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By Isaiah Esipisu

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change seeks international interventions to hold the rise in the global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial levels and cap it at 1.5 °C.

But according to a new study conducted in all of Kenya’s 21 semi-arid counties, at least five have surpassed the 1.5-degree mark and the impact, especially on cattle survival, is devastating. Worrying projections show that the temperatures will rise even further in the coming years.

This comes just four years after a World Bank report synthesising scientific knowledge on global warming, which warned that the earth was on the path to get 4o° C warmer by the end of the century — with huge implications for humanity.

DEVELOPMENT

A new study 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) project — show West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet as the most affected counties with a temperature rise of 1.91o° C in the past 50 years. Others are Turkana (1.8o° C), Baringo (1.8o° C), Laikipia (1.59o° C) and Narok (1.75o° C).

The study also startlingly found that the population of cattle in the semi-arid counties has decreased by 26 per cent in the past 38 years up to 2015.

The scientists who carried out the study attributed this to the constantly rising temperatures due to global warming and reduced or unpredictable rainfall patterns.

SCIENTISTS

So far, Turkana is the most affected, recording a drop of nearly 60 per cent, followed by Machakos, Garissa, Kitui and Kajiado, according to the study conducted by scientists from Kenya Markets Trust (KMT).

This is bad news, particularly for Turkana, Garissa and Kajiado, because livestock is the mainstay for the residents.

However, all is not lost. While the cattle population was on the decline, that of sheep and goats in the 21 counties rose by 76.3 per cent, with some, such as Laikipia and Lamu, recording a 256.6 per cent and 458 per cent increase, respectively.

WAKE UP CALL

According to the scientists, cattle can thrive if temperatures do not surpass 30oC and not below 10o° C. But small animals like sheep and goats, and also camels, can tolerate warmer temperatures; hence the reason they multiplied exponentially.

These findings should be a wake-up call for all counties. They should use the data to re-evaluate what is happening in terms of rising temperatures and rainfall variations and the projections to come up with sound policies that are responsive to climate change.

One way of adapting to climate shocks and stresses will be by developing policies with clear knowledge of what the near future is likely to look like, with a focus on appropriate technologies, while being mindful of crops or livestock that are going to survive in projected climatic conditions.

TECHNOLOGIES

Kitui, Tharaka-Nithi and Embu counties are joining hands with the Pan-Africa Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and faith-based organisations to develop climate change policies based on experiments by farmers to identify local technologies that can aid adaptation.

Considering the Prise research findings, some counties will need to re-think and prioritise their livestock investment options to take comparative advantage of the resources they have. They could invest in slaughterhouses — for example, Laikipia and Isiolo (cattle), Marsabit (goats) and Wajir (camel, sheep and goats).

County governments must, therefore, consider such important knowledge as they develop their spatial plans.

Mr Esipisu, a freelance journalist, is the coordinator for Pan-African Media Alliance for Climate Change (PAMACC). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This article was first published on the Daily Nation website

MIDRAND, South Africa (PAMACC News) - Legislators at the Pan African Parliament are eager to pursue industrialised countries, whose activities have resulted in excess emission of greenhouse gasses that have led to global warming, but the African civil society on climate change has a different message.

Latest research findings in Kenya for example, show that temperatures have risen in all the country’s 21 semi-arid counties with five of them surpassing the 1.5 °C mark in the past 50 years. This, according to the study, has led to a sharp reduction in livestock population, impacting heavily on livelihoods.

Paris Agreement on climate change calls for international interventions to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

“The changing climatic conditions is a problem all over Africa, and the first thing we must do is accept that there is a problem that must be tackled immediately before pursuing those who caused it,” said Augustine Njamnshi, a board member of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), which brings together over 1000 African climate-related civil society organisations.

“If a man puts your house on fire, will you start by pursuing the man, or will you try and put out the fire, then follow up with the arsonist thereafter?” asked Njamnshi during a training workshop for African Members of Parliament in Midrand, South Africa.

The Kenyan study, which was conducted by scientists from the Kenya Markets Trust (KMT), commissioned by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) – through a project known as Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE) reveals that cattle population has reduced by over 26% between 1977 and 2016.

“Our projections show that the temperatures are going to increase even further in the coming years, and the impact is likely going to be more devastating,” said Dr Mohammed Said, one of the PRISE researchers. 

During the MPs training in Midrand, the lead trainer, Stephen Mutimba pointed out that African continent, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, is exposed to climate variability and extremes at frequencies which exceed normal thresholds, and that such events could significantly erode gains already made in poverty reduction.

