SIAYA/NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - When Anyango Ahenda lost her husband in 2021, her world crumbled, and the idea of becoming the sole breadwinner for her family seemed daunting.
“I felt overwhelming pain, hopelessness, and emotional turmoil. Our society's patriarchal norms dictated that women shouldn't farm or plant trees. I couldn't foresee how my family would cope with food insecurity,” says Ahenda, the founder of Aloro Widows Group in Siaya County.
However, her life took a positive turn when she joined forces with 20 other women's groups associated with the Siaya Muungano Network. This network operates under the Voice for Just Climate Action (VCA) program in Kenya, supporting locally-led climate change solutions for women, youth, and vulnerable groups.
These women, from Gem, Ugunja, and Alego Usonga sub-counties in Siaya, have emerged as pioneers in securing their families' food needs and achieving financial independence. They made a collective decision to shift away from relying solely on maize, a crop that was failing due to climate change.
Instead, they embraced al alternative route of traditional African crops known for their resilience in drought conditions. Crops such as cassava, sweet potatoes, sorghum, finger millet, and local vegetables like black nightshade became the backbone of their agricultural practices.
Ahenda shares, “A friend invited me to a training session on empowerment and climate change awareness by Siaya Muungano Network. After the sessions, I defied societal norms that forbade women from farming and began cultivating diverse crops.”
This transformation allowed her not only to provide for her family's needs but also to advocate for widows' rights throughout the county.
Ahenda’s story weaves directly into a new movement – The Global Tapestry of Alternatives (GTA) – which seeks to build bridges between networks of alternatives around the globe and promote the creation of new processes of confluence.
Martin Muriuki, the Executive Director at the Institute for Culture and Ecology (ICE) noted that use of indigenous knowledge can be a perfect alternative to adapting to climate change and protecting biodiversity among other things. “We have evidence that indigenous knowledge works and this should be brought on board as an alternative way of handling and adapting to the impacts of climate change,” he said.
Esther Bett, the Executive Director at RODI Kenya said that her organisation is working directly with prisons to give prisoners an alternative restorative and social justice. “Our criminal justice in Kenya today focuses on the person who harms, but leaves the person who has been harmed traumatised. We are therefore seeking an alternative to address both sides, and identify solutions right from within the community,” she said.
RODI strives to ensure that prisoners are equipped with knowledge and skills to enhance self-esteem, restore hope in life, self-support and to endear them to the community upon release, besides enabling them to contribute towards community and national development. The organisation also produces Bokashi – bio-fertiliser made through a fermentation process.
Simon Mitambo, the Founder – Society for Alternative Learning and Transformation (SALT) believes in the philosophy of connecting people back with nature. “We have to stop looking at plants and animals as natural resources and by doing so, the flora and fauna will naturally deliver ecosystem services to humanity,” said Mitambo.
He notes that in many communities, most elders never went to school, and so, most people look at them as illiterate “But the truth is that these elders are very eco-literate, and therefore very resourceful,” he said. His organisation therefore brings elders to a space where they feel they know something, and they have a story to tell that can be appreciated as an alternative way of mining knowledge.
An organisations like AGRA, formerly (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), which has made significant progress in enhancing food production across the continent has also been persuaded to look at other alternatives in the new strategy so as to address emerging challenges to leverage on the gains made so far.
The new strategy that runs from 2023 to 2027 has been tuned to respond to recent global and African catastrophes including famine, COVID-19, drought, fall army worm, climate change, soaring food, fertiliser and energy prices, and the conflict in Ukraine.
“We have demonstrated that when farmers have access to choices of inputs (such as appropriate seeds and fertilisers) and when those inputs give a clear yield differential farmers adopt and their lives change, and this only happens sustainably when markets are available to the farmers,” said Dr Agnes Kalibata, AGRA’s President during the launch of the new strategy.
She noted that the strategy will see AGRA do more of what works for farmers and that it will help her organisation understand markets better. “In all this we must bring more youth, more nutrition and be smarter in use of environmental resources,” said Kalibata.
