Dec 17th, 2012 9:00 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Tonya Rawe, Senior Policy Advocate, CARE USA, calls on leaders to integrate climate change into our “comprehensive approach” to global food security.
Manik Lal Lahere of Banahil, Chhattigarh, India and Maria Mathayo of Bangalala, Tanzania may live thousands of miles apart. But they are facing one challenge together: changing rainfall patterns.
It’s hard to grow food when rain is scarce. Photo credit: Aurélie Ceinos
“When there is no water, nothing will grow on that land. As a result, one has to migrate,” said Lahere.
For Mathayo, the challenge of unpredictable rainfall is similar.
“If the rains stop, there is nothing we can do. Only God can help us then. We have nowhere to go,” she said.
The reality for Manik Lal Lahere and Maria Mathayo and their families resembles a reality for countless other smallholder farmers in poor communities around the world. Their ability to feed their families – and their very survival – depend directly on the climate and the environment around them. With too much, too little, or increasingly unpredictable rain, they cannot grow food and are left with few options. There is often little choice but for these families to move. Yet as the impacts of climate change increase, even moving may not help.
Migrating is not always the best option for families looking for better resources. Photo credit: Aurélie Ceinos
“I moved from the mountain to find water here in the Ruvu Valley. But now that water has gone too,” said Leonard Rabieti of Ruvu Mferejini, Tanzania. “It has dried up.”
Around the world, poor communities live on the edge of crisis without resources and support systems to enable them to adapt or to serve as a safety net in times of crisis. As a result, in the context of climate change, poor communities experience more hunger and face greater challenges to “graduate” out of poverty.
At the recently concluded climate change negotiations in Doha, Qatar, CARE & United Nations University released an 8-country study, Where the Rain Falls, that examines the relationship among rainfall changes, hunger, and human mobility or migration. The study aims to increase understanding of how families manage in these uncertain circumstances and how they use the option to move as a way of adapting to a changing climate. The research reveals that the decision to move (generally within a country’s borders) is not always a bad decision. At the same time, it isn’t always a good one.
Agriculture is a major source of income for many families in the developing world. Photo credit: Aurélie Ceinos
For some families, when one person moves for education or better job opportunities, the whole family can benefit. For others who move because of food shortage or because their agriculture-based livelihood doesn’t provide enough food or income, migration is a last resort that merely enables them to maintain the status quo.
For others, like Manik Lal Lahere and his family, migrating can actually have a negative effect. The entire Lahere family migrates together rather than split up, but as a result, their children are pulled out of school, harming their chances for advancement as adults.
Or migration can make the family members left behind more vulnerable: in Bangladesh where 97 percent of migrants in the research communities are men, women who are left behind when husbands migrate not only have an increased burden to care for their families, households, and agricultural activities but also face sexual harassment. When fathers migrate, some families decide to marry off their daughters early so they don’t experience sexual harassment, which can carry a stigma, while the father is away.
Where the Rain Falls reveals that poor families need better choices in the face of hunger and a changing climate. Climate change poses a real threat to global efforts to address hunger, threatening to decrease agriculture yields and water availability – and increase hunger. One study shows that climate change could leave 25 million more children malnourished by 2050.
Where the Rain Falls and the climate crisis also signal the need for a new, holistic approach to tackling global hunger. Climate change requires that policymakers and practitioners take climate change – impacts, vulnerability and projections – into account when designing food security programs. Programs must engage communities to prepare for impacts like the floods we witnessed during our research in Vietnam – floods that can wipe out an entire harvest. Food security programs must ensure farmers (women and men) have access to weather and climate projections so they can plan for farming and for their future.
Food security programs also should integrate efforts to build the capacity of poor communities to engage in local, regional, and national planning processes to ensure that their needs are recognized and prioritized. And we must address social inequalities that drive vulnerability to climate change: when women have less access to resources or decision-making power, they are less able to plan for their families, yet they are often left responsible for tasks that are sensitive to climate change, like fetching water or growing food.
