Save your burning house before pursuing the arsonist – African legislators told
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13 March 2018 Author :   Isaiah Esipisu
Augustine Njamnshi during a past event

MIDRAND, South Africa (PAMACC News) - Legislators at the Pan African Parliament are eager to pursue industrialised countries, whose activities have resulted in excess emission of greenhouse gasses that have led to global warming, but the African civil society on climate change has a different message.

Latest research findings in Kenya for example, show that temperatures have risen in all the country’s 21 semi arid counties with five of them surpassing the 1.5 °C mark in the past 50 years. This, according to the study, has led to sharp reduction in livestock population, impacting heavily on livelihoods.

Paris Agreement on climate change calls for international interventions to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

“The changing climatic conditions is a problem all over Africa, and the first thing we must do, is accept that there is a problem that must be tackled immediately before pursuing those who caused it,” said Augustine Njamnshi, a board member of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), which brings together over 1000 African climate related civil society organisations.

“If a man puts your house on fire, will you start by pursuing the man, or will you try and put out the fire, then follow up with the arsonist thereafter?” asked Njamnshi during a training workshop for African Members of Parliament in Midrand, South Africa.

The Kenyan study, which was conducted by scientists from the Kenya Markets Trust (KMT), commissioned by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) – through a project known as Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE) reveals that cattle population has reduced by over 26% between 1977 and 2016.

“Our projections show that the temperatures are going to increase even further in the coming years, and the impact is likely going to be more devastating,” said Dr Mohammed Said, one of the PRISE researchers.

During the MPs training in Midrand, the lead trainer, Stephen Mutimba pointed out that African continent, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, is exposed to climate variability and extremes at frequencies which exceed normal thresholds, and that such events could significantly erode gains already made in poverty reduction.

There is therefore need for different countries to devise coping mechanisms so as to save livelihoods.

Mutimba said that governments can only prepare for disasters that may result from the extreme weather events only if they have access to adequate climate information.

“Climate information and services are key resources for governments and communities to prepare for these changes and when well integrated into policy and practice, they can help reverse this trend and enhance cross-sectoral climate resilient development,” he told the legislators.

According to Mithika Mwenda, the PACJA Secretary General, there is urgent need for legislators to work hand in hand with the civil society and researchers for climate adaptation and in advancing the climate discourse at the global level.

“We all need to embrace the Talanoa dialogue,” said Mithika. ‘Talanoa’ is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.

Amongin Jacquiline, the Chairperson of the PAP Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural resources and Environment agreed with Mithika, saying that the Talanoa dialogue will help in stock taking of the achievements so far, as well as the challenges, which should inform the way Africa should engage in global climate negotiations.

Studies have shown that Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change, especially in water, agriculture, forestry, and coastal development sectors.

World Food Programme estimates that about 650 million people live in arid or semi-arid areas where floods and droughts impact lives and productivity.

In the arable land areas within the Sub-Saharan Africa region, scientists say that there will be a decrease of 19% in maize yields, and 68% for bean yields. As a result, severe child stunting (leading to higher mortality risk) could increase by 31%–55% across the region by 2050 due to climate change.

“The earlier we start tackling the challenge of climate change, the better for our continent,” said Njamnshi.

The one day training was organised by the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) in collaboration with PACJA to enhance MPs' knowledge and understanding of the potential application of Climate Information Sercice policies in development planning with the aim of catalyzing the uptake and use of climate services by vulnerable communities.

 

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