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OPINION The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land that was released on the heels of its Special Report on 1.5 degree left no one (except climate denials) in doubt of the bleeding planet and the pending planetary crisis or what others call climate breakdown ahead of us. The Report also came with some information on what happened and what needs to be done, why we find ourselves in this situation and why we need to act, when it all started and when we need change, and then how we can address the crisis. While I acknowledge that in the Report’s to-do-list of possible interventions, most of which were not entirely new practices but what have been the norms over the years and are well collated and synthesized in the Report, it goes to say that after all, we are not short of solutions to address the problem. The challenge remains inadequate and in most cases lack of the ‘will power’ be it political and/or moral to do so and in other cases the passing of bulk and finger pointing.It was good that the Report demonstrates how we can go about acting on the proposed solutions and acknowledges that this has to be done “at scale”. Could this then be the ‘game changer’ at least in the meantime? I would in my view think maybe, but the question that readily follows is what then needs to happen to take the actions to ‘a scale’ and where would the resources comes from to undertake the needed actions ‘at scale’? All these brings to mind Article 9, 10 and 11 of the Paris Agreement, the over two decades of goal-post shifting climate negotiations, the avoidance and shying away from the emotive topics such as the Common But differentiated Responsibility/Respective Capacity (CBDR) and Transparency (of actions) Framework in climate negotiations.Acknowledging that everyone and every country has a role to play to a certain degree of responsibility and respective capacity through each countries’ Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs) and also as enshrined in Article 4 of the Paris agreement, it’s now time to draw a clear line between climate rhetoric, pledges, commitments and concrete actions. The best time to match words with actions was yesterday, a better time is today.As the world approaches the red-line where impacts of climate change (not only on land and agriculture but in all other sectors) are already outpacing the needed actions and making adaptation to climate change much harder and costlier, there is a continent that is already at the edge of the Climate Red-line and taking more than its fair share - the Africa continent. In Africa, about 97% of the crop land is rain-fed (climate sensitive) and the agriculture sector employs a labour force of between 60% and 65% contributing over 20% to the the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Agriculture featured prominently (about 80%) in the NDCs submitted by African countries as priority areas.The Special Report on Climate change and…
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - Climate change experts, policy makers, Africa Union, representatives from the United Nations among other players attending the 8th edition of the Climate Change and Development in Africa Conference ( CCDA), in Addis Ababa in Africa have agreed to fast track efforts to meet climate change commitments in line with the Paris Agreement. "It is very evident the different stakeholders in the fight against climate change in Africa have ambitious programs to walk the climate talk. But we are conscious that not much can be achieved in this direction if we work in isolation,’’ noted PACJA executive secretary Mithika Mwenda at the opening of the conference. The different speakers at the conference corroborated the view that there has so far been a lackluster approach to implementing the Paris Agreement necessitating a more results oriented approach.“One of the main objective of this conference is to come up with concrete actions and a common position to better make Africa’s voice heard in the upcoming UN Climate conference in the US,’’ said Linus Mofor, senior environmental affairs officer in charge of energy, infrastructure and climate change at the African Climate Policy Centre of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.The 2019 CCDA 8th conference accordingly is c o-organised by the Economic Commission for Africa of ECA, the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance,PACJA. This year’s conference accordingly is organized under the theme: “Stepping Up Climate Action for a Resilient Africa: a Race We Can and Must Win”.Opening the conference, Ethiopia’s State Minister for Energy Water, Irrigation and Energy, Frehiwot Woldehanna noted with satisfaction that many African countries have submitted ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions to Climate Action – NDCs - showing that African leaders have made strong commitments to tackle climate change while striving to meet their national development agendas. He however remarked that the implementation phase was rather slow with insignificant impacts, calling on the different stakeholders to fast tract the implementation of their actions.He cited the example of Ethiopia, whose electricity system is dominated by hydropower and was one of the first countries to submit its NDC ahead of the Paris Agreement and was one of the first countries to ratify the agreement.He however regretted that despite efforts on the ground, climate change effects like droughts are putting our energy security and reliability at risk, with significant economic and social impacts.‘’Without urgent actions to tackle these climate challenges Africa will not meet the targets of the different sustainable development goals,’’ the minister cautioned.“As countries raise their climate ambition, we must remember the fundamental principle of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which calls for wide cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions,” he said.Experts agree Africa contributes least to global emissions but suffers the most adverse impacts from climate change. Statistics…