Climate change demands more than business as usual. In the lives of poor smallholder farmers, the only silos are those in their dreams to store vast amounts of grain. There’s no separation between water, soil health, food, fuel, or health. When families struggle – when water is scarcer and further away, when food runs short, when poor soil leads to small yields – hunger, malnutrition, and poor health result.
So when we talk about the need for a “comprehensive approach” to food and nutrition security, “comprehensive” must mean integration of natural resource management and of climate change. An integrated world that looks at the environment and climate is the world in which smallholder farmers live and the foundation on which their survival depends.
To learn more about Where the Rain Falls, or hear more of the Lahere and Mathayo families’ story, visit www.wheretherainfalls.org where the global report and a 12-minute policy film are available.
Oct 26th, 2012 2:58 PM UTC
By Isabelle De Lichtervelde
For decades, farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa have been struggling to produce enough food from the land they have. But in Eastern Kenya, more than 50,000 farmers are now using a clever new technique that prevents pests and weeds from destroying crops. The results are pretty amazing. The system, called ‘Push-Pull’, is now being redeveloped to tackle the additional pressures on food security brought about by climate change.
The ‘Push-Pull’ system, originally developed over 20 years ago by the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) works by mixing plants that ‘push’ pests and weeds away from the crop and others that ‘pull’ pests to border areas to lay their eggs where they cause less harm.
It’s a simple but revolutionary idea that can almost double the amount of food farmers can produce from their available land. What’s more it’s cheap enough and doesn’t require complex technology that would put it out of reach of smallholder farmers. The system uses locally-available plants and fits well with traditional African mixed cropping systems.
“I have experienced tremendous improvement,” boasts Emai Ikapolok David, a farmer from the North Teso District in Kenya. “Before, I used to get 50 kg from a 0.4-acre plot, but now with push-pull I get 540 kg of maize from the same plot. My soil fertility level has also improved and there is a clear decrease in striga (a type of weed) and stemborer (a pest) in the garden.”
The community has also benefitted from a feeling of greater security. “Theft cases have reduced because everybody has enough to feed on,” says Eric Odhiambo, Sub-chief of Ginga Sub- Location in Siaya District.
But farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, and around the world are facing a new threat from global climate change. The rising uncertainties in the region’s rain-fed agriculture have created more demand for ‘push-pull’, and its further development to help crops withstand the increasingly adverse and changeable weather conditions.
In March 2011, ICIPE launched a project called ADOPT (Adaptation and Dissemination of the Push-Pull Technology to Climate Change). The €2.9 million, EU-funded project aims to create a drought-tolerant form of Push-Pull. The aim is to reach one million farming households by 2020.
“Thanks to the funding we have received from the EU, we have been able to do further research and to reach more farmers and more countries,” Zeyaur Khan, ICIPE project coordinator of ADOPT says. “Through our research, we found [push-pull] plants that are better than previous used plants,” says Khan. “They can survive a very long period of drought.”
The ADOPT project will directly benefit 50,000 smallholder cereal and livestock farmers. It will also improve food availability for half a million people living in areas that are dry and vulnerable to climate change in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
The results are impressive. “The deployment and adoption of a drought-adapted Push-Pull has increased yields by three times,” Khan says. “In the long term it will also improve the soil fertility. Farmers won’t have to use fertilizers anymore.”
Without EU funding, Khan says ICIPE wouldn’t have been able to adapt the Push-Pull technique to climate change. “Other donors are funding only the standard push pull,” he says, “so this funding is very very important for us, for the countries we are working in, and for smallholder famers facing long drought and who cannot produce enough food for themselves.”
The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) is an international scientific research institute headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. ICIPE’s mission is to help alleviate poverty, ensure food security and improve the overall health status of peoples in the tropics by developing and extending management tools and strategies for harmful and useful arthropods, while preserving the natural resource base through research and capacity building.
For more information about ICIPE, visit: http://www.icipe.org
For more information about push-pull technology, visit: http://www.push-pull.net
Dec 9th, 2011 3:04 PM UTC
By Tom Wallace
Thursday 8th of December was Africa Day at the COP17 climate negotiations in Durban. This high level event was the culmination of daily conferences on Africa’s development and sustainable growth. Leaders came together to show to the world the opportunity that exists for energy development in Africa.
