PAMACC News - The Africa’s first-ever Wikipedia edit-a-thon, organized by Climate Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and Future Climate for Africa (FCFA),has  opened the door for African climate experts and researchers to boost the quality and quantity of climate change information on Wikipedia, the largest world encyclopedia and currently the super-highway of information for ordinary people across Africa.

For 3 days, 30 participants from Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, converged together with veteran Wikipedia editors to learn, update content and initiate a vital bedrock that stamps African climate change research within Wikipedia, which gets up to 20 billion pages viewed each month, according to Wikimedia statistics.

At the moment, Wikipedia furnishes readily accessible information to the larger global audience of millions. Available data indicates Africa’sinternet penetration to be at 39.8 percent, compared to 60.5 percent of the rest of the world, plus the continent has a telecommunication sector which is growing fast.

Further, Alexa Internet ranked Wikipedia to be one of the popular websites in the world as of June 2019, placing it at the top of the internet food chain.This means that having reliable, customized and well-packaged information on Wikipedia, real-time climate change threats on food security, water resources, agricultural production, and ecosystem services could be addressed timely and swiftly, by decisive actions backed with verified information.

This means that having reliable, customized and well-packaged information on Wikipedia has potential to reach decision-makers on the continent who can use it to address climate change threats to food security, water resources, agricultural production, and ecosystem services.

And yet availability of this impeded by the fact that only a fraction of editors are from Sub-Saharan Africa.Out of 70,000 editors globally only 1000 are from sub-Saharan Africa. It is therefore not surprising for African climate change information to be under-represented in the internet.

The edit-a-thon came about to instigate improved African representation in various pages with real-time information casting light on climate change issues, but also to lead the way for researchers to contribute their findings effectively to Wikipedia, increasing their global exposure and the impact of their research.

Available data on Wikipedia interaction across the world indicates that 97 percent of all reads are in the English language, but Wikis exist in many more languages.According to Dr. Katharine Vincent a climate change expert from Kulima Integrated Development Solutions in South Africa,

“A big aim of Wikipedia is to decolonize knowledge and a major way of doing that is making information available in languages other than English.  English was the common language among all participants, although obviously many other languages are known.  We had a number of Francophone participants who edited pages in French as well as English, and others also have plans to edit in non-European languages in the future” she added.

The edit-a-thon carved its groundwork on high impact pages which needed a robust update of vital information on climate change adaptation, climate change in Africa, drylands, and agriculture.

As participants shared information updating tasks, so as their skills were sharpened. “They were shown by the Wikimedia ZA group how to edit and add to pages, and given insights into the style of writing for an online encyclopediawhich is, of course, aimed at a different audience and therefore requires a different style to academic writing” Katharine added.

Thanks to the edit-a-thon, information on climate change in Africa, adaptation finance, adaptation policy(which was out of date) and gender and climate changeis now available, packaging well referenced African examples which have been published by participants, including Katharine who intends to work on other spheres remotely with other editors in the near future.

Africa is ready for more editors to chime in and strengthen information sharing on Wikipedia. As of the event completion, 30 editors have joined the available 1000. Still, a healthy representation draws out huge impacts and has significant potential to make available the information needed to respond to climate change on the continent.

 

DODOMA, Tanzania (PAMACC News) - Mention of the word El Niño sends shivers to several communities in Africa who live in lowland areas. However, these extreme rainfall phenomena are exactly what Dodoma desperately needs to sustain lives of the speedy growing population in Tanzania’s capital city.

A team of local and international scientists from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and University College London (UCL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation including the WamiRuvu Basin Water Board have been studying the Makutapora well-field (the only source of water for Dodoma city) to understand how the groundwater responds to different climatic conditions and human consumption.

“Through our research, we are seeking to understand groundwater resources in Makutapora, the renewability, the sustainability and critically how people use this precious resource,” said Richard Taylor, a Professor of Hydrogeology at the UCL and the Principal Investigator for a project known as GroFutures.

And after a few years of intensive research, the scientists have discovered that the well-field found in an area mainly characterised by usually seasonal rivers, vegetation such as acacia shrubs, cactus trees, baobab among others that thrive in dryland areas can only be recharged during extreme floods that often destroy agricultural crops and even property.

Dodoma became Tanzania’s capital city in 1974, though the administrative offices remained in Dar Es Salaam. Given a fact that the entire Dodoma region is semi-arid with an average annual rainfall of 550 mm, the current population of about 500,000 residents entirely rely on groundwater from the Makutapora well-field, from which they pump out 61 million litres of water every day, according to government records.

However, since 2016 when President John Pombe Magufuli issued an executive order to relocate all government ministries and institutions as well as diplomatic offices from Dar Es Salaam to Dodoma, the city has become a beehive of activities as people and authorities rush to put in place the right infrastructure to accommodate the expected rise in population.

