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One speaker, Mr. Michael O’Brian of Green Peace Africa said “If there was an Olympics Competition for Policy drafting between continents, Africa would win hands down”. All conference participants burst out in laughter, but not because it was funny. The reason is because it is true. We are very good at drafting policy documents, but devoid of action.
Like I had informed you earlier, the ‘2nd Africa Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Conference 2015’ ended with adoption of “Nairobi Action Agenda on Africa” and a “Constitution of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly” symbolized the official start of the “Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA)”. We hope this time we are going to be a continent of action.
Follow the links below to read the declaration and constitution:
I had the opportunity to attend the ‘2nd Africa Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Cnference 2015’ held at the UN complex Gigiri, Nairobi Kenya on 30th and 31st July 2015. There were over 1200 invited attendees, comprising of dignitaries, professionals, farmers and students.
A Major concern of the conference was addressing the continent’s transecting challenge of
hunger and malnutrition in the growing and increasingly young unemployed population, in the face of climate change. The conference intended to showcase how, by investing in its ecosystems and working with nature, Africa can climate proof its food production systems and achieve sustainable agricultural productivity hence enhance food security under the changing climate; and how, by investing in value addition process along the agro-value chain, potential opportunities for employment for the youth are created.
Here are some powerful quotes from some of the speakers;
“Imagine Africa without hunger, poverty, malnutrition, obesity…” Dr. Patrick Kormawa , FAO SRC Eastern & Rep to AU, ECA
“It is not the analysis that we need at this time, we need to go beyond that. We need to take action.” Dr. Cosmas Ochieng, Executive Director, ACTS
”It is within the power of our generation to sort out the challenges of food security in Africa” Dr. Cosmas Ochieng, Executive Director, ACTS
”From a youth perspective? It is our time now. The youth should take over” Youth Delegate from South Africa
”Let us not just speak about what the government can do for us, what the private sector can do for us.. We must be self determining” Alice Kaudia , Environment Secretary. Min. of Environment Kenya
Food Security, as defined by World Food Summit is the condition where all people at all times have social, economic and physical access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary and preferential needs for an active and healthy life. Africa has an immense agricultural potential. It is estimated that about 65% of the world’s arable land and 10% of internal renewable fresh water sources are in Africa, yet;
About 240 million people (25%) in Africa go to bed hungry and over 200million people suffer the debilitating symptoms of chronic to severe malnutrition. (UN-FAO)
6million tones of grain annually are lost due to degraded ecosystems. These are enough to meet annual calorific needs for 30million people.
Sub-Saharan Africa loses food worth up to USD4billion annually (about 23% of field harvests), enough to feed 48million people per annum in Post harvest losses (PHLs) due to inadequate financial and structural resources for proper harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as unfavorable climatic conditions for food storage. (UN FAO)
Africa’s annual food import bill is over USD35 billion. Imports exceed exports by 30%.
In Africa, a 10% increase in crop yields translates to approximately a 7% reduction in poverty, according to the World Bank.
Very interesting facts there. The road to Food Security in Africa, it is believed, lies with the adoption of the Ecosystem based Adaptation driven Agricultural strategies that aim not only at maintaining but also improving the fertility and productivity of ecosystems which often include traditional practices such as conservation agriculture, crop rotation, inter-cropping and biological pest control.
The delegates summarized the conference with strong resolutions to achieve Food Security in Africa, adopting the “Nairobi Action Agenda on Africa’s Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security” declaration. The chief guest H.E. Mrs. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the Africa Union Commission closed the conference with a strong message; ”Together we can build the Africa we want”.
The global environment is changing at a rate never seen before. With the human population already at seven billion and still continuing to expand, especially in Africa, Asian countries and Latin America, things cannot remain the same. Our urban centres and cities are suffering from overcrowding as more people are moving to towns to seek a better life. With this comes all manner of pollution. Solid waste menace is one of them. Municipalities are having a tough time coping with huge volumes of solid waste generated on a daily basis. These wastes end up in dumping sites; where there is little or no recycling done on them. The result is an environment that is highly polluted .Use of plastic bags has aggravated the situation further since they are not biodegradable.
