climate change

climate change

  • Despite Climate Change, Africa Can Feed Africa

    Climate change comes with never-before-experienced impacts. For example, crop yields and growing seasons will decrease even as changing rain patterns will worsen people’s access to water. Yet Africa’s population is projected to reach two billion in less than 37 years, and in 86 years three out of every four people added to the planet will be African.

    Decreasing crop yields and increasing population will put additional pressure on an already fragile food production system. That is why experts have warned that if the current situation persists, Africa will be fulfilling only 13 percent of its food needs by 2050. This situation will further threaten about 65 percent of African workers who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods including children and the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity.

    Hunger already affects about 240 million Africans daily. By 2050, even a change of about 1.2 to 1.9 degrees Celsius will have increased the number of the continent’s undernourished by 25 percent to 95 percent (central Africa +25 percent, East Africa +50 percent, Southern Africa +85 percent and West Africa +95 percent). The situation will be dire for children who need proper nourishment to succeed in their education. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has estimated that African countries could lose between two and 16 percent of gross domestic product due to stunting of children as a result of malnutrition.

    Climate-Stressed African Agriculture

    Changes in climate such as higher temperatures and reduced water supplies, along with other factors like biodiversity loss and ecosystems degradation, affect agriculture. According to Science, a leading international research journal, by 2030 Southern Africa and South Asia will be the two regions in the world whose crop production is most affected by climate change. For example, while wheat varieties grow well in temperatures between 15ºC and 20ºC, in sub-Saharan Africa the average annual temperature currently exceeds this mark during the growth season. Therefore, if current climate trends continue, by 2030 wheat production is likely to decline by 10 to 20 percent from 1998 - 2002 yields.

    Food insecurity will likely lead to social unrest, as has been the case in the past. For example, between 2007 and 2008, riots took place in several countries when prices of staples peaked. In 2010, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Mozambique after wheat prices went up by 25 percent due to a global wheat shortage caused in part by wheat-crop-destroying wildfires from record heats in Russia. The increase in bread prices led to fires, violence, looting and even death.

    Fears extend beyond wheat scarcity. The Africa Adaptation Gap Report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations (UN) organ responsible for promoting sustainable use of the environment, confirmed the World Bank’s recent findings that with warming of about 2ºC, all crop yields across sub-Saharan Africa will decrease by 10 percent by the 2050s greater warming which is more likely to cause crop yields to decrease by up to 15 or 20 percent.
    Further bad news for African agriculture is that by the middle of this century, wheat production could decrease by 17 percent, maize production by five percent, sorghum production by 15 percent and millet production by 10 percent. Additionally, if climate warming exceeds 3ºC, all present-day cropping areas for maize, millet and sorghum will be unsuitable for those crops. The question becomes, is Africa’s agricultural system ready to respond?

    Protecting Water Resources

    Increasing crop production amid climate change has been done before, and analysts believe that African countries need to incorporate this knowledge in their planning. They will also need to protect and fortify their water resources, which are critical to food security.

    In the coming years, water for agriculture will be stretched to a painful extent. According to UNEP, 95 percent of agriculture relies on rainfall for water in Africa. The World Bank notes that it is very likely that by 2100 the total availability of water in all of Africa could decline by more than 10 percent. In addition, climate change threatens biodiversity and ecosystems, which are the foundation of agriculture.

    Biodiversity losses and ecosystem degradation will affect the quality of the soil and the vegetation upon which livestock depends, states the World Bank, adding that potential reductions in water, biodiversity and crops should compel Africa to pay closer attention to its current food system. In short, Africa needs an approach that works with nature, not against it.

    New and Better Approaches

    There is a continuing argument as to whether the industrial agricultural revolution will solve some or all of Africa’s climate change problems. However, experts maintain that industrial agriculture currently accounts for one third of all greenhouse gas emissions - the very element most responsible for climate change. Additionally, they believe that the resources and infrastructure required to operate an industrial agricultural system in Africa are impractical for smallholder farmers.

    New machines also mean fewer hands, which may increase joblessness while reducing wages, affecting many who depend on agriculture. Because current practices cannot meet future demands, Africa must apply new and better approaches.