As a result, the demand for water is expected to rise amid the changing climatic conditions, putting much more pressure on the Makutapora well-field.

“Makutapora is quite a special site, given that it is the longest known groundwater level record in Sub Saharan Africa,” said Prof Taylor. “A study of the well-field over the past 60 years reveals that recharge sustaining the daily pumping of water for use in Dodoma city occurs episodically and depends on heavy seasonal rainfall associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation,” said the professor.

So far, according to the loggers (data registering equipments) installed in several monitoring wells within the Makurapora basin, the water level has been declining since 2016 when positive recharge was recorded following the 2015-16 El Niño rains.  The scientists attribute the decline to heavy abstraction of the water for domestic use, but also, they are in the process of finding out if tough climatic conditions, changes and variations could be another factor.

“In the end of the year 2015, we installed river stage gauges to record the amount of water in the streams. Through this, we can monitor an hourly resolution of the river flow and how the water flow is linked to groundwater recharge,” said Dr David Seddon, a research scientist from UCL.

According to Lister Kongola, a retired hydrologist who worked for the government from 1977 to 2012, the demand for water in Dodoma has been rising over the years, from 20 million litres in the 1970s, to 30 million in the 80s and to the current 61 million litres per day at the moment.

“With most government offices now relocating from Dar Es Salaam to Dodoma, the establishment of the University of Dodoma and other institutions of higher learning, health institutions, and emergence of several hotels in the city, the demand is likely going to double in the coming few years.

With the Trans-African Highway from Cape Town to Cairo crossing through Dodoma, it means that the city could soon become an important tourism destination.

Already, President Magufuli has issued 62 land title deeds for construction of diplomatic missions and five others to accredited global organisations to facilitate the shift from Dar Es Salaam to Dodoma.

“The ongoing study is a stitch in time,” said Kongola. “Based on the results, the government will be in a position to make informed decisions on whether to keep abstracting water only from Makutapora or find supplementary sources of water to meet the ever growing demand,” he said.

One of the alternative options would be to construct dams and also explore alternative sites with reliable aquifers. The other option is to pump water all the way from Lake Victoria which is over 600 kilometres away from Dodoma.

The good news, however, is that seasons with El Niño kind of rainfall are predictable. “By anticipating these events, we can actually amplify them through some very minimal but strategic engineering intervention that might allow us to actually increase the amount of water replenishment in the well-field,” said Prof Taylor.

 

 

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - A recent study by scientists from the Kenya Markets Trust (KMT) has shown that temperatures in all the drylands had risen in the past 50 years, with devastating impact particularly on cattle and some food crops.

These findings coincided with a new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released on the same day showing that the world is off track to meet most food and agriculture-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with more than half of local livestock breeds at risk of extinction.

According to the Kenyan study, which was commissioned by the Canada-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) — through the Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE), changes in climatic conditions were driving pastoral communities into dire poverty.

“In all the 21 counties, we observed a 25.2 percent decline in cattle population between 1977 and 2016 on average, with Turkana County alone recording a devastating loss of about 60 percent in the same period, and this is directly linked to the increased heat,” said Dr Mohammed Yahya Said, the Lead Investigator and a consulting scientist at the KMT.

These findings correspond with the FAO global report which shows that on average, 60 percent of local livestock breeds are at risk of extinction in the 70 countries that had risk status information. “Specifically, across the world, out of 7155 local livestock breeds, 1940 are considered to be at risk of extinction. Examples include the Fogera cattle from Ethiopia or the Gembrong goat of Bali,” FAO reported.

It notes that this could be even higher as for two thirds of the local livestock breeds, especially in Africa, the Middle and Near East and Asia, there is no data on the animals' risk status.  
According to Dr Said, changes in temperatures in Kenya are directly responsible for reduction of cattle population. “Our study found out that five counties have already surpassed the 1.5˚C mark, and such high temperatures are never good particularly for livestock,” he said.

The counties with the highest rise in temperatures include West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties, which have recorded an increase of 1.91° C in the past 50 years, while Turkana and Baringo have both recorded (1.8° C) increase, Laikipia (1.59° C) and Narok (1.75° C) in the same period.

As a result of such occurrences, FAO reports that hunger is on the rise in many countries worldwide. “More than 820 million people are still hungry today,” says the report.

The number of hungry people in the world according to the UN has been on the rise for three years in a row, and is back to levels seen in 2010-2011. In parallel, the percentage of hungry people out of the total population has slightly increased, from 10.6 percent in 2015 to 10.8 percent in 2018.

Further, according to the UN, small-scale food producers - who represent the majority of all farmers in many developing countries - face disproportionate challenges in accessing inputs and services, and as a result, their incomes and productivity are systematically lower compared to larger food producers.

