Climate Change (73)
NAIROBI, Kenyya (PAMACC News) - Kenny Matampash, a crop and livestock farmer and an agricultural solutions expert in Kajiado County says African Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) are crucial to addressing effects climate change in Kenya.
Matampash says his knowledge in irrigation has helped him grow crops in a dry land for commercial use.
“From October this year, I have lost 130 heads of cattle. This shows how urgently Government should engage us to get our views on how to incorporate our indigenous system in improving agriculture,” he says.
The farmer who keeps livestock, rabbits, bees and grows various crops says indigenous knowledge can help in the use of storage of animal feeds and water for irrigation.
“I use my indigenous knowledge prepare land for pasture conservation. Here, I can conserve Napier grass and beetroots. I have also drilled two boreholes at a cost of Sh4.5 million. I use the water to irrigate crops like maize, vegetables, water melon and yellow beans,” Matampash says.
He reveals that he has trained farmers locally and internationally to adopt diversification and adaptation of innovative techniques for sustainable agriculture.
Together with his wife Phylis Nadupoi, the couple now sells their products in Elangata-Wuas, Ilbissil and other markets in Kajiado.
“My knowledge has created a miracle in this arid and semi-arid area. This can be replicated in all ASAL regions when water availability and storage is made a priority,” Matampash says.
Mary Kiminza, a farmer in the arid area of Makueni in Eastern Kenya says farmers in the region have used IKS to devise innovative ways of water storage to help them plant crops even during droughts.
The farmers have come together to build a traditional rock catchment system to harvest rainwater, and despite dry weather, the village still has plenty of water.
“Apart from the gift of life from God, this is the other biggest blessing that has come to us,” says Mrs Kiminza, a mother of five and a member of the village's Ithine Self Help Group.
Rock catchment systems use naturally occurring rock outcrops to divert rainwater to a central collection area. A concrete wall is built to direct the water that trickles down the rock surface into sand and gravel filter, then down pipes into covered storage tanks to be used for irrigation.
“We use our knowledge to build resilience to climate extremes among the worst-hit areas, using locally acceptable techniques and making them as sustainable as possible,” Mrs Kiminza says.
“Residents here in the dry-land regions face an acute water shortage. But with innovative traditional water harvesting techniques, most of them have become food secure and not dependent on food aid any longer,” Mrs Kiminza says.
In Mbeere region, another dry land, farmers have abandoned growing traditional crops like maize, sweet and white potatoes and have found a way to stay afloat as water becomes scarcer.
The farmers are now breeding catfish in “home dams” that capture rainwater, to help them cope with water scarcity.
“This is my new source of income,” said Sylvester Kinyori, 32, who operates a kiosk in Isiolo town where he sells fish products from local farmers who have turned to aquaculture.
Farmers in the region started rearing fish four years ago, after they were introduced to a simple way of trapping and storing rainfall run-off in what are known as “home dams”.
The water is stored in reservoirs sunk in the grounds of a household compound, fitted with a thick polythene lining to stop it percolating away into the soil.
John Njiru said experiment by farmers in Mbeere had shown catfish which have distinctive whisker-like filaments around their mouths could be more resilient to a harsh climate than tilapia, withstanding higher temperatures.
"We are now healthier because we can eat the fish, and sell the surplus to generate income. It is my hope that fish farming in this region will stand the test of time given the tough and changing climatic conditions,” Njiru says.
Weather, climate change and IKS experts unanimously agree that tapping IKS will make conventional weather services more relevant and accessible, thereby increasing update and use by local farmers.
The experts note that local farmers have in-built indigenous knowledge weather forecasting practices established after long years of observation of their respective natural environments.
They also agree that African IKS pertaining to weather have not been fully integrated in climate change information services and this has led to existing weather information services to lack relevance to local communities.
Dr Richard Lesiyampe, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture agrees. He explains that unpredictable weather patterns have negatively affected farming in Kenya.
“We have a shortfall of nine million bags of maize this year. This is because farmers in this region, considered the country’s main grain basket harvested 36 million bags of maize last year,” Lesiyampe said.
He added, “The shortfall has been caused by adverse weather effects that have caused prolonged wet or dry seasons and new emerging diseases. Government has a programme to tap farmers’ knowledge in weather forecasts and irrigation to find ways of mitigating against such negative effects.”
Dr Richard Muita, a lecturer at Institute for Meteorological Training and Research works closely with the traditional Nganyi rainmakers based in Bunyore in Western Kenya.
The Nganyi observe changes in nature that would be unnoticeable to most people - in air currents, the flowering and shedding of leaves of certain trees, the behaviour of ants, bird songs, even the croaking of frogs and toads.
“They are able to interpret weather patterns and provide valuable advice. The Kenya Meteorology Department (KMD) works together with the traditional rainmakers to produce more accurate forecasts and disseminate them to a wider number of farmers.
This, he adds has enabled the meteorologists to blend ancient and modern weather systems together to build climate resilience.
Prof Joseph Mukabana, Head of African Offices and Least Developed Countries at the World Meteorological Organisation (MWO) in Geneva, Switzerland emphasised the role of IKS in agriculture.
