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NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) – The ozone layer is on track to recover within four decades, with the global phaseout of ozone-depleting chemicals already benefitting efforts to mitigate climate change.This is the conclusion of a UN-backed panel of experts, presented on January 9 at the American Meteorological Society’s 103rd annual meeting. Examining novel technologies such as geoengineering for the first time, the panel warns of unintended impacts on the ozone layer. On track to full recovery The UN-backed Scientific Assessment Panel to the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances quadrennial assessement report, published every four years, confirms the phase out of nearly 99% of banned ozone-depleting substances. The Montreal Protocol has thus succeeded in safeguarding the ozone layer, leading to notable recovery of the ozone layer in the upper stratosphere and decreased human exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. If current policies remain in place, the ozone layer is expected to recover to 1980 values (before the appearance of the ozone hole) by around 2066 over the Antarctic, by 2045 over the Arctic and by 2040 for the rest of the world. Variations in the size of the Antarctic ozone hole, particularly between 2019 and 2021, were driven largely by meteorological conditions. Nevertheless, the Antarctic ozone hole has been slowly improving in area and depth since the year 2000. “That ozone recovery is on track according to the latest quadrennial report is fantastic news. The impact the Montreal Protocol has had on climate change mitigation cannot be overstressed. Over the last 35 years, the Protocol has become a true champion for the environment,” said Meg Seki, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Ozone Secretariat. “The assessments and reviews undertaken by the Scientific Assessment Panel remain a vital component of the work of the Protocol that helps inform policy and decision makers.” Impacts on climate change The 10th edition of the Scientific Assessment Panel reaffirms the positive impact that the treaty has already had for the climate. An additional 2016 agreement, known as the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, requires phase down of production and consumption of some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs do not directly deplete ozone, but are powerful climate climate change gases. The Scientific Assessment Panel said this amendment is estimated to avoid 0.3–0.5°C of warming by 2100 (this does not include contributions from HFC-23 emissions). “Ozone action sets a precedent for climate action. Our success in phasing out ozone-eating chemicals shows us what can and must be done – as a matter of urgency – to transition away from fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gases and so limit temperature increase,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas. The latest assessment has been made based on extensive studies, research and data compiled by a large international group of experts , including many from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European Union. Geoengineering For the first…
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Farming of genetically modified crops remain a controversial and emotive issue in many countries across the world. But how important is this technology to smallholder farmers particularly in developing societies? Generally, genetic engineering is done in agriculture to increase crop yields, reduce costs for food or drug production, reduce need for pesticides, enhance nutrient composition and food quality, enhance resistance to pests and disease, increase food security, and for medical benefits to the world's growing population. To produce a GM plant, new DNA (hereditary material) with desired traits is transferred into plant cells. The cells are then grown into plants in a laboratory setup using tissue culture technology. The seeds produced by these plants will then inherit the newly altered DNA, which gives it a completely new genetic makeup that is different from the original material. Though Kenya is targeting different types of GMOs and for different crops with different traits, the most important crop at the moment is the GM maize. On this front, Kenya has been researching on genetically modified maize varieties whose seeds contain an organic pesticide known as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). According to scientists, Bt bacteria, which naturally dwells in the soil, makes proteins that are toxic to some insects when eaten. So far, the pesticide has not been proven to be harmful to humans. Bt toxin have therefore been introduced into the maize seeds to make the resulting crop self protective to pests and insects, particularly the stem borer. Elsewhere, in America for example, where farmers grow maize on thousands of acres, scientists have used a different DNA (not the Bt) to develop genetically modifies maize varieties that are tolerant to a herbicide known as roundup. Instead of weeding, the field is sprayed with the herbicide from above, and as a result, the herbicide will kill all other crops/weeds on the field apart from the GM maize. Major concerns However in Kenya, those opposed to the GM technology have expressed concerns about the Bt type used on the existing varieties. “I agree that Bt is a naturally occurring bio-pesticide, but it is important to note that the Bt being used in Kenya is synthetic, and not natural,” pointed out Ann Maina, the National Coordinator for the Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya (BIBA Kenya). Elsewhere, according to a 2012 study published by the United States National Library of Medicine, technologies for genetically modifying foods offer dramatic promise for meeting some areas of greatest challenge for the 21st century. However, reads part of the article, “Like all new technologies, they also pose some risks, both known and unknown.” In many countries, controversies and public concern surrounding GM foods and crops commonly focus on human and environmental safety, labelling and consumer choice, intellectual property rights, ethics, food security, poverty reduction and environmental conservation. The American study points out that that there is need for novel methods and concepts to probe into the compositional, nutritional, toxicological and metabolic differences between GM and conventional…