The continent had 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world in the 2000s. It has some of the highest potential for renewable energy production and huge reserves of untapped natural resources. Leaders spoke of their desire to realise these energy opportunities both for economic growth and sustainable poverty reduction.
Participants included South Africa President Jacob Zuma, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, President of the Congo Denis Nguesso, Chairman of the African Union Commission Dr Jean Ping, the President of the Africa Development Bank Dr Donald Kaberuka – and many other Africa ministers and global observers including ONE.
In order to realise the potential the continent needs a plan to mobilise investment in the energy sector and to work together more closely. Africa Day at the COP showed that Africa is moving strongly in this direction with national plans, improved levels of cooperation, and policies being put in place to give confidence to investors and donors.
As Lord Nicholas Stern said: ‘People are starting to realise the potential of Africa. The recent Economist article proves this’. Africa Day was, however, about more than showing the reality of Africa’s potential. It was also about Africa defining its own vision for a type of growth that will bypass the dirty industrial methods of today’s developed nations and instead use new technologies to drive poverty reduction and economic empowerment.
The most encouraging thing was the level of harmony between different leaders and the audience that Africa could be the continent to do things differently. The promise to work together on a plan that delivers sustainable growth for all could be truly game-changing. The Economist is right – Africa is truly rising
Nov 28th, 2011 9:24 PM UTC
By Tom Wallace
A shocking 500 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity. This ‘energy poverty’ drags down healthcare and educational opportunities, as well as stunting overall economic growth on the continent. In addition, most people rely on coal, peat or wood for cooking, which is often unsustainably sourced and a major cause of respiratory disease.
The International Energy Agency found that current plans to expand energy access across Africa would not reduce poverty levels nor sufficiently support climate-friendly development. However African businesses and governments have clearly and consistently communicated the need for a coordinated effort to address the continent’s energy deficit. Indeed, nearly 70% of surveyed African businesses cite unreliable and expensive power supplies as a major constraint to economic growth and job creation.
There is an immediate need to improve access to safe, reliable and affordable sources of energy to alleviate poverty, stimulate economic growth and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Fortunately there is a solution which will solve both Africa’s energy poverty and bring wider sustainability benefits.
Africa has the advantage of not being locked into inefficient energy infrastructure systems that use a lot of carbon. The continent has huge potential for getting more of its energy from renewable sources. Only 0.6% of its geothermal energy, less than 2% of its wind energy, and only 7% of its hydropower potential have been exploited.
From 29th November to the 9th December, Durban in South Africa will host the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 17th annual Conference of the Parties (COP17). This is the first COP to be held in Africa – the continent least responsible for the changing climate, but one of the most affected by it.
The international community must seize this opportunity to come up with concrete policy and financing commitments that improve access to reliable, efficient, electricity supplies in Africa. This includes the creation of a dedicated funding window similar to the Green Climate Fund to support energy provision in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as requiring that the UNFCCC’s Technology Executive Committee prioritises Africa in its work. Once these steps have been taken, momentum should be maintained through the 2012 International Year of Sustainable Energy For All if Africa’s energy poverty is to be addressed.
ONE will be working hard in Durban, and throughout the 2012, to make sure countries not only recognise Africa’s energy poverty challenge but seize the opportunities available to help address it. If Africa reduces its energy poverty it will have taken a major step towards tackling wider poverty, achieving the MDGs and supporting further economic growth.
Nov 24th, 2011 11:16 AM UTC
By ONE Partners
Emile Jean lives in Tsiandriona Nord, a small village belonging to the rural community of Itampolo in the south of Madagascar. He is 54 years old and lives with his wife and eleven kids – six boys and five girls – in a house with three rooms. Emile Jean is part of the Mahafaly tribe and the Temitongia clan.
Like most people in this region of Madagascar, including his father and grandfather, Emile Jean is a farmer and cattle-breeder. He owns a few Zebu, but mainly lives off the maize and vegetables he grows, half of which is sold, half of which goes to providing food for his family of thirteen. Growing enough food has become one of Emile Jean’s biggest challenges in the face of climate change.