    In July 2013, African leaders made an ambitious pledge to end hunger by 2025. They mean to do this by encouraging farmers to move away from cash crops, fragile cropping systems and heavily fertilizer- and pesticide-dependent systems and to adopt sustainable and climate-resilient practices. According to findings by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) nutrient depletion alone accounts for US$1 billion to US$3 billion per year in natural capital losses.

    Ecosystem-Based Adaptation

    Unlocking Africa’s potential requires that policy makers in agriculture and the environment join forces with civil society and non-governmental organisations to consider options that will enable the environment and farmers to cope with climate change. One of the options being advocated is the ecosystem-based adaptation, which is to mitigate climate change impact through the use of natural systems such as drought-resistant varieties, more efficient methods of water storage and more diversity in crop rotation, says UNEP.

    In Zambia, 61 percent of farmers who applied an ecosystem-based adaptation, such as natural resource conservation or sustainable organic agricultural practices, reported surplus yields. Some yields even increased by up to 60 percent, while sales of surplus crops grew from 25.9 percent to 69 percent.

    In Burkina Faso, farmers are using indigenous methods to rehabilitate land. By digging small pits (locally referred to as zaï) on barren plots and filling them with organic matter, some Burkinabe farmers are able to add nutrients to the soil while enhancing groundwater storage to improve crop productivity. These farmers have reclaimed 200 000 to 300 000 hectares of degraded lands and have produced an estimated 80 000 to 120 000 additional tonnes of cereal.

    Other options include protecting watersheds and reinforcing their capacity to hold water and carry it to those who need it most, using integrated pest management, which is a natural and cost-effective way of protecting crops using agroforestry, intercropping and crop rotation, which bring nutrient diversity to fields and ensure continued and improved production yields in a natural way maintaining forests and using forest foods using natural fertilisers like manure and using natural pollinators like bees, which, according to a recent study, could increase fruit yields by five percent. These alternatives are cost-effective: the project in Zambia costs only US$207 per person. Similar projects in Uganda and Mozambique cost just US$14 and US$120 per person, respectively.

    A Ray of Hope

    The most pessimistic forecast about the impact of climate change suggests that Africa may lose 47 percent of agricultural revenue by 2100, while the most optimistic predicts a loss of only six percent. The latter scenario depends on the assumption that climate change adaptation practices and infrastructure are already in place. But the difference between six and 47 percent is huge, which itself is a strong argument for investment in adaptations that will unlock Africa’s vast natural resources.

    Analysts believe that if Africa is to fortify agriculture and curb hunger, it will need to work with the natural environment, making it more resilient and productive under climate change.

    The changing climate does not have to mean greater food insecurity in Africa. Many communities across the continent are already building resilience by stimulating their existing ecosystems and available natural resource bases. Building on such good practices, and properly managing the unavoidable effects of climate change, will unlock Africa’s potential to feed itself. The future need not be a future of want. 

     - Dr. Richard Munang is UNEP’s Africa regional climate change coordinator. He tweets at @MTingem. Jesica Andrews is ecosystem adaptation officer with UNEP’s Regional Office for Africa. This article first appeared in the Africa Renewal Magazine – Special Edition on Agriculture.
    Author(s): 
    Dr. Richard Munang
  • IPCC Warns Against Climate Change

    The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that climate change is already affecting lives and will have catastrophic impacts if carbon emissions are not lowered now.
     
    In its new report, the IPCC paints a world where human civilisation will struggle to survive unless carbon emissions are cut urgently, adding that the impacts if nothing happened will be ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible’.
     
    "Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change," explains Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC.
     
    To read the article titled, “IPCC report: Climate change will be 'irreversible',” click here.

    Source: 
    Mail and Guardian
  • Global Temperatures Continue to Soar - UN

    The United Nations says that 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have occurred since the turn of the new millennium.

    In its annual report, the United Nations' World Meteorological Organisation says that 2013 continued what is a long-term trend of the world getting warmer.

    Michel Jarraud, the organisation's secretary general, says in the report: "Many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change."

    To read the article titled, “UN finds global temperatures continue to soar,” click here.

    Source: 
    Mail and Guardian
  • Gore Speaks on Drastic Climate Change

    At a Climate Reality Leadership Corps training, former United States of America vice-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore, has given an overview of how humans are driving climate change.

