December 22, 2014

Malawi: President Mutharika Speaks Out On Water Situation in Blantyre

George Mhango
December 22, 2014

Malawi President Peter Mutharika says his government is geared at not only solving the water challenges in Blantyre for now, but set the Blantyre Water Board (BWB) to ably supply sufficient water for the population of year 2040.

Mutharika said this during the national address to the public, which was broadcast on public radio and television channels. In his 15-page document, the President said: My fellow Malawians, I am very aware of the water challenges in Blantyre, and I assure everyone that government is determined to supply sufficient water to all residents.”

Arthur Peter Mutharika, the President of Malawi

Arthur Peter Mutharika, the President of Malawi

He said Blantyre Water Board’s infrastructure is aged and has out-lived its design capacity which was meant for a population of 500 000 residents up to the year 1999.

“Today BWB has over 1 million customers. Further, due to inadequate rains in the year 2012/13, the Mudi Dam which produces about 10 percent of the Board’s water production dried up by October 2014. Thirdly, electricity, which costs BWB about K270 million per month to pump water from Nkula, 40 kilometers away from the City has been another challenge,” said Mutharika.

According to Mutharika, his government embarked on a total rehabilitation of the Blantyre Water Board production facilities and replacement of pumps at Walkers Ferry and Chileka Pumping Stations, and by March 2015, the board will be able to meet all the demand of 96 000 cubic meters per day, up from the current 74 000 cubic meters production capacity.

“In addition, we will construct a water supply system from Mulanje Mountain at a cost of about US$ 15 million, to provide an extra 8 000 cubic meters of water per day to Blantyre and surrounding areas.

December 5, 2014

COP 20 | CMP 10: 2014 Will Likely Be the Hottest On Record, WMO Warns

Wambi Michael,
PAMACC Team in Lima
December 05, 2014

World Meteorological Organization says the year 2014 is on track for being one of the hottest, if not the hottest, on record, according to preliminary results issued at the side lines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru.

The changes according to the estimates are largely due to record WMO high global sea surface temperatures, which are predicted to likely remain above normal until the end of the year.

The report says High sea temperatures, together with other factors, contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others.

The high January to October temperatures according to WMO, Secretary General Michel Jerraud occurred in the absence of a full El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

ENSO occurs when warmer than average sea-surface temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific combine, in a self-reinforcing loop, with atmospheric pressure systems, thus affecting weather patterns globally.

During the year, sea surface temperatures increased nearly to El Niño thresholds but this was not coupled with an atmospheric response. However, many weather and climate patterns normally associated with El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) were observed in many parts of the world.

“The provisional information for 2014 means that fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century. There is no standstill in global warming,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud,” he said.

He says what was observed this year is consistent with what they expect from a changing climate.

Jarraud explained that record-breaking heat combined with torrential rainfall and floods destroyed livelihoods and ruined lives. He said what what is particularly unusual and alarming this year are the high temperatures of vast areas of the ocean surface, including in the northern hemisphere.

Record-high greenhouse gas emissions and associated atmospheric concentrations according to Jarraud are committing the planet to a much more uncertain and inhospitable future.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commenting on the report expressed fear that then changing climate the risks of extreme weather events will have an increased impact on humanity.

“Fortunately our political climate is changing too with evidence that governments, supported by investors, business and cities are moving towards a meaningful, universal climate agreement in Paris 2015”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

She explained that an agreement that keeps a global temperature rise below 2 degrees C by putting in place the pathways to a deep de-carbonisation of the world’s economy and climate neutrality or ‘net zero’ in the second half of the century is urgently needed.

WMO’s provisional statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2014 indicated that the global average air temperature over land and sea surface for January to October was about 0.57° Centigrade (1.03 Fahrenheit) above the average of 14.00°C (57.2 °F) for the 1961-1990 reference period, and 0.09°C (0.16 °F) above the average for the past ten years (2004-2013).

The reports says if November and December maintain the same tendency, then 2014 will likely be the hottest on record, ahead of 2010, 2005 and 1998. This according to Jarraud and his forecasters confirms the underlying long-term warming trend.

Highlights from the Statement

Land Surface Temperatures

Average surface air temperatures over land for January to October 2014 were about 0.86°C above the 1961-1990 average, the fourth or fifth warmest for the same period on record.

Western North America, Europe, eastern Eurasia, much of Africa, large areas of South America and southern and western Australia were especially warm. Cooler-than-average conditions for the year-to-date were recorded across large areas of the United States and Canada and parts of central Russia.

Heatwaves occurred in South Africa, Australia and Argentina in January. Australia saw another prolonged warm spell in May. Record heat affected northern Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and southern Brazil in October. Notable cold waves were reported in the U.S. during the winter, Australia in August and in Russia in October.

