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PAMACC News - The Africa’s first-ever Wikipedia edit-a-thon, organized by Climate Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and Future Climate for Africa (FCFA),has opened the door for African climate experts and researchers to boost the quality and quantity of climate change information on Wikipedia, the largest world encyclopedia and currently the super-highway of information for ordinary people across Africa. For 3 days, 30 participants from Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, converged together with veteran Wikipedia editors to learn, update content and initiate a vital bedrock that stamps African climate change research within Wikipedia, which gets up to 20 billion pages viewed each month, according to Wikimedia statistics. At the moment, Wikipedia furnishes readily accessible information to the larger global audience of millions. Available data indicates Africa’sinternet penetration to be at 39.8 percent, compared to 60.5 percent of the rest of the world, plus the continent has a telecommunication sector which is growing fast. Further, Alexa Internet ranked Wikipedia to be one of the popular websites in the world as of June 2019, placing it at the top of the internet food chain.This means that having reliable, customized and well-packaged information on Wikipedia, real-time climate change threats on food security, water resources, agricultural production, and ecosystem services could be addressed timely and swiftly, by decisive actions backed with verified information.This means that having reliable, customized and well-packaged information on Wikipedia has potential to reach decision-makers on the continent who can use it to address climate change threats to food security, water resources, agricultural production, and ecosystem services. And yet availability of this impeded by the fact that only a fraction of editors are from Sub-Saharan Africa.Out of 70,000 editors globally only 1000 are from sub-Saharan Africa. It is therefore not surprising for African climate change information to be under-represented in the internet. The edit-a-thon came about to instigate improved African representation in various pages with real-time information casting light on climate change issues, but also to lead the way for researchers to contribute their findings effectively to Wikipedia, increasing their global exposure and the impact of their research. Available data on Wikipedia interaction across the world indicates that 97 percent of all reads are in the English language, but Wikis exist in many more languages.According to Dr. Katharine Vincent a climate change expert from Kulima Integrated Development Solutions in South Africa, “A big aim of Wikipedia is to decolonize knowledge and a major way of doing that is making information available in languages other than English. English was the common language among all participants, although obviously many other languages are known. We had a number of Francophone participants who edited pages in French as well as English, and others also have plans to edit in non-European languages in the future” she added. The edit-a-thon carved its groundwork on high impact pages which needed a robust update of vital information on climate change adaptation, climate change in Africa, drylands, and agriculture. As participants shared information updating…
DODOMA, Tanzania (PAMACC News) - Mention of the word El Niño sends shivers to several communities in Africa who live in lowland areas. However, these extreme rainfall phenomena are exactly what Dodoma desperately needs to sustain lives of the speedy growing population in Tanzania’s capital city.A team of local and international scientists from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and University College London (UCL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation including the WamiRuvu Basin Water Board have been studying the Makutapora well-field (the only source of water for Dodoma city) to understand how the groundwater responds to different climatic conditions and human consumption.“Through our research, we are seeking to understand groundwater resources in Makutapora, the renewability, the sustainability and critically how people use this precious resource,” said Richard Taylor, a Professor of Hydrogeology at the UCL and the Principal Investigator for a project known as GroFutures.And after a few years of intensive research, the scientists have discovered that the well-field found in an area mainly characterised by usually seasonal rivers, vegetation such as acacia shrubs, cactus trees, baobab among others that thrive in dryland areas can only be recharged during extreme floods that often destroy agricultural crops and even property.Dodoma became Tanzania’s capital city in 1974, though the administrative offices remained in Dar Es Salaam. Given a fact that the entire Dodoma region is semi-arid with an average annual rainfall of 550 mm, the current population of about 500,000 residents entirely rely on groundwater from the Makutapora well-field, from which they pump out 61 million litres of water every day, according to government records.However, since 2016 when President John Pombe Magufuli issued an executive order to relocate all government ministries and institutions as well as diplomatic offices from Dar Es Salaam to Dodoma, the city has become a beehive of activities as people and authorities rush to put in place the right infrastructure to accommodate the expected rise in population.As a result, the demand for water is expected to rise amid the changing climatic conditions, putting much more pressure on the Makutapora well-field.“Makutapora is quite a special site, given that it is the longest known groundwater level record in Sub Saharan Africa,” said Prof Taylor. “A study of the well-field over the past 60 years reveals that recharge sustaining the daily pumping of water for use in Dodoma city occurs episodically and depends on heavy seasonal rainfall associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation,” said the professor.So far, according to the loggers (data registering equipments) installed in several monitoring wells within the Makurapora basin, the water level has been declining since 2016 when positive recharge was recorded following the 2015-16 El Niño rains. The scientists attribute the decline to heavy abstraction of the water for domestic use, but also, they are in the process of finding out if tough climatic conditions, changes and variations could be another factor.“In the end of the year 2015, we installed river stage gauges to record the amount of water in the streams. Through…