    In his presentation, Gore discussed the effect of humans driving climate change and how this is changing conditions around the world right now.

    He stated that, the current global system was destroying the habitability of the planet by burning fossil fuels, and adds that it is wrong and needs to change.

    To read the article titled, “Al Gore speaks on drastic climate change at SA talk,” click here.

    Source: 
    Mail and Guardian
  • Environmentalists Walk Out of Climate Talks

    Several major environmental groups, including Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) walked out of United Nations climate talks in Warsaw.

    The groups staged the walk-out in protest at what they see as a lack of progress towards an international deal to control rising global greenhouse gas emissions.

    Over 9 000 representatives from about 195 countries gathered in the Polish capital for a two-week conference working towards a treaty to be signed in 2015 to fight climate change.

    To read the article titled, “Environmentalists walk out of Warsaw climate talks,” click here.

    Source: 
    Times Live
  • Global Warming Key to Food Security

    The United Nation World Food Programme (WFP) says global warming plays a big role in food security.
     
    WFP Southern Africa spokesperson, David Orr points out that there has been an increase in flooding in Southern Africa.
     
    Orr, who adds that the crop land has been pushed back by desert and drought has increased worldwide, says that the WFP is helping poor African nations with projects like building dams, irrigation canals and water harvesting systems, in the global fight against poverty.  
     
    To read article titled “Global warming plays key role in food security” click here.

    Source: 
    SABC News
  • Green Ultra Right Bombers

    So if you are wondering why the long silence since the post last week, well…I am in Durban after all, where things tend to move a little slower than Joburg and about as fast as Cape Town. And it has been busy: the ‘People’s Space’ at University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), mostly at the initiative of Patrick Bond, has taken off and is always buzzing with energy, people and a whole herd of news crews from local and international media. There are activists, socialists, NGO people, more activists and a whole bunch of artists as well, mostly thanks to the Climate Train initiative and the great crew that was on board that long trip around South Africa to Durban.

    The ‘occupy space’ has also been buzzing and you should take a look at the video post from the Ambush Collective who descended upon it and built a wonderful garden for the future. Which brings us neatly to another aspect of the ‘occupy space’ in Durban. It is not your classic people-driven occupy, but rather a city approved space for people to occupy during COP17, which was negotiated with the city by the civil society representatives on the C17. It is in that sense a new kind of occupy, a government approved and temporary allowance for people to express and engage.  While there are so many ideological issues with such a concept, I am trying to be brave and creative enough to let go off those issues and ideas of occupy as we know it from OWS and focus on what has been happening there and maybe, some thinking about what may come of it post COP17. So far, nothing has come of the ‘occupy space’ since the march on Saturday, 3 December 2011 and in the words of my colleague, John Treat, it is now de-funked, which may go some way towards debunking the myth that international NGOs (INGOs) are capable of hijacking the occupy idea. That is something we should all be very grateful for.

    And that is pretty much where I feel we can leave this blog as it seems that my assertion that NGOs and other movements in civil society will try to co-opt and cannibalise the ideals and methods of occupy for their current agendas was in fact prescient – but, I feel that maybe I am being too harsh on the people and processes in SA. And there is good reason to be kinder to our levels of (dis)organisation and the nuances of our political history which make engagements with the SA government a challenge fraught with tensions and high-drama instead of a simple critical intellectual engagement and consensus building on moving forward.

    The how and why we are here mired in this stalemate is the subject of not just another blog but of several issuances from academics to cartoonists, locally and across the know universe. Yet, we as people of this nation and across all sectors seem unwilling to be brave enough to change or are too content with this divided society we are building. Or maybe it is simply that we do not care enough about how we work or fail to. Almost all conversations with locals and visitors alike tend to lead back to the question of leadership and lack thereof among civil society organisations as the key weakness in our ability to engage critically and effectively with government. And I tend to agree, though I still hold that the concept of an apex representative structure for civil society that is recognised by government is not just outmoded but also potentially harmful to the growth of ideas that manifest as ideals and changes to the stark poverty and inequality in SA. But going back to agreeing with the notion that there is a lack of leadership in the sector and what some sober and principled leadership can achieve: for a start it may help with my desire to see a better engagement process than the current hobbled together rigmarole of government doing things, civil society organisations responding negatively to it and inevitably a court process to find a better solution. I find it baffling that, in a country with a globally lauded Constitution and a rich pool of intellectual talent, we are seemingly constantly finding ourselves at loggerheads with each other over things that, at first glance at least, seem pretty obvious or common sense. A good example is the demands around climate secrets by Right2Know and while the demands themselves make for interesting reading, the fact that we must demand these things, seems to me that the ideals of the Freedom Charter are somehow being lost in this transition to a form of capitalist sanctioned democracy we are building… but maybe that is a blog for another day.
     