There is, therefore, need for different countries to devise coping mechanisms so as to save livelihoods.

Mutimba said that governments can only prepare for disasters that may result from the extreme weather events only if they have access to adequate climate information.

“Climate information and services are key resources for governments and communities to prepare for these changes and when well integrated into policy and practice, they can help reverse this trend and enhance cross-sectoral climate resilient development,” he told the legislators.

According to Mithika Mwenda, the PACJA Secretary General, there is an urgent need for legislators to work hand in hand with the civil society and researchers for climate adaptation and in advancing the climate discourse at the global level.

“We all need to embrace the Talanoa dialogue,” said Mithika. ‘Talanoa’ is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills, and experience through storytelling. 

Amongin Jacqueline, the Chairperson of the PAP Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural resources and Environment agreed with Mithika, saying that the Talanoa dialogue will help in stock-taking of the achievements so far, as well as the challenges, which should inform the way Africa should engage in global climate negotiations.

Studies have shown that Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change, especially in water, agriculture, forestry, and coastal development sectors. 

World Food Programme estimates that about 650 million people live in arid or semi-arid areas where floods and droughts impact lives and productivity.

In the arable land areas within the Sub-Saharan Africa region, scientists say that there will be a decrease of 19% in maize yields and 68% for bean yields. As a result, severe child stunting (leading to higher mortality risk) could increase by 31%–55% across the region by 2050 due to climate change.

“The earlier we start tackling the challenge of climate change, the better for our continent,” said Njamnshi.

The one-day training was organised by the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) in collaboration with PACJA to enhance MPs' knowledge and understanding of the potential application of Climate Information Service policies in development planning with the aim of catalyzing the uptake and use of climate services by vulnerable communities.

This article was first published on the PAMACC website

Wednesday, 21 February 2018 00:00

Severe drought hits Southern Africa

BLANTYRE, Malawi (PAMACC News) -  Prolonged dry spell experienced across Southern Africa and the invasion of crop- eating worm are said to sharply affect harvests across the region, driving millions of people – most of them children – into severe hunger, warns the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The warning follows an alert by the regional food security experts that “erratic rainfall, high temperatures and persistent Fall Army Worm infestation, are likely to have far-reaching consequences on access to adequate food and nutrition” over the next 12-15 months.

The alert, by officials from the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET), UN agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), listed Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Zambia and South Africa as the worst-affected countries.

The dry spell, which started in October, has caused crops to wilt. Pasture has also suffered, threatening the survival of livestock herds.

In Malawi, it is estimated that about 140,000 farming families have been affected by the twin scourges of dry spell and Fall armyworms and in terms of hectares, 375,580 hectares of maize have been damaged across the country.

Lonjezo Chiguduli, a farmer in Malawi’s Eastern Region district of Zomba expressed sadness at loss of crops and predicted tough months ahead. Chiguduli said his maize farm was severally attacked by Fall Armyworms and the prolonged drought made things worse.

“I managed to contain the worms but I was hopeless and helpless with the dry spell. I don’t think my crops will recover even if the rains come today. It’s done,” said Chiguduli a father of three whose ageing mother also depends on him.

Solomon Makondetsa, a rice farmer also from Zomba said out of four of his rice plots, two of the plots have completely wilted that he had to uproot the crop.

Makondetsa said he invested about K450,000 (about US$623) which he said he will not be able to recover due to the prolonged dry spell.

A ray of hope though shown last week with most parts of the country experiencing rains for days, however, the rains have come with another problem, flooding. So far, there has been flooding in Salima District in the central region and Karonga district in the northern region of Malawi.

In December 2017, Malawi President, Peter Mutharika, declared 20 of the country’s 28 districts as disaster areas following the dry spell and invasion of the worms.

According to the statement released by World Food Programme (WFP), even if there is above-average rainfall over coming months, much of the damage to crops is irreversible.

“Given that the region has barely emerged from three years of very damaging El Niño -induced drought, this is a particularly cruel blow”, says Brian Bogart, WFP’s Regional Programme Advisor. “But it shows how important it is to address the root causes of hunger and malnutrition in the face of changing climatic conditions”.

There are now fears for another rise in the number of people in the region needing emergency food and nutrition assistance—this fell from a peak of 40 million during the 2014-2016 ElNiño crisis to 26 million last year.

The humanitarian community is now working with governments, SADC and other partners to assess the extent of the damage and its likely impact on those most at risk in the region.

