Climate Change (153)

 

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - A total of more than 11,000 disasters over the last 50 years have been attributed to weather, climate and water-related hazards, causing two million deaths and US$ 3.6 trillion in economic losses.

According to the new UN report, while the average number of deaths recorded for each disaster has fallen by a third during this period, the number of recorded disasters has increased five times and the economic losses have increased by a factor of seven, according to a new multi-agency report.

The State of Climate Services 2020 Report: Move from Early Warnings to Early Action report released yesterday says extreme weather and climate events have increased in frequency, intensity and severity as result of climate change and hit vulnerable communities disproportionately hard.  

Yet one in three people are still not adequately covered by early warning systems, according to the report released yesterday on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.
 
According to the report, in 2018, globally, around 108 million people required help from the international humanitarian system as a result of storms, floods, droughts and wildfires. By 2030, it is estimated that this number could increase by almost 50 per cent at a cost of around US$ 20 billion a year.
 
The report, produced by 16 international agencies and financing institutions, identifies where and how governments can invest in effective early warning systems that strengthen countries’ resilience to multiple weather, climate and water-related hazards and provides successful examples. 
 
It stresses the need to switch to impact-based forecasting – an evolution from “what the weather will be” to “what the weather will do” so that people and businesses can act early based on the warnings. 
 
The report contains 16 different case studies on successful early warning systems for hazards including tropical cyclones and hurricanes, floods, droughts, heatwaves, forest fires, sand and dust storms, desert locusts, severe winters and glacial lake outbursts.
 
“Early warning systems (EWS) constitute a prerequisite for effective disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Being prepared and able to react at the right time, in the right place, can save many lives and protect the livelihoods of communities everywhere,” said Prof Petteri Taalas, World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General.
 
He said while Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) generated a large international health and economic crisis from which it will take years to recover, it is crucial to remember that climate change will continue to pose an on-going and increasing threat to human lives, ecosystems, economies and societies for centuries to come.
 
“Recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity to move forward along a more sustainable path towards resilience and adaptation in the light of anthropogenic climate change,” said Taalas.
 
The report provides a basis for understanding how to strengthen protection for the most vulnerable, including through mechanisms such as the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative, which together with France Development Agency, provided funding for the report.

“Covid-19 has made risk everybody’s business. We need to carry this understanding and momentum into the much bigger fight for our planet against the larger, stronger, more devastating climate emergency," said Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

He said risk reduction, and in particular, climate adaptation requires strong risk governance and a multi-hazard approach, though a key challenge will be to ensure that multi-hazard early warning systems can be adapted to take account of biological hazards alongside extreme weather events.

The report says nearly 90 per cent of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have identified early warning systems as a top priority in their Nationally Determined Contributions on climate change. However, many of them lack the necessary capacity and financial investment is not always flowing into the areas where investment is most needed.
 
The situation is particularly acute in SIDS and LDCs. The report says since 1970, SIDS have lost US$ 153 billion due to weather, climate and water related hazards, a significant amount given that the average GDP for SIDS is US$ 13.7 billion.  Meanwhile, 1.4 million people (70 per cent of the total deaths) in LDCs lost their lives due to weather, climate and water related hazards in that time period.
 
Data provided by 138 WMO Members shows that just 40 per cent of them have Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS). This means that globally on average one in three people is still not covered by early warnings. Currently, only 75 WMO Members (39 per cent) indicated that they provide impact-based forecasting services.
 
Dissemination of warnings is weak in many developing countries, and advances in communication technologies are not being fully exploited to reach out to people at risk, especially in LDCs.

“Pre-emptive action underpinned by effective weather data, early warning systems and disaster risk assessments, can save millions of livelihoods in times of conflict and natural disaster. Early warning, Early actions” is therefore a key to dealing with potential risks for the global agri-food system, even before the latest outbreak of locust and the Covid-19 Pandemic,” said Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Mikko Ollikainen, manager of the Adaptation Fund said this year has highlighted the importance of building broad resilience in vulnerable developing countries, to climate change but also to health and economic risks. "Climate services are critical in achieving resilience," Ollikainen said.
 