Ocean Heat

Global sea-surface temperatures were the highest on record, at about 0.45°C above the 1961-1990 average.

December 5, 2014

COP 20 | CMP 10: El Nino looms over East Africa

Peter Labeja,
Pamacc Team in Lima
December 05, 2014

Few days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of worst climate ahead, the East African Meteorologists have moved to issue El Nino alert over the region.

Uganda National Meteorology Authority is calling for preparation of the members of the public for the occurrence of the adverse weather event. According to the alert, El Nino is expected to occur between December 2014 and February 2015. El Niño is a weather condition characterized by unusually long rainfall conditions with the possibility of flooding and landslides.

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Jackson Rwakishaija, the Acting Executive Director Uganda National Meteorological Authority says there are adequate factors putting the probability of occurrence at up to 70 percent.

He says the Pacific Ocean has shown renewed signs of El Nino development in recent weeks adding that, above average temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean typical of El Nino conditions have warmed further in the last fortnight.

The World Meteorological Station concurs with the authority. It says the Southern Ocean Oscillation Index has generally been in excess of El Nino thresholds in the past three months. According to Rwakishaija, not all factors responsible for development of El Nino have been satisfied. He says regardless of whether or not El Nino fully develops, warmer than average tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures combined with cooler waters currently observed to the north of Australia increases the chance of El Nino like impacts over the East African region.

Rwakishaija concludes that this suggests above average rainfall during the month of December and January over Uganda. The authority warns that when the predicted El Nino comes, it will be stormy accompanied by strong winds and sometimes hail stones. Uganda’s capital Kampala has been experiencing heavy rains in recent weeks that resulted into flooding. El Niño conditions tend to occur once in every five years.

The last severe El Nino in Uganda occurred in 2006 causing massive flooding in Teso, Lango and Acholi regions. Mountainous areas like Sironko, Kapchorwa, Mbale, Bundibugyo and Kabale face the increased risk of landslides during severe El Nino. The Alert comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned the world of the worst climate conditions ahead.

Dr. Rajendra Kumhar Pachauri, the head of United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told negotiators at the Lima Climate talks that the increase in temperatures observed in 2014 is much more than any observed in the last 10 years. Currently, planet earth is experiencing a phenomenon known as global warming of 0.8 Celsius degrees increase in temperature.

The increase climate scientists warned is bad enough to trigger many adverse weather conditions across the world. The cautions have triggered a series of coordinated actions including reductions in emissions of industrial greenhouse gas to prevent the temperature increase hitting the 1.5 Celsius degree mark by the end of the century.

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

Back in East Africa region, the Kenya Meteorological Department has also reported that there will be enhanced rains in many parts of the country till next year.

James G. Kongoti, the acting Director of Kenya Meteorological Services and permanent representative of Kenya at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says the October to December season indicates that much of the country is likely to experience enhanced rainfall.

He attributes this to the expected evolution of global sea surface temperatures that is favorable for the development of a weak El Nino during the season. According to the Kenya Meteorological Department, the sea surface temperatures off the East African coastline are expected to revert to neutral conditions early in the season.

The findings have been consistent with earlier measurements. In August, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) appealed to the national and county governments to adequately prepare for the El Nino rains expected by October this year.

KRCS Chief Executive Officer Abbas Gullet said with the rains experienced in recent weeks, signs were clear that Kenya will have El Nino rains later this year. “We already know the October-November short rains will have an El Nino effect. The rains we have been getting a few weeks ago are freak rains which are a precursor to the main El Nino,” he cautioned.

“How prepared are we all the time… whether it’s a county government or a central government? So we don’t want to be shocked when we see those pictures,” he warned.

According to Gullet – whose society has been at the forefront in providing humanitarian aid in drought or flood hit areas – the El Nino warning should be taken seriously right from the national government to the counties to alleviate the effects that come with heavy flooding.

In October, United Nations scientists urged preparation for weather-disrupting El Niño phenomenon which they said recur after every two to seven years. They said the warming of parts of the Pacific Ocean in 1997-98 changed the patterns of the wind and moisture overhead, resulting in severe weather around the world.

The Climate disaster that swept through the horn of Africa region also affected Kenya. It was blamed for thousands of deaths in storms, heat waves, fires, floods, frost and drought. Property damage was at least $32 billion. “The 1997-98 event was a wake-up call,” said Michael Glantz of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

“Awareness of what El Niño can do to societies and economies is now high,” said Glantz, a longtime El Niño researcher and senior author of the report. According to the UN scientist, the government of Peru saved the day when it formed a task force to coordinate activities and went to the World Bank for money to clean up rivers and canals and shore up bridges and roads a head of the 1997-98 El Nino.

On the other side of the coin, he said, Kenya had the forecast in June of 1997 and the government didn’t act on it. “When heavy rains came, roads collapsed, train routes collapsed, bridges, etc.,” he said.