“The Nganyi have key information in astronomy and botany that can be used to address climate change. These people can look at stars and plants and predict whether there will be strained or enough rains. This knowledge can be used by governments to advise farmers on what crops to plant to last the predicted spell of rain,” Mukabana says.
Prof Hassan Kaya, the Director, Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa said that understanding of the importance of IKS is key in explaining the symbiotic relationship between ecosystems and human dynamics for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
“This includes the correlation between habitat, ecosystem services, culture including language, natural resources and their collective impact on community livelihoods in terms of food security and nutrition and energy needs in the face of climate change,” Kaya says.
He called for research and documentation of African cultural and ecological histories, including indicators of natural early warning systems and innovative adaptation strategies to climate variability and change,
“This will provide a clear and broad conceptualization of climate change and variability in the African context across time. It will also provide foundation for devising policy strategies which are culturally and ecologically specific. It will also identify IKS-based commonalities in ecologically and culturally comparable zones for climate change policy development and implementation,” he said.
Prof Joseph Matowanyika, the Director of Indigenous of the Knowledge Systems, Environment and Lifelong Learning Department, Chihonyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe says the history of how African countries are inter-related through the river systems is useful.
“The whole of African is connected by its river systems. When we work with experts in IKS, we will be able to minimise conflicts among countries and be able to produce enough food for all of us,” he says.
ACCRA, Ghana (PAMACC News) - Ghana is poised to be a leader in the global movement to halt land degradation and deforestation which contribute to climate change and affects livelihoods.
The Ghana Dedicated Grant Mechanism (Ghana-DGM) project targets 52 communities within forest and transitional zones in the Brong Ahafo and Western regions. These local constituents will be empowered and supported with knowledge and financing to take steps to reorient their way of living to be sustainable, resilient and climate smart.
The project launch in the Brong Ahafo regional capital, Sunyani, received wide reception from interest groups, especially women, who are confident the initiative will help replenish the lost natural resources for the future generation.
Madam Akua Yeboah, a representative of queenmothers in the target areas, expressed gratitude for the intervention and appreciated the engagement of women in the project planning and implementation.
According to her, the local people are excited at the exposure to knowledge on the causes and impacts of extreme weather conditions.
“We the women are ready to throw in the needed support to make the Ghana DGM work to help improve our farms, livelihoods and marriages,” she said, adding that an enhanced livelihood leads to good marriages which help build good families.
The DGM Intervention
Unsustainable use of fuel wood, illegal logging and mining, uncontrolled wildfires, expansion of cocoa farms and other infrastructure development are factors militating against sustainable lands, forests and water bodies.
For a tropical country like Ghana, the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere involves reducing deforestation, reforestation, and exploring affordable and sustainable alternatives to fuel wood.
Through the World Bank, the Climate Investment Fund is providing $5.5million to implement Ghana’s DGM over a five year period. Similar projects are being implemented in other countries including Mexico, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Peru, Brazil and the Congo.
The core goal of the Ghana-DGM is to challenge the target communities to learn more about climate change and how it impacts their daily livelihoods.
“We believe that these very local communities are uniquely placed to help solve the degradation of lands and forests and improve it for their own benefit as well as for the benefit of Ghana,” said project team leader, Dr. Nyaneba Nkrumah.
She observed the daily decisions of these communities impact the forests, soils and water bodies, whilst the local people are also the first to feel the effects of unsustainable practices and climate change.
The project therefore seeks to help the communities to solve the problem by giving them the knowledge and the financing to be able to do so.
“We can make all the policies we want but unless local communities help; they have a part to understand how climate change affects their livelihoods and they can put it to practice what is needed to ensure sustainability in the forest zone, sustainability of the soils and water bodies in a long time to come,” said Dr. Nkrumah.
National Policy and Environmental Protection
Foresters have noted that the shade provided by one healthy matured tree is equivalent to ten room-size airconditioners running 20hours a day.
Local actors under the Ghana-DGM are ready to take advantage of the project to promote sustainable and climate smart practices.
Isaac Gyamfi of project partners, Solidaridad, believes strengthening the knowledge and skills about nature in the local communities will lead to building climate resilient communities that use smart ways to farm and cook.
Nana Oboaman Bofotia Boa Amponsem II of the Sunyani Traditional Council lauded the project, but cautioned political leadership to cease hypocritical utterances and rather act right to protect the environment.
“The environment and economies are destroyed by political leadership,” he observed. “They are building their political parties instead of the nation”.
The chief expects the legal department of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to wield prosecutorial powers to effectively enforce laws on the environment.
The Ghana DGM is expected to foster synergies to drive the implementation of the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted to the United Nations Convention Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which has targets for climate mitigation and adaptation.
PAMACC in Abidjan, COTE D'IVOIRE
The Second Conference of the Parties to the Bamako Convention (also known COP 2) began this morning in Abidjan, the capital city of Cote d'Ivoire.
The conference will hold from 30th January to 1st February 2018 under the theme: "The Bamako Convention: a platform for a pollution-free Africa."
