NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Two pan African champions for a food secure Africa have been named among the 100 most reputable people on earth and most reputable CEOs on the continent in the year 2020.

Dr Agnes Kalibata, who joined the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) as the President in September 2014 has been working closely with public and private partners to ensure a food secure and prosperous Africa through rapid, inclusive, sustainable agricultural growth, improving the productivity and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers in Africa.

Likewise, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for Nigeria, and currently the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) since May 2015 has been a champion of the ‘High Five,’ which is a five tier point strategy to Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

Both Kalibata and Adesina have shared several panels in different forums with a common message, that Africa can feed itself, and as well, the continent can become a net exporter of food. They have constantly pushed for investment in smallholder farmers, women and the youth.

In one of the forums – the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Conference, Dr Kalibata pointed out that it is important to “invest in modern technologies and give the youth and women more resources to venture into productive agriculture.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Dr Adesina, who said: “To achieve food sufficiency and turn the continent into a net food exporter, Africa must empower smallholder farmers, who constitute 70% of the population and produce 80% of the food consumed in the continent.”

The two leaders were mentioned through a Reputation Poll, known globally for its annual ranking of the 100 Most Reputable People on Earth and Most Reputable CEOs in various countries.

Dr. Kalibata said she was “thrilled to be included among this list of African changemakers. My inclusion in this list is due in large part to the excellence of the team and partners I have around me who believe strongly that change can and will come to African agriculture.”

Under her leadership, AGRA is working to increase the incomes and improve food security for 30 million farming households in 11 African countries by 2021 through targeted investments to strengthen three core areas: Support to institutional capacity and a stronger policy reform environment; Stronger input delivery systems in agriculture: and Growing public/private partnerships for inclusive agricultural growth.

Other leaders on the list who have made noticeable impact in terms of food security in their countries include H. E Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Since 2017, Rwanda has led the top 10 best performers among Africa Union member States that were found to be on track towards achieving the commitments set out in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) known as the ‘Malabo Declaration.’

CAADP is an African-led agenda designed to guide Africa’s agricultural transformation for sustained food security and socio-economic growth.

The 2014 Malabo Declaration is a re-commitment to the CAADP principles adopted by AU Heads of State and Government to provide effective leadership for the attainment of specific goals by the year 2025, including ending hunger, tripling intra-African trade in agricultural goods and services, enhancing resilience of livelihoods and production systems, and ensuring that agriculture contributes significantly to poverty reduction.

The leaders were selected alongside other great Africans who are celebrated for their Social Impact, as well as Social Entrepreneurship, that are transforming businesses in Africa and affecting lives positively without controversy.

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - The Cameroon government has issued a decree No 20203216 of 14thJuly 2020 to log Ebo Forest, destroying one of the rare natural forest ecosystems in the Gulf of Guinea, stretching over 2000km2 and known to be a massive biodiversity hotspot and stocking millions of tonnes of carbon.

The decree signed by the Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute gives a go ahead to the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife to exploit 85,000 hectares of the 150,000 hectares of the Ebo Forest, located in the Littoral region of Cameroon amidst multiple protests by the local population and international forest rights organizations.

At a press briefing in Yaounde July 22,2020, to explain the raison d’etre of the decision, the Minister of forestry and wildlife Jules Doret Ndongo said  “the logging concessions to be exploited in the Ebo Forest are neither occupied nor exploited by the people of the region concerned.’’

 According to the Minister the government was quite aware of the worries of the riparian communities around the forest area and ‘the protection their interest has been taken into consideration’.

 He assured that the government will respect its forest conservation policy while carrying out timber extraction needed to boost the economy [swell state coffers] .

The government also said it rejected a request in June 2020 for tax reduction made by the loggers’ association GFBC. The logging sector complained their activities have been grounded by the effects of corona-virus.

Also reacting to the tax reduction request by the loggers association, Greenpeace Forest Campaign Manager for Africa in Cameroon, Ranèce Jovial Ndjeudja in a letter said,

 “The real problem underlying the logging industry is not its current failures to pay taxes, but its ongoing contribution to human rights violations and destroying the planet. Giving tax breaks to logging companies might mean public funding for our next pandemic”.

“We must protect nature so nature protects us. The current distress of the logging sector is a good opportunity to rebuild our economy into sustainable sectors that neither exacerbates the climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis nor threatens our health”, Ndjeudja concludes.

The riparian Ebo forest communities of Yabassi, Yingui, Ngambe and Ndikiniméki debunk the government’s claim of their non expliotation of the affected areas and the protection of their interest. The forest communities say they use the resources of this rich biodiversity for food, health care and cultural activities.

Environmentalists say the Ebo forest is biodiversity with over 35 million tonnes of carbon and home to over 12 tree species yet unknown to science.

 The forest also host chimpanzees, forest elephants, grey parrots and other species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened and Endangered Species.