It may be that the forecast influence of El Niño on Kenya was less clear to officials, he said, but by organizing regional groups to prepare and increasing education this can be overcome.

December 2, 2014

COP 20 | CMP 10: African Fish Industry in Danger As Global Warming Intensifies

Arison Tamfu and PAMACC TEAM, Lima
December 2, 2014

Peru, Lima, December 2, 2014: Ana Faustor, a middle-aged Peruvian lady takes a passionate bite at a grilled fish as she follows proceedings at the UN Climate change talks in Lima just outside the hall where deliberations are taking place.

Delegates at Cop20 Opening Session in Lima, Peru

Delegates at Cop20 Opening Session in Lima, Peru

Inside the hall, officials reflect on how dangerous climate change has become to mankind and insist that the time to act is now but Ana`s thoughts are buried in nostalgia of the days of abundant fish and how she used to go fishing with her father in Chimbote, in the north of South American country, Peru.

“Things have changed now. Fishing is becoming difficult and fishes are disappearing,” she says regretting how good fish is becoming rare in Peru, a country that holds second place in the worldwide production of aquatic species.

As the UN Climate change conference opened in Peru, Ana hoped for an outcome that will mitigate the impacts of climate change across the globe.

“That is why I am attending the conference. Things are getting out of hand. We do know what to do,” she laments. Millions of miles across the Ocean in Limbe, a town in West African country, Cameroon, Enoh Joseph shares her sentiments.

“My catch has reduced drastically. Sometimes I stay for days without going to fish because of bad weather. Sometimes I wonder what we have done wrong to nature,” says Enoh who has been fishing for over two decades.

Ana may be worried about the dwindling production of fish in Peru but for African fish traders and fishermen like Enoh, it is a question of life and death.

“Fishing is my life. I feed my family from fishing; send my children to school from fishing, in brief all my life is about fishing. I fear for the future so much,” says Enoh.

The West African region is home to about 43% of the total population in Sub Saharan Africa.

The fisheries sector plays an enormous role on the national economies of the region and constitutes the main livelihood for a majority of people living along the coasts and in riparian areas.

Countries like Senegal, The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Ghana largely depend on fisheries for their national economies and as a major source of foreign revenue. In Cameroon, Benin, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal, more than half of the population consumes fish products daily.

According to a report by UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in 2006, high demand for fish and associated products led to more than five million fishers, fish processors and fish traders in the region, besides other jobs such as boat building and small scale business in the fisheries sector.

In Cameroon, fisheries provide jobs for marginalized groups- mostly women who dominate processing, retailing and local trading of fish products but climate change is threatening the flourishing industry.

“Here at the UN climate change Conference in Lima, the scientific report made it clear that the impact of climate change will be more intense and more frequent and the fishing industry is not left out. Because of rising sea levels and floods, fishermen are finding it difficult to go fishing with the boats in the troubled waters. Many have to stop fishing.
So the fishing industry is affected. In Cameroon for instance, fishermen are complaining they can`t go into the sea because of the wild waves. Therefore the market chain is affected and that goes across Africa” says Robert Chimambo, a member of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), a continental coalition of Civil Society Organizations defending the position of Africa in climate change talks.

Forecasts of fish production in the future indicate that majority of the fisheries will be affected by climate change, and may cause food insecurity. With regional fish stocks already on the decline, per capita fish consumption has declined.

It is speculated that demand for fish will exceed supply in West Africa, with an annual decrease in fish supply by 4% per year, leading to a supply deficit of 3.6 M t in 2015.

“The fisheries productivity of West Africa is highly vulnerable to projected impacts of climate change. The region is ill-prepared to safeguard the fisheries sector from these projections. Consequently, the traditional support provided by the fisheries such as food security is threatened if not in deterioration, and it is not well known whether the region would be able to meet its nutritional demands under the worst case scenario of climate change,” says Robert Katikiro who has researched extensively on the impacts of climate change on the fish industry in Africa.

In a study conducted in 2012, Robert Katikiro and Edison Macusi found that the magnitude of the problem in terms of its severity and proportion of the population affected differ from country to country even at household level.

According to the study, food production has declined in countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Senegal leading to their dependence on food aid.

“The reliance on foreign food staples means that no country in the region is self-sufficient in terms of food production,” says Katikiro

FAO estimates that Africa will need adequate food supplies for 18 million additional people each year and to improve the nutritional status of the 94 million people currently undernourished if it is to meet the Millennium Development Goal.

Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairperson IPCC speaking during the opening ceremony of COP20 in Lima

Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairperson IPCC speaking during the opening ceremony of COP20 in Lima

Experts are unanimous that urgent actions need to be taken to improve awareness of fishers and fishing communities about the impacts of climate change on their livelihood.