Even more badly, the UN report also warns of "no progress in conserving animal genetic resources and notes that ongoing efforts to preserve these resources appear inadequate". For example, less than one percent of local livestock breeds across the world have enough genetic material stored that would allow the breed to be reconstituted in case of extinction.

However, the conservation of plant genetic material was found to be faring on somewhat better.

At the end of 2018, global holdings of plant genetic materials conserved in gene banks in 99 countries and 17 regional and international centers totaled 5.3 million samples - a nearly three percent increase over the previous year. This is mainly due, however, to the transfer of existing materials to better, indicator-compliant storage facilities, rather than a reflection of newly added diversity collected from the field.

Efforts to secure crop diversity continue to be insufficient, caution the report, particularly for crop wild relatives, wild food plants and neglected and underutilized crop species.
However, according to KMT scientists, there is evidence that the Arabica coffee for example is getting extinct in Kenya and Ethiopia, while the yield from Robusta variety is going to more than double by the year 2050.

“These are very important findings for the country especially now that we are working towards the realization of the ‘Big Four’ development agenda,” said Mwangi Harry Gioche, the Director of Agriculture Research and Innovation at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Fisheries and Irrigation during the dissemination of the findings of the Kenyan study.

This tenure transition has been driven by a number of factors including land tenure reforms, and market and demographic changes. Population pressure is also creating more consciousness around land in the ASALs and this is translating into emerging tensions around ownership and use. Options such as integrated land management can help take into account both pastoralists’ needs, as well as emerging forms of more intensified livestock investments by establishing land use zones that allow both free movements of large herds as well as livestock intensification under private land tenure. Land zoning can be facilitated through appropriate enabling policies and spatial planning processes.

Such integrated frameworks should provide security to pastoralists and enable them to negotiate for various financial, livelihood and technological opportunities in light of climatic shocks and changing tenure regimes.

ACCRA, Ghana (PAMACC News) - Ghana ­ has become the third country to sign a landmark agreement with the World Bank that rewards community efforts to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Ghana’s five-year Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Carbon Fund, which is administered by the World Bank, unlocks performance-based payments of up to US$50 million for carbon emission reductions from the forest and land use sectors.

Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo have also signed ERPAs over the past ten months, with other Carbon Fund countries expected to sign similar agreements in the next year.

In Ghana, forest degradation and deforestation are driven primarily by cocoa farm expansion, coupled with logging and a recent increase in illegal mining.

Working in close partnership with the Forestry Commission, Cocoa Board, and private sector, Ghana’s program with the FCPF Carbon Fund seeks to reduce carbon emissions through the promotion of climate-smart cocoa production.

“The program's two central goals – reducing carbon emissions in the forestry sector and producing truly sustainable, climate-smart cocoa beans – make it unique in Africa and the first of its kind in the cocoa and forest sectors worldwide. This program is helping to secure the future of Ghana’s forests while enhancing income and livelihood opportunities for farmers and forest-dependent communities,” said Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, Chief Executive of Ghana’s Forestry Commission.

In Ghana’s ERPA, the FCPF Carbon Fund commits to making initial results-based payments for reductions of 10 million tons of CO2 emissions (up to US$50 million). Ghana’s ERPA also specifies on carbon emission baselines, price per ton of avoided CO2 emissions, and a benefit-sharing mechanism that has been prepared based on extensive consultations with local stakeholders and civil society organizations throughout the country.

Ghana’s emission reductions program is anchored in the country’s national strategy for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and is well-aligned with relevant national policies and strategies, including Ghana’s Shared Growth and Development Agenda, the National Climate Change Policy, the National Forest and Wildlife Policy, the National Gender Policy, and Ghana’s nationally-determined contributions to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Ghana’s emission reductions program area, located in the south of the country, covers almost 6 million hectares (ha) of the West Africa Guinean Forest biodiversity hotspot. The wider program area covers 1.2 million ha of forest reserves and national parks and is home to 12 million people. 

An increase in cocoa production has historically meant more forests are cut to accommodate new cocoa seedlings, but this trend could be reversed to improve Ghana’s record as one of the highest deforestation rates in Africa.

Through the program, the government will focus on selected deforestation hotspot areas and help farmers and communities increase cocoa production there using climate-smart approaches. More sustainable cocoa farming will help avoid expansion of cocoa farms into forest lands and secure more predictable income streams for communities. These combined actions will help Ghana to meet its national climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.

This work leverages support from other initiatives, including from World Bank programs focused on forest rehabilitation, social inclusion, climate-smart agriculture, and sustainable land and water management.

The program also works closely with the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, which is an active commitment of top cocoa-producing countries with leading chocolate and cocoa companies to end deforestation and restore forest areas, through no further conversion of any forest land for cocoa production.

