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Wednesday, 26 February 2020 00:00

PACJA, WaterAid hold joint convention on Water

February 25, 2020
The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance are jointly with WaterAid hosting a team of experts and stakeholders in water use and resources management for a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.
The three-day meeting is dubbed Climate Resilient WASH Convention, and brought together national, regional and multinational stakeholders, and recognizes the importance water plays in the lives of all mankind, and how the commodity is instrumental for the ecosystem and economies, as it is a key resource for several sectors.

“Climate change directly impacts water resources and water services for all economic, social and environmental functions that water supports. Therefore, the impacts reach into many sectorial interests such as health, tourism, agriculture and industry,” a joint note from the event read in part.

Several parts of the world have suffered or face water scarcity, and effects of climate change are to blame for much of this problem, as they have determined how much of the commodity is available in different parts of the world, where in some cases it has caused death and destruction (flooding and land- or mudslides) or drought, when the rains disappear and water sources dry.

“With water scarcity and extreme weather events becoming the new norm in many parts of the world, it’s crucial to note that the effects of climate change would be felt first and foremost through water systems,” the statement added.

Another issue of focus was diseases caused by use or consumption of unclean water, some which is a result of human activity on rivers. Some of the diseases mentioned were diarhoea, said to have been killing approximately 2.2 million people every year and trachoma, an eye infection that can lead to blindness.

That the Paris Agreement signed in 2015, leading nations into making Nationally Determined Contributions to the reduction of global warming, was seen as a step in the right direct ion, except that a lot of these NDCs, whose implementation is expected to begin this year 2020, are silent on the water issue.

“The NDCs are now due for revision and this presents a good opportunity to incorporate the water sector in the new designs of the NDCs,” PACJA and WaterAid said in a statement, and added that they proposed to host a regional workshop on Integration of WASH in climate change in Africa.
At least 100 people attended the first day of the convention, with several key figures expected in the subsequent day.


This project aims to strengthen African civil society engagement in implementation of Paris Agreement through enhancing the capacity of national platforms, and particularly the 8 priority Chapters, to engage their governments in the implementation of Paris Agreement and SDGs. It will also facilitate selected national chapters to participate and contribute to sub-regional, regional and international climate change dialogue processes with a view to holding governments to account on their commitment to NDCs and other provisions of Paris Agreement as well as strengthen the governance structure of PACJA and national chapters to effectively deliver their mandate. It also seeks to broaden citizen awareness on the Paris Agreement through robust media engagement.

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PACJA, ClimDev Africa Initiative Partners, the African Climate Policy Centre of UN Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank held a successful roundtable in Addis Ababa to reflect and take stock of the UNFCCC-COP 25 Outcomes, and the implications for the African people.

This high level event was graced by the presence of the UK government representative Jason Grimes, who is the Deputy Permanent Representative to the African Union, the spokesperson of the African Group of negotiators Ambassador Seyni Nafo, Jean-Paul Adam, the Director, Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Management at ECA, and several others.

The participants engaged in an open reflection of the outcomes of the COP25, which were disappointing, particularly to the African countries, since the pertinent issues of concern to the continent were not addressed.

In his opening remarks, PACJA Executive Director Mithika Mwenda indicated that African had a good opportunity to influence the climate change negotiations this year in Glasgow, UK, but this was only possible if the continent could take advantage of the upcoming pre-events like the Africa Climate week to come up with concrete African homemade position in the negotiations.

Dr Mithika highlighted the need to convene a multi stakeholder platform that would build a momentum as we approach COP 26.

The UK government indicated its readiness to work with PACJA, African Union, African governments, African Group of Negotiators (AGN), ECA among others in making COP26 a success, especially for the continent.

In his remarks, Mr Jason informed the meeting that Africa was central in the preparation of COP26 and that the UK government would make deliberate efforts in engaging the continent in the build-up to the conference.

He averred that the president of COP26 was committed to delivering a conference that would meet the interests of all. Jason said the youth constituency was particularly important and that the youth formed a formidable force that could not be ignored.
The deputy permanent representative to the AU further indicated that the UK government was aware of the concern that had always been raised by Africans concerning access to climate finance.

Accessing the climate finance has been a challenge to many African countries.
Jason committed that the UK government would seek to address the challenge, and pointed out that building of consensus as the COP26 approached was a key priority for UK government.

The UK government will, therefore, work tirelessly in engaging everyone aiming at building consensus before COP26, according to Jason.
The AGN indicated its commitment to working with PACJA and other partners in preparing Africa’s position at COP26. Speaking on behalf of the AGN, Ambassador Seyni Nafo from Mali indicated that the AGN was keen on developing a climate financial instrument proposal favorable to the African countries. He indicated that the climate emergency was not only a big threat to the wellbeing of a people but also put achievement of Sustainable Development Goals at risk. He informed the meeting that the African Heads of State would be banking on climate change experts in the continent to advise on tangible solutions for the continent. Mr Seyni reiterated that it was about time the continent started implementing COP recommendations, even as they pursued better ones.