The report says there is insufficient capacity worldwide to translate early warning into early action, especially in LDCs. It says Africa faces the largest gaps in capacity. Across this vast continent, the report says, while capacity is good in terms of risk knowledge and forecasting, just 44,000 of people in 100,000 are covered by early warnings, in countries where data is available.
 
All weather and climate services rely on data from systematic observations. However, observing networks are often inadequate, particularly across Africa where, in 2019, just 26 per cent of stations met WMO reporting requirements.

“This report provides a timely warning of the need for climate services to protect the most vulnerable from devastating climate events. Our support ranges from better preparing Malawian fishing people from storm surges to enhancing infrastructure resilience in Caribbean nations such as Antigua and Barbuda now buffeted by increasingly frequent hurricanes," said Yannick Glemarec, Executive Director, Green Climate Fund.

The Writer is a 2019/2020 Bertha Fellow

LAMU, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Lamu residents in Kenya's coastal region through their Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to pull up their socks in the conservation of the currently degrading environments of the Island.

Speaking during a three-day workshop organised by the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA) through the Kenya Platform for Climate Governance (KPCG)on proper land use planning for community climate resilience, Ishaq Abubakar of Save Lamu, accused NEMA of being directly linked to all the environmental problems; including destruction of the ocean and sea life, hunger and increased poverty, unprecedented destruction of mangroves amongst other challenges currently experienced in the Island.

In responding to the accusation, Joshua KahindiYeri of NEMAin Lamu County admitted to a few of the challenges but asked for continued collaboration and partnership, especially during environmental impact assessments to ensure the wrongs are over-written.

“Ndio, hatukataimakosamoja au mbili yalitokea, lakini kwa sasatunawahitajituungemikonopamojamanakemkonomojahalivunjichawa. (We agree that one or two mistakes have happened during our watch, it is not true that all environmental problems in Lamu have been caused by NEMA. Let’s unite and forge ahead),” stated MrKahindi.
He further explained that given functions, including air quality, waste management that NEMA was responsible for, had since moved to the county government Department of Public Health and Environment.

“While we are a coordinating body, we implement the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA), which is very keen on integration of land uses for community climate resilience,” Kahindiadded, as he explained the process of environmental impact assessment as a tool and process for deciding land use plans and climate resilience.

In attendance at the three day workshop were key county departments likePublic Health and Environment, the Department of Agriculture, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Lamu Water and Sewerage Company, the Fisheries Department and several other key departments of the county and CSO actors relevant to land use planning and climate resilience.
Matthias Muavita of KWS said: "KWS is very keen on promoting resilience at the community level through the implementation of the Wildlife Conservation Act."

The workshop, held at SunSail Hotel, aimed at capacity building the community on the nexus between land use planning and climate change,providing a platform for the community to dialogue with the respective county officials and identifying potential action points; based on the county spatial plan for action for enhanced community resilience in the county.
The LAPSSET project and its seven components, the coal power plant, the Blue Economy were among those identified by the CSOs as the potential projects that will likely disrupt their land use plans and cumulatively lead to adverse impacts of climate change if not relooked by the authorities involved.  

The KPCG, Lamu Chapter also signed anMoU with the localSifa FMchampion spread of information on the nexus between land use planning and climate change and ensure increased advocacy for the good of the local ecosystem.

KPCG lead Meryne Warah said: "The future and resilience of vulnerable ecosystems like Lamu lies on proper land use planning, and this we cannot achieve alone. Partnership is key in ensuring the peace of the entire coastal ecosystem".

According to Swalleh Elbusaidy, the Lamu County Community Resource Person for the KPCG and also the Takataka Foundation lead, it is time to do things differently “for us and the future generations".He spoke after signing the MoU with the Sifa FM, and added that there was no time to waste in saving the Island and the ecosystem it falls in.

Mr Halifa, a representative of the Lamu County’s Department of water, was glad that the workshop was made to happen, adding: "Having sessions such as these and discussing critical issues like land use planning and community climate resilience based on our spatial plan is such an eye opener for us as a county."