This article was first published on the PAMACC website

 

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) has just concluded stakeholder consultations with Ethiopia, Botswana and Zambia on climate advocacy and inputs into national and regional strategic climate change processes. These three countries also underwent an Organization Capacity Assessment to understand their strengths, weakness, and opportunities as organizations and strengthen strategic links

This move by PACJA is aimed at creating strong pillars in countries hosting Regional Economic Integration Communities (RECs) and Pan African Institutions to ensure consistent and sustainable outreach, where civil society and communities at the front line of climate change impacts play proactive role.

The National platforms identified and relevant Institutions they host, respectively, include Kenya (UN Environment), Ethiopia (AU, UNECA), Botswana (SADC), Gabon (AMCEN, CAHOSCC, CEMACC), Nigeria (ECOWAS), Tanzania (EAC), Ivory Coast (African Development Bank) and Zambia (COMESA).

This process will enhance capacity of civil society and their effectiveness in coordination, strategically engaging in various governmental spaces, first beginning at national and feeding into continental levels, will enable them to catalyse change and ensure bottom-up, pro-poor and people-centred narratives form the basis for implementation of the provisions of the Paris Agreement, and more importantly, the Nationally Determined Contributions ( NDCs). 

The next stakeholder consultative meetings will take place in Gabon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Tanzania.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance is this week taking part in an expert meeting to assess the progress made in the process to formulate and implement the national adaptation plans. 

PACJA is represented in the meeting that is taking part from 7-9 February 2018 at Hotel Praia in Sao Tome and Principe.

The meeting comes just months before the subsidiary body for implementation (SBI) 48th session that will be held between April and May 2018.

During the session, the SBI will assess progress made in the process to formulate and implement national adaptation plans (NAPs) with a view to making recommendations thereon to the Conference of Parties (COP).

As part of the actions and steps for the assessment, the COP requested the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG), in collaboration with the Adaptation Committee, to organize a meeting of Party experts, to consider the progress made towards the achievement of the objectives of the process to formulate and implement NAPs, experiences, best practices, lessons learned, gaps and needs, and support provided and received, with a view to providing a summary of progress made in the process to formulate and implement NAPs.

By Jacob Munoru

Every few years, the issue of deforestation and illegal logging comes up in the news, and then dies a natural death, buried under other more ‘important’ issues until it comes back up sooner or later.

I was alerted to the resurgence of this issue after I came across an online petition by conservationists seeking to stop the legal felling of trees in the Mt Kenya forest.

The conservationists, who have so far garnered 3,398 signatures according to a brief on the Daily Nation (Thursday, January 18), want the Kenya Forest Service to stop the logging and conserve the forest.

At the same time, the Sengwer community that lives in Embobut Forest is facing eviction from their homes in the name of forest conservation, with the ongoing conflict between the Kenya Forest Service officers and the community members allegedly resulting in the death of a herder on Wednesday.

The question therefore begs, is there a way to conserve forests while still benefiting from the resource and securing the homes of forest-dwelling communities?

Many of the world’s forests and woodlots mainly in the tropics and subtropics (read Africa or East Africa to be precise) are not managed sustainably. Most countries in the region lack appropriate forest policies, legislation, institutional framework and incentives to promote sustainable forest management.

Where forest management plans exist, they are limited to ensuring the sustainable production of wood, without paying attention to the many other products and services that forests offer. Alternative land uses like Agriculture and Real estate developments seems to be financially more attractive in the short run than forest management, motivating deforestation and land use changes. The World Food and Agriculture organization (FAO), helps to identify, test and promote innovative, multipurpose forest management approaches and techniques that respond to mitigating and adapting to a changing climate.

Sustainable forest management means environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests for present and future generations. Sustainable forest management addresses forest degradation and deforestation while increasing direct benefits to people and environment. At the social level, sustainable forest management contributes to livelihoods, income generation, and employment. At the environmental level, it contributes to important services such as carbon sequestration (carbon sinks) and water, soil and biodiversity conservation. Managing forests sustainably means increasing their benefits, including timber, food and medicine to meet society needs in a way that conserves maintaining the forest ecosystem as well as climate change mainstreaming for the benefit of the present and future generations.

Good forest conservation management promotes climate change mainstreaming. Forests play a crucial role in the Hydrological cycle, influencing the availability of water, regulating surface and groundwater flows and maintaining high water quality. Forest and trees, in general, reduce water-related risks such as landslides, local floods and droughts and help prevent desertification and salinization.