“Concerted efforts should be taken from local to regional level to address adaptation to climate change. Fishers and fishing communities should be empowered to make them venture to other livelihood occupations and their Fisheries should be climate-proofed,” says Kitikiro.

Chimambo who is actively taking part in the UN Climate Change talks in Peru is committed to ensuring that activities that make people, ecosystems and infrastructure less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are raised and fully discussed at the Conference.

“Basically the whole process of adaptation is to try and raise those issues. How do our people get compensated for this damage? That is why the negotiations for loss and damage are crucial. And our people (Africans) did not cause the damage; they are victims of climate change which is caused by developed nations. The technology that we were using when the sea was normal is getting out of place. So we need research to introduce new methods of fishing. And that requires investment, not from African governments’ budgets but developed countries that are responsible for climate change,” he says

For the two weeks (Dec.1–12) of climate change talks here in Lima, genuine and universally accepted decisions need to be taken to rescue people like Ana and Enoh from perishing with impact of climate change.

November 29, 2014

Malawi: Women Champion Climate Smart Agriculture

George Mhango
November 29, 2014

Alice Kachere—a mother of three—from the outskirts of Lilongwe, Malawi’s administrative capital has lived part of her life complaining about high poverty levels .

Kachere could not live a decent life, something that tormented her in terms of how to raise children and other family members. Food was also a challenge in her family.

She lives in Nyanja, Lilongwe close to Mchinji, a district that borders Malawi and Zambia on the Western part of the country.

“I lacked food, clothes, school fees for my children and as if that was not enough, I lived in a house made of mud. It was terrible during the rainy season as grass-thatched houses often times leak,” said Kachere.

Unlike her colleagues, who belonged to farming associations, she never took farming as a tool that could transform her livelihood. Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the economies of most nations.

“Poor rainfall in my area has contributed to my failure to regard farming as business to tackle poverty,” she said, adding that there land is not fertile to warrant good agricultural production.

Little did Kachere know that having a small portion of unfertile land was no excuse for one not to engage in farming. There’s a new method of farming promoted by the TerrAfrica Sustainable Land and Water Management partnership. It is called Conservation Agriculture and has proven to be a best practice farming for the future.

Women in Malawi return from collecting sand and water. Women involvement in water management in agriculture is valuable because of their experiences and responsibilities in crop production and collection of water for domestic uses.

Women in Malawi return from collecting sand and water. Women involvement in water management in agriculture is valuable because of their experiences and responsibilities in crop production and collection of water for domestic uses.

Conservation Agriculture popularly known by its acronym CA is “a concept for resource-saving agricultural crop production that strives to achieve acceptable profits together with high and sustained production levels while concurrently conserving the environment” (FAO 2007).

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has determined that CA has three key principles that producers (farmers) can proceed through in the process of CA. These three principles outline what conservationists and producers believe can be done to conserve what we use for a longer period of time.

The first key principle in CA is practicing minimum mechanical soil disturbance/ no-till farming which is essential to maintaining minerals within the soil, stopping erosion, and preventing water loss from occurring within the soil. No-till farming has caught on as a process that can save soils organic levels for a longer period and still allow the soil to be productive for longer periods.

The second key principle in CA is much like the first in dealing with protecting the soil. The principle of managing the top soil to create a permanent organic soil cover can allow for growth of organisms within the soil structure. This growth will break down the mulch that is left on the soil surface. The breaking down of this mulch will produce a high organic matter level which will act as a fertilizer for the soil surface.

The third principle is the practice of crop rotation with more than two species. Crop rotation can be used best as a disease control against other preferred crops.

It remains the view of various agriculture organisations that if more produce is harvested, farmers would export surplus products since most African economies are agro-based.

Just one meeting on sustainable land and water management, including conservation agriculture organised by the National Smallholder Farmers Association (Nasfam)—which she unwillingly attended – Kachere’s life was changed for the better.

First, Kachere had to accept that she can use her one hectare piece of land to cultivate crops twice a year. Secondly, that although the land was not productive, she has to do conservation agriculture so as to make it fertile.

And with one hectare of land, today, Kachere is now chair of Nyanja Association since 2009 and a role model to most of the women farmers in Malawi. She has reaped the rewards through CA.

Due to her farming prowess, she attends various trainings in making farming as business, climate smart agriculture, financing and market exploration for the betterment of members of her association.

Moreover, Kachere has built herself a better house and is taking care of her elderly mother and can now afford her children’s school fees.

“With the nature of my land, I had to realize that I have to promote conservation agriculture, we are doing soil cover and planting trees which adds more nutrients to the soil such as Nsangu,” said Kachere.

She grows maize, beans, and pigeon peas. “Considering the gravity of climate change, which has affected most farmers, I am also more into climate smart agriculture,” she said, adding that she sells her surplus maize and beans to buy fertilizer & lime and keep her family going.