“When my grandfather was young, they didn’t have more than one or two bad years in 20 years. When my father was young, they had a bad year every 7 years. Now, it’s every two years. We even risk having the second bad year in a row. We are very worried”, says Emile Jean.
Emile Jean has noticed the shifts in the weather for years. The amount of rainfall has dramatically decreased, distribution has changed, storms have become less frequent and more intense and temperatures have risen each year in the area.
These shifts have resulted in a longer dry period and a shorter rainy season. This makes it difficult for farmers like Emile to plant and live off their crops all year round or to afford the rising prices of staples like cassava, rice, oil and sugar.
“For some years now, we have been losing a part of our manioc yield because the rain comes too late. We also have more insects these days”, says Emile Jean.
Farmers like Emile Jean, have found other ways to adapt to the changes in climate such as reducing the amount of crops they plant that require a high volume of water, like maize, opting for drought-resistant strains. Emile Jean now also waits for the rainy season to plant – to avoid losing his seeds.
“We used to plant in the dry season also. This helped to overcome the lack of food between the rainy seasons. Now this is not possible any more, we just lose seeds if we do it. It used to rain a lot in January. Now there is no rain at all in this month”, said Emile Jean.
Through WWF, Emile Jean has been introduced to other agriculture techniques such as drip irrigation, market gardening, and crop rotation. The organization also distributed rain gauges to communities across the Mahafaly Plateau, including Emile Jean’s village. This allowed farmers to collect rainfall data themselves, and taught them how to interpret the data in order to use the information to help determine which crops to plant and when for the upcoming season.
These innovations are what Emile Jean hopes will ensure his 11 children will not only make it through school, but use their education to move beyond a dependency on the land and the direct impacts of climate change. “I hope that they all become intellectuals, someone important”, says Emile Jean.
For more information about Emile’s story visit the WWF website.
Nov 16th, 2011 1:02 PM UTC
By ONE Partners
Anabig Ayaab is a 50 year old farmer from Tariganga, Garu-Tempane District, in the dry Savannah Zone of the Upper East Region of Ghana. Also a wife and mother of seven, Anabig has been struggling with how shifting weather patterns have been affecting her ability to feed her family and make a living.
Three years ago, Anabig was among a group of women who took part in the Village Savings and Loans Project implemented by CARE International in Northern Ghana. The project aims to build capacity and further empower women like Anabig, and communities like Tariganga, to diversify their farming systems and make good choices as they adapt to the impacts of climate change.
As with most of the families in Tariganga, Anabig depends almost entirely on the land for producing food and generating income through crop farming, dry season gardening, animal rearing, and petty trade. But the growing frequency of severe drought continues to destroy crops, reduce the availability of water, increase disease in animals and spread hunger and poverty across the region. For Anabig’s family the lack of food during the dry season has become a yearly inevitability.
“In recent years, farming has become more difficult. The soils are less fertile, seeds have become more expensive to acquire and the rains come late and leave early”, says Anabig.
After taking part in the savings and loan project, Anabig put her new knowledge of farming practices to work. Making compost instead of buying inorganic fertilizer, recognizing that deforestation hurts her environment and understanding how best to invest in her farm, Anabig has seen an important increase in her crop yields.
“I was able to acquire improved seeds of maize from the seed growers by taking a loan from my savings group. I bought enough seeds, which I shared with my husband. The results are very exciting. On my own, I harvested 5 bags of maize from my 2.5 acres of farmland, compared to 2 bags the previous years. My husband harvested 9 bags from his farm as compared to 5 bags in previous years. We used the improved seeds combined with use of farm residue as organic fertilizer and this has brought a lot of excitement to my family. There is now peace, unity and love in my family. My husband now respects me and I feel happy to be among my fellow women in the community”, says Anabig.
The increased yields have enabled Anabig and her husband to insure their family under Ghana’s national health insurance scheme, and to provide her children with all the supplies they need for school.