“The world is standing on the abyss of collapse,” said Ramasar, noting that collective, solidarity-based action across the world could help pull it back, and take in a different direction of peace, equality, and ecological harmony.
Back to the Siaya story, Rose Omondi from the Lady Gay Women Group recalls her journey, where she initially faced resistance from her husband when seeking land to plant crops. However, she found an alternative by secretly obtaining land from a friend and successfully cultivating sorghum. This act eventually won her husband's approval to plant trees in their compound.
To bolster their livelihoods further, the women have diversified their income streams by raising chickens, goats, sheep, and pigs. This strategy allows them to sell animals in case of poor harvests, providing them with an alternative source of livelihoods.
According to Ramasar, 60 percent of the world is fed by subsistence farmers like the Aloro Widows Group. “In Africa, we have our own solutions, we have the knowledge, we have the seeds and everything we need in order to make our continent a perfect place to live,” said the South Africa born academician and activist.
YAOUNDE, Cameroon )PAMACC News) - Stakeholders have been enjoined to reinforce adaptation policies and actions as pathways against climate change.
The call was made by environment experts at two day workshop to empower youths, women, small-scaled farmers,fath-based groups on climate adaptation policies and actions in Cameroon.
The workshop took place at the Mvolye Church Centre in Yaounde September 12-13, 2023.
Organised by the African Coalition for Sustainable Energy & Access (ACSEA), the workshop seeked to developing participants’ skills to better interact with stakeholders and decision makers therough effective communication, negotiation and advocacy techniques.
According to the CEO of ACSEA, Dr. Augustine Njamnshi, “the workshop was also to strengthen knowledge on processes and policy mechanism related to climate change adaptation at national level.”
“Faith-based organizations, small-scale farmers, youth and women groups often have a strong moral imperative to act on climate change, but they may lack the knowledge and skills to effectively advocate for climate adaptation policies and actions,” Njamnshi added.
The training centered on topics like climate change impact on food systems in Cameroon, Cameroons climate change adaptation and resilence strategies, mapping local climate change impacts and adaptation staregies, climate information and adaptive uses in Cameroon amongst others.
Climate experts say transforming lives means having the right policies in place and the enabling environment for climate investments to yield the right results.
“We need to empower the community on the issues sot hey can question and push government and non-governmental organisations, NGOs,to put in place the right policies. Community actors should be able to know, the problems their communties are facing and to see whether solutions proposed by some NGOs are not flawed” noted Eugene Nforngwa, head of programs ACSEA.
According to the World Bank,Cameroon has an opportunity to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity for a more green and resilient future for all, taking a people centered approach to climate action. The country’s poverty rate could be reduced five-fold by 2050.
Experts say climate change is impacting social and economic gains in the country and and stakeholders must get to work with the right actions to address it.
“Climate change in a reality and we are all living witnesses of its disastrous effects. The floods, landslides, droughts are affecting agriculture, water resources, health and the environment in general. It will take our collective efforts to get the right solutions to address this crisis” says Professor Amougou Joseph Armathée, director general of the National Observatory on Climate Change.
According to World Bank 2022 report,Climate change is a big threat to the country’s dependence on natural resources and agriculture for livelihoods and subsistence.
The report says under current climate conditions, about two million people live in drought-affected areas.
Tropical forests cover almost 40% of the country and provide an estimated 8 million rural people with traditional staples including food, medicines, fuel, and construction material.
“Changes in temperature, rain, and droughts are putting these populations at greater risks for increased poverty and famine.”
The socioeconomic impact of climate change shocks is hurting both the structural poor and the close to 40% of vulnerable households in Cameroon. Women, especially those living in conflict areas or indigenous groups, are more severely hit by climate change because they are accounting for 75% of workers in the informal agricultural sector and are primarily responsible for the welfare of their households and food security, the World Bank report indicates.
Experts say communities need to be trained on the climate change challenges sot hey can better step up actions to address the crisis.
