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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.

KILIFI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - It is Mid July, and a team of 25 women and youths selected from all the seven Sub Counties of Kilifi County are gathered at the Mtwapa Energy Centre in the heart of Kilifi County on a three day mission to learn how to mould a unique cook stove known as ‘kuni mbili’ which uses only two pieces of firewood at a time.

 In general, the county’s main source of cooking energy particularly within rural communities is largely firewood burned at the centre of the traditional three stones, of which most of the heat escapes into the open air.

 “Our target is to train residents on how to minimise the use of biomass used for cooking as much as possible, while at the same time ensuring that there is efficiency of cooking as a way of protecting the environment and reducing risks associated with excess smoke at household levels,” said Mohamed Shuqry, the Coordinator at the Mtwapa Energy Centre.

 The centre is one of the facilities that were established under the Rural Electrification and Ennergy Corporation (REREC) to promote environment friendly energy development and dissemination at county levels across the country.

 Shuqry notes that kuni mbili cook stove is designed with a lining made of fire treated clay. “The lining keeps the heat on target, which leads to minimum use of biomass, but maximum and efficient utilisation of the heat,” he said.

 The initiative is in line with the Kilifi County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP), which seeks promote energy efficiency by promoting the use of clean cook stoves and energy saving jikos in institutions and at household level.

 The programme to build capacities and create awareness of environment friendly cooking solutions in Kilifi is driven by collaboration between the County Government, the Clean Cooking Association of Kenya (CCAK), World Wide Fund (WWF) and community based organisations under the Voices for Just Climate Action (VCA).

 According to Philomena Mitalo, the Programme Officer at CCAK, uptake of the improved cook stoves, most of which are imported has been very low because of the high taxes. “The costs of these stoves outweigh benefits, thereby impeding national climate and sustainable development goals,” she told the Climate Action.

 CCAK has been on the forefront trying to influence policy and fiscal environment in regards to import duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) that is affecting access and adoption to clean cooking solutions especially among the rural poor.

 To mitigate this, Kilifi County has installed briquette making machines in each of the seven Sub Counties for local communities to use for briquette making instead of relying on charcoal and wood fuel.

 Studies have shown that briquettes, which are compressed block of charcoal dust or other combustible biomass materials mixed with clay, have a higher thermal calorific value and lower ash content compared to charcoal.

 Alice Katiwa Mwiza from Guruguru village in Kaloleni Sub County says that briquette making has now become one of her sources of income. “I have taken briquette making as a business, which is now becoming very popular among the local households,” said Mwiza, one of the community leaders who had come to learn how to mould kuni mbili cook stove.

 Excessive use of biomass use as cooking energy has been linked to forest degradation, deforestation, decline in biodiversity, soil degradation, indoor air pollution and emission of greenhouse gasses.

 According to Jonathan Buonocore of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, burning biomass has significant public health and environmental justice consequences.

 “Like other combustion fuels, air pollution from burning biomass can cause asthma exacerbations, hospitalisations for heart attack and respiratory disease, birth defects, neurodegenerative diseases and death, among many other health impacts,” wrote Buonocore, a research scientist at the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment.

 According to Mitalo, well designed cook stoves have the ability to significantly reduce the smoke due to the efficient use of biomass and high combustion rate, thereby reducing indoor air pollution.

 “We have many other cleaner sources of energy, but for the sake of just transition, we cannot move straight from the traditional three stone fireplace to the most sophisticated cooking solution, we have to start with what the communities identify with, which in this case is firewood,” she said.

 The initiative for environment friendly cooking solutions targets to reach out to at least 10,000 households in Kilifi County in the next four years.


JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (PAMACC News) - The Global Stocktake (GST) is a critical turning point for efforts to address climate change, African Group of Negotiators on Climate Change (AGN) Chair, Ephraim Mwepya Shitima has told the Pan-African Parliamentarians Summit on Climate Policy and Equity.

Speaking when he addressed Parliamentarians and other stakeholders, gathered in Midrand, South Africa from 16th to 17th May, 2023, Shitima said the GST is key to the objectives of the Paris Agreement, which aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Shitima reiterated AGN’s call against inherent bias in favour of mitigation at the expense of adaptation, and called on African Parliamentarians to take keen interest in the GST process and its outcome as it enables countries and other stakeholders to assess their collectiveprogress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“As Africa, we expect the GST to be comprehensive by assessing collective progress towards all the goals and not focusing on one or two,” said Shitima. “The outcome must be corrective—how to address the identified gaps and ensure implementation. The inherent bias in favour of mitigation ought to be rectified while the needs of adaptation and recognition of adaptation actions as part of the contribution of Parties towards the global effort should be accorded sufficient attention.”

The global stocktake, as enshrined in Article 14 of the Paris Agreement (GST), is a process for taking stock of the implementation of the Paris Agreement with the aim to assess the world’s collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the agreement and its long-term goals.

The first stocktake got underway at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November, 2021 and is expected to conclude at COP28. Each stocktake is a two-year process that happens every five years.

In addition to his call for African Parliamentarians to actively get involved in the GST process, AGN Chair also highlighted the climate financing and adaptation gaps as revealed by various reports including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).