Several Lamu residents also gave their thoughts on the status of the implementation of the LamuCounty Spatial Plan 2016-2026 in the perspective of community climate resilience. The feeling was the same across the meeting: Much more needs to be done for the sake of the land, people and the natural resources the county is blessed with.

"We need to relook the spatial plan and input accordingly on the components of environment to ensure the same are on the CIDP (County Integrated Development Plan) and the county budgets," said Amina Mohamed, a participant, after KPCG’s Collins Otieno took them through the Lamuspatial plan while identifying opportunities for CSOs mobilisation for action for climate resilience.

“To some level, we have to question the development plans of the county as they are in one way or another dependent on our livelihoods and adaptive capabilities," said Abdul Aziz Adu of Lamu Child Protection.

Some argued that it was not fair that the decisions on things happening locally were made far away and imposed on them. "It is so unfortunate that we are planned for in Malindi, Nairobi and other places yet we have the capacity and knowledge about what we need for our generation and future generations’ resilience," said Mohamed Mbwana, a Lamu resident.

“Community mobilization and involvement in laying out land use plans is very critical to climate resilience," claimed a different participant, aMrOmar.

"The ocean is our life and the mangroves are our external lungs. We must question certain land use plans for our well-being and resilience," said Councilor SharifaAbubakar.
Some blamed the laxity in monitoring land use at the coastal town on the Covid-19 pandemic. "The outbreak of Coronavirus even exacerbated land and land use planning injustices in Lamu. Most of the projects that had questions are ongoing," averred Mohamed Mbwana, also a participant at the workshop.

In the end, participants resolved that collaboration and cooperation between CSOs, county and national governments in implementation of the land use plans, increased and continuous awareness and capacity development workshops for the community on land use planning as well as establishment of a multi-stakeholder platform for advocacy on land use planning were key to ensuring community climate resilience.

 

Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet), has called on Nigerians to make concerted efforts at ensuring that their activities do not endanger the earth.

The coalition of civil society organisations made this call in a statement by Dr Ibrahim Choji, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, CSDevNet, in Abuja on Friday, to mark the World Earth Day celebrated on April 22.

Choji said that Nigeria must learn lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, which had forced a total lockdown of some human activities that contribute to environmental degradation and climate change.

He said that the impact of the coronavirus was both immediate and dreadful, however, the earth’s unfolding environmental crisis was another deep emergency to be concerned about.

“It is our belief at CSDevNet that as we lockdown to deal with this mutant virus that is killing people and making our world tragic and horrendous, nature appears to be reclaiming her space.

“From Apapa to Port Harcourt, from Lake Chad to River Benue, the fog has cleared; the soot has abated, the air is simply sublime and we can see the blue skies and the birds are just loving it.

“Chirping birds have now replaced our loud honking cars. In a very long while, we get this sense and smell of what clean air, clean rivers and exuberant nature means.

“What is further clear to us on this Earth Day is that this joy of nature has come at an enormous and unacceptable human cost to millions in the world.

“We can say with absolute conviction that this is not the way we want to clean our air or our water, however desperate we were for this to happen.”

Choji said that if Nigerians needed to have clear skies, governments at all levels, private sector and civil society must work together to ensure right livelihoods and the right to breathe.

He said that CSDevNet, which is a member of the Pan Africa Climate Justice Aliance (PACJA), believed that the time to act decisively in protecting the planet from both the coronavirus and the existential threat of climate disruption “is now’’.

“Greenhouse gases, just like viruses, do not respect national boundaries. The current crisis is an unprecedented wake-up call and we need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future.

“To achieve this, we must realise that we need to get vehicles off the road, but not people. It will require fast-tracking everything Nigeria can do in order to move people, not cars, at speed, convenience and safety.

“Public transport in Nigeria will now have to take into account concerns about personal hygiene and public health. ”

He said that Nigeria must also set ambitious goals, far beyond the “tokenism” in her Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement.