Our country’s tree cover is below 10 per cent, hence the many adverse effects of climate change like floods, droughts, repetitive crop failures for many years, unreliable rainfall patterns and amounts, ice caps disappearing from our high mountains and frequent outbreaks of both human and livestock diseases- but- our government has set a good target of increasing the forest cover to reach 10 per cent within the soonest time possible. To the general public and all stakeholders ( CSOs, Bilateral and Multilateral partners ) concerted efforts should be in place to help in attaining the 10 per cent forest cover to arrest the negative effects of climate change via the practice of sustainable forest management.

Sustainable forest management and climate change mainstreaming are evolving processes and the parameters defining them change over time based on latest scientific knowledge and societies understanding of the concepts. Forest ecosystems are complex and influenced by numerous external factors; also different regions of the world require different sustainable strategies; therefore the criteria for sustainable forest management must constantly adapt to new circumstances, as well as social, economic, political, cultural and spiritual dimensions. Climate change mainstreaming is essential to address the serious effects of climate change which affect Man and the environments in the world mainly due to anthropogenic reasons.

Our hope of securing the environment while still benefiting from our forest resources therefore lies in formulating policies and strategies that are appropriate for our region and country and are socially acceptable so that communities are not disenfrinchised and our environment is not completely destroyed.

About the Author: Jacob Munoru is a Forest Management Expert working with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility project at the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance

This article was first published on the Daily Nation

PEMBA, Zambia (PAMACC News) - Grace Moonga harvested 115 by 50 Kg bags of maize last season. And it was enough for family food consumption and sale for income generation to support her second year University student son.

But she is afraid that this year’s farming season is turning out negative—a prolonged dry spell affecting her 3-hectare maize field.

“Just look at this crop,” lamentsMoonga, pointing at her severely wilted crop. “It has been 22 days since it last rained here. This is a serious disaster for a widow like me whose only source of income is farming, I don’t even know what will become of my son at the University.”

Since 2007 when her husband died, Moonga has been supporting her six children through smallholder farming. So far, her firstborn son has completed his teaching course, while the university student was only in primary five when his father died.

However, dependency on rainfall is increasingly becoming a risky business for smallholder farmers as erratic rainfall punctuated with prolonged dry spells has become the norm rather than an exception. For instance, the 2015/16 farming season was characterized by the El Nino induced drought. While 2016/17 season restored some hope with normal to above normal rainfall, the 2017/18 season is turning out negative—a prolonged dry spell which according to the Zambia Meteorological Department, has caused substantial moisture deficits and an increased likelihood for adverse crop production.

According to Zambia Meteorological Department, the prolonged dry spell being experienced over Lusaka, Southern, Western and Southern parts of Central and Eastern Provinces have been largely due to atmospheric systems – the consecutive occurrence of deep low-pressure systems and tropical cyclones over the Mozambique channel and the Indian ocean.

Unfortunately, the forecast up to March 2018 remains negative as abnormal dryness has strengthened and expanded, placing additional moisture stress on crops, especially at critical stages of growth.

Nevertheless, good as this forecast may be, it largely remains generic and scientific for smallholder farmers to easily interpret. It is for this reason that climate change development actors have been advocating for improved climate information and other climate-resilient services such as insurance for smallholder farmers.

In Zambia, one such institution working in this area is the World Food Programme (WFP). Under its R4—Rural Resilience Initiative, WFP has installed automated and manual weather stations in selected project areas to facilitate improved meteorological information for smallholder farmers.

Mosco Hamalambo is a trained rain gauge attendant at Sibajene village, one of the 20 manual rain gauge stations dotted around Pemba district. He believes the weather stations have improved farmers’ knowledge especially on the time to plant.

“With this facility, we now have readily available information when we should plant our crops,” Hamalambo told PAMACC News. “Even as we are experiencing this dry spell, we have the information on how much rainfall we have received and how poorly distributed it has been.”

Hamalambosays such information is helpful for comparison with satellite data on which weather index insurance is based—another component of the R4 project where farmers are enrolled for a possible pay-out if they do not receive required amounts of rainfall in a set and agreed window of the farming season.

In terms of amounts of rainfall, 400 mm of rainfall received in the area is enough for optimum production of maize according to Stanley Ndhlovu,

WFP Zambia R4 Coordinator. However, “the challenge has been distribution, it has been very erratic.”It is however not yet clear whether the index would trigger for a pay-out. Close to 4000 farmers are enrolled on the R4 project weather index insurance scheme. 
In the meantime, Grace Moonga is hoping and praying for some heavy downpour as she still believes something could be salvaged from her wilted crop—thanks to Conservation Agriculture (CA) which she practices. Under CA, minimum tillage and mulching practices help to retain moisture for crops to withstand prolonged dry spells.