Kachere is one of the many farmers today in Malawi, who are championing conservation agriculture.

A woman in Kanzilu village in Mutomo, Eastern Kenya cuts cassava stem

A woman in Kanzilu village in Mutomo, Eastern Kenya cuts cassava stem

Ines Malemia, a mother of three and member of the Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) is also into conservation farming.

“I have 30 hectares of land in Mdeka, Blantyre where I grow pigeon peas. The land is friendly to such a crop unlike maize and beans. I intend to start growing cotton next season in Mangochi so that my business grows,” said Malemia.

For her, this is a holistic approach to agricultural production, based on enhancing natural soil biological regeneration processes involving improved soil organic matter management for the efficient use of precipitation, soil moisture and plant nutrients.

With Malawi government, allocating more financial resources towards the Agriculture Ministry during the current budget, both Malemia and Kachere hope some funds will be used to champion conservation and smart agriculture and climate smart agriculture.

At a recent CAADP Africa Forum held in Johannesburg in South Africa, various speakers backed CA as key to African Agriculture.

Research done by NEPAD shows that climate change effects are becoming more frequent and more severe, threatening the reliability and productivity of agriculture, exacerbating already extreme levels of poverty, and reinforcing persistent inequity and chronic under-nutrition.

Researchers however, said the challenge can be avoided through widespread adoption of more resilient, productive, sustainable, equitable and increasingly efficient farming practices.

This is why at the CAADP Africa Forum; NEPAD programmes director Estherine Fotabong reiterated the need for farmers to input on issues of climate smart agriculture and other pertinent issues on the Malabo Declaration.

According to Fotabong, the declaration, which is an implementation strategy and roadmap, will be submitted to African Heads of State and Governments during the upcoming African Union Summit in January 2015.

“We want reaffirmation from leaders on ending hunger and poverty by 2025 and also to enhance resilience and livelihood and productive systems to climate vulnerability and other shocks hence the plea to add value to the declaration before taking to the African leaders,” she said.

In the field of CA there are many benefits that both the producer and conservationist can obtain. CA can change the way humans produce food and energy. CA is shown to have even higher yields and higher outputs than conventional agriculture once CA has been establish over long periods. And our women champions in Malawi can attest that locally CA has ripped them rewards.

November 26, 2014

Uganda: Residents to Get Loans for Constructing Latrines

Cliff Abenaitwe
November 24, 2014

Health officials in Uganda’s southwestern district of Mbarara have announced plans to partner with local commercial banks to extend financial services to families in the district for constructing improved pit latrines.

Masereka Umaru, the district health inspector tells our correspondent there that this partnership with commercial banks like Post Bank and Opportunity Bank is aimed at increasing safe toilet coverage in the district which currently stands at only 53 percent of the homesteads there. This means that the remaining 47 percent practice open defecation.

A pit latrine in Bushenyi district, Uganda

A pit latrine in Bushenyi district, Uganda

Masereka explains that some poor families in the rural parts of the district find it hard to construct pit latrines because the procedure needs a lot of funds to hire people to construct pits and buy various materials including pipes.

He is optimistic that this arrangement that will see people get loans to re-pay in three years will enable homes to have safe latrines that could help in the fight against poor sanitation related diseases.

This comes a week after the commemoration of the World Toilet Day, a day set aside to highlight the dilemma of 2.5 billion people without access to a clean, private toilet globally.

November 19, 2014

Malawi: UNICEF Calls for More Toilets

George Mhango
November 19, 2014

UNICEF officials in Malawi and UN headquarters have warned that slow progress on sanitation and the entrenched practice of open defecation among millions around the world continue to put children and their communities at risk as the world celebrates World Toilet Day.

Meanwhile, UNICEF in collaboration with other stakeholders such as DFID and Concern Universal are working with communities, sensitizing them about the importance of hygiene and dangers of open defecation.

As a result, 440 villages in the central region districts of Dowa and Kasungu have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). At the national level, the percentage of villages that have been declared as open defecation free has increased from 3 percent in 2011 to 19 percent in 2014.

Poor Sanitation and hygiene remains one of dangerous threats to good health in most Africa’s towns

Poor Sanitation and hygiene remains one of dangerous threats to good health in most Africa’s towns

To mark this year’s World Toilet Day, UNICEF is supporting the celebration of the 440 ODF villages in Kasungu and Dowa districts. The event which is a collaboration between Concern Universal, UNICEF, DFID and Dowa’s District Coordination Team (DCT) will showcase the ability of local communities to achieve universal access to safe and private toilets.