Choji said this was necessary so that before 2030, Nigeria could upgrade its systems to ensure that 70 to 80 per cent of the daily commute across cities through high-speed and low-emission transportation from trains to bicycles.

He added that CSDevNet believed that an accurate Nigerian response depended not in shutting down, but shifting all industries to clean fuel.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic had caused disorder and disruptions in a large scale, saying “now we need to fix what was broken in our relationship with nature.’’

“Should Nigeria rebuild her economy with more smoke and more pollution because we need speed and scale to get back on our feet?

“This then is the biggest challenge in the coming days!

“Nigeria must do things differently, recognising what COVID-19 has brought to light. We must work together to save lives, ease suffering and lessen the shattering economic and social consequences.

“The future, like never before, is in our hands. Nature has spoken. Now we should speak gently back to her. Tread gently on mother Earth.”

 

Sorghum is the fifth most produced grain globally.

This two-meter tall plant from the grass family is often grown in regions that have high temperatures and lower rainfall. In wetter regions, its production is lower than that of more lucrative crops such as rice and maize.

Sorghum is a particularly essential crop in Africa, second to maize, as the staple grain for millions of people.

Although it is mainly consumed as a grain, sorghum is also prepared into a wide variety of other food products such as porridge, bread, lactic and alcoholic beverages, and weaning meals.

 

Africa’s third top producer of sorghum

 

Sorghum is the main cereal crop grown in Burkina Faso, with more than 1.5 million hectares. Along with pearl millet, it is the staple diet of rural populations in the Sub-Sahelian regions.

Burkina Faso is the continent’s third top producer of sorghum (after Nigeria and Sudan)

In spite of various interventions, its productivity remains low, with an average yield of approximately one tonne per hectare. Many factors have contributed to the decreased productivity, including demographic pressure, ecological degradation, loss of soil fertility, and water erosion.

Other factors include negative effect of dry spells on crop growth and yield, negative effect of end of season drought, scarcity of organic amendment, improved seed and other farm inputs and output.

 

The Sahel as a bread basket

 

To address these constraints, and with a view to transforming the Sahel into a bread basket, the African Development Bank (AfDB), in 2018, launched the Sorghum and Millet Compact of Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT).

The compact, according to the bank, spearheads the bold plan to transform Sorghum and Millet in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and Chad.

TAAT’s main objective is to improve the business of agriculture across Africa by raising agricultural productivity, mitigating risks and promoting diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight Priority Intervention Areas (PIA).

The programme increases agricultural productivity through the deployment of proven and high-performance agricultural technologies at scale along selected nine commodity compacts which include sorghum and millet.

These work with six enabler compacts addressing transversal issues such as soil fertility management, water management, capacity development, policy support, attracting African youth in agribusiness and fall armyworm response.

With sustainable intensification, improved profitability of sorghum and millet; and the scaling up of proven technologies as areas of focal emphasis, the TAAT sorghum and millet compact set out to work on contributing to food and nutrition security in a region where low agricultural productivity and lack of value added are among the main causes of malnutrition, unemployment and poverty on the continent.

Led by the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in collaboration with National Research and Extension Systems, the sorghum and millet compact targets about 40 to 50% of African farmers with technologies relevant to boosting agricultural productivity and self-sufficiency by 2025.

During the 2019 rainy season, the compact, in collaboration with the TAAT Water Enabler Compact (TAAT-WEC) selected Burkina Faso and Mali to host the demonstration of climate smart technologies.

The TAAT-WEC is led by International Water Management Institute (IWMI). The Water Compact promotes low-cost and easy-to-deploy irrigation and water management technologies to small-scale farmers across Africa.

 

Zai, Half-moon and CLT Technologies

 

The technologies identified for the demonstration are Zai, Half-moons and Contour Lines Technique. These are mainly soil and water conservation technologies.

Zai refers to planting pit dug in degraded land, amended with organic manure which is meant to collect run-off water and restore the productivity of the soil.

Sorghum or millet seeds are planted in the pits.