"COP 2 aspires to provide a platform to discuss ways and means of ensuring that the continent rids itself of hazardous wastes and contribute to the achievement of a pollution-free planet", says Mme Aida Keita M'bo, President of the COP and Malian Minister for Environment, Sanitation and Sustainable Development.
Host Minister and Ivoirian Minister for Public Health, Environment and Sustainable Development, Mme Anne Désirée Ouloto urged her colleagues to work torwards a COP 2 outcome that will "prevent Africa from becoming a dumping ground for toxic wastes through an effective implementation of the Bamako Convention”.
"The importation of hazardous waste into Africa is a crime against humanity and we must commit to prompt action aimed at overcoming barriers to effective management and minimization of waste in Africa through increased knowledge on waste scenarios in order to prevent harm to health and environment,” Mme Ouloto added.
"We have a collective responsibility to safeguard communities from the environmental and health consequences of hazardous waste dumping," said Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director of UN Environment.
"Africa is not the dustbin of the world" Thiaw added while reinstating UN Environment's commitment to a pollution-free world.
From Basel to Bamako Convention
The Bamako Convention is a treaty of African nations prohibiting the importation of any hazardous (including radioactive) waste into Africa.
The convention which came into force in 1998 is a response to Article 11 of the Basel convention which encourages parties to enter into bilateral, multilateral and regional agreements on Hazardous Waste to help achieve the objectives of the convention.
African Nations established the Bamako Convention in 1991 to complement the Basel Convention.
The Convention, which came into force in 1998, is aimed at protecting the health of populations and the environment of African countries through a ban on the import of all hazardous and radioactive wastes.
It also prohibits the dumping or incineration of hazardous wastes in oceans and inland waters, and promotes the minimization and control of trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes within the African continent.
The Convention also aims to improve and ensure ecologically rational management and handling of hazardous waste within Africa, as well as the cooperation between African nations.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - Citizens of Africa have been urged to take advantage of investment opportunities that accompany climate action to earn some money and lift their people from poverty.
Secretary-General of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Mithika Mwenda, has noted that the renewable energy revolution currently being witnessed in the world provides affordable access to energy to people who would otherwise not have access.
He noted that renewable energy has also aided in the reduction of emissions, thus contributing to the attainment of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) ambitions of countries.
“We are witnessing renewable energy revolution and in Africa and the rest of the world, this is an explosive sector,” observed Mithika. “We need to take advantage of the investment opportunities coming with climate action; there are a lot of resources in this to help address poverty”.
At the COP21 climate talks which produced the Paris Agreement, the G7 committed to allocate US$10 billion into the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI).
Though there are concerns with delivering the promise, the Initiative, in its current design, will help cure chronic energy poverty by supporting decentralized, modern, off-grid and people-owned energy systems not only for lighting, but also cooking, driving smallholder agribusiness and charging mobile phones.
Mithika added that green energy has helped save lives by reducing indoor pollution.
Fossil fuel vs. renewable energy economies
Mithika Mwenda was addressing an event on low-carbon and climate-resilient development, held on the sidelines of the 2018 African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Most African countries do not contribute any significant amount of greenhouse gases but there are commitments in their NDCs to ensure that their development pathways are carbon neutral.
In a climate-constrained world, investment in fossil fuel-based energy sources no longer makes sense.
But Africa faces the dilemma of whether to rapidly revert to renewable energy, have a mix of both fossil fuels and renewables, or ignore the global call and continue in the unsustainable model of development pursued by industrialized countries which brought the climate crisis.
What is evident, though, is the fact that the global community has shifted.
This shift should make African countries re-think their priority energy sources and investment in oil and in some instances coal, as it may not make economic sense in the long-run.
The Addis Ababa side-event, attended by climate actors from across the continent, is organized strategically to get African leaders to focus attention on climate change issues.
As the first Pan African convention after the COP23, the event offered an opportunity to exchange ideas and reflect on Africa’s victories during the Bonn Climate Change Conference, with a view of charting a collective path towards subsequent Global Dialogue processes on the subject.
“This gives us the platform to develop common African narratives that will have impact on the global stage,” said James Murombedzi, Officer-in-Charge of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
Moving along the development pathway
Climate change is no longer discussed as a limited environmental or scientific matter but as a development issue.
African civil society therefore looks forward to leaders moving from the rhetoric to taking real action on the ground.
“The momentum for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the NDCs is picking up, but the question is: are we moving with that pace in Africa?” queried Mithika.
Some countries on the continent have developed very effective policy and legal frameworks to facilitate the implementation in the areas of transparency, adaptation, loss and damage, among others.
But there are others stuck on bureaucracies to push the climate agenda forward.
“We need to think broader about what is the impact of climate change on development. What does it mean for agriculture? What does it mean for energy, for infrastructure? So we are really talking about development,” said Mithika.
He believes that the ClimDev-Africa programme can rally the African continent around in mobilizing action and “we need to ensure that critical centres that support the livelihoods of the African people and which are weather sensitive like agriculture are created”.
The Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev-Africa) Programme is an initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), established to create a solid foundation for Africa’s response to climate change.