(PAMACC News) - A new report from global think tank ODI sheds light on the need to strengthen sustainable climate services across Africa if ambitions for effective climate adaptation are to be realised - released ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit, which takes place on 25 and 26 January 2021.

African countries are expected to be hit hard by climate change, and unpredictable and extreme weather is already having a significant impact on people’s lives across the continent.

Well-functioning weather and climate information services can save lives and livelihoods. In order for African communities and businesses to adapt more effectively to the inevitable impacts of climate change, weather and climate information services must be vastly strengthened as quickly as possible – say ODI researchers.

ODI’s report 'Investing for sustainable climate services: Insights from the African experience' looks at the support provided to strengthen weather and climate information services in several African countries from 2016 to 2021. The authors consulted extensively with the experts who ran 15 projects across Africa as part of the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) programme. They found that donors have largely supported capacity-building efforts by funding short-term improvements, but without long-term political and financial commitments, high-level buy-in from stakeholders, and strong and inclusive partnerships, projects lack sufficient traction and funding to guarantee viable results. 

Where donor assistance is sought, donors should commit long term to bringing climate services up to scratch in order to fulfil their promise to support Africa’s resilience to climate change.

The Climate Adaptation Summit 2021 - attended by world leaders including Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron and Sheikh Hasina - will highlight the need to accelerate climate adaptation in Africa. This, ODI’s report finds, is not being sufficiently addressed when it comes to sustainable climate information services.

Mairi Dupar, ODI Research Fellow and lead author of the report, said:

“Weather and climate information services are too often the missing ingredient of international climate talks and climate finance flows – and are often overlooked. But investing properly in these services so that they are robust, attuned to users’ needs, and sustainable for the long term is essential for getting climate change adaptation right. Nowhere is this more crucial than in sub-Saharan Africa, whose communities are deeply affected by climate change impacts.

Investing in effective, sustainable climate services is a vital part of adapting to climate change. This new report sets out how stakeholders, from government leaders and domestic agencies through to civil society organisations and development partners, can rise to the challenge to make sustainable, country-led climate resilience a reality.”

The ODI report looked at projects dedicated to building the capacity of weather and climate information services. Countries where projects were taking place included Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan and regionally in East and West Africa. Projects included strengthening weather observation networks and understanding of past and predicted climate trends, as well as delivering weather and climate information to those who need it for their everyday livelihood and business decisions.

The report found that the short-term improvements may be easily eroded if investment is not backed up by long-term plans to work with African institutions to keep climate services operational and local knowledge up-to-date after the projects end. The report’s recommendations include consolidating professional networks on the ground and producing sustainable business models that are in sync with national development priorities.

Improved capacity and know-how are required, not just within National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, but also within NGOs, women’s groups, civil society organisations and media organisations. These groups, the report finds, are key to delivering relevant and useful climate information to local communities and businesses: from artisanal fishermen to airline managers and public health officials.

Livingstone Byandaga, Project Coordinator at CIAT-Rwanda, one of the WISER partners that delivered a UK-funded project to implement a national framework for climate services, said:

“Establishing high-level political buy-in and accountability for climate services is especially true in Rwanda where the Government takes issues of climate change seriously. Our project focused on implementing the National Framework for Climate Services to ensure buy-in and accountability. We have trained the staff of Meteo Rwanda but there has to be the commitment to keep the trained people and maintain their skills over time; sometimes the skills acquired are not sustainably used to benefit the users of climate services – as the ODI/WISER report suggests.” 

The projects in the study were funded by the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). However, weather and climate information services are crucial in helping states adapt to climate change and, therefore, these recommendations apply to all investors and managers of national and local funded projects.

 

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - A total of more than 11,000 disasters over the last 50 years have been attributed to weather, climate and water-related hazards, causing two million deaths and US$ 3.6 trillion in economic losses.

According to the new UN report, while the average number of deaths recorded for each disaster has fallen by a third during this period, the number of recorded disasters has increased five times and the economic losses have increased by a factor of seven, according to a new multi-agency report.

The State of Climate Services 2020 Report: Move from Early Warnings to Early Action report released yesterday says extreme weather and climate events have increased in frequency, intensity and severity as result of climate change and hit vulnerable communities disproportionately hard.  

Yet one in three people are still not adequately covered by early warning systems, according to the report released yesterday on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.
 
According to the report, in 2018, globally, around 108 million people required help from the international humanitarian system as a result of storms, floods, droughts and wildfires. By 2030, it is estimated that this number could increase by almost 50 per cent at a cost of around US$ 20 billion a year.
 