“According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP’s) Adaptation Gap Report 2022: Too Little, Too Slow – Climate adaptation failure puts world at risk finds that the world must urgently increase efforts to adapt to impacts of climate change. Implementation of adaptation actions are concentrated in agriculture, water, ecosystems- with health and education still remaining underfunded. However, without a step change in support, adaptation actions could be outstripped by accelerating climate risks, which would further widen the adaptation implementation gap.”

Shitima further lamented the poor provision of climate information in Africa, which is hindered by limited availability of weather and climate data, adding that existing weather infrastructure is insufficient for development of reliable climate information and early warning systems.

“For example, only 10% of ground-based observation networks are in Africa (the remaining 90% are outside Africa), and that 54% of Africa’s surface weather stations cannot capture data accurately,” he said.

Without belabouring the point, adaptation finance is inadequate to meet growing needs of African countries as access to adequate financial resources is crucial for climate change adaptation.

“UNEP estimates adaptation costs for Africa to be, from USD 20–50 billion per year by 2050 at 1.5℃ to USD 100–437 billion per year at 4℃ of global warming above pre-industrial levels. However, adaptation finance flows to developing countries are 5-10 times below estimated needs and the gap is widening,” lamented the AGN Chair.

Meanwhile, in his welcoming remarks, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) Executive Director, MithikaMwenda, said the African continent was already living in a critical moment as a result of climate change.

“The Sixth synthesis report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on 23rd March this year confirmed human-induced global warming is already causing widespread and irreversible impacts on our natural and human systems, and these impacts will only worsen with further warning," said Mwenda.



ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in collaboration with the Government of Ethiopia has designed three flagship programs to promote local production and consumption of four critical agricultural items; wheat, rice, oil seeds and animal feed.

The flagship documents were designed in accordance with the government policies to reduce importation of food commodities that can be produced locally.

During the handover ceremony of the flagship programs titled: National Wheat Flagship program (NWFP), the National Rice Flagship Program (NRFP), and the Oil Seeds and Animal Feed Production Flagship Program (OSAP), PAMACC Editor - Isaiah Esipisu sought to know the way forward for other countries from the Hailemariam Desalegn Bosh, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and Chair of AGRA Board.

Q. Is there a possibility of up-scaling such flagship programs to other African countries, particularly where AGRA operates?

A. This is already happening. We have flagship programs for rice value chain in West African countries. We also have the same in Ethiopia and a few other African countries. There is huge potential for up-scaling such programs in many other African countries.

There is one flagship program in Burkina Faso focusing on rice development, another in Mali, and we have agricultural development program in Ghana. Lastly, we have seed flagship program in Rwanda.


Q. What lessons can Africa draw from these flagship programs?

A. The lessons we have learned in these types of engagements is that the business as usual approach in agriculture production has not yielded results. So we need to have concerted efforts, thinking about systemic change and collaboration from all stakeholders. It should never be left to be the business of the Ministry of Agriculture, but a business of all those who are involved in the value chain, all the way from production to markets. This includes the consumers and the nutrition aspect of the agricultural products.

It needs collaboration from the governments, the private sector, development partners, as well as the youth and women.

These are some of the lessons we have learned from the flagship programs, and the best out of it is that the program can help in mobilizing resources both financially and human.


Q. Is there any specific lesson we have learned from Ethiopia in particular?

A. Ethiopia started the flagship program some years ago with main focus on the wheat sector. Rice and the edible oil are now the two new flagships. The wheat flagship has always been referred to as Agriculture Commercialization Cluster. This starts from improving the seeds, improving the agronomic practices and clustering farmers to engage together for united production, and it involves the young people and women in wheat production.

However, the flagship was not been properly packaged and put in place where the private sector, young entrepreneurs as well as development partners can fund beyond what the government is trying to do. The new flagship package will help Ethiopia bring all those stakeholders together, increase productivity and production, but also increase the resources. We will move beyond highland wheat farming where we highly depend on rainfall, to lowland wheat production based on irrigation. That means that even when there are no rains, the production will continue.

This venture needs a huge amount of resources in order to succeed. Yet, the government alone cannot do that. So this document will help us mobilize resources from outside the government coffers from all partners including the private sector.


Q. What will be the process of implementation of these flagship programs in Ethiopia?

A. Actually the government is the initiator and the owner of the programs. The smallholder farmers are private engagements. They invest their labor, their resources, they buy fertilizers etc. Such processes have to be facilitated by availing finance through credits and market for the produce.

That calls for the involvement of private banks and public finance institution. So we will need a blended kind of mechanism. We need to have a finance system that is functional, improved seed availability and fertilizers.


Q. How impactful is this likely going to be on agricultural transformation that is the main focus for AGRA?

A. Of cause transformation will come in due course. It is a process. So as we improve, we have to accelerate the improvement to bring about transformation. Indeed, this is the beginning of transformation, and the end goal is to have surplus for the market and commercialization.

So, agriculture is a business. We should come out of thinking that agriculture is only for subsistence. We need to move to commercial. So we have to increase value addition and bring about the desired transformation. When agriculture becomes a business, then transformation automatically takes place.


Q. How are we going to ensure that youth and women are involved in this agriculture transformation journey?

A. Actually traditional agriculture production mechanisms will rarely attract young people. In that case, the agri-business needs to be modernized and digitized. Young people are very friendly and very knowledgeable and literate about information technology and utilization of production systems. So if we do that, then we can attract more young people into agriculture. The truth is that the young people are ready to go into this kind of sexy production systems.

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