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - A recent study by scientists from the Kenya Markets Trust (KMT) has shown that temperatures in all the drylands had risen in the past 50 years, with devastating impact particularly on cattle and some food crops. These findings coincided with a new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released on the same day showing that the world is off track to meet most food and agriculture-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with more than half of local livestock breeds at risk of extinction. According to the Kenyan study, which was commissioned by the Canada-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) — through the Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE), changes in climatic conditions were driving pastoral communities into dire poverty. “In all the 21 counties, we observed a 25.2 percent decline in cattle population between 1977 and 2016 on average, with Turkana County alone recording a devastating loss of about 60 percent in the same period, and this is directly linked to the increased heat,” said Dr Mohammed Yahya Said, the Lead Investigator and a consulting scientist at the KMT. These findings correspond with the FAO global report which shows that on average, 60 percent of local livestock breeds are at risk of extinction in the 70 countries that had risk status information. “Specifically, across the world, out of 7155 local livestock breeds, 1940 are considered to be at risk of extinction. Examples include the Fogera cattle from Ethiopia or the Gembrong goat of Bali,” FAO reported. It notes that this could be even higher as for two thirds of the local livestock breeds, especially in Africa, the Middle and Near East and Asia, there is no data on the animals' risk status. According to Dr Said, changes in temperatures in Kenya are directly responsible for reduction of cattle population. “Our study found out that five counties have already surpassed the 1.5˚C mark, and such high temperatures are never good particularly for livestock,” he said. The counties with the highest rise in temperatures include West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties, which have recorded an increase of 1.91° C in the past 50 years, while Turkana and Baringo have both recorded (1.8° C) increase, Laikipia (1.59° C) and Narok (1.75° C) in the same period.As a result of such occurrences, FAO reports that hunger is on the rise in many countries worldwide. “More than 820 million people are still hungry today,” says the report. The number of hungry people in the world according to the UN has been on the rise for three years in a row, and is back to levels seen in 2010-2011. In parallel, the percentage of hungry people out of the total population has slightly increased, from 10.6 percent in 2015 to 10.8 percent in 2018. Further, according to the UN, small-scale food producers - who represent the majority of all farmers in many developing countries - face disproportionate challenges in accessing…
ACCRA, Ghana (PAMACC News) - Ghana ­ has become the third country to sign a landmark agreement with the World Bank that rewards community efforts to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.Ghana’s five-year Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Carbon Fund, which is administered by the World Bank, unlocks performance-based payments of up to US$50 million for carbon emission reductions from the forest and land use sectors. Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo have also signed ERPAs over the past ten months, with other Carbon Fund countries expected to sign similar agreements in the next year.In Ghana, forest degradation and deforestation are driven primarily by cocoa farm expansion, coupled with logging and a recent increase in illegal mining.Working in close partnership with the Forestry Commission, Cocoa Board, and private sector, Ghana’s program with the FCPF Carbon Fund seeks to reduce carbon emissions through the promotion of climate-smart cocoa production.“The program's two central goals – reducing carbon emissions in the forestry sector and producing truly sustainable, climate-smart cocoa beans – make it unique in Africa and the first of its kind in the cocoa and forest sectors worldwide. This program is helping to secure the future of Ghana’s forests while enhancing income and livelihood opportunities for farmers and forest-dependent communities,” said Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, Chief Executive of Ghana’s Forestry Commission.In Ghana’s ERPA, the FCPF Carbon Fund commits to making initial results-based payments for reductions of 10 million tons of CO2 emissions (up to US$50 million). Ghana’s ERPA also specifies on carbon emission baselines, price per ton of avoided CO2 emissions, and a benefit-sharing mechanism that has been prepared based on extensive consultations with local stakeholders and civil society organizations throughout the country.Ghana’s emission reductions program is anchored in the country’s national strategy for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and is well-aligned with relevant national policies and strategies, including Ghana’s Shared Growth and Development Agenda, the National Climate Change Policy, the National Forest and Wildlife Policy, the National Gender Policy, and Ghana’s nationally-determined contributions to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.Ghana’s emission reductions program area, located in the south of the country, covers almost 6 million hectares (ha) of the West Africa Guinean Forest biodiversity hotspot. The wider program area covers 1.2 million ha of forest reserves and national parks and is home to 12 million people. An increase in cocoa production has historically meant more forests are cut to accommodate new cocoa seedlings, but this trend could be reversed to improve Ghana’s record as one of the highest deforestation rates in Africa.Through the program, the government will focus on selected deforestation hotspot areas and help farmers and communities increase cocoa production there using climate-smart approaches. More sustainable cocoa farming will help avoid expansion of cocoa farms into forest lands and secure more predictable income streams for communities. These combined actions will help Ghana to meet its national climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.This work leverages support from other…
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