Nations are struggling to feed their populations. Hunger and malnutrition is still lingering on, one year after the Millennium Development Goals expired.The Sustainable Development Goals are now on course. The purpose is to enable implementation of sustainable development agenda post 2015.It calls on nations to realign their development objectives with environmental conservation and management, so that adverse environmental damages are tackled while ensuring improved living standards for the people. Will the Sustainable Development Goals work? How are they going to be implemented? Will nations manage to fund these projects on their own, especially the developing countries?
Meanwhile, climate change is already a reality. Precipitation patterns, distribution and quantities have changed considerably. It is no longer easy to predict rainfall as before. Droughts and floods are common. It is a case of extremes. There is also global temperature rise which is melting ice sheets at the poles and on The Alps, The Everest. Result is sea level rise that is threatening the future of islands and low-lying coastal areas. Stabilizing these temperatures will require a lot of cooperation from all the countries, whether big or small, developed or developing. It will definitely take centuries before results are realized. Sacrifices will have to be made and above all, humans will have to adapt to the changes. How do we for instance, build our homes to withstand these extremes? Would a country like Kenya manage to feed its citizens when rains fail completely? Have we built the capacities of the most vulnerable people in our society, such as those living in arid and semi arid areas? Do they have alternative sources of livelihood other than pastoralism?How about our dependence on hydroelectric power, would we manage to power our homes and industries if water levels in our dams reached the lowest levels, or possibly dried out completely?
Tackling environmental challenges of the 21st century and beyond should concern every government, multilateral corporations, donor agencies and not to forget people like you and me. We all have a role to play. Our environment needs us, but we need it the most.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Beryl is a fourth year student at Maasai Mara University, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science (specializing in environmental conservation and management). She is the current secretary of Maasai Mara University Wildlife and Environmental Club.
During her attachment at Nairobi City County, department of environment, she got exposed to the environmental challenges facing the city of Nairobi and how they are being tackled. She had the opportunity to work in environmental planning and management, solid waste management and the parks departments of the county office.
Environmental concerns over massive dams have risen over the years. Although hydro-electric power is generally seen as an environmentally clean source of power as it does not release harmful emissions of greenhouse gasses as in the burning of fossil fuels in thermal plants notwithstanding its impact on natural water channels is quite considerable.
The construction of dams has affected over 77 percent of the annual discharge of the large rivers in the northern third of the world. Many studies show that there are approximately 36,000 dams over 15 metres (45 feet) high that, when full, contain about 20 percent of the annual runoff (rainfall not absorbed by soil) for the globe. While offering some benefit to humans, these dams have reduced the ability of rivers to transport water and sediment to the ocean. This change affects the ecology of rivers as well as the biology of the oceans receiving the river water.
Some of the oldest dams have stopped functioning because their reservoirs have filled with huge amounts of sediment. Dams also block the passage of fish and other aquatic animals upstream to spawning grounds.
Dams alter the water temperatures and microhabitats downstream. Water released from behind dams usually comes from close to the bottom of the reservoirs, where little sunlight penetrates. This frigid water significantly lowers the temperatures of sun-warmed shallows downstream, rendering them unfit for certain kinds of fish and other wildlife. Natural rivers surge and meander, creating small pools and sandbars that provide a place for young fish, insects, and other river-dwelling organisms to flourish. But dams alter the river flow, eliminating these microhabitats and, in some cases, their inhabitants.
Finally, dams also prevent nutrient-laden silt from flowing downstream and into river valleys. Water in a fast-moving river carries tiny particles of soil and organic material. When the water reaches a pool or a flat section of a river course, it slows down. As it slows, the organic matter it carries drops to the river bottom or accumulates along the banks. Following heavy rains or snowmelt, rivers spill over their banks and deposit organic matter on their floodplains, creating rich, fertile soil. Some of the organic matter makes it all the way to river mouths, where it settles into the rich mud of estuaries, ecosystems that nourish up to one-half of the living matter in the world’s oceans. Large dams artificially slow water to a near standstill, causing the organic matter to settle to the bottom of the reservoir. In such cases, downstream regions are deprived of nutrient-laden silt.
– Ola Olaniyan
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ola Olaniyan is an architect and currently a postgraduate student of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. A dedicated conservationist and environmentalist, he is one of the pioneers of Green Hope Africa an initiative for Physical/Biodiversity Conservation in Africa. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Architecture as well as Master of Architecture from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.