Anabig’s openness to learning new skills and diversifying her family’s farming systems is an important example of adaptive success in the face of the serious impacts of climate change. Building on what she has experienced, Anabig hopes to learn more about how to design and apply community-based adaptation strategies, increase the resilience of her livelihood choices and reduce the risk of disaster throughout her community.
For more information about Anabig’s story visit: http://www.careclimatechange.org/personal-stories
Jun 8th, 2011 1:51 PM UTC
By Edith Jibunoh
Edith Jibunoh is in Lisbon this week attending the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Annual Meetings in Lisbon.
The AfDB is the premier finance development institution in Africa, building a track record for responsiveness to Africa’s development challenges, especially in infrastructure, as well as support in traditional social sector development.
On Tuesday, June 7th, the African Development Bank convened a stellar group of panelists to debate – “Green Growth Now: An African Perspective” where the discussions centered around the opportunities and trade offs of climate smart development in Africa, including the key issues that policy makers must address, and the role of different stakeholders in promoting green growth. Two new AfDB products were launched at this event, the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), which will support small and medium scale entrepreneurs in the renewable energy and energy efficiency subsectors, and the Africa Carbon Facility (ACF) which will support low carbon investments in Africa. Hela Cheikhrouhou, the Director of the AfDB’s Department for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, told me that SEFA is being supported by initial seed resources (approximately $60 million) from the Danish government and they are expecting other donors to support this instrument. Hela is also hopeful that these two funds will be able to access the “fast start” climate resources that have were committed by climate compliance countries during COP15 in December 2009.
Green growth is a very important topic in development today and is key to breaking the link between economic growth and the destruction of the environment. Hannah Ryder, a Senior Economist with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) told the audience that the her organization is doing it’s part to promote green growth and spoke about the importance of placing more emphasis on the “green” in green growth and stated that access to information and the encouragement of innovative solutions for Africa are the major critical tools needed for delivering green growth.
AfDB staff and counterpart government officials from the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic presented the projected clean energy potential of the Inga site on the Congo River which is estimated to deliver up to 40,000 MW and will benefit not just the people of the DRC but also people in countries well beyond the DRC borders.
In this early seminar in the series of events the AfDB will roll out this week, the institution showcased their willingness to take risks, promote innovation and be responsive to African countries need to adopt clean energy solutions that are adapted to the African context.
Mar 28th, 2011 5:24 PM UTC
By Tom Wallace
Today Lord Paddy Ashdown released his Emergency Humanitarian Response Review. The review, commissioned by UK international development secretary Andrew Mitchell, looks at the UK’s response to humanitarian disasters and ways to ensure value for money and impact on the ground.
Lord Ashdown states that the UK can be proud of its prior responses but “being good is not going to be good enough in the face of increasing disasters.”
The number of people affected by disasters is predicted to rise from 250 million a year to 375 million by 2015. Emergencies connected to climate change are expected to increase in number, and natural disasters will have more impact as the population increases and more people live in poor housing in cities.
The review’s recommendations call for humanitarian concerns to become a more integrated part of the UK’s Department for International Development’s aid work. Specifically the review states there is a greater need to anticipate disasters and build up resilience within countries before humanitarian catastrophes happen. Preparing for disasters by greater use of science to inform decisions and equipping at risk government and civil society with the means to better react to natural disasters should become a more important focus according to the review.
Lord Ashdown’s review also calls for changes in the way the international humanitarian system responds to crises. While Lord Ashdown recognises the UN as the only legitimate authority that can lead on international responses to disasters he states that “for too long the performance of the international humanitarian system has been inconsistent and far less than the sum of its parts”. The report recommends improving the leadership of the international community effort in humanitarian emergencies and also encouraging the greater use of new technologies and practices to increase efficiencies on the ground.
Sir John Holmes, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, and previous contributor to the ONE blog, broadly welcomed the report, particularly the report’s points about building up resilience of countries before disasters happen. But Sir John stressed the difficulties in coordinating responses and ensuring effective leadership with a “hugely fragmented” humanitarian system of “agencies, NGOs, the Red Cross and so on”.