Considering the elongated dry spell experienced, Moonga knows that what could be salvaged would still not be enough, hence placing her last hope in weather insurance. “From what we were taught about how this insurance works, I am hopeful that we might receive a pay-out this year,” she says enthusiastically.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance is today holding a meeting on climate change resilience and adaptation in Embu County. 

The meeting that is being organized under the Trocaire-funded Community Resilience And Climate Change Adaptation project is geared at engaging stakeholders including policymakers to develop climate change policies that take Natural Resource Management into consideration.

The meetings come just a day after similar meetings were held in Kitui and Tharaka Nithi counties with a view of building community resilience to climate change.

PACJA, being the most knowledgeable African civil society coalition in the context of climate policy influence, is working with key stakeholders in Tharaka Nithi, Embu and Kitui Counties to establish County “best fit’’ Climate Change policies in each the three Counties.

In implementing the project, PACJA’s role is to support community members and Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups to participate in and have influence over decision-making processes on NRM, agricultural development and climate change adaptation at community and County levels, in particular policy-making, planning and budget allocation as well as support partners to influence County and national government departments to develop climate-sensitive policies, laws, plans and budgets that support community resilience and adaptive capacity.

PACJA further strives to provide technical support to government officials at the County level to develop policies, legislation, plans and budgets that support climate change adaptation, climate-sensitive resilience building and natural resource management.

Pan African Climate Justice Alliance Secretary General Mithika Mwenda has been elected vice chairman of the Institutional Collaboration Platform (ICP) of the Climate Research for Development (CR4D) in Africa.

The CR4D in Africa Platform is an Africa-led initiative that was launched to strengthen links between climate science research and climate information needs in support development planning in Africa.

It was the outcome of the African Climate Conference 2013 that was held in Arusha, Tanzania, which brought together more than 300 participants drawn from top African climate scientists, policymakers, climate service providers, and practitioners to discuss the state of African Climate science and existing gaps in climate knowledge.

Participants at the ACC-2013 recommended the establishment of an African Climate Research Agenda for Climate Services and Development in order to advance new frontiers of African climate research, focusing on four priority areas of Creation of co-designed multi-disciplinary research to improve forecast skills and reliability, Filling gaps in multi-sectorial and multi-disciplinary data sets for sector-specific vulnerability and impacts assessments, Enhancing Africa’s scientific and institutional capacities and networks to undertake cutting edge user-drive climate research and Fostering effective collaboration and interactions among climate science, services, policy, and practice communities in order to improve mainstreaming of climate services in decision-making. 

The initiative is supported by partnership between African Climate Policy Center (ACPC) of UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), with the ACPC providing Secretariat services. 

 

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance has welcomed the commitments by developed states and private businesses to move away from fossil fuels toward greener enterprises in a bid to mitigate climate change.

Speaking in Paris, France during the One Planet Summit, PACJA Secretary General Mithika Mwenda lauded the commitments by private organisations to mitigate climate change, saying it was time rich nations took responsibility for the part they played in speeding up climate change.

Here are five of the major areas covered during the summit:

  • Oil and gas

The World Bank said it would stop financing oil and gas exploration and extraction — representing about two percent of its current portfolio — from 2019, becoming the first multilateral bank to take such a step.

From next year the bank will publish a yearly index of greenhouse gas-related projects it provides funding for and will price in carbon costs when it comes to assessing future investments.

  • Coal

Insurance giant Axa announced it will cease investing in any company involved in the construction of coal plants and will withdraw about 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion) from the sector.

The French firm also said it will pull 700 million euros from projects linked to tar sands pipeline projects, and put nine billion euros into "green" infrastructural investment through 2020.

  • Investors

More than 200 large-scale investors, including HSBC and the major US pension fund CalPERS, have agreed to put pressure on the world's 100 most polluting companies to persuade them to reduce emissions.

The "Climate Action 100+" initiative will target oil giants such as BP and Chevron as well as transport behemoths Airbus and Ford and mining groups ArcelorMittal, BHP Billiton and Glencore.

  • Aid

The French Development Agency (AFD) signed agreements with a clutch of African states including Niger and Tunisia to help them in their fight against climate change, including countering the effects of erosion.

Under the agreements, 30 million euros will be set aside for 15 developing counties over four years.

  • Farming

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the European Commission promised to earmark more than $600 million for agricultural research to combat the effects of climate change.

The Gates Foundation itself pledged $315 million to help the poorest players in the sector, notably in Africa, adapt to global warming, while the European Commission pledged $318 million.

The One Planet Summit was convened by President Emmanuel Macron of France, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

More information from AFP

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