and progress is currently too slow to achieve the ambitious targets set by the international community,” said Dr Dennis Rangi, the CABI’s Director General for Development.

“If we do not accelerate progress on these critical issues, further outbreaks cannot be prevented,” He told journalists on September 6 at the 2018 Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Kigali, Rwanda.

An invasive species is a plant, weed, worm or any other species that is not native to a specific location, and that has a tendency to spread to a degree believed to cause damage to the environment, human economy or human health.  

The fall armyworm is the most important invasive species in 40 African countries and Asia where it has caused untold losses particularly for maize farmers. Known scientifically as, Spodoptera frugiperda, the caterpillar originates in Central and South America. It was first identified in West Africa in January 2016, and has since moved to nearly all African countries.

In East Africa, Prosopis juliflora (known in Kenya as Mathenge) is another invasive species that is devastating goat farmers especially in dryland areas. The shrub produces pods that are too sugary, and when goats feed on them, the sugar content affects the teeth, forcing them to fall off.

Opuntia megacantha is another invasive species in form of cactus. The fruits have sharp thorns, and when livestock animals feed on them, the thorns remain pierced all over in the mouth, in the gums and on the tongue, making it impossible for the animal to feed again. This eventually leads to death of affected animal due to starvation.

And now, CABI has launched an Action on Invasives programme to enable developing countries to prevent or detect and control invasive species in order to protect and restore agricultural and natural ecosystems, reduce crop losses, improve health, remove trade barriers and reduce degradation of natural resources.

The research organisation is also calling on governments to prioritise investment in tackling invasive species and also to develop policy/regulations that will encourage the use of lower risk management methods (biocontrol, Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

The Action on Invasives programme has already been piloted on specific species in Ghana and Pakistan, with support and funding from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Netherlands’ Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS). It is now being scaled up so that people around the world can fulfil their potential and help their countries prosper.

It is estimated that the fall armyworm in Africa has the potential to cause maize yield losses of up to 20.6 million tonnes per annum in just 12 of Africa’s maize-producing countries. This represents nearly 53% of annual production. The value of these losses is estimated to be up to US$6.2 billion. This despite the fact that maize is the most important staple cereal crop grown by smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa and is the dominant cereal grown in most other African countries.

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Participants at the Global Landscape Forum (GLF) Nairobi 2018 have reignited the drive to restore at least 12 million hectares annually simply to reach land degradation neutrality.

Speakers from across Africa discussed their experiences and successes restoring forests, farms and coastlines for sustainable development, climate mitigation and adaptation.
“Unless urgent and concerted action is taken, land degradation will worsen in the face of population growth, unprecedented consumption, an increasingly globalized economy and climate change,” said Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “We must restore at least 12 million hectares annually simply to reach land degradation neutrality. And if we want to rectify errors from the past, then we need to run twice as fast.”
Degraded landscapes each year cost 10 percent of the global economy, affecting the livelihoods and wellbeing of some 3 billion people across the world, many in developing countries. The global landscapes community aims to restore more than 2 billion hectares of degraded land worldwide – a footprint larger than South America. For progress to take place, the private and public sectors must invest $350 billion annually.
“We have the necessary technical knowledge to restore landscapes; what is missing is stronger political commitment and better rural governance,” said Stefan Schmitz of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. “This includes decentralizing decision-making, administrative capacities and financial resources; putting in place adequate territorial and tenure policies.”
Initiatives big and small, from the AFR100 to local efforts such as mangrove restoration, are demonstrating the potential for greater agricultural yields, ecosystem services and climate protection. At the same time, now is the time to convert commitments to restore hundreds of millions of hectares of land into action by involving communities, women and youth, the speakers said.
“In a degraded landscape, if a woman doesn’t have the firewood, it will be difficult for her to get the water,” said Mukasa. “We managed to bring together six communities using an adaptive collaborative management approach. That vision is over restoration of degraded landscapes. These communities have been able to produce community trees.”
UN Environment Executive Director, Erik Solheim, reiterated his support for a U.N. decade devoted to promoting the rehabilitation of degraded, damaged and destroyed ecosystems to help speed up the race against climate change and biodiversity loss. He urged participants to support the proposal for a U.N. Decade for Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, which was first floated by El Salvador.
“Ecosystem restoration can counter climate change, poverty and biodiversity loss,” said Solheim. “A U.N. Decade for Ecosystem Restoration would give us an opportunity to accelerate restoration action and UN Environment supports El Salvador and the many other countries who are champions of this idea.”
GLF Nairobi 2018 also held discussions about ‘The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative’, and there was a launch of a documentary and a concert by musician Rocky Dawuni.