The UK government as the second largest humanitarian donor will now likely use the report to secure a new focus on funding for prevention of natural disasters and to establish greater communication and coordination within the international humanitarian response community.
Dec 15th, 2010 5:46 PM UTC
By Joseph Powell
As the dust settles on the Cancún climate change negotiations there’s a general perception that just enough was agreed to save the UN process and have people looking more positively towards the next talks in South Africa in 2011. The one word delegates are desperate to avoid is ‘Doha’, a reference to the global trade talks that have experienced glacial progress in their 9 years of meetings. As such pressure was on to prove multilateralism in climate policy could work, and some progress was made in the following areas:
ONE views this as a moderately successful outcome, given the low expectations that were set prior to Cancún . However, more ambition will be needed to come up with a legally binding deal in South Africa – a deal that should fully take account of the need to support low-carbon development and poverty alleviation in Africa as a whole.
Dec 10th, 2010 4:30 PM UTC
By Rosebell Kagumire
Guest blogger Rosebell Kagumire reports from Cancun as the UN climate change talks draw to a close.
The climate change talks in Cancun are into the last day, but African countries are yet to see any commitment on the issues they see as vital in helping the continent adapt to climate change effects. Africa has continued to speak with one voice and the group has been meeting everyday to discuss progress but with hours to go the outcome appears disappointing.
Adaptation funding is top on the list for African countries and they are fronting the African Development Bank (AfDB) as the right institution through which any climate pledges to the continent must be channelled. This is partly to speed up the transfer of resources as the promises made in Copenhagen have failed to flow.
First, the $30bn fast-start money pledged to developing countries is nowhere to be seen. Developed countries claim they have allocated 20% of this money but Ministers of Environment from Africa that I’ve spoken to in Cancun have failed to see any of it.
That’s why the African Green Fund proposal has been endorsed by all African countries to put a regional development bank be in charge of collecting climate funds. This proposal, however, may not be adopted here in Cancun despite Africa’s chief negotiator Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (whom I had a brief chat with) pushing the Fund as the only way to ensure transparency and proper monitoring of climate monies. Certain members of the AfDB’s board also need to give their approval.
African negotiators are also pushing for an adaptation committee to be put under the UNFCCC to monitor the pledges and the use of the funds. The adaptation fund, if put in the final document, is expected to avail a stable supply of funds for African and other developing nations to carry out programmes to help millions of people already facing the effects of climate change. In Africa for example many farmers are already facing poor yields, unusual rainfall patterns have brought floods and many in the continent face increasing food insecurity. African countries are asking for at least 40% of the climate funds to go towards helping countries adapt to these types of impacts. For now a majority of monies have been allocated to mitigation, with, for example, Europe’s mitigation interventions reportedly accounting for 64% of their finance.
The question of long-term finance is also being looked at and Zenawi has been part of a body appointed by the UN Secretary General to look at how the $100bn pledged by rich countries last year in Copenhagen could be raised. Zenawi and his group presented their report and in our brief chat he said that the key thing is that the biggest percentage of the $100bn should come in form of grants and concessional loans. He said this was while taking account of the massive budget cuts in the developed countries due to the financial crisis.
Some African environmental groups have said this target of $100bn by 2020 is not enough for developing countries and that the report was too heavily focused on mitigation, which has traditionally not benefited Africa much as the continent emits so little greenhouse gas. Environmentalists also argue that that the report makes Africa’s future dependent on volatile carbon prices. However Zenawi says that the developed countries agreed to intervene in the carbon markets to increase the price if it threatened to drop.
All negotiators here in Cancun agree on the threat of climate change but how to build frameworks that work equitably is the key issue to resolve. There is some optimism that a deal on one of those frameworks, REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) will be reached, although as of yesterday a few countries were still opposed.
So in the final hours of the Cancun negotiation one thing is clear – we as a world are moving too slowly and too cautiously of tackling climate change. It will be the most vulnerable people in Africa who are amongst the worst to suffer.
Rosebell is a Ugandan multi-media journalist and blogger. The opinions expressed in this guest post are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of ONE.
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
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