“It’s exciting to see the level of stakeholder engagement Ghana has been able to achieve with its emission reduction program, particularly with the private sector. Some of the most important cocoa and chocolate companies in the world, including World Cocoa Foundation members such as Mondelēz International, Olam, Touton and others, as well as Ghana’s Cocoa Board have committed to participating in the program,” said Pierre Frank Laporte, World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

More than 30 stakeholder consultations, meetings, and workshops with over 40 institutions were conducted in the planning, design and validation of the program. Part of this outreach included developing and implementing a program-wide Gender Action Plan to sensitize stakeholders regarding the key role women play in sustainable land use and their right to benefit equally from results-based payments.


BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - Chile's Environment Minister and incoming COP25 President Carolina Schmidt and the Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change Patricia Espinosa have officially co-signed the bilateral agreement which forms the legal basis for organizing and hosting the UN Climate Change Conference in Santiago de Chile, later this year.

Dubbed the “COP of action”, the conference (COP25) is scheduled for 2-13 December, 2019.

The theme is aimed building on the UN says was a successful outcome of COP24 that was held in Poland last year, which resulted in the Katowice climate package.

As the host of COP25, Chile has a unique opportunity to demonstrate its leadership on ambitious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this month, Chile announced its plan to completely phase out coal by 2040 and its objective to become carbon-neutral by 2050.

This is a major step for a country with a 40% coal share in their electricity mix and is a prime example of the type of action required to limit the global average temperature rise to as close as possible to 1.5°C, the central goal of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The COP Presidency rotates among the following 5 United Nations regions: Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - The world is already experiencing changes in average temperature, shifts in the seasons and an increasing frequency of extreme weather events and other climate change impacts and slow onset events.

Accessible, adequate, and predictable finance is thus critical for developing and implementing adaptation action, from the local to the regional level, around the globe.

At the UN Climate talks in Bonn, leading authorities on adaptation and finance have convened for the 2019 Technical Expert Meeting on Adaptation (TEM-A) to survey the adaptation finance landscape and discuss concrete actions that can help it better serve adaptation action for vulnerable countries, groups and communities.  

Now in its fourth and penultimate year, this year’s TEM-A is focusing on the topic of Adaptation finance, including the private sector.

“Firstly, dedicating two days to this technical session on adaptation finance is a very progressive move,” says Augustine Njamnshi, Chair of Political and Technical Affairs of the , Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA). “While it is good that experts are exploring all the possibilities including the private sector, our view is that focus should be so much on public financing. Adaptation remains key for Africa and this area has been struggling as far as finance is concerned. We hope the workshop will highlight concrete ideas that will revamp the operationalization of the adaptation pillar as we get to COP 25 later this year.”

According to available statistics, developing countries already face an adaptation finance gap, which will only grow in the absence of increased public and private adaptation finance, according to UN Environment.

The 2016 UNEP Adaptation Finance Gap Report estimated that adaptation finance costs in 2030 are likely to range from USD 140-300 billion per annum, requiring finance that is approximately 6 to 13 times greater than international public finance for adaptation as of now.

In the first week of the climate talks, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa urged action adding that “this was a climate emergency and that we must respond in kind.”
“Nations are not on track to achieving their goals. They’re not even close. We have one ultimate goal as a civilization if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change: to limit global temperatures to 1.5 degrees. We are dreadfully off course,” she said.

While industrialised countries immediate focus is mitigation—cutting their carbon emissions, the developing country parties are pushing for adaptation.

Thus, throughout the TEM-A, panelists and attendees are looking to guide policymakers and practitioners towards unlocking more of the required adaptation finance. Representing various sectors and regions, the experts are drawing out valuable insights and illustrative examples throughout seven sessions addressing topics from emerging sources of adaptation finance, to assessing the impact of adaptation finance, to financing the commercialization of adaptation technology solutions.

In recognition of the important role of the private sector, both to provide adaptation finance but also to seek and deploy it for its own adaptation needs, mobilizing the private sector forms an important thread of discussion running through all the sessions. Speakers and experts from the private sector are also in attendance to share their experiences and ideas.
It is however the private sector narrative that has not settled well with African Civil society and other like-minded campaigners from the global south.

They believe the heavy involvement of the private sector in climate finance mechanism especially for adaption waters down its essence, and is likely to further burden the poorest communities who are at the fore front of the climate crisis.

The TEM-A is the cornerstone of the technical examination process on adaptation, which was established in 2015 to identify concrete opportunities for strengthening resilience, reducing vulnerabilities, and increasing the understanding and implementation of adaptation actions.

Each year, the case studies and good practices from the meeting are reflected in a technical paper and summary for policymakers, and help sow the seeds of strengthening pre-2020 adaptation action.

The meeting is organized jointly by the Subsidiary Bodies, guided by the High-Level Champions, and conducted by the Adaptation Committee with the goal of bolstering adaptation action.

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