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MADRID, Spain (PAMACC News) - A new study that was recently published in the Nature scientific journal shows that groundwater is one of the most climate resilient natural resources especially for the African continent. This is contrary to the earlier understanding by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Fifth Assessment Report , that groundwater was susceptible to climate change in dryland areas. Though it was not a big subject for major discussions at the 2019 UN Conference of Parties (COP25) on climate change in Madrid, experts believe that groundwater will be at the centre of climate adaptation particularly for African countries. Richard Taylor, a Professor of Hydrogeology from University College London (UCL) and one of the lead researchers of the Nature study explained to IPS why groundwater should be a focal point for climate discussions. Q. How important is groundwater to climate change adaptation especially in Africa? A. Groundwater plays a fundamental role in enabling communities in Africa to adapt to climate change. As our world warms, rainfall becomes less frequent but more intensive resulting in longer droughts and worsening floods - changes that occur most strongly in the tropics. Adapting to this greater variability in water resources relies on the ability to draw water from stores such as groundwater or to store water in dams for example. Groundwater, which comprises 99 percent of the Earth’s liquid water, amounts to more than 100 times that of annual river discharge in Africa. For cities in Africa that have recently experienced severe droughts such as Cape Town and Dar es Salaam, groundwater has played a critical role in enabling residents in those cities to adapt to water scarcity. Less frequent rainfalls also reduce crop yields. Increasing cropland irrigation is a critical strategy to improve food security in Africa under climate change. As smallholder farmers account for the vast majority of food production in Sub-Saharan Africa, distributed groundwater supplies are often the most cost-effective and sustainable sources of water for irrigation. Q. How resilient or vulnerable is groundwater to climate change? A. Groundwater resources are generally resilient to climate change. Recent evidence from a pan-African study shows that replenishment of groundwater occurs preferentially from heavy rainfalls so that changes in rainfall brought about by climate change favour groundwater replenishment. Alas, these same changes in rainfall reduce soil moisture and lead to greater and more frequent flood events. Q. Why do you think this subject has not been able to attract the attention of climate change negotiators for the past 25 years of negotiation? A. That is a good question. Groundwater is often called the hidden or invisible resource as it lies unseen beneath our feet. Limited understanding of groundwater by both policy makers and engineers means that it is often considered mysterious or unknowable. The impact of climate change on groundwater resources has been largely ignored by the climate change community until last year when it was captured in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. This is surprising in light of the critical…
GULU, Uganda (PAMACC News) - In Amuru District in the northern part of Uganda, 47 Kilometres out of Gulu town, swathes of land under upland rice, pearl millet and the flowery sunn hemp in a place where maize has always been the traditional crop attracts the attention of any visitor in this area. “This is our new cash cow,” says Dominic Kimara, the farm Manager of Omer Farming Company, which has been growing maize on 5,000 hectares of land but has now turned to 100 percent rice production.“Until 2016, we were growing maize on this farm,” says the manager. “But we discovered that rainfall patterns were changing, and so we had to look for an alternative crop that would suit the ever changing climatic conditions.” Experts from the National Agriculture Organisation (NARO) have reported that in the past three years, many farmers in Uganda have abandoned maize to concentrate on rice with most of them opting for upland rice instead of irrigated paddy rice.The latest agriculture survey report by NARO, Uganda government’s owned research organisation indicates that more than 50 percent of rice grown in the country is now coming from the uplands, and consequently, the consumption especially in urban areas has increased considerably.“When I was growing up, rice used to be a Christmas meal because it was a rare one,” notes Robert Kawuki as he enjoyed a rice meal for lunch at the NARO canteen in Namulonge area. “But today, farmers have embraced it, and so people can enjoy it any time, both in the upcountry and in urban areas,” he says.Though upland rice is more sensitive to climate stress than irrigated paddy rice, farmers particularly in Northern Uganda say that latest varieties grown in the area have proven to be more profitable than the maize crop.“Most of the varieties grown by these farmers are the ones we released in 2015, and were bred mainly for drought tolerance, fast maturing and pest and disease resistance, but most importantly, high yielding,” says Dr Jimmy Lamo, the Principal Research Officer working with NARO as the Head of Rice and Maize Research Programme.“According to our latest survey, out of a total of 150,000 hectares under rice production in the country, 90,000 hectares is grown in the uplands without any form of irrigation,” says Dr Lamo, who earned his PhD from the University of KwaZulu-Natal for breeding some of the varieties under support from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).He notes that the switch, mainly from maize to upland rice is a way of responding to the new trends of rainfall patterns in some parts of the country.In Amuru, Omer Company has adopted climate smart farming techniques, and local farmers are following suit.“We grow pearl millet, but it is not for human food. It is for soil health,” he says. When the millet starts flowering, the crop is rolled flat on the ground and left to decompose. The same is done for sunn hemp, which is a leguminous plant with…
