NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya on Monday officiated the opening of the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi's Upper Kabete Campus.

The Institute, whose construction commenced in 2016, was set up by the Government to advance the legacy of the 2004 Kenyan Nobel Laureate Prof Wangari Maathai. The institute was handed over to the University of Nairobi in May 2019.

Speaking at the launch, attended by the University of Nairobi's top leadership led by Chancellor Dr Vijoo Rattansi, acting Vice Chancellor Prof Julius Ogengo and Chair of Council Prof Amukowa Anangwe , CS Tuya said the institute would immortalize Prof Maathai's legacy and thanked various partners for supporting its construction.

"Thank you too for immortalizing the great Nobel Peace Laureate Prof Wangari Maathai by establishing this institute. I would like to, in a very special way, thank the African Union, the African Development Bank, the Clinton Global Initiative, DANIDA and all the partners who helped make this institute a reality," Hon Tuya said.

"I am informed that the institute aims to carry forward Prof Maathai’s legacy by promoting research, education, and community engagement in the field of environmental governance, cultures of peace, climate adaptation, sustainable development, and conservation," she added.

The Cabinet Secretary recalled Prof Maathai's exploits as a scholar and environmentalist noting that besides making history as the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her environmental work, she had set other records including being the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a PhD in biology.

"As Kenyans, we forever remain proud of Prof Maathai's achievements. In fact, I personally draw so much inspiration from her in my day-to-day work as Cabinet Secretary responsible for environment, climate change and forestry because as you know she also served in the Ministry as an Assistant Minister," CS Tuya said.

The Cabinet Secretary said her Ministry will collaborate closely with the Wangari Maathai Institute (WMI) on programmes that will help Kenya and the region to overcome challenges posed by climate change including conflicts over shrinking natural resources.

"I would like to challenge the faculty and students at this institute to especially research and conceptualize the practical nexus of environment, conflict, and peace.

"Emerging evidence and statistics are stark, including the 6th IPCC Assessment Report which shows that environment and climate factors are becoming critical drivers of insecurity, manifesting in inter and intrastate conflicts, with Africa being specially affected," CS Tuya noted.

Hon Tuya also spoke at length about ongoing climate action programmes in her Ministry including the 15 billion national tree growing and ecosystem restoration programme, sustainable waste management, and the forthcoming inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi.

 "The late Professor Wangari Maathai led Kenyans and the world to plant trees and to build strong nature-based livelihoods especially for women and youth at the community and grassroots level.

"My Ministry is building upon this legacy to carry on with this work, by leading  Kenyans in planting and growing 15 billion trees in the next 10 years as directed by H.E. President William Ruto.

"In this coming short rain period between September and December 2023, we are planning to lead the country in planting and growing 500 Million seedlings, and we would like to welcome each and every Kenyan to join us in this program," CS Tuya said.

At the first ever Africa Climate Summit scheduled for KICC from 4th to 6th next month, CS Tuya said the African Union meeting, to be staged alongside this year's United Nations annual Africa Climate Week, will be a platform for Africa to showcase her climate change adaptation, resilience and mitigation potential.

At the same time, the Cabinet Secretary regrettably noted that Kenya was still facing environmental governance and conservation challenges that the late Prof Wangari Maathai battled throughout her professional life including illegal logging of public forests.

"The obstacles of governance in the environment sector are still rife, as it was during her time. We have seen illegal logging spiral in the forestry sector, forest fires, pollution, and failure in the waste management sector amongst others," CS Tuya outlined.

She said her Ministry was taking proactive measures to overcome the challenges including the recent recruitment of 2,700 rangers to help deal with the problem of illegal forest activities, and deployment of ultra-modern forest fire management technologies.

Other speakers at the launch included Dr Rattansi and Prof Ogeng'o as well as Prof Maathai's daughter and environmentalist Ms Wanjira Mathai. Global Centre for Adaptation CEO Prof Patrick Verkooijen and Prof Anangwe also spoke.

Dr Rattansi said the late Prof Maathai will forever be remembered by Kenyans for the obstacles she overcame to become the country's climate action icon way before the subject became popular.

"The late Prof Wangari Maathai holds a special place in our hearts; first and foremost, as our member and secondly and perhaps more importantly, for the obstacles that she overcame, whether personally or politically, to secure her place in our nations’ history as an agent of change.

"Many years before talk on climate change became fashionable, the late Prof Wangari Maathai had cut herself out as  a significant contributor in caring for the environment and thereby, mitigating the adverse effects of climate change," Dr Rattansi said.