The participants in the roundtable recommended formation of a multi stakeholder committee that brings all stakeholders together to prepare the continent for COP26. The committee will include government representatives, AGN, AU, Regional Economic Commissions, Civil Society actors, women, Youth and all other key stakeholders.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
A time has come for us to face the truth about this climate crisis.
Last year, two weeks of incessant negotiations at the UNFCCC’s COP25 that took place in Madrid, Spain at the close of 2019 resulted in several outcomes that are very key to Africa and its people.

The conference attended by at least 27,000 delegates aimed to highlight the gap between progress in the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement and the goals individual signatory nations set towards the same. It was this that informed the massive protest march in the Madrid streets.
The meeting was also meant to emphasize to the world how critical climate action was, and that it was time the gap between goals and the milestones so far was bridged.
The event was big, but the outcomes quite a disappointment, especially for Africa, the sufferer of some of the worst climate change induced calamities, to which it has contributed the least.

The silence by the World’s biggest emitters of the greenhouse gases on possible plans to contribute towards an enhanced adaptation, mitigation or financing climate action is worrying for Africa.
The COP25 failed to deliver ambitious decisions that reflect the special circumstances and needs of Africa based on the unfolding climate crisis. Besides failure by the big shots to make further commitments for the sake of addressing the climate crisis, there also lacked transparency or genuineness during the talks. All this was to the disadvantage of the poor African nations.

Consideration of Africa as a special need case was an issue that did not need any debating because, truth be told, the continent is a special case when it comes to climate crisis. But even with intense lobbying and persuasion, things remained the same.

This is to say that Africa is on her own on matters of climate crisis. It is to say that nobody bothers if we live or die, with the climate-induced irregular rain patterns messing our land and leading to crop failure in so many cases. This is to say, in short, that other countries marvel at the sight of Africa begging for food, its children and livestock dying as they walk long distances trying to look for food, pasture and water, and that it matters not if our economies collapse because heavy rains, mudslides, floods and cyclones mess our roads as well as social and other amenities.

It does not matter to anyone if our children miss school, are displaced and forced to live in church compounds, suffer malnutrition or are left behind as the world advances in technology and knowledge.

But for how long shall we be beggars in our own homes?

That UN Secretary General Antonio Guteress expressed disappointment at the COP25 outcomes is not enough to show what lack of the cooperation by noticeable figures meant for the African continent. The truth is, things are bad. Yet the climate crisis won’t wait for us to resolve these ego issues and pick up later. The truth is, the floods, famine, climate induced conflict and migration, poor infrastructure, stunted economic growths besides so many other harm will continue to bedevil us, worse in Africa. The pain remains: We are suffering for the sins committed by our bigger brothers, who are too busy peeing on us, and on the same soil from which we seek to get food.
And so, what can we do, as the African Union Summit congregates here in Addis Ababa guided by theme: “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa's Development”?

We must not keep quiet. We must retell our story in any and all languages, whenever and wherever. We must not shy away from telling the world what we need for mitigation and adaptation to this climate crisis.
Remember the climate crisis has a direct link to the many guns whose sounds rent the air in Africa. We shall continue to hear several gunshots if we do not make it possible for our people to access food, potable water and adequate pasture. They will walk long distances in search of the basic and as such trespass. They shall fight because of poverty, simply because we did not act in good time. Today, the world is running away from the killer coronavirus, but we are walking in forests of desert locusts that are soon exposing us to a serious food shortage. This, despite information about the invasive locusts coming in good time from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.
It boils down to one thing: Our governments are not that equipped to handle, synthesize or quickly lay down mechanisms to address such climate-induced threats. Sometimes there is just no capacity to do the right thing.

Why then would someone still put a powerless Africa through hell by just abandoning any good idea that would lead to our social, health and economic growth?
These same countries fighting for Africa’s failure have led the way in messing our environments through disastrous mining and other acts.

I would like to encourage all African nations that green economic pathway is the best way to go. Let’s protect our environment from abuse by miners of coal and direct them to the unexploited safer and cleaner sources of energy in wind, solar, hydroelectric and geothermal. No more coal powered projects should be allowed on African soil because we do not want stranded assets. We want our biodiversity safe, whole and alive.

The countries now busy funding such projects in Africa are abandoning the same in their backyards. Time has come for us to ask the likes of China and the US, under its climate insensitive President Dnarld Trump: Why Africa?

Let us work on the policies that will enable the wellbeing of the African people. Push for the policies that will ensure the right knowledge is imparted to the people to ensure preparedness for disaster and development of adaptive infrastructure for the sake of minimising deaths when disasters strike.
I also appeal for CSOs to work with governments and ensure maximum access to green climate fund to enable capacity building and ensure maximum addressing of the climate crisis.

This is the only world we know. A few years from now, history will judge us harshly if we do not do the right thing for the generations to come. Being in the CSOs to do this climate job is a calling, and we must answer with the right actions, and not create death traps for our children in the name of growing our economies.

May God Bless Africa!

Mithika Mwenda,
Executive Director,

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