(This article was produced with support from Rain Forest Journalism Fund in partnership with Pulitzer Centre) LIMBE, Cameroon (PAMACC News) – Renewable energy powered ovens introduced in some fishing communities along the coastal regions of Limbe and Douala in Cameroon, are helping the country redress the challenges of dwindling mangrove forests , mitigate the effects of climate change and fight poverty. Local councils, NGOs and other stakeholders are backing government’s efforts to protect mangroves with the use of alternative energy other than fuel wood for cooking and drying fish by the local communities. In the coastal towns of Batoke, Idenau fish traders are doing brisk business thanks to the installation of solar-powered ovens to dry fish, preventing what used to be massive destruction swathes of mangrove forest for firewood and spoilage from a lack of other preservation methods. Fish smokers in these communities say the renewable energy project has improved on their awareness and knowledge about mangrove protection. “We have come to learn about this new method that permits us dry our fish without much stress with the use of solar ovens and protect our forest,” says Joan Dione, a fish smoker in Idenau whose business is driven by customers from big cities in Cameroon and neighbouring Nigeria and Gabon. The renewable energy powered ovens provided for fish drying to replace wood along the coastal villages of Batoke, Idenau, Down Beach in Limbe is a mangrove restoration programme supported by the Cameroon government, the Cameroon Wildlife Conservation Society, CWCS, Cameroon Mangrove and Wetlands Conservation Network and the World Wide Fund for Nature,WWF geared at giving life to not only the populace of the local community, but also assure the environmental future of generations not yet born, conservation experts say. “The alternative energy has gone a long way to not only protect existing mangrove forest and restoring the rich biodiversity of the coastal areas but also improve the livelihood of the community through quality and quantity fish catch” says Timothy Kagonbe, sub-director in charge of local partnership in the ministry of environment and Cameroon focal point in the Inter Governmental Group of Experts on Climate Change. In 2018, Some 25 fishing groups in Idenau and nearby Batoke in the coastal region of Limbe were also offered solar energy fish drying ovens in by the African Resource Group Cameroon, ARG-CAM working in collaboration with the Limbe city council as part of a wider drive to expand renewable energy like solar across the country. The women attest the alternative fish drying methods have really improved on their income. Joan Dione’s daughter Sharon Dione, 23, says in the past, drying a significant quantity of fish of 25 baskets in a day using wood was impossible. “The process of using wood energy was so difficult, emitting smoke that was dangerous to our health and limited our production ,” says Sharon Dione. “The arrival of solar energy and solar drying ovens here has changed everything,” she adds. The Limbe City Mayor, Paul Efome Lisombe Mbole says…
VIHIGA, Kenya (PAMACC News) - The Integrated Land and Forest Ecosystem Management project (ILFM) was implemented in Vihiga, Kakamega and Nandi Counties to encourage local smallholder farmers to intensify food production on their farms so that they don’t encroach on Kakamega and Nandi Forests. The project, which was implemented through support from AGRA and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) among other partners saw farmers adopt farming of African Leafy Vegetables, use good agronomic practices on their farms, and plant agroforestry trees as a way of protecting the forest biodiversity. And now, given the huge success of the project, where hundreds of households are now into growing of the African leafy vegetables, Vihiga County Governor, H. E Dr Wilbur Ottichilo has intensified the campaign to ensure that the county becomes the net producer and exporter of the vegetables to major urban areas and to other counties across the country. In an exclusive interview with PAMACC News the governor said that in the past three decades, Vihiga County was known to be a place for a variety of indigenous vegetables. But this glory was almost getting lost, and he is determined to revive vegetable farming among smallholders in the County. Why is the County Government of Vihiga keen on promoting farming of African Leafy Vegetables above other crops? A. Promoting of the African leafy vegetables is one of our flagship projects in Vihiga County, and we are working in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Social Services because if you get into history, the people of Vihiga are known as some of the farmers with diverse varieties of indigenous leafy vegetables for several years. Our people are known to eat all types of vegetables including those that are considered as shrubs or weeds among other communities. If you go back in recent history, when the commuter train used to used to pass through Luanda, our biggest export to Nairobi was traditional vegetables. Personally, I was educated though farming of these vegetables. Every Monday, my mother travelled to Nairobi, and upon arrival, buyers were always waiting at the train station. So she sold them upon arrival, then waited for the return train later in the day. Where did this glory disappear to? In the 80s and early 90s, modernisation came in, and people started changing their diets to grow and eat exotic vegetables such as kales and cabbages which are easier to prepare, while others turned to meaty diets. In my youthful days, we ate meat only during Christmas and chicken only when a very important visitor appeared. Otherwise we ate indigenous vegetables all year round. As a result of modernisation, vegetables such as indelema (vine spinach), omurele (jute mallow), emiro emilulu (bitter flavoured slender leaf) among others started losing popularity. But the truth is that those elderly people who kept eating such vegetables remained very strong with very long life expectancy. How can the county reclaim the lost glory? The 2017 manifesto for this county recognises the African…
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