By Isaiah Esipisu
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (PAMACC News) – Use of mobile telephone technologies and community radio services has been cited as some of the best methods of sharing and disseminating climate information for effective early warning, and adaptation.

Experts attending the sixth session of the Africa Water Week (AWW) in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania have pointed out that early warning systems can be set up to avoid or reduce the impact of hazards such as floods, landslides, storms, and forest fires. However, the significance of an effective system lies in the recognition of its benefits by local people.

According to Dr Abdourahman H-Gaba Maki, of the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), early warning system is a major element of disaster risk reduction, and helps in preventing loss of life and properties. “This also ensures there is a constant state of preparedness,” he told the AWW.

To make the system effective and relevant to the people, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has developed a mobile telephone application (app) known as “IGAD-ASIGN”, through which mobile phone owners have an opportunity to contribute towards disaster preparedness by taking and sending photos of given geographical situation, in relation to an impending, or a particular disaster.

“The IGAD-ASIGN is an important smart-phone application because it facilitates interaction and feedback from the ground,” said Maki.

The photos taken by volunteers are used as field validation of IGAD and other partners’ satellite image analyses, thus contributing to accurate and efficient disaster risk reduction solutions. This has helped vulnerable countries in the Greater Horn of Africa region to make better and faster decisions.

In the same vein, Maki pointed out the RANET radio networks operated by the Meteorological Department in Kenya, through which farmers and residents are able to access climate related information via community based radio stations, which usually broadcast in local languages.

‘RANET’ is an international collaboration of meteorological and similar services working to improve rural and remote community access to weather, climate, and related information.

Less than two years after it went on air, Nganyi RANET Community Radio in Western Kenya for example, has become a valuable asset to the community, where many people keep glued on their radio sets listening to different programs, while other access the signal via mobile phones.

Through this radio station, the community served by the station can now understand when it is likely to rain, whether the rainfall will be heavy to cause floods, when the dry spell is likely to begin, hence, helping them prepare for the eventualities.

It helps farmers know when to plant and the type of seeds to plant depending on the amount of rainfall expected.

The Horn of Africa region has been noted to be one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change in the world (IPCC, AR5, 2014) due to the inadequacy of resources to adapt socially, technologically and financially.

Use of radio and mobile phones therefore ensures that the required information reach the people on the ground, as a way of reducing the negative impact of climate change.

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, early warning systems have limitations in terms of saving lives if they are not combined with “people-centred” networks.

To be effective, says the federation, warnings will have little value unless they reach the people most at risk, who need to be trained to respond appropriately to an approaching hazard.

And now, with the bigger percentage of people in rural areas having access to community radio, and some of them to smart-phones, it has become easier to interact between the government, the people and the experts.

By Isaiah Esipisu
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (PAMACC News) - Government representatives from Africa, civil society organisations and experts in the water sectors are meeting in Dar Es Salaam to draw a roadmap through which leaders will make commitments at the highest level towards achieving a universal and equitable access to water and sanitation for all.

The event, dubbed Sixth Africa Water Week (AWW) and convened by the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) in conjunction with the African Union Commission brings together over 1000 participants from 100 different African countries.

“In order for Africa to have a universal access to water, then we need goodwill from both governments, and the people,” said H. E. Mwai Kibaki, the immediate former president for Kenya and the UNESCO Special Envoy for Water in Africa.

 Bai Mass Taal, the AMCOW Executive Secretary assured government representatives that his organisation was committed to improving stakeholder’s awareness of the implementable actions for achieving the set targets and actions.

He said that the organisation is also committed to strengthening corporations across countries with shared water resources and building stronger partnership for the implementation of the AMCOW Work Plan and the N’gor Declaration on Water Security and Sanitation.

“It is AMCOW's belief that the current funding landscape for the water sector is grossly insufficient to meet the financial deficit and, most importantly, achieve the Sustainable Development Goal number 6,” said Taal.

This, he continued, calls for innovative approaches for financing water and sanitation infrastructure taking into consideration the huge challenge facing Africa in the mobilisation of financial resources to achieve the SDG 6 target of ensuring that everyone has access to potable water and sanitation.

Her Excellency Rhoda P. Tumusiime, the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission called for a consensus on a common message from the deliberations in Tanzania.

“In the spirit of AMCOW’s mandate to promote cooperation, it is important that a key outcome of our deliberations in Dar es Salaam should be consensus on an a single message that will be carried by our Ministers responsible for Water Affairs in Africa to the political leadership of their individual Member States to support the wholesome integration,” she told the conference in a message read on her behalf.

“This should be a minimum standard for Africa – of the targets of the Africa Water Vision 2025 and the related African political commitments for achieving water and sanitation goals in Africa into the monitoring framework for the SDGs,” added Tumusiime.

By Robert Muthami and Isaiah Esipisu
African Civil Society Organisations (CSO) have called for a rapid phase down of the Short Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) as a way of slowing down the current rate of global warming.

Based on a 2011 study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) titled ‘Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone,’ reducing three of the SLCPs – black carbon, tropospheric ozone, and methane – has the potential to avoid up to 0.5°C global average warming by 2050 and 0.84°C in the Arctic by 2070.

And now, the African CSOs under the umbrella of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) in collaboration with Christian Aid are calling on all African governments and related players to become proactive in reducing some of the short-lived pollutants for the sake of the planet.

According to Benson Ireri, the Senior Policy Adviser at the Christian Aid, there are alternatives that can be used to reduce the use of some of the most lethal pollutants. “Hydrofluorocarbons, also known as super greenhouse gases used in refrigerating and air conditioning systems are some of the most lethal gases to the climate, and yet we use them on daily basis,” he said.