Half-moons on the other hand, form structure made in degraded land and amended with organic manure which collects run-off water and is planted with sorghum or millet.

Zai pits and half-moon ditches can increase yields even in the first year. The farmer does not need to wait for the land to fully regenerate before sowing.

The soil remains bare between Zai pits, but inside the hole the earth is damp and fertile. The pit collects and retains moisture and prevents the rich soil and seeds from being washed away by the rain.

These technologies were displayed in Burkina Faso using the famer field school approach, while the contour lines technique (CLT) was presented to farmers in Mali using the demonstration plot approach.

Contour lines technique refers to lines of stones installed on degraded land following the contour lines. They are meant to reduce run-off and spread run-off water in the field.

In both countries, abandoned bare lands, which traditional famers believe are not suitable for cultivation, were used with the compact selecting the sites and the relevant crop varieties in both cases.

According to Dr Dougbeji Fatondji, TAAT Sorghum and Millet Compact Leader, “the objective of this activity is to demonstrate to the farmers, technologies that can help them produce and increase crop productivity under the current weather variability and climate change conditions.

 

Farmer field school approach in Burkina Faso

 

Kapelga, a sorghum variety (white grain and early maturing) was used in the district of Toma. It is a variety that is under promotion in the province and beyond by Federation des Professionnels Agricole du Burkina (FEPAB).

In the district of Boussoma, ICSV1049 a variety promoted in the Sanmentenga province was used. 

Both varieties were grown in half-hectare of half-moon and half-hectare of Zai. The half hectare planted with the same varieties was used as control using the farmer’s practice.

The two sorghum varieties were selected based on the agro-ecological characteristics. Planting was done on the same day at each site.

In Toma, the field was managed by FEPAB (25 farmers with 9 of them being females) and in Boussouma it was managed by 30 farmers – 13 females and 17 males.

Two field days were organized in each site, during heading and during maturity stages.

The second day of the farmer field school presented an opportunity to harvest and estimate with farmers, the yield of the different technologies.

 

Demonstration plot approach in Mali

In Sorofing, one of the selected villages, the TAAT Water Enabler Compact (TAAT-WEC) trained farmers on how to design the contour lines by automatic reading method.

Mr Dramane Male, a farmer applied the CLT on 2.0 hectare of Fadda. Despite the end of season’s drought, the plants remained green with good soil moisture.

Dramane said that the CLT stopped the runoffs.

“If this were to be the traditional method in a similar rainy season, I would have lost all my crops because of drought,” he added. He promised to apply the CLT in all the areas of his fields with pronounced slopes.

On the 0.5-hectare, Yaya Male, another farmer, applied the CLT, the plants are well developed with big stems and green leaves.

A field day was organized at Foh to showcase the performance of the demonstrated technology to farmers. 

About 10 research and development institutions including a private seed company and many farmers were represented at the event which was covered by Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision du Mali (ORTM), the country’s national television station.

During the visit to the plot of Pierre Diarra in Kourouma, Dr. Kalifa Traore, from the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER), explained the methodology deployed – from farmers’ sensitization to training and practical exercises on the CLT.

In addition to the proposed variety (Tiandougou Coura), the farmer used his own local variety to see if the crop performance was not linked to the varietal differences.

The results were self-explanatory and amazing. The plot under CLT produced good plants with large panicles compared to the control (low plant stand due to runoffs).

“I usually abandon this particular field because of the runoffs,” Pierre Diarra said.

“With this exposure to the CLT now, I promise to apply the CLT in all problematic soils for all crops,” Pierre aded.

The local authorities led by the Deputy Mayor, Michel Traore, thanked the team for the technology deployed in his community. He equally called for continuous support aimed at taking the technology beyond borders.

On his part, he promised to include the CLT technique in their local Development Plan (PDSEC).

Participants from other communities also requested for similar training on CLT. This elicited a positive response from farmers organizations Platform (AOPP) and the local Chamber of Agriculture (CRA) who pledged to organise more training sessions in collaboration with the TAAT programme.

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