The report, produced by 16 international agencies and financing institutions, identifies where and how governments can invest in effective early warning systems that strengthen countries’ resilience to multiple weather, climate and water-related hazards and provides successful examples. 
 
It stresses the need to switch to impact-based forecasting – an evolution from “what the weather will be” to “what the weather will do” so that people and businesses can act early based on the warnings. 
 
The report contains 16 different case studies on successful early warning systems for hazards including tropical cyclones and hurricanes, floods, droughts, heatwaves, forest fires, sand and dust storms, desert locusts, severe winters and glacial lake outbursts.
 
“Early warning systems (EWS) constitute a prerequisite for effective disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Being prepared and able to react at the right time, in the right place, can save many lives and protect the livelihoods of communities everywhere,” said Prof Petteri Taalas, World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General.
 
He said while Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) generated a large international health and economic crisis from which it will take years to recover, it is crucial to remember that climate change will continue to pose an on-going and increasing threat to human lives, ecosystems, economies and societies for centuries to come.
 
“Recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity to move forward along a more sustainable path towards resilience and adaptation in the light of anthropogenic climate change,” said Taalas.
 
The report provides a basis for understanding how to strengthen protection for the most vulnerable, including through mechanisms such as the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative, which together with France Development Agency, provided funding for the report.

“Covid-19 has made risk everybody’s business. We need to carry this understanding and momentum into the much bigger fight for our planet against the larger, stronger, more devastating climate emergency," said Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

He said risk reduction, and in particular, climate adaptation requires strong risk governance and a multi-hazard approach, though a key challenge will be to ensure that multi-hazard early warning systems can be adapted to take account of biological hazards alongside extreme weather events.

The report says nearly 90 per cent of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have identified early warning systems as a top priority in their Nationally Determined Contributions on climate change. However, many of them lack the necessary capacity and financial investment is not always flowing into the areas where investment is most needed.
 
The situation is particularly acute in SIDS and LDCs. The report says since 1970, SIDS have lost US$ 153 billion due to weather, climate and water related hazards, a significant amount given that the average GDP for SIDS is US$ 13.7 billion.  Meanwhile, 1.4 million people (70 per cent of the total deaths) in LDCs lost their lives due to weather, climate and water related hazards in that time period.
 
Data provided by 138 WMO Members shows that just 40 per cent of them have Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS). This means that globally on average one in three people is still not covered by early warnings. Currently, only 75 WMO Members (39 per cent) indicated that they provide impact-based forecasting services.
 
Dissemination of warnings is weak in many developing countries, and advances in communication technologies are not being fully exploited to reach out to people at risk, especially in LDCs.

“Pre-emptive action underpinned by effective weather data, early warning systems and disaster risk assessments, can save millions of livelihoods in times of conflict and natural disaster. Early warning, Early actions” is therefore a key to dealing with potential risks for the global agri-food system, even before the latest outbreak of locust and the Covid-19 Pandemic,” said Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Mikko Ollikainen, manager of the Adaptation Fund said this year has highlighted the importance of building broad resilience in vulnerable developing countries, to climate change but also to health and economic risks. "Climate services are critical in achieving resilience," Ollikainen said.
 
The report says there is insufficient capacity worldwide to translate early warning into early action, especially in LDCs. It says Africa faces the largest gaps in capacity. Across this vast continent, the report says, while capacity is good in terms of risk knowledge and forecasting, just 44,000 of people in 100,000 are covered by early warnings, in countries where data is available.
 
All weather and climate services rely on data from systematic observations. However, observing networks are often inadequate, particularly across Africa where, in 2019, just 26 per cent of stations met WMO reporting requirements.

“This report provides a timely warning of the need for climate services to protect the most vulnerable from devastating climate events. Our support ranges from better preparing Malawian fishing people from storm surges to enhancing infrastructure resilience in Caribbean nations such as Antigua and Barbuda now buffeted by increasingly frequent hurricanes," said Yannick Glemarec, Executive Director, Green Climate Fund.

The Writer is a 2019/2020 Bertha Fellow

LAMU, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Lamu residents in Kenya's coastal region through their Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to pull up their socks in the conservation of the currently degrading environments of the Island.

Speaking during a three-day workshop organised by the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA) through the Kenya Platform for Climate Governance (KPCG)on proper land use planning for community climate resilience, Ishaq Abubakar of Save Lamu, accused NEMA of being directly linked to all the environmental problems; including destruction of the ocean and sea life, hunger and increased poverty, unprecedented destruction of mangroves amongst other challenges currently experienced in the Island.