    The march on 3 December was a great show of both strength and courage from a range of people and organisations not willing to be boxed into corners by a government that is increasingly moving further right in the way it treats its people. The use of what Rehad Desai calls the “Green Bombers” to intimidate other allegedly anti-government civil society groups was an appalling act of machismo and it is worth reading Rehad’s post about the incident on Facebook.

    I am reminded of the outburst from former President Thabo Mbeki about the ‘ultra-leftists’ and how perceptions of political allegiance and positioning are really just perspectives. Maybe Mbeki did not realise how far right he had moved and thus some people did seem to him to be ultra left. Which is pretty much where we seem to be going with the COP17 process. The current deal period is about to expire in 2012 and with no deal here in Durban, it just means that we will have to deal with what is left, instead of doing what is right.

    - Rajesh Latchman is the Coordinator of the National Welfare Forum, Volunteer Convenor of GCAP South Africa, guerrilla gardener, cyclist and an unreformed recycler. He writes in his personal capacity.

    Flickr image: 
    3 Dec 2011
  • An Askew View of COP17

    Notes from the seaside

    Daybreak in Durban was the usual muggy warmth that seems to seep into every pore of your skin just as perspiration is trying to seep out, leaving you feeling grubby and damp and taking three showers before 10am…but that is a waste of water (which is thankfully being recycled) so let’s not dwell here in this damp spot and rather move on to occupying Durban and more specifically occupying the climate change talks…

    At 11am, bright and early saw the start of the Conference of People (CoP) General Assembly at Speaker’s Corner just across the street from the heavily barricaded International Convention Centre (ICC), site of the official, formal and much derided 17th Conference of Parties (COP17).

    About a hundred people gathered here on this little triangular island and it took me about 10 minutes to work out that about half of them were media folk – obviously looking for something slightly higher up the heart rate monitor than the talks going on inside the International Conference Centre (ICC). I am not so sure they did in fact find it but at least the people here looked more colourful than the grey suited clones streaming into the ICC. I often wonder how people who have such a dull dress sense (and a clear lack of style) can even begin to think creatively about how we can build a just global climate treaty, but maybe that is a blog for another day.

    At speakers corner, thankfully, there was no tie and dye to be seen, though there were a couple of headbands and some level of slightly dishevelled hair on people, and they did all smell remarkably clean and there was no shortage of designer labels on clothes and shoes or the cameras either…it is good to see occupy in Durban being led by well-dressed people with tidy hairstyles and a sense of good taste in their clothes too, though it would be awesome to see some real style in the dress sense. It was a wonderful relief to see some people from the ambush turn up in their pseudo prison garb and hopefully tomorrow they will ambush the space and plant some bright and useful plants to help occupy people to live off the land if they choose to stay in Speaker’s Corner for a few years.

    So, what was said and done? Well pretty much what has been said for a while about the whole climate change debacle – too much emissions, too much reliance on fossil fuels, too much waste, too much corporate power, too much collusion of governments with corporations and of course, too much negation of traditional ways of living in harmony with the world and it’s people. All good then, and in reality, not stuff that many people walking past on their way to find jobs or get lunch or just meandering aimlessly would happily agree with…but and this is a but of rather large proportions – that virtually none of the people walking past bothered to stay and join the occupation… admittedly, some did stop and check out the occupy action – but given the lack of free t-shirts, lunch or other forms of simple but effective bribery – none stayed to occupy in solidarity with the occupiers...which is a pity.

    So the main outcome of the assembly was to hold an assembly each day – in the same space and develop some sort of way of distributing more information about the occupation and hopefully gathering more people to the space. While it may look like a damp squib (and INGO heavy) start to a Durban occupation, there is hope that tomorrow, a whole bunch of slightly more excited people will rock up and help grow the occupy seedling in Speaker’s Corner.