BUJUMBURA, Burundi (PAMACC News) - Bujumbura, la capitale burundaise abrite ce lundi 13 août 2018, la 26ème réunion du Conseil des ministres  de l’Initiative du Bassin du Nil (IBN).

Neuf sur dix  pays membres de cette organisation  ont répondu présents à cette assise tenue à l’Hôtel Club du Lac Tanganyika.

« L’IBN est une organisation intergouvernementale des pays riverains. Il revient à nous tous d’assurer sa protection, de faire la bonne gestion de ses ressources et de jouir équitablement de ses biens, qui sont les fruits de nos efforts », a déclaré Joseph Butore, 2ème vice-président de la République du Burundi.
Procédant à l’ouverture de cette réunion, il a précisé que l’eau est, pour aujourd’hui et demain, considérée comme une force motrice de développement socio-économique des peuples du bassin du Nil en générale, et celui du Burundi en particulier.

M.Butore a ainsi souligné que la gestion du secteur eau demeure un défi majeur face à la pollution perpétrée des eaux, de l’air, le gaspillage et la réduction des zones de protection.
« Le Burundi comme d’autres pays est soumis aux défis de changement climatique », a-t-il fait savoir, notant que le déficit pluviométrique s’est traduit notamment par l’aggravation de l’aridité et la réduction significative des principales zones humides et le tarissement de plusieurs rivières et lacs.

D’après lui, les pluies torrentielles, les températures extrêmes sont aussi autant de phénomènes climatiques qui révèlent aujourd’hui la vulnérabilité de plus en plus grandissante. La conséquence étant la recrudescence des maladies liées à la contamination de l’eau et à l’intoxication de l’air.

Et d’interpeller : « En matière de coopération, chaque pays doit reconnaître que le cours d’eau partagé forme un système unique et cohérent à gérer ensemble avec tous les riverains ».
Pour réussir, le 2ème vice-président de la République du Burundi appelle à l’unité : « Nous devrions rester solidaires au sein de notre organisation qui nous unit, et continuer  de résoudre ensemble les questions qui hantent notre communauté ».

A l’agenda de cette réunion figure la délibération sur l’état de coopération du Nil et examen des orientations  stratégiques sur la gestion et le développement coopératif des ressources en eau de ce bassin.

D’autres points à l’ordre du jour sont : examiner les résultats de l’année précédente et prendre des décisions concernant la stratégie de financement ; le plan d’action pour la mobilisation des ressources et la stratégie de communication et d’engagement des parties prenantes et prendre aussi une décision importante concernant le prochain sommet des Chefs d’Etats.

Et le Burundi, pays hôte va prendre la releve de l’Ethiopie en occupant  le poste du président du Conseil des ministres du Nil tandis que le poste de directeur exécutif du secrétariat de l’IBN reviendra au Soudan du Sud. Son siège est à Entebbe, en Ouganda.

Cette 26ème réunion du Conseil des ministres est tenue sous le thème : « Parvenir à un développement socio-économique durable grâce à l’utilisation équitable des ressources communes du Nil et aux avantages qui en découlent ».

Mis à part le Rwanda, des délégations des neuf pays ont répondu au rendez-vous à savoir  Burundi, RDC, Egypte, Ethiopie, Kenya, Rwanda, Soudan, Soudan du Sud, Tanzanie et Ouganda.

ELDORET, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Peter Kinywa 47,  was born and raised in Uasin Gishu County more than a decade ago by his late grandparents.

For the period he has been a life, Kinywa confessed that he has never seen such raging floods like the one that swept what he has known as his home for 20 years leaving him homeless man.

Kinywa residents in Kamukunji estate, which is located in the outskirts of Eldoret town, one among the many centers that was recently hit badly by the raging floods that caused havoc to not only the residents of Eldoret but also to residents of the neigbouring counties of Elgeyo- Marakwet and Baringo.

Kinywa has now been left a homeless man venting over is family of seven children.

He said they have been forced to seek accommodation from friends and relatives even as fears loom over a disease outbreak.

According to Kinywa, most dams and rivers have been filled to capacity and crops have  been washed away.