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - Installing more boreholes to tap underground water will improve rural Ethiopian communities’ resilience to drought, according to a new report.A new study carried out by the British Geological Survey (BGS), the University of Addis Ababa and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) showed that people who have access to groundwater from boreholes are much less affected by drought than those who rely on wells or springs for their water supply. The report also links the shortage of water to conflict in local areas to migration, a decline in breastfeeding rates, a rise in miscarriage rates, and more children missing school.Groundwater experts from the BGS monitored 19 hand-dug wells, springs and boreholes in two districts in northern Ethiopia over 18 months. They also held focus-group discussions with local people, including school and health centre staff, near each of the groundwater sources.The team found that boreholes drilled to 50–100 m were the most reliable source of water during the extended drought of 2015–16 and through the dry season. “We found that boreholes equipped with hand pumps were more reliable than springs or hand-dug wells, and this reliability was not affected by drought or seasonal change. As hand-dug wells dried up and springs failed, the boreholes we monitored gave exactly the same flow throughout the year,” said Prof Alan MacDonald, the BGS hydrogeologist who led the research.He noted that boreholes also had better water quality. “As the drought ended and rain started falling many of the springs and hand-dug wells became grossly contaminated. The boreholes performed much better, with less than half of them showing any level of contamination,” he said.The findings make a clear case for the installation of more boreholes to improve resilience to drought. If constructed carefully and regularly maintained, Prof MacDonald believes that boreholes can transform the water security for rural villages and make them much more resilient to the effects of climate change.According to Dr Seifu Kebede from Addis Ababa University’s earth sciences department, a significant finding of the study is the length of time people without boreholes spent in water collection during the dry season and drought, and the very low volumes of water they were able to collect.“People were routinely queuing for up to 10 hours, which led to tension and sometimes violence, and had wide-ranging impact across communities. Women breastfed less and experienced more miscarriages, meals were missed and farm work was reduced to help collect water. School attendance was down in all but one district, as children were involved in water collection,” said Dr Kebede noting that all health centres in the study area reported increases in diseases, and, in some cases, employees were paying for water collection to keep the centres functioning.“We must look at how communities source water during a normal dry season to predict how they will cope during drought years. This study shows that boreholes, where they can be installed, could be the most reliable source of groundwater in these areas of northern Ethiopia,” he…
It has long been clear that agriculture needs more young people, not only to secure Africa's future food security but to modernize farming and keep pace with a changing world. But what is it about agriculture that young people need? The answer may lie in the fresh opportunities created by digitalisation. New technologies are transforming farming systems across the world, including in developing countries. Innovations range from drones that help detect crop pests earlier to mobile systems that link previously “unbankable” smallholder farmers with vital financial services. For the 12 million young people entering into the workforce in Africa each year, this could all help make farming and food production much more appealing. For starters, new and emerging technology means that agriculture does not have to be the backbreaking sector it was for previous generations. Digital tools are helping to automate and streamline the more labour-intensive aspects of farming, making it more efficient and therefore, attractive – and viable - as a livelihood. With the support of digital tools, “precision agriculture” can become efficient, allowing farmers to plant and cultivate their crops with greater accuracy. This means less time, effort and inputs are wasted, and as a result, the economic appeal of agriculture is clearer. Second, and with Africa facing a serious shortage of jobs for the increasingly young population, agriculture can provide opportunities lacking in rapidly urbanised areas. More than 70 per cent of registered digital users in Africa, for instance, are between 15 to 35 years old. By coupling this digital savviness with rural opportunities, young people can have an exciting and prosperous future. Finally, these young people will no doubt be attracted to the new entrepreneurial possibilities and employment opportunities that digitalisation brings, not just in food production but across the entire agricultural value chain. These opportunities range from designing new platforms or software to making use of technology and creating access to new markets using blockchain. One such example is the EzyAgric solution based in Uganda. The platform provides access to finance and markets for farmers and agribusinesses through a network of youth agents equipped with smartphones and other digital technology. It creates an employment opportunity for Uganda’s youth, at one end, and helps farmers improve yields and market access at the other. Likewise, Wennovation Hub, or ‘WeHub’, is a Nigerian innovation platform that fosters innovation among Africa’s young entrepreneurs. It encourages them to tackle economic or social challenges head-on, through creating start-ups grounded in local problems and solutions. And Afrimash, a digital marketplace, is one of these innovations. It provides a market for farmers to easily sell or buy their livestock, tools and other quality inputs ranging from pesticides to fertilisers. It is no wonder then, that development funding from across the world, from both private and public sector players, is already directed at supporting Africa’s youth entrepreneurship – much of it within the agricultural space. But digitalisation for agriculture is not a silver bullet, and as we have seen, enabling policies, infrastructural investments and…
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