    I will do my best to stay on top of this rapidly changing and always on the go occupation and I hope you will follow this occupation and tell the two friends you know in Durban to come join us…it should at least be a great way to meet well dressed international NGO types, if nothing else...

    - Rajesh Latchman is the Coordinator of the National Welfare Forum, Volunteer Convenor of GCAP South Africa, guerrilla gardener, cyclist and an unreformed recycler. He writes in his personal capacity.

    Flickr image: 
    Nuff Said!
  • Food & Trees for Africa: Organic Produce Marketing Coordinator

    Food & Trees for Africa
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Thursday, May 15, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) is South Africa’s pioneering social enterprise addressing sustainable development through climate change action, food security and greening, with a strong focus on environmental and climate change education and awareness.

    Farmer Eco Enterprise Development (FEED Africa), supports and grows emerging organic farmers through land and infrastructure development, training and mentoring support, to take produce to local, super and international markets.

    FEED is looking for an Organic Produce Marketing Coordinator, based in KwaZulu Natal or Gauteng.

    Requirements: 
    • Qualification in marketing or agriculture;
    • Minimum of five years experience in selling of vegetables;
    • Understanding of quality control;
    • Excellent negotiation skills;
    • Established client list will be advantageous;
    • Willing and ability to travel (valid driver’s licence);
    • Computer literate;
    • Knowledge of accounting (invoices and reconciliations) and financial reporting.  
    This is a permanent, mid-level contract position.

    Salary: Negotiable.

    To apply, submit a CV and motivation letter to mel@trees.org.za.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    For more about Food & Trees for Africa, refer to http://trees.co.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Need to upgrade your NGO's technology capacity and infrastructure? Need software and hardware at significantly discounted prices? Refer to the SANGOTeCH online technology donation and discount portal at www.sangotech.org.
  • Food & Trees for Africa: Food Gardens for Africa Trainee Programme Manager

    Food & Trees for Africa
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Friday, February 28, 2014
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) is South Africa’s pioneering social enterprise addressing sustainable development through climate change action, food security and greening, with a strong focus on environmental and climate change education and awareness.

    FTFA seeks to appoint a Food Gardens for Africa Trainee Programme Manager, based in Woodmead, Johannesburg.

    Reporting to the FTFA Management Committee, this Programme Manager will primary be responsible for ensuring effective delivery of the Food Gardens for Africa programme. This requires strong management of operations and team. Fundraising and sponsor relationship support is vital.

    Responsibilities: 
    • Programme administration which includes scheduling, budget management, data capture, analysis and reporting;
    • Communication with sponsors, beneficiaries, suppliers and in some cases mediaIdentifying funding opportunities and supporting proposal writing;
    • Sponsor relationships;
    • Management / leadership of a growing team, internal and external;
    • Strategic programme development.
    Requirements:
    • Blend of a professional and a passionate environmentalist, committed to healthier people on a healthy planet, with relevant qualification and experience in greening and food security;
    • Strong, dynamic leaders with five years management experience;
    • Can multi-task and be flexible;
    • Easily able to switch between our professional, fast paced, corporate sponsors and the realities of rural living - no internet, limited phone signal and pit toilets;
    • Meticulous administrative organisation and a knowledge of current green and food big picture happenings are needed;
    • Effective written and presentation communication skills, as well as an ability to listen and understand sponsors, beneficiaries and team needs is a must;
    • Solutions orientated, positive and creative when it comes to overcoming challenges with good time management and the capacity to organise others to ensure the job gets done in the most efficient way;
    • MS Office skills, report writing, sound permaculture experience and Google mapping knowledge are needed;
    • Experience in fundraising and a good network is a bonus;
    • wlexibility to travel nationally as and when required.

    The salary is that of a nonprofit and is negotiable.

    To apply, submit a CV and motivational letter to verena@trees.org.za.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    For more about Food & Trees for Africa, refer to http://trees.co.za.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Want to reach the widest spectrum of NGO and development stakeholders in South Africa as part of your communication and outreach objectives? Learn more about how the NGO Pulse Premium Advertising Service can support your communication requirements. Visit http://goo.gl/MUCvL for more information
     
Syndicate content