However, said Ireri, alternatives to the hydrofluorocarbons are available, and are already being explored in the developed world. However, it remains a mirage for the developing world.

According to Mithika Mwenda, the Secretary General – PACJA, there is need for capacity building all over Africa, technology transfer, and political goodwill in order for the continent to understand and contextualize discourses related to Montreal Protocol, and which has remained abstract to many players since 1989 when it was ratified.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances such as hydrofluorocarbons that are responsible for ozone depletion.

The agriculture industry has been cited as the main source of hydrofluorocarbon pollution, given refrigeration of the farm produce, sea produce among many others. With the climate change, many households have installed air conditioners in houses to cushion them from the scorching heat, and they use thm in vehicles all over.

However, according to Robert Chimambo of the Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN), Africa has become a dumping ground for some of the pollutants. “All the hydrofluorocarbons are manufactured from abroad, and then sold to Africa. It is sad because most of the countries who manufacture these substances only do it for the African market. At home, they use alternative technologies that are free of hydrofluorocarbons,” he told a Civil Society forum in Kigali, Rwanda.

So far, there are high expectations in the upcoming Vienna meeting of the Montreal Protocol and the Kigali Montreal Protocol-Conference of Parties in July and October, 2016 respectively in providing guidance in phasing down the Short Lived Climate Pollutants.

African Civil Society is expected to play a critical role the same way it has done in influencing the climate change negotiations under the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). However, one of the key challenges is that most southern CSO have limited information about the Montreal Protocol processes due to its technical nature.

It is with the above rationale that PACJA in collaboration with Christian Aid and the Action for Environment and Sustainable Development (AESDN) have organized an African Civil Society Capacity Building workshop on the global phasedown of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) on 11th – 13th July 2016 on the sidelines of the 27th African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

Participants drawn from African CSO’s across African are engaging in the discussions, exploring the gains and challenges under the engagement in the UNFCCC and lessons that could inform the engagement in the Montreal Protocol. From the discussions, African CSO’s have underscored the need to engage and influence the protocol as it has huge potential in contributing to the climate change mitigation targets, hence contributing to progress made under the UNFCCC process.

The Global phase down of the SCLPs is in line with the UNFCCC-COP 21 commitments adopted in Paris and as part of the obligations under the Agreement, countries have now embarked in the implementation of their Nationally Determined Contributions.

 “As of January 2015, 27 countries have specifically mentioned SLCPs, air pollution, or relevant mitigation co-benefits in their INDC submissions and the INDCs of Mexico, Chile, and Nigeriainclude separate specific sections on SLCPs and also specifically discuss black carbon mitigation”.

This therefore affirms that there is need for African CSO’s to influence the Montreal Protocol as it provides an opportunity for countries to realize their mitigation ambitions under the country specific nationally determined Contributions.

At the end of the three day’s workshop African CSO’s will release a statement targeting key decision makers aimed at influencing the Montreal Protocol Conference of Parties to be held in Kigali, Rwanda in October, 2016.

By Isaiah Esipisu and Robert Muthami
KIGALI, Rwanda (PAMACC News) – African Civil Society Organisations, on the sidelines of the ongoing 27th African Union and Governments Summit in Kigali-Rwanda have launched an energy advocacy initiative dubbed the “The Big Shift” aimed at enhancing energy access among millions of African Energy poor.

The Initiative is in line with the African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access (ACSEA) launched during of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), and spearheaded by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

“African States continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels that are becoming more and more expensive for governments and households as prices are skyrocketing,” said Benson Ireri, the Senior Policy Advisor at the Christian Aid.

He noted that 70 percent of the African population still does not have access to modern clean energy services that are efficient, reliable.

According to Mithika Mwenda, the Secretary General for PACJA, there are two global crises in the energy sector which often seem to have contradictory solutions. “The urgency of tackling climate change through a rapid global shift to low-carbon energy is one of the issues, and the secondly is the fact that more than two billion people continue to live in poverty because they have little or no access to clean and reliable energy,” he said.

And now, through a shift of investment away from centralized fossil fuel based energy towards diverse renewable energy sources, the CSOs believe that it is possible to deliver clean energy to developing countries, helping them overcome energy poverty in a way that will not lead to further devastating levels of global warming.

However,the CSO representatives said that, the shift will require a great political goodwill and a massive shift in energy investment strategies across the globe.

Over the next three years, the Big Shift campaign targets to build an international advocacy movement, supported by clear national and regional evidence from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. This is to ensure that the tens of trillions of dollars available for energy infrastructure projects are directed towards low-carbon renewable energy.This will allow the world’s poorest countries to pursue development agendas which will not have dangerous implications for the climate.

So far, the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) has launched an initiative known as Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), which aims to produce 300 gigawatts (GW) of electricity for the continent by 2030.

The bank also has another initiative known as‘The New Deal on Energy for Africa,’which charts the way for a transformative partnership on energy focuses on mobilizing support and funding for the initiative from five key areas.

This is among many other many energy deals targeting Africa, such as the Obama Power Africa Initiative, and the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4A).

The ‘Big Shift’ will therefore track the implementation of investment under these energy initiatives.

“We need other civil society organisations to join the Big Shift initiative and demand for investment in the energy sector to be moved from fossil fuel to renewable or low carbon energy,” said Mithika Mwenda.

The initiative was launched with support from PACJA, Christian Aid and Action for Environment and Sustainable Development Network (AESDN).

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