“With the climate threats worsening, the National Observatory on climate change is collecting data and sharing alerts and early warning information that can help communities take the necessary measures to either prevent or adapt to the effects of climate change” says Professor Amougou.
It should be recalled that the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report underscores the urgency for rapid, deep and sustained action on climate adaptation to ensure the world’s poorest countries are not caught off guard by worsening climate impacts.
The report assesses the impacts of climate change, looking at ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels and notes that “actions are most urgent in Africa, where accelerated effort is required to adapt to climate change to avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure.”
This seminal report offers new insights on possible pathways for policymakers, business leaders and others to ramp up their efforts to tackle the climate crisis at the scale and urgency required.
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - Africa must swiftly harness its rich mineral and natural resources to drive a clean energy revolution and accelerate sustainable development amidst the current climate crisis, the Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Antonio Pedro, has urged.
“Africa is a solutions powerhouse for saving the climate, Mr. Antonio Pedro, said at the opening of the 11th Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA) in Nairobi, Kenya, ahead of the inaugural Africa Climate Summit to take place from 4-6 September themed: Driving Green Growth & Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World.
Mr. Pedro pointed out that Africa has abundant renewable energy resources, including 40% of the world’s solar irradiation potential, making it a great location for advancing green hydrogen.
Already, multiple low-carbon hydrogen projects are in development in Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, and South Africa. Africa is also rich in cobalt, manganese, platinum, lithium, and copper – critical minerals for producing batteries and other green transition products.
The drive toward achieving net-zero emissions is expected to trigger a 40-fold increase in lithium demand and a 25-fold increase in cobalt demand. Furthermore, Africa is home to rich natural capital, such as the Congo Basin which contains some of the largest tropical rainforests in the world.
Mr. Pedro said that using nature-based sequestration alone, African countries could provide up to 30% of the world’s sequestration needs. A key challenge, however, was in “effectively and sustainably harnessing Africa’s abundant resources for the benefit of its people.”
“To mobilize the necessary funding, a paradigm shift is necessary,” said Mr. Pedro, emphasizing that Africa’s renewable and non-renewable resources were assets for mobilizing climate finance and investment.
“The ecological services provided by Africa to the world need to be monetised through carbon markets and other innovative instruments including debt-for-climate swaps,” he added.
Studies show that African countries could mobilize up to US$82 billion annually by participating in well-functioning carbon markets. Besides, more income could be generated from value chains around non-renewable resources such as critical minerals crucial for battery production.
“Our renewable and non-renewable resources must be harnessed to secure the continent’s human, energy, food, mineral, environmental and climate security, meeting basic needs and fostering sustainable structural transformation,” Mr. Pedro urged.
For her part, Soipan Tuya, Kenya Minister of Environment and Forestry noted that Africa’s sustainable development hinged on the successful adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts because the continent’s growth depends heavily on climate sensitive sectors and natural resources.
She stressed, in her opening remarks that Africa was capable of overcoming climate change challenges and turning them into development opportunities through innovation, clean technologies and a paradigm shift that unlocks Africa’s huge natural resource and human potential.
“Harnessing these rich enormous resources, however, requires mobilization of financial resources from both domestic and international sources to enable Africa tackle climate change and facilitate the option for clean and low carbon development pathways,” she said.
Africa is bearing the brunt of climate change more, despite contributing the least to it. Increased droughts, intensive tropical cyclones, high temperatures and extensive floods have affected lives and livelihoods across Africa, limiting the continent’s ability to achieve sustainable development.
Huge financing gap
Estimates indicate that, by 2030, Africa could spend 5% of its annual GDP on climate crises based on a warming scenario of 2 degrees, with the Sahel region paying as much as 15%.
The African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change estimates that Africa will require between US$65 and US$86.5 billion annually for adaptation alone up to 2030. Currently, the continent receives a mere $11.4 billion in adaptation financing per year.
Present at the opening were high-level representatives from key institutions including Josefa Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment (ARBE) at the African Union Commission; Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank; and Mwenda Mithika, Executive Director, Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) made remarks.
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.