‘Apart from its rich and vast forest expands Ebo forest is also home of the world's only chimpanzees that both fish for termites and crack nuts; a small population of gorillas that may be a new subspecies; and one of only two remaining populations of Preuss's Red Colobus, a Critically Endangered Monkey. Ebo Forest also makes up one half of a Key Biodiversity Area, making it a site of global importance to the planet's overall health ,’’ says Ekwoge Abwe Enang, Assistant Monitoring Coordinator at WCS- Ebo Forest Research Project.

It is home to at least 160 species of birds, most of which are unique to Ebo he says.

The Cameroon government had since 2006 announced its intention to transform the Ebo forest into a national park, a promised that was saluted by the local population and the international community.

Now with decree the local residents fear the exploitation of the concessions in the Ebo Forest will deal a fatal blow to the national park project and Forest as a whole.

Environmentalists also fear the decree comes to aggravate the situation of forest disappearance and consequently climate change threats in the country.
Already over eight agro-industrial plantations that operating in Cameroon (HEVECAM, SUDCAM, SOCAPALM, PHP, BIOPALM, SEMRY, RUBBERCAM, SOSUCAM) have disturbing record of forest destruction, land grabbing, abuses of human rights and environmental crimes that have rendered the climate crisis worrisome.

PAMACC News - Unlocking the Potential of Groundwater for the Poor (UPGro), has been a seven-year international research programme (2013-2020), funded by the Department for International Development, Natural Environment Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Nearly 200 of the world’s best researchers from more than 50 organisations across Africa and Europe have been focused on improving the evidence base around groundwater availability and management in Sub Saharan Africa.

The goal has been to ensure that the hidden wealth of Africa’s aquifers benefit all citizens and the poorest in particular UPGro projects are interdisciplinary, linking the social and natural sciences to address this challenge.

Water resources are critical to economic growth and social development. Groundwater provides most of the domestic water supply in parts of rural Africa and supports poverty reduction through access to clean drinking water and irrigation. In 2015, only 23 of the 52 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) met the UN Millennium Development Goals target for drinking-water provision and Target 6.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals is to achieve universal access to safe, affordable water by 2030. Groundwater has the potential to provide an improved source of drinking water for those in SSA who are currently without access.

Yet water is not only an important resource for the poor living in rural SSA, but is also central to most industries and a vital commodity for tourism. Industry is an important source of income for several African countries and a lack of water supply could constrain opportunities for development, including better services and improvements to poorer people’s livelihoods. Groundwater sources are often resistant to drought, acting as a natural buffer against rainfall variability. However, groundwater is already intensively used in certain parts of Africa and in some cases it is being extracted faster than it can be replenished. As the population grows, water security in SSA will become increasingly important and demands on groundwater resources are likely to surge. To ensure sustainability, greater understanding of groundwater resources and how to manage their use effectively will be required.

A recent study on groundwater in Africa has shown that there is possibly 20 times more water available as groundwater compared with that available in lakes and rivers. Droughts are currently a major cause of humanitarian disaster in SSA, often leading to mass population movements and considerable health, social and economic stress on many developing nations. These humanitarian disasters are likely to grow in scale as populations increase and climate and land-use change accelerate. With these increasing pressures on water resources, the potential pressure on groundwater as the solution to the water security challenge in SSA is high.

 

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - A machine that has the capacity to provoke condensation and consequently rainfall, has just been designed in Yaounde, Cameroon.

The invention called the “Kisha” which in the Nso Language means metal, and signifies strength is the innovation of Dr. Venatius Wirkom Kihdze. He has just finished with the experimental phase prototype and he discribes it as a game changer in the fight against climate change that manifests in the form of drought, high temperatures and Hurricanes. Dr. Wirkom says the prototype has the capacity to provoke rainfall within an area of 5000 metres square.

The inventor Dr. Venatius Wirkom Kihdze, a Medical Laboratory Science researcher, says his invention is the fruit of his childhood dream, nursed for over 40 years.

Scientific Manifestation Of “Kisha”

The “Kisha” can cause rainfall at man’s will be increasing atmospheric moisture, which leads to more water vapour in the air which condenses and produces rainfall.

The Kisha the inventor says, is two metres long and a quatre metre wide. It is comprised of four components:
 an electric machine that pumps the air. a channel pipe that takes air from the machine to the compression tank that serves as an air reservoir a compression tank, 13 tubes that take air from the air reservoir to the different humidifier positions, placed at evenly distributed distances in the circumference around the machine.

Dr Wirkom says this idea is a childhood dream he has nurtured for over 40 years. He wanted to help in the cultivation of vegetables during the dry season when the soil is dry. With the increasing effects of climate change, farmers no longer master the seasons. The “Kisha” will cause rainfall at man’s will, thus increase food production in areas suffering from drought or desertification.