MADRID Spain (PAMACC News) - The Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference taking place at the IFEMA Feria de Madrid, Spain, continued its second week with climate change negotiations going into wee hours of the following dayand statements by heads of state and government, ministers and heads of delegations making their national statement and positions during the high level segment which continues to Thursday this week.As the time approached 11:30 am, there was a long queue of members of the press at the Mocha Room. One would be forgiven for thinking that all the pushing and shoving was for one to be the first to get the best cup of Mocha coffee to warm themselves in these freezing temperatures. But Mocha Room is the official press briefing room at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 25th Conference of Parties (COP25) underway in Madrid, Spain.What followed later was heavy security around the room and many still fought to catch a glimpse of who the distinguished person being escorted by such security personnel was. This was Greta Thunberg, the young girl who has become the global face of climate change activism. When Greta took to the microphone, there was apparent disappointment in the room because on this day Greta and Luisa decided that they will not speak to the media. She said that she has had enough of speaking and media attention—of which she is grateful for. “We have noticed that there is some media attention around us. We thought we could use that attention to render our platform to those whose voices also need to be heard. Our stories have been told and listened to over time. It is not our stories that need to be told and listened to—it is the others’. It is the people, especially those from the global south. Climate change is not something that will impact us in the future, people are dying from it today. We want to use this platform to share the stories that need to be told and heard,” Greta said.With that, she handed over the microphone to other fellow youth activists. One by one they told stories of their suffering at the hands of severe climate effects. They spoke of the hopelessness of their people and the possibility of their doomed future and diminishing dreams.One youth that caught the attention of the roving cameras and flashing lights was Hilda Flavia Nakabuye from Uganda. Hilda reckons that the laissez faire approach toclimate crisis by world leaders is a sure sign that they do not care about the future generation.A visibly upset Hilda narrated of how Africa has been ravaged by extreme weather events caused by climate change. She equated climate crisis in Africa to racism and apartheid that her ancestors endured.“We are suffering severe effects of climate impacts as if coming from the global south is a mortal sin with no or very little action from developing countries. I have come to think that climate crisis is another form of environmental…
MADRID, Spain (PAMACC News) – On the eve of a critical year for environmental decision-making, Colombia, Germany and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced that Colombia will host World Environment Day 2020 in partnership with Germany and that it will focus on biodiversity. World Environment Day takes place every year on 5 June. It is the United Nations’ flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Over the years, it has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental public outreach and is celebrated by millions of people in more than 100 countries. Making the announcement on the margins of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, Ricardo Lozano, Colombia’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Jochen Flasbarth, Germany’s State Secretary for Environment, and Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, stressed that with one million plant and animal species facing extinction, there has never been a more important time to focus on the issue of biodiversity. “2020 is a year for urgency, ambition and action to address the crisis facing nature; it is also an opportunity to more fully incorporate nature-based solutions into global climate action,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UNEP. “Each year, World Environment Day is a powerful platform to accelerate, amplify and engage people, communities and governments around the world to take action on critical environmental challenges facing the planet. We are grateful to Colombia and Germany for demonstrating leadership in this effort.” 2020 is a critical year for nations’ commitments to preserving and restoring biodiversity, with China hosting the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming. Next year also provides an opportunity to ramp up to the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), intended to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity. “In Colombia we will face an important challenge in 2020, and it is to host the 3rd and last OEWG [open-ended working group] meeting of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework before the COP in China. In Colombia, we are willing to work together to reach an agreement that allows us to move forward positively towards ambitious results in the COP that will meet us in China; we welcome Germany’s gesture of support in this global effort and look forward to a successful collaboration," said Ricardo Lozano, Colombia’s Environment Minister. Listed as one of the world’s “megadiverse” countries and sustaining close to 10 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity, Colombia ranks first in bird and orchid species diversity and second in plants, butterflies, freshwater fish and amphibians. The country has several areas of high biological diversity in Andean ecosystems, with a significant variety of endemic species. It also has part of the Amazon rainforest and the humid ecosystems of the Chocó biogeographical area. “There is no better time to come together for the planet…
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