“ We do not have any food and roof over our head as this rain continue to rain havoc.” He said.

The father of seven accused the county government of Uasin Gishu for doing little in preparation such extreme weather condition.

“ The metrological departments had warned that the region was going to experience extreme weather pattern such as flooding but the county government did not move with speed to clear drainages.”

He said with disappointment.

The heavy rains continue to wreak havoc in the country causing death of over hundred people and displacing more than 10,000 others.

In the neighbouring counties of Baringo and Elgeyo – Marakwet the situation is no different. Kenya Red Cross reported that two school had been shut down with over 500 houses destroyed.

The Iten-Kabarnet which connect the two counties was also cut off by landslides following heavy rains in parts of the North Rift region.

“ Heavy rocks and mud rolled down the escarpments in Kerio Valley and blocked the road at Kamok near Kolol center thus paralyzing transport along the route that links Elgeyo Marakwet with Baringo counties.” Said Amos Ole Mpaka, a resident of Baringo county.

Ole Mpaka noted that a significant number of motorists ferrying people and goods between the two counties remained stranded at the areas that were cut off with no movement on both sides.

More than 1,500 families in areas prone to mudslides in Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu and Nandi Counties have been asked to move to safer areas with the rains expected to increase.

Public health officials ordered closure of the Kapseret and Arbuch primary schools in Uasin Gishu after toilets were submerged and destroyed by floods.

Headteacher at Kapseret primary in Uasin Gishu County Daniel Shongoi is appealed for assistance to construct new toilets at the school.

“We cannot put the lives of the children at risk and so we have decided to close the schools indefinitely so that repairs are done”, said Shongoi.

Floods have displaced several families in Eldoret where hundreds of houses were partly submerged by water.

Most affected are residents of Kidiwa, Kamkunji and Eeistleigh estates where more than 500 houses were damaged by water.

Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Abdi Hassan said they were monitoring the situation in the region where rains have been on the increase.

“We have our disaster management teams in place and we are asking those in risky areas to take extra precaution and move once they detect increasing volumes of water”, said Hassan.

Five dams in Uasin Gishu have also been classified as dangerous and engineers have been deployed to carry out repairs in order to avert disasters like the one in Solai two weeks ago.

County executive for environment Mary Njogu says the region has 300 dams and already they have been inspected for safety.

She says 18 of the dams put up during colonial times have undergone major repairs by the county to ensure they are safe because they are being used to store huge volumes of water.

According to Njogu, the extreme weather condition being witnessed recently in Eldoret and the neigbouring counties of the North Rift has never been witnessed before.

“ We as county we are being re –awaken that the hazard of climate change is here with us.” She said.   
The CEC said they will push for legislation that shall ensure that proper policies and sufficient resources is set aside to mitigate climate change.

Even as the county government seek to find redress on the matter, trader in Eldoret are counting losses following a heavy downpour that has caused extensive damage to their buildings and properties.

The downpour increased rapidly destroying property, sweeping away parked vehicles and breaking electricity posts.

Business owners  tried to salvaged valuables in the wake of what many called some of the worst floods to hit the region.

“The situation is pathetic. I have never seen it this bad. The county government should do something because at end of the day the landlord will come knocking our doors asking for rent,” said Anne Kirui, 55, a businesswoman.

Mrs Kirui and her grandson were stuck for three hours in her cosmetics shop waiting for help from the fire brigade that never came.

“Imagine I had to put my grandson on my shoulder for three hours as I called the fire department to come, but they never picked my calls. I have lost almost half a million in the floods,” she added

Uasin Gishu District Hospital was also not spared either. The floods destroyed the drug store, according to Wilson Kemei, the chief officer for Health.

“The most affected place is the drug store. Patients had to wait for long hours to be served by medics who were removing water from the building,” said Mr. Kemei.

Residents of the town blamed the county government, saying it was not maintaining drainage systems near business premises and roads.

“We are using generator pumps to drain off water from our premises. If only the county government could have done their work in terms of drainage systems we couldn’t be wasting our resources now,” said one official of a Khetia supermarket who could not ascertain his losses in the floods.

Uasin Gishu Land and Planning minister Eng. Nelson Maritim said the county government was working on drainage systems to avoid such floods in future.

“We need to have waterways because the drainage is not proper. Some people are living on land where drainage systems are supposed to be and we will be giving them notice to vacate so that we can improve the drainages,” said Maritim

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