On his part, Prof Ageng'o thanked the Government and partners for supporting the establishment of the institute saying it would not only help institutionalize the legacy of the departed Nobel Laureate but also act as a centre of excellence in advanced environmental education.

"The University of Nairobi is grateful for the Government’s commitment to institutionalize the legacy of Prof Wangari Mathaai and foster the positive ethics, values and practices that defined her life.

 "By promoting the planting of trees in the fields and in the minds of young people through holistic education, we are preparing them to embrace the connectedness of environmental conservation and climate action for responsible leadership for tomorrow," Prof Ageng'o concluded.

Il y a environ 35 ans, le monde a été témoin d'événements cruciaux qui ont placé le changement climatique au premier plan de l'agenda mondial. Dès lors, l'intérêt et les investissements dans des initiatives visant à limiter la hausse des températures mondiales à moins de 1.5 °C et à réduire la détérioration de la couche d'ozone se sont progressivement renforcés. En conséquence, une série d'initiatives mondiales intensifiées ont vu le jour avec pour objectif d'atténuer les émissions de gaz à effet de serre et de renforcer la résilience et l'adaptabilité aux conséquences du changement climatique, sous la bannière de "l'action pour le climat".

Le discours sur l’action climatique en Afique se concentre principalement sur les consequences graves que le changement climatique a sur les communautés agricoles et les économies. Cette situation démontre l’urgente necessité d’augmenter les investissements pour l’adaptation et de réparer les pertes et les dommages causes aux systems alimentaires du continent. Malgré l’importance de cet accent, il est important de reconnaître et de promouvoir un discours parallèle qui souligne l’importance de la biodiversité et des ressources écologiques de l’Afrique en tant que cibles cruiciales pour les investissements visant à réduire, voire à inverser les effets du changement climatique.

En effet, il devient  évident que la lutte contre le changement climatique en Afrique ne pourra pas produire de résultats satisfaisants sans la mise en œuvre de stratégies de conservation et de gestion globales, intégrées et adaptatives. Ces stratégies doivent trouver un équilibre entre la préservation de la biodiversité et des services écosystémiques, la promotion du développement économique de la région et la protection de la santé humaine.

Pour atteindre ces objectifs, il faudrait donner la priorité aux investissements dans l'agriculture intelligente face au climat, ce qui inclut l'adoption de pratiques agricoles durables et de techniques appropriées de gestion des sols. A cet égard, il es important d’investir dans des systems intelligents de données qui fournissent des informations fiables et opportunes pour soutenir une prise de déciion éclairée sur la disponibilité et la demande de produits de base avant et pendant les crises.  Sans informations fiables sur les dimensions spatiales et temporelles de la disponibilié et de la demande de produits de base, y compris les estimations de production, les stocks, les flux commerciaux et les informations sur les marches; Il es difficile de comprendre les implications de ces crises et le réponses politiques à y apporter.

En outre, des importants investissements sont nécessaires pour l’acqisition de technologies de sotien comme les énergies renouvelables et l’irrigation afin d’amméliorer la productivité agricole tout en minimisant les impacts négatifs sur l’environnement.

L'intégration de sources d'énergie renouvelables peut contribuer à réduire les émissions de gaz à effet de serre tout en fournissant une énergie fiable pour les activités agricoles. Enfin, l'amélioration de l'accès aux systèmes d'irrigation peut renforcer la gestion de l'eau et garantir des pratiques agricoles durable.

Un autre aspect essentiel est la promotion d'actions visant à réduire radicalement les pertes alimentaires tout au long des chaînes de valeur. En investissant dans des technologies efficaces de stockage, de transport et de transformation, le continent peut réduire de manière significative les pertes post-récolte, qui représentent près de 40 % de la production alimentaire totale, réduisant ainsi la pression sur les systèmes agricoles et, en fin de compte, sur l'environnement.

Les solutions mentionnées sont louables et sont activement mises en œuvre de diverses manières par différentes institutions. Toutefois, l'impact qui laisse présager de grands avantages est limité en termes de rythme et d'échelle en raison de la fragmentation et du désalignement de la mise en œuvre par les gouvernements, les partenaires de développement et les acteurs du secteur privé. Pourtant, la complexité des défis structurels auxquels l'Afrique est régulièrement exposée exige un ensemble intégré de solutions impliquant des investissements et des réformes parallèles dans les infrastructures, la logistique, l’irrigation, les systèmes financiers et les systèmes éducatifs.Elle exige également de nouvelles alliances et formes de collaboration entre ces acteurs qui créent des synergies et une masse critique.