Eighty-two per cent of the 1 billion people practicing open defecation live in just 10 countries: India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Niger, Nepal, China, and Mozambique. The numbers of people practicing open defecation are still rising in 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, though they have declined in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. In Nigeria, numbers of open defecators increased from 23 million in 1990 to 39 million in 2012.

Globally, some 1.9 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation since 1990. However, progress has not kept up with population growth and the Millennium Development Goal target on sanitation is unlikely to be reached by 2015 at current rates of progress.

The inter-governmental Open Working Group on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals have recommended that the new goals include a target of achieving adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and ending open defecation by 2030.

Reports say some 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have adequate toilets and among them 1 billion defecate in the open – in fields, bushes, or bodies of water – putting them, and especially children, in danger of deadly faecal-oral diseases like diarrhoea.

A makeshift bathroom. Few people in developing countries are familiar with the dangerous health risks their families face due to their poor sanitary facilities.

A makeshift bathroom. Few people in developing countries are familiar with the dangerous health risks their families face due to their poor sanitary facilities.

Statistics show that in 2013 more than 340,000 children under five died from diarrhoeal diseases due to a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene – an average of almost 1,000 deaths per day.

“Lack of sanitation is a reliable marker of how the poorest in a country are faring,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s global water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes. “But although it is the poor who overwhelmingly do not have toilets, everyone suffers from the contaminating effects of open defecation, so everyone should have a sense of urgency about addressing this problem.”

“The challenge of open defecation is one of both equity and dignity, and very often of safety as well, particularly for women and girls,” Wijesekera noted. “They have to wait until dark to relieve themselves, putting them in danger of attack, and worse, as we have seen recently.”

In May, the hanging of two teenage girls in Uttar Pradesh who had gone out after dark to defecate caused international shock and dismay, and highlighted the security issues involved in open defecation.

UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation addresses the problem at the local level by involving communities in devising solutions, and has led to some 26 million people across more than 50 countries abandoning the practice of open defecation since 2008.

November 18, 2014

South Africa: SCA and WSSCC Partner to Break Silence around Menstruation

WaterSan Perspective and WSSCC
November 18, 2014

SCA, a leading global hygiene and forest products company, and the Geneva-based Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), a United Nations body devoted solely to the sanitation and hygiene needs of vulnerable and marginalized people, have entered into an innovative new partnership to break the silence around menstruation for women and girls around the world.

SCA and WSSCC will jointly work to educate on menstrual issues and the importance of good hygiene.

The parties announced the partnership in Cape Town, South Africa, in connection with Team SCA’s first stop-over in the Volvo Ocean Race round the world competition.

SCA and WSSCC menstrual hygiene training with young girls from the townships of Khayelitsha and Gugaletu. On any given day, more than 800 million women between the ages of 15-49 are menstruating. Adequate and appropriate sanitation and hygiene facilities can provide a comfortable space for them to manage their menstruation with privacy and dignity

SCA and WSSCC menstrual hygiene training with young girls from the townships of Khayelitsha and Gugaletu. On any given day, more than 800 million women between the ages of 15-49 are menstruating. Adequate and appropriate sanitation and hygiene facilities can provide a comfortable space for them to manage their menstruation with privacy and dignity

During the Cape Town stop-over, Team SCA attended a menstrual hygiene workshop with girls and women from the townships of Khayelitsha and Gugaletu, where experts from WSSCC, the Volunteer Centre (a Cape Town NGO), and SCA led a training session and discussion of the challenges the women face in managing their periods.

The partnership will include actions during, and between, the race stopovers until June 2015. These include Brazil (Itajai), China (Sanya), New Zealand (Auckland), Portugal (Lisbon), South Africa (Cape Town), Sweden (Gothenburg), The Netherlands (The Hague), United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi) and the USA (Newport).

“Safe and hygienic menstruation is a basic human right and fundamental to women’s equality,” said Chris Williams, executive director of WSSCC. “Securing this right requires action at every level of society, from the girls and women of Khayelitsha and Gugaletu to multinational companies like SCA. I am proud that SCA has stepped up to the challenge, and I look forward to working closely with them to continue breaking the silence around menstruation.”

“A majority of adolescent girls and women in the world do not have access to adequate information about menstruation nor access to sanitation or hygiene products,” said Jan Johansson, President and CEO of SCA. “With the WSSCC partnership SCA aims to break the menstrual taboos that jeopardize the health of millions of women every day, raise the awareness of menstrual hygiene and empower women and communities to take action, as menstruation should not hold women back to participate fully in society socially, educationally and professionally.”

