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PAMACC News - Partners of the Congo Basin Forest, which holds the second-largest bank of rainforest on the planet after the Amazon in South America are seeking to make conservation activities generate income that will help protect forests, fight against climate change and poverty in the region amidst increasing threats.Experts say the use of conservation to create environment friendly investments that generate profit and ensure economic sustainability will help keep extractive industries and large scale palm oil plantations that threatens the Congo Basin Forest at bay.“If we want to protect the Congo Basin Forest, we must make conservation pay and generate the necessary income to put food on the table for our survival and for the future of our children,” says Praven Moman,founder and CEO of Volcanoes Safari, Rwanda.He said investing in tourism with conservation travel products, safari and ecotourism including hospiltality, accommodation, guiding and logistics activities around the Congo Basin Forest will keep the forest resources and ecosystem intact, fight against climate change while at the same time generating income through employment of the local forest communities.He cited the case of Gorilla Park of Virungas in Kahuzi Biega in DRC, Wester Forest Park and Gorrilas in Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Central Africa and Cameroon, the Forest elephants in Cameroon and the Ba’ka pygmies in the forest communities of Cameroon as concrete examples of tourist attractions beckoning for investors to sustain the economy of the Congo Basin region and protect the forest from destruction.According to the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, CBFP, only about 13 percent of the about 300 million hectares of the forest is protected leaving large spans of the rich forest vulnerable and threatened by invading agro-industries and mining investors.The partners also emphasized on the need to invest in the education of forest communities on the importance of conservation.The local forest communities are key drivers to protection of natural resources and thus the need to be empowered in readiness to conservation challenges says Manfred Epanda, AWF Coordinator in Cameroon.The forest expert say investment in educating the local communities on the importance of conservation was also key to drive the sustainable forest management agenda.In a paper presented at a side event at the Congo Basin Forest Partnership meeting in Kigali November 22, 2016, Epanda emphasised on the need to adequately sensitize and educate the local population on the importance of conservation to their wellbeing.“Studies by the AWF has shown the direct relationship between the level of education of the population and attitudes towards conservation and the fight against climate change,” he said.One of the major outcome of the Kigali Congo Basin Forest Partnership was the reinforcement of public/private partnerships to attract private investors into the conservation projects in the region. Government officials from Congo Basin countries who attended the high-level pannel and the CBFP council meeting admitted that working with the private sector to promote investments in the tourism sector with National Parks and wildlife conservation areas will give a big push to conservation efforts both at national…
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Majority of Kenyans still prefer consuming ‘dirty’ fuel like charcoal and kerosene despite the country having made advances in clean energy access.A new report says clean fuel technologies like the energy saving cook stoves have been successfully taken up by Kenyans, but more than 84 per cent of households still cling to traditional biomass for cooking and heating.According to the 2016 poor people’s energy outlook report, 69 per cent of Kenyans use firewood, while 13 per cent prefer using charcoal.This is exposing Kenyans to poor health, where over 15,000 deaths have been linked to household air pollution annually, says the report by Practical Action, an international development agency that lobbies for universal energy access.“Women are the most affected by indoor pollution since they are responsible for domestic chores,” says Lydia Muchiri, the senior advisor on gender and energy at Practical Action, East Africa. Presently, about 2.25 million Kenyans own an improved cook stove, but the poorest segments of the community still prefer using the traditional three stones set and charcoal for cooking, the study found.It links this trend to inability of the poor to afford clean energy technologies, even when some like cook stoves are subsidized by NGOs and development agencies.“Fuel should be free, cheap or easy to obtain, while cooking solutions should not cause health problems,” says the report.The Advocacy for Gender and Energy in Kenya (AGEK) lobby says the government should concentrate in creating micro and mini energy grids in rural areas to enable the poor access.For instance, the report says focusing on traditional grids to power Kenya is a waste of time and money because these connections mostly serve factories and big enterprises. “Mini and micro energy grids provide more reliable power than national grids currently do, and would be speedily deployable, swinging the balance to favour rural economies,” argues Francis Muchiri, the communication and knowledge management officer at AGEK.They can also accelerate enterprises in rural areas if Kenyans can access energy to power businesses in telecommunications, construction and agriculture, adds Muchiri.Kenya has committed to reach the 80 per cent target for energy generation through renewables.The Kenya Country Action Plan (CAP) targets the adoption of five million cookstoves by 2020. It predicts that with the same level of uptake, 58 per cent of households will be using improved cookstoves by 2030.
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - East Africa is facing a shortage of legumes due to what scientists say is because of poor soil quality and unfavourable climatic conditions.The shortage, according to experts at the Nairobi-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), is not only likely to continue, but is set to worsen as crops compete with pests for nutrients like carbon and phosphorous, according to scientists.Dr. Martha Musyoka, a scientist at ICIPE, points out that legumes like beans rely heavily on phosphorous for nodulation and production. When the pH is low then there is a problem with phosphorous fixation, she says.“It is clear that areas that have been growing beans a few years ago now cannot,” argues Dr. Musyoka. “Even for those who still grow them, the beans will not perform as well as in the past.”A surge of new pests is also linked to the poor performance of legumes in the east African region.A study conducted at two sites in Kenya established that pests are invading crops due to low carbon in the soil.For instance, soil samples tested in one of the sites, Thika, indicated low carbon in the soil while those at the Chuka site indicated the soils are rich in carbon.AtThika, pests like termites attacked crops in the field while those in Chuka did not.“In Chuka, the pests could not go for the crop because there is enough carbon and humidity in the soil,” explains Dr. KomiFiaboe, a senior scientist at ICIPE. “In Thika, the soil dries faster, carbon level in the soil is low, hence the damage to the crop.”
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) in collaboration with three African universities is set to unveil the first curriculum tailored to address the political, social and cultural concerns that have been slowing biotechnology growth in the continent.By August 2017, University of Eldoret, University of Nigeria and the Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso will enlist the first group of scientists to pursue a Masters Degree in biotechnology and its impact on food security.Principal coordinator of the programme, Prof. Miriam Kinyua, says graduates will be able to impact positively on all aspects of food security in terms of skills, production, extension, and processing.“The curriculum aims to demystify biotechnology as genetic engineering and prepare graduates for the challenges of industry,” says Prof. Kinyua who is also a Professor of biotechnology at University of Eldoret.According to her, the curriculum is developed in such a way that after 20 years it is able to accommodate new market shifts and scientific advances.“That is why this curriculum is unique because it embraces African diversity, but it also contains the content of science that should be included in a programme,” says Prof Kinyua.The curriculum, developed with expertise from University of Gloningen in the Netherlands, is packaged into modules with a Masters degree as the baseline.But it will also award a certificate for a month in training, a course of attendance for a week and also a diploma package.“It is up to the demand. We will deliver according to the demand,” says Prof Kinyua.Prof. Diran Makinde, senior advisor, Africa Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNET) under NEPAD, says such a programme is important for Africa to build its capacity since the continent is no yet food secure.“Any technology has its own risks. But the benefits are more than the risks. We need to learn how to manage the risks. This is the purpose of this programme,” says Prof. Makinde.According to him, NEPAD invites all African countries to adopt the curriculum if the continent is to achieve the six per cent target on agricultural productivity.
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