À AGRA, nous avons pris conscience de cette lacune très tôt et au fil des années, nous nous sommes concentrés sur le renforcement de la capacité des gouvernements à établir des priorités et à mettre en œuvre des réformes politiques axées sur la sécurité alimentaire et l'intégrité du climat. En plus de cela, nous encourageons et mobilisons activement des partenariats public-privé efficaces entre les gouvernements, le secteur privé et les organisations de la société civile.

La réunion de diverses parties prenantes s'est avérée cruciale pour aligner les investissements et les synergies en matière de transfert de technologies et de partage des connaissances. L'initiative "Regional Food Balance Sheet" (RFBS) en est un exemple. Il s'agit d'un engagement collaboratif et multilatéral qui inclut la participation d'une série de partenaires analytiques et technologiques afin de fournir des données et des prévisions sur la production agricole, le commerce transfrontalier, la fourniture d'intrants et l'agrégation de données. La RFBS s'appuie sur la technologie numérique et satellitaire pour assurer un suivi et des prévisions plus actualisés de la production des cultures vivrières, des attaques de ravageurs et de maladies, et d'autres changements climatiques susceptibles d'avoir un impact sur la disponibilité des produits alimentaires.

Cet outil s’appuie sur l’apprentissage automatique et l’analyse avancée pour fournir en temps voulu des informations concernant l’offre, la demande et les prix des denrées de base en Afrique sub-saharienne, afin d'éclairer la prise de décision fondée sur des données probantes par les secteurs public et privé et d'autres parties prenantes de l'écosystème.  De nombreux investissements collaboratifs supplémentaires sont nécessaires pour faciliter une action climatique ayant un impact et promouvoir un succès à long terme.

La rédactrice est la chargée des partenariats à AGRA.


NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - As Africa prepares for the crucial climate change conference later in the year, President Hakainde Hichilema has assured his Kenyan counterpart, who is also Coordinator of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), William Ruto, of Zambia’s unwavering support for Africa’s climate aspirations at COP28.

Speaking during a virtual CAHOSCC meeting on the Africa Climate Summit (ACS) that was co-hosted by President Ruto, in collaboration with His Excellency Mr. Mousa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), President Hichilema said, “Zambia, in its capacity as Chair of the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN), will continue to work closely with you in pursuit of Africa’s climate and development aspirations.”

The Africa Climate Summit is set to be held in Nairobi, Kenya from 4th to 6th September 2023 while the 28th session of the Conference of Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is scheduled for 30th November to 12th December 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Writing on his Facebook page shortly after the meeting, President Hichilema congratulated President Ruto for the idea to host the Africa Climate Summit and assured him of Zambia’s support in achieving the summit's intended objectives.

President Hichilema emphasized the importance for Africa to clearly and specifically identify areas that need resolution in order to ensure a unified approach towards making a meaningful impact on the challenges posed by climate change.

The Zambian President further encouraged unity of purpose and speaking with one voice saying, “Africa should maintain coordination, consistency and rationality throughout the climate change debate and avoid polarisation.”

Some recent report statistics on climate ambition show that Africa is already sacrificing a lot of its resources towards the fight against climate change as captured in African countries’ highly ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

This is despite the continent’s both historic and current negligible contribution to climate causing emissions.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which provides the best available science, Africa is the least contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions with less than 4% of global emissions and yet the most adversely impacted region.

Despite this well noted imbalance, statistics show that Africa is demonstrating its commitment to combating climate change, through the submission of highly ambitious NDCs and spending up to 9% of their GDPs in addressing climate change.

However, the full ambition of African countries’ NDCs cannot be realised without support from the international community, hence the call for the global north to continue taking the lead in the climate action agenda by not only cutting their emissions but also supporting developing countries with finances and other means of implementation as espoused in the Paris Agreement.

In highlighting the importance of financial support from the global north, President Hichilema also used the meeting to highlight and acknowledge the continent's strong momentum in pursuing the green investment agenda as well as noting the importance of private sector investments.

He cited Zambia’s collaboration with the Democratic Republic of Congo which have prioritised electric vehicle and batter value chain.

“As an example, Zambia is collaborating with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to prioritize the electric vehicle and battery value chain. To promote industrialization, combat high poverty levels, and achieve resilient socio-economic development, Africa must mobilize private sector investment. Private sector involvement is a critical tool for implementing the continent's transition towards a low-carbon development pathway,” said President Hichilema.



NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Global forestry experts sitting in Nairobi for a week long workshop have termed climate change as one of the major environmental challenges Africa is facing at the moment, and this calls for innovative solutions to tackle.
According to Dr Joshua Cheboiwo,   Chief Research Officer, Director at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), there is growing evidence that climate change is impacting on forests and forest ecosystems in Africa, and therefore on the livelihoods of forest dependent communities as well as on national economic activities that depend on forest and tree products and services. 
"There is thus need for innovative solutions for climate and ecosystem smart forest management" Dr Cheboiwo said at a regional workshop organised by African Forest Forum (AFF).
Cheboiwo was speaking at a workshop taking place in Nairobi-Kenya under the theme 'Forest and Tree-based ecosystems services for socio-ecological resilence to climate change in Africa'
Experts at the workshop emphasised on the role of ecosystem services, as a concrete, innovative, sustainable solution that can strengthen Africa’s climate efforts.
 ecosystem services procedure and the supporting business model to enable its effective roll out as a market-based instrument. He described ecosystem services as benefits that people obtain from nature as he presented the solution to the event’s audience.
He highlighted that forests have many positive effects on society, such as stable clean water supplies, productive soil, and carbon sequestration.
According to AFF executive secretary , Professor Godwin Kowero, the population of Africa expected to rise to 2.5 billion by 2050 and a projected demand for industrial wood  estimated to grow from about 75 million m3/per year in 2020  to 250 million m3 per year by 2030 . Consequently  the strain on the African forests and trees outside forests has to be carefully managed, especially in the context of increasing deforestation and forest degradation on the continent  that are increasingly been made worse by adverse effects of climate change. 
"These resources consist of a myriad of different tree species, good for timber and other building materials, as well as abundance of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), thus offering the resources the capacity to serve the people on the continent with many products to meet their many and varied demands " Prof Kowero said .
"One good way such demands could be met is largely through adding value on the resources through processing. This forward linkage to primary forest production is critical to Africa’s development, and especially so when the population is rising rapidly, urbanization is accelerating very rapidly," he added .
 According to experts , ecosystem services   demonstrate, and promote the beneficial effects of responsible forest management practices.
"There is need to increase commercial value for people that sustainably manage forests and take steps to conserve forest ecosystem," says Ben Chikamai, Executive Secretary at Network for Natural Gums and Resins in Africa ,NGARA, Kenya .
Experts from different countries presented the business case for ecosystem services in some African countries illustrating how  the innovation has been used to restore the capacity of watersheds, transformation on nontimber forest products, processing of timber through investments in sawmills and sawn wood etc .
 Ecosystems services experts are potentially beneficial to forest actors if sustainably managed. "Without ecosystem services, there is no water" said Dalington Duwa.
 He said mounting data evidence and practical ground experience demonstrate that certified forest concessions are essential sanctuaries for biodiversity and ecosystem services ,adding that the management of forests in Africa calls for a new economic paradigm.
The shifts in rainfall patterns and temperature changes can result into increased water scarcity and severe prolonged droughts that in turn directly affect agricultural production, food and nutritional security, as well as markets and trade potential of forest dependent population.
In this regard, climate change and variability continue to create serious challenges to the sustainability of biophysical and socio-economic systems on the continent, according to AFF .
 The continued erosion of such systems is slowing down socio-economic development and jeopardizing the environmental stability of most of the African countries, especially in their efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa Agenda 2063, among other national and regional development aspirations .
According to Professor Kowero, "Africa shall be a continent where the free movement of people, capital, goods and services will result in significant increases in trade and investments amongst African countries rising to unprecedented levels, and strengthen Africa’s place in global trade"
Given these developments, the potential for the forestry sector to contribute to the aspirations of both Agenda 2063 and AfCFTA, needs to be addressed, especially given the already noted considerable exchanges of forest products among African countries, albeit most of them being traded informally.
This scenario he adds, compels the African continent to undertake a serious introspection of its forestry sector, possibly guided by questions like, how to meet the wood products needs of its growing population, how not to continue relying on imports for the ever-increasing demand for wood products.
"The intention is to change Africa into a relatively wood products self-sufficient continent, thus saving considerable foreign currency spent on importing similar products; savings that can be spent on other important domestic needs without recourse to expensive international capital markets," said Professor Kowero.

BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - There is no agreed definition of "Loss and damage" in the international climate negotiations. However, according to Climate Promise, the term can refer to the unavoidable impacts of climate change that occur despite, or in the absence of, mitigation and adaptation. Importantly, it highlights that there are limits to what adaptation can accomplish; when tipping point thresholds are crossed, climate change impacts can become unavoidable.

Loss and damage can refer to both economic and non-economic losses. Economic loss and damage can include costs of rebuilding infrastructure that has repeatedly been damaged due to cyclones or floods or the loss of coastline land (and homes and businesses) due to sea-level rise and coastal erosion.

Non-economic loss and damage include negative impacts that are not easily assigned a monetary value. This can include trauma from experiencing a climate-related natural disaster, loss of life, the displacement of communities, loss of history and culture or loss of biodiversity.

It must be stated that such extreme climate-related events have become more frequent and intense in recent years.

A more recent example is Cyclone Freddy, which hit Southern Africa in February and March 2023 and was scientifically described as record-breaking in strength, length, and resurgence. It left over 1.5 million people displaced in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

In Malawi alone, Cyclone Freddy, which was also exceptionally one of the long-lived storms that traversed the southern Indian Ocean for more than five weeks, killed over 1000 people. Freddy is both the longest-lasting and highest-ACE-producing tropical cyclone ever recorded worldwide.

In support of vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters, a landmark decision on loss and damage funding was agreed at the 27th session of the Conference of Parties (COP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“This outcome moves us forward,” said Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary at the COP27 closing plenary. “We have determined a way forward on a decades-long conversation on funding for loss and damage – deliberating over how we address the impacts on communities whose lives and livelihoods have been ruined by the very worst impacts of climate change.”

Governments took the ground-breaking decision to establish new funding arrangements, as well as a dedicated fund, to assist developing countries in responding to loss and damage. Parties also agreed to establish a ‘Transitional Committee’ to make recommendations on operationalising both the new funding arrangements and the fund at COP28, later this year.

The said Transitional Committee on the operationalisation of the new funding arrangements and the fund was established, to make recommendations for consideration and adoption at COP 28.

At the Bonn Climate Conference of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB58) currently taking place, Parties are deliberating on critical issues for this vital agenda item, and the African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN) has made its stance clear.

“The Africa Group underlines the significance of the outcome of the Glasgow Dialogue for informing the recommendations of the Transitional Committee to the COP on the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund,” said Ephraim Mwepya Shitima, Chair of the AGN. “In this regard, the Group looks forward to engaging in a fruitful discussion with Parties in the Dialogue during this session.”

In view of another equally important agenda item for Africa, the Global Stocktake (GST), Shitima emphasised the need for the GST to dedicate sufficient time to consider loss and damage, separate from the adaptation discussion. “The Group underlines that the outcome of the Global Stocktake should provide clear guidance for bridging gaps and addressing challenges related to averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage in developing countries,” he said.

The global stocktake is a Party-driven process conducted transparently and with the participation of non-Party stakeholders, that enables countries and other stakeholders to see where they’re collectively making progress toward meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement – and where they’re not.

With a growing list and frequency of climate-related disasters, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Simon Stiell, believes loss and damage funding is a lifeline for billions of people, especially across the developing world.

In his remarks at the opening of the 2nd Glasgow Dialogue on Loss and Damage, Stiell highlighted the importance of loss and damage.

Simon Stiell said: “This year will be decisive for climate action. The global stocktake at COP28 will assess our implementation of the commitments we have made since the adoption of the Paris Agreement and give us a view of how to course-correct to meet them. We are already facing serious impacts. Floods are washing away entire villages, wildfires are devastating communities, and droughts are fueling famines in some of the world’s most vulnerable nations. The agreement in Sharm El Sheikh to set up new funding arrangements and a fund for loss and damage was only the first step. We are talking about funding, yes. But these arrangements can translate into real, life-saving change for billions of people. The loss and damage funding arrangements are a lifeline for vulnerable people and places.”


EMBU, Kenya, BONN Germany (PAMACC News) - Over 4000 smallholder farmers who practice Regenerative Agriculture in Embu County have enrolled to a project that will see them start earning annual income just for having particular trees on their farms.

This comes as Africa Group of Negotiators at the ongoing climate talks in Bonn, Germany strive to come up with rules that ensure fairness in the carbon markets particularly for smallholders in less developed countries.                                                                                                  

Through an initiative by the Dutch based Rabobank to trade Carbon Removal Units (CRUs), dubbed Agroforestry CRUs for the Organic Restoration of Nature (ACORN), 4,096 farmers from the county will soon start earning not less than 20 Euros (Sh3000) per ton of carbon stored in trees on their farms when their carbon credits get monetized.