SCA and WSSCC menstrual hygiene training with young girls from the townships of Khayelitsha and Gugaletu. One school study in Ethiopia reported over 50% of girls missing between one and four days of school per month due to menstruation

SCA and WSSCC menstrual hygiene training with young girls from the townships of Khayelitsha and Gugaletu. One school study in Ethiopia reported over 50% of girls missing between one and four days of school per month due to menstruation

In many developing countries, millions of women and girls are left to manage their periods with solutions at hand, such as cloth, paper or clay and no access to private toilets, water or soap. Sanitary products like pads are unaffordable or simply unavailable, and urinary or reproductive tract infections are common. As a result, girls miss valuable days in school, and women are unable to work, stifling productivity and advancement.

November 13, 2014

South Africa: African Farmers Told To Take Advantage of Opportunities That Come With Climate Change

George Mhango
November 13, 2014

As most African economies continue to depend on agriculture, the need to adopt climate smart agriculture remained a major debate at the 10th CAADP Africa Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The debate emanated from clear examples that countries such as Malawi, Burundi, Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique and Swaziland are dependent on agriculture and if nothing is done by governments, farmers and policy makers their economies will disintegrate.

Tea plantation in Chepsir village southwestern Mau block in Kenya

Tea plantation in Chepsir village southwestern Mau block in Kenya

The forum held under the theme Family Farming—has been organised by NEPAD through Comprehensive Africa Agriculture development Programme (CAADP) and Southern Africa Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU).

Among various key issues at the meeting was the need for farmers to champion Climate Smart-Agriculture (CSA) to maximise agricultural production to feed their families.

According to Ousmane Djibo from GIZ, young farmers should be involved right from their primary school ages where adults can learn from since the climate smart agriculture is about future generations.

He said introduction of such lessons could ensure that children become proud and confident about being agricultural experts, inspiring them to enter into agriculture.

Djibo added that CSA policies and strategies need to be tailored to regional realities considering that the impact of climate change differs from region to region.

“Some regions in Africa will actually benefit by having a longer growing season or more rain. We farmers need to be involved also in the development of policies,” said Djibo.

President of SACAU Theo De Jager said it was sad that farmers who constitute 80 percent of the continents population earn their living with their fingers in the soil due to lack of alternatives that would boost agricultural production to feed the continent.

“Agriculture is the main driver of the economy of this continent. This is why we are meeting as SACAU and other partners such as CAADP and regional farmer organisations to discuss how to improve agricultural production,” he said.

He said farmers in this generation, than before, face climate change effects which call for concerted efforts in a bid to deal with the vice to maximise production.

De Jager singled out the fact that young farmers need to be well sensitised to understand the changing times so they think of how to handle farming to protect the future generation.

“We can list a number of scientific evidence that shows that climate is rapidly changing but for a farmer you don’t need to present that because farmers know that and they feel it. You see, there is no other fraternity that is more vulnerable to climate change than farmers. We have to know, therefore, that we are key players of what needs to happen to deal with the vice,” he said.

De Jager asked young farmers not to be threatened by climate change, but rather see it as a wonderful opportunity by changing policies to do with markets and trade likely to be a threat in three years.

Africa represents only a small fraction, 3.6%, out of the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year

Africa represents only a small fraction, 3.6%, out of the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year

Research by NEPAD through CAADP shows that climate change effects are becoming more frequent and more severe, threatening the reliability and productivity of agriculture, exacerbating already extreme levels of poverty, and reinforcing persistent inequity and chronic under-nutrition.

It has however, said the challenge can be avoided through widespread adoption of more resilient, productive, sustainable, equitable and increasingly efficient farming practices in line with CAADP’s initiative on Climate-Smart-Agriculture.

This is why at the forum; NEPAD programmes director Mrs Estherine Fotabong reiterated the need for farmers to input issues of climate smart agriculture and other pertinent issues on the Malabo Declaration up for scrutiny this Wednesday.

According to Fotabong, the declaration, which is an implementation strategy and roadmap, will be submitted to African Heads of State and Governments during the 2015 African Union Summit in January.

“We want reaffirmation from leaders on ending hunger and poverty by 2025 and also to enhance resilience and livelihood and productive systems to climate vulnerability and other shocks hence the plea to add value to the declaration before taking to the African leaders,” she said.

Justus Mochache Monda from Kenya Farmers Federation in his presentation titled mobilising farmers for market access said developing countries will continue to rely heavily on the agricultural sector hence the need to promote climate smart agriculture and family farming.

“Farmers, especially smallholder farmers remain the drivers of many economies in Africa even though their potential is often not brought forward. The sector is the key to food security, poverty reduction, and employment creation as well as meet climate change challenges,” he said.

As the forum ends delegates have maintained that farmer organisation is an essential ingredient of success in climate smart agriculture. This according to many participants at the forum signifies a point that crop production which depends on water through minimum tillage systems, evergreen agriculture and agroforestry systems, are key elements of the portfolio of CSA solutions.