In responding to the accusation, Joshua KahindiYeri of NEMAin Lamu County admitted to a few of the challenges but asked for continued collaboration and partnership, especially during environmental impact assessments to ensure the wrongs are over-written.

“Ndio, hatukataimakosamoja au mbili yalitokea, lakini kwa sasatunawahitajituungemikonopamojamanakemkonomojahalivunjichawa. (We agree that one or two mistakes have happened during our watch, it is not true that all environmental problems in Lamu have been caused by NEMA. Let’s unite and forge ahead),” stated MrKahindi.
He further explained that given functions, including air quality, waste management that NEMA was responsible for, had since moved to the county government Department of Public Health and Environment.

“While we are a coordinating body, we implement the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA), which is very keen on integration of land uses for community climate resilience,” Kahindiadded, as he explained the process of environmental impact assessment as a tool and process for deciding land use plans and climate resilience.

In attendance at the three day workshop were key county departments likePublic Health and Environment, the Department of Agriculture, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Lamu Water and Sewerage Company, the Fisheries Department and several other key departments of the county and CSO actors relevant to land use planning and climate resilience.
Matthias Muavita of KWS said: "KWS is very keen on promoting resilience at the community level through the implementation of the Wildlife Conservation Act."

The workshop, held at SunSail Hotel, aimed at capacity building the community on the nexus between land use planning and climate change,providing a platform for the community to dialogue with the respective county officials and identifying potential action points; based on the county spatial plan for action for enhanced community resilience in the county.
The LAPSSET project and its seven components, the coal power plant, the Blue Economy were among those identified by the CSOs as the potential projects that will likely disrupt their land use plans and cumulatively lead to adverse impacts of climate change if not relooked by the authorities involved.  

The KPCG, Lamu Chapter also signed anMoU with the localSifa FMchampion spread of information on the nexus between land use planning and climate change and ensure increased advocacy for the good of the local ecosystem.

KPCG lead Meryne Warah said: "The future and resilience of vulnerable ecosystems like Lamu lies on proper land use planning, and this we cannot achieve alone. Partnership is key in ensuring the peace of the entire coastal ecosystem".

According to Swalleh Elbusaidy, the Lamu County Community Resource Person for the KPCG and also the Takataka Foundation lead, it is time to do things differently “for us and the future generations".He spoke after signing the MoU with the Sifa FM, and added that there was no time to waste in saving the Island and the ecosystem it falls in.

Mr Halifa, a representative of the Lamu County’s Department of water, was glad that the workshop was made to happen, adding: "Having sessions such as these and discussing critical issues like land use planning and community climate resilience based on our spatial plan is such an eye opener for us as a county."

Several Lamu residents also gave their thoughts on the status of the implementation of the LamuCounty Spatial Plan 2016-2026 in the perspective of community climate resilience. The feeling was the same across the meeting: Much more needs to be done for the sake of the land, people and the natural resources the county is blessed with.

"We need to relook the spatial plan and input accordingly on the components of environment to ensure the same are on the CIDP (County Integrated Development Plan) and the county budgets," said Amina Mohamed, a participant, after KPCG’s Collins Otieno took them through the Lamuspatial plan while identifying opportunities for CSOs mobilisation for action for climate resilience.

“To some level, we have to question the development plans of the county as they are in one way or another dependent on our livelihoods and adaptive capabilities," said Abdul Aziz Adu of Lamu Child Protection.

Some argued that it was not fair that the decisions on things happening locally were made far away and imposed on them. "It is so unfortunate that we are planned for in Malindi, Nairobi and other places yet we have the capacity and knowledge about what we need for our generation and future generations’ resilience," said Mohamed Mbwana, a Lamu resident.

“Community mobilization and involvement in laying out land use plans is very critical to climate resilience," claimed a different participant, aMrOmar.

"The ocean is our life and the mangroves are our external lungs. We must question certain land use plans for our well-being and resilience," said Councilor SharifaAbubakar.
Some blamed the laxity in monitoring land use at the coastal town on the Covid-19 pandemic. "The outbreak of Coronavirus even exacerbated land and land use planning injustices in Lamu. Most of the projects that had questions are ongoing," averred Mohamed Mbwana, also a participant at the workshop.

In the end, participants resolved that collaboration and cooperation between CSOs, county and national governments in implementation of the land use plans, increased and continuous awareness and capacity development workshops for the community on land use planning as well as establishment of a multi-stakeholder platform for advocacy on land use planning were key to ensuring community climate resilience.

 

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.

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