The production phase of the experimental phase prototype of the “Kisha”is over. ” We need now to test it” Dr Wirkom says. “We need the collaboration of Environmentalists, Meteorologists, Geographers. Mechanical engineers, Energy Engineers and Microbiologists to fully valorise the invention” he says. He is also in need of funding to develope the technque.

The experimental “Kisha” can cover a space of 5000 metres square. But Dr Wirkom says as time goes on, they can build bigger and stronger versions of Kisha that can cover an entire region or a continent.

This researcher has been most active in innovations concerning health. He has carried out research in developing easy methods for testing bacteria and parasites in stool, and many other findings in tuberculosis, opportunistic infections in HIV /Aids Patients, effectiveness of Fansidar in the treatment of malaria in pregnant women, among others.


NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - As the world grapple with containment of COVID-19 pandemic, food protests especially among poor and vulnerable African communities are likely going to be deadlier than the virus itself, if governments and international institutions do not act now, experts have warned.

In a virtual meeting with the press from across Africa, experts from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and ONE – a global movement campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030 said that there exists a window of opportunity for governments to save the situation, and plan for future eventualities but only if they act in time.

“We are heading towards a real disaster because when hunger comes in, people will always protests,” said Dr Fidel Ndiame, AGRA’s Vice President for Policy and State Capacity, noting that COVID-19 effects to food security are going to be worse than what was witnessed during Ebola, because the current virus is affecting the entire world.

As a short term measure, the experts want African governments to expand and improve food assistance and social protection programs to protect the most vulnerable including cash-based transfers as the primary safety net, which can largely be distributed through contactless solutions; in-kind food assistance such as take-home rations, food package delivery, and food vouchers where necessary.

It was observed that at the moment, there is no food shortage in the global market. In Europe and the US for example, milk is being dumped and eggs are being smashed as demand from restaurants decreases. But access to the food poses a problem because borders have been closed, and movements curtailed as part of COVID-19 containment measures.

At the same time, during such crisis, some families panic and hoard food. In response, countries impose export restrictions in a misguided effort to protect domestic prices. This is likely going to be a huge problem because many African countries depend on imported food, especially rice from Asian countries.

 “Food security concerns go hand in hand with pandemics,” said Edwin Ikhuoria, ONE’s Africa Executive Director, noting that the SARS and MERS outbreaks led to food price hikes and market panics in affected areas, leaving the poorest groups without access to essential foods, especially staples

In the East African region for example, Tanzanian President Dr John Pombe Magufuli has publicly urged farmers in his the country not to sell food to neighboring countries, and if they must sell it, they must make sure they charge exorbitantly to take advantage of food shortages in countries that imposed lockdown to contain the virus.

With the invasion of desert locust, floods and containment measures for COVID-19, Kenya and Uganda are the most affected in the region. Kenya in particular heavily relies on supplies of commodities such as onions, fruits, tomatoes and other vegetables from Tanzania through Namanga border. Yet, due to the COVID-19 pandemic containment measures, movements across the border have been restricted.

To that end, the experts asked all governments to step up efforts to ensure adequate food reserves by stepping up local production and storage, and called on donors to fully fund the US$1.5 billion requested by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

GAFSP, created by the G20 in response to the 2007-2008 food price crises, is a multilateral mechanism to improve food and nutrition security that has effectively channeled finances to governments, the private sector, and directly to farmers.

To the international institutions, the experts called on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Board to act to create $500bn in Special Drawing Rights and all actors should immediately enact a debt moratorium for bilateral, multilateral and private debt for 2020 and 2021.

“Special Drawing Rights should be allocated to poorer countries, providing them with immediate liquidity to respond to the crisis, said Ikhuoria, further calling on donors to fully fund the US$6.7 billion requested for the Global Humanitarian Response Plan.

The GHRP is a coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in 64 of the world’s most vulnerable countries, and includes financing for the UN World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The IMF forecasts global economic growth to contract by 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, a downgrade of 6.3 percentage points from the January 2020 projection. This will make it the worst downturn since the Great Depression.  As a result, 419 million additional people could fall into extreme poverty in 2020, particularly in the sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia according to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Recent studies on the impact of COVID-19 in rural China confirm that in order to ensure adequate food, families substituted high nutrition foods such as meat and produce, for lower nutrition items like grains and staples, significantly impacting nutrition. In Senegal, more than 85% of its population has seen a reduction in income, and as a result, over a third of them now eat less food every day.

Generally, the main productive asset of the poor is physical labor. Yet, this has already been affected by social distancing measures making efforts to contain the virus much more challenging, according to IFPRI.

As a result, media reports have shown that vulnerable citizens in Tunisia have disobeyed lockdown measures to protest over hunger.  In Zimbabwe, where extreme hunger debilitates 30% of the population, many are willing to risk contracting COVID-19 if it means they can eat.

“We need governments to develop sustainable food systems that can support individual countries even in times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ndiame.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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