November 11, 2014

South Africa: African Farmers Meet Over Climate-Smart Agriculture

GEORGE MHANGO
November 11, 2014

A joint three-day Africa Forum organised by NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) is underway in Johannesburg South Africa. The forum aims to champion Family Farming and climate smart agriculture through exchange of ideas by those in the agriculture sector on the continent.

From discussions, so far, what is clear from the forum is that NEPAD, regional and national farmer’s organisations, as well as young farmers, want knowledge sharing and learning among farmers, experts and decision makers so that there is food abundance on the continent.

Some farmers in Africa have ventured into irrigation to help them mitigate and adopt to effects climate change .

Some farmers in Africa have ventured into irrigation to help them mitigate and adopt to effects climate change .

Delegates were of the view that this year’s Africa Forum was the best vehicle that would help to foster best farming practices across the Africa for a country-driven development of agriculture.

In her opening remarks NEPAD programme director, Mrs Estherine Fotabong said farmers need to learn and share knowledge and experience about family farming plus what promising practices could be adopted in view of what climate smart agriculture calls.

She said this is why the forum is also part of commemorations of the 2014 African Union (AU) Year of Agriculture and Food, Nutrition and Security with a clear link to UN year of Family Farming. Fotabong explained that the forum is also meant to celebrate the existence of CAADP and the 10th anniversary of the Africa Forum which was established in 2004 in Kenya.

“We are not only looking at the role that farmers play in ensuring that there is food security and nutrition security, but also the role that you as farmers play in creating employment and management of natural resources,” said Fotabong.

She said this is why the forum is also part of commemorations of the 2014 African Union (AU) Year of Agriculture and Food, Nutrition and Security with a clear link to the UN Year of Family Farming.

Fotabong explained that the forum is also meant to celebrate the existence of CAADP and the 10th anniversary of the Africa Forum which was launched in 2004 in Kenya.

“As we have been reflecting on CAADP implementation, it has been very obvious that the role of African smallholder farmers, which we want to equate to African farming, is very critical in terms of Africa’s agricultural development,” said Fotabong.

On the other hand, President of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) Theo de Jager maintained that hunger and inequality could be dealt with if the continent has enough food so they are able to sell surplus food for their daily upkeep.

He said farmers could boost production if they collectively explore modern ways of farming and ensure use of market opportunities considering that the continent is blessed with water and plentiful land.

“Famers on the African continent are facing a challenge of climate change and we can list a number of scientific evidence as to how farmers face it. Therefore, we are key role players of what it needs to deal with climate change. In this case, it is good that we have more farmers who are young at this forum so that we don’t complain anymore,” he said.

Der Jager bemoaned that farmers are unable to exploit agricultural markets that are there within the region at the expense of the knowledge that is there due to lack of political will.

“We need politicians from different countries to understand each other so that there is no challenge on issues of export business. There is also need to mechanise the agricultural sector as was the case in the communication technology,” he said.

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

The Forum is also expected to give farmers and farmer organisations time to reflect and input into the Malabo Declaration proposed in Equatorial Guinea by farmers and organisations as an implementation strategy and roadmap before it is submitted to Heads of State and Government at the 2015 AU Summit.

Fotabong further explained that farmers are also key players of ensuring that the Malabo Decralation comes to fruition so that it is implemented by African leaders.

“And so as we reflect and we think as to how to implement Malabo, it is our view as NEPAD that farmers are central and critical players in the translation of the Malabo outcomes into concrete actions and results on the ground ,” said FOtabong.

During the opening session, Mr Phillip Kiriro, the President of Eastern Africa Farmers Federation, representing PAFO, said farmers want governments to introduce farming friendly policies aimed at making farming as business and advocate for climate smart agriculture.

He said it was also important that people discuss issues of agriculture in line with commercialization so that the sector is transformed.

Kiriro also called for the establishment of a commercial law in a bid to protect farmers cooperatives so that they acquire more opportunities in the supply chain within the continent to solve their challenges.

He said it was also important that people discuss issues of agriculture in line with commercialisation so that the sector is transformed besides having a commercial law to protect cooperatives so that they acquire more opportunities in the supply chain to solve their challenges.

“Infact, productivity levels are still worrying, to an extent where it is getting closer to a situation where our government think they would rather import producers, commercial people to do this because our productivity levels have gone down, but we know if you take for example in the Comesa region and other regions, the reason why we are failing is because of lack support to the sector. We need to organise ourselves,” said Kiriro.

He added that the issue of land is key to achieving climate smart agriculture, saying the kind of work we can achieve this is the availability of land which needs finances.

The Africa Forum through CAADP was established 10 years ago in Kenya for farmers and representatives, policy makers, manufacturers, traders, retailers, finances and development workers who work in or for African agriculture to share ideas.

The Africa Forum is part of the CAADP framework, and is coordinated by the five regional farmer organisations (RFOs) and Pan African Farmers Organisations together with the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA).

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