“ACORN will remotely measure the sequestered carbon and sell the CRUs in the voluntary carbon market,” said Patrick Nyaga of Farm Africa, which is implementing the project in collaboration with the County Government of Embu.

He pointed out that a farmer with180 mix of agroforestry trees such as Glericidia, Calliandra, Sesbania, Leucaena, Acacia, fruit and nut trees on one hectare of land will stand a chance to earn at least 120 Euros (Sh18,000) per year per hectare depending on the size and type of the trees on the farm.

In this scheme, farmers will receive up to 80 percent of the sales of the CRUs where each CRU represents one ton of carbon dioxide that has been removed from the atmosphere and stored into tree biomass. The payment will be partly in cash and partly in-kind (form of seedlings or beehives).

Recent transactions in the carbon market were between 20 Euros (Sh3,000) to 31 Euros (Sh4,650) per CRU. Based on the prevailing prices, an average farmer in Embu County can sequester between zero and six CRUs per year, which translates to a maximum of Sh27,900, and a minimum or Sh18,000 for the best performing farmers.

“However, given the unique circumstances of every farmer and plot of land, no specific numbers can be given at the moment,” said Nyaga.

Carbon markets, according to the United Nations (UN) are trading systems in which carbon credits are sold and bought. A carbon credit is therefore a reduction or removal of emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.

However, some African civil society activists have observed that the carbon credits are underpriced, and therefore a false solution for African smallholders. “This is a situation where these smallholders are actually being paid by someone else to carry their responsibility for polluting the environment consequently causing climate change,” Charles Mwangi, the Head of Programs and Research at the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) told PAMACC at the SB Climate Conference in Bonn.

“Here at PACJA, we have our reservations because if this is supposed to be a business, we believe smallholders are investing so much in terms of manpower, the cost of maintaining the trees, and most important, the foregone investments on the land were the trees are planted for the sake of carbon sequestration, yet they end up earning so little for every ton of carbon that is absorbed by the trees,” he told the Climate Action Magazine at the ongoing UN Conference on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany.

However, he noted that the only advantage is that the schemes, which also include the REDD+ are giving the African smallholders an opportunity to sustainably manage the forest ecosystems and biodiversity, but “we cannot afford to do that solely because of carbon credits,” said Mwangi.

So far, the UN reports that the current supply of voluntary carbon credits comes mostly from private entities that develop carbon projects, or governments that develop programs certified by carbon standards that generate emission reductions and/or removals.

And the demand for those carbon credits comes from corporate entities especially in the developed world who are emitting volumes of carbon, but would like to compensate for their carbon footprints. It also included corporations with corporate sustainability targets, and other actors aiming to trade credits at a higher price to make a profit.

Generally, carbon is captured from the atmosphere and stored in trees, and can only be released back to the atmosphere when the trees are burned in form of firewood or charcoal. Fruit trees can therefore store carbon for a very long time because the primary objective is to harvest fruits and nuts, and not to cut down the trees for fuel.

“In our project here in Embu, the minimum approved piece of land is 0.1 hectares, and the maximum is 10 hectares,” said Njagi.

One of the eligibility criteria is that farmers must have new agroforestry and/or existing agroforestry trees planted within the past five years, as a way of motivating farmers to plant as many trees as possible so as to increase the volume of carbon to be captured, which will be translated into cash.

To succeed in mobilising the farmers, Farm Africa engaged the services of Village Based Advisors (VBAs) – who are trained but commercially motivated private agricultural extension service providers, to do ecological zoning and to collect data from eligible participants.

“All farmer information was captured through a mobile phone App, which then relayed the data to ACORN data bank in the real-time, thereby linking the farm to remote sensing tools,” said Moses Mbogo, one of the VBAs in Embu County.

According to Muthoni Nyaga, another VBA from the area, women are currently the most proactive farmers in the project. “Most of the farmers we registered are women, and this went down well for us because ownership of the land title deed was not a must as long as the farmer can formally or informally prove that they are owners of the piece of land,” she said.

Steve Njagi, an Agricultural Officer in Embu County observed that the motivation for farmers to plant more agroforestry trees for carbon credit is a good mitigation measure for the climate emergency.

“This is in line with the government’s agenda to plant 5 billion trees as a way of combating climate change,” said Njagi.

A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has pointed out that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – which includes carbon dioxide are still rising across all major sectors globally, and this is going to have devastating impact especially on the African continent in the near future.


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