NEPAD stresses political will at climate change summit

26Nov 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
NEPAD stresses political will at climate change summit

By Friday Phiri

STRONG political will is the key ingredient to pushing Africa’s agriculture agenda at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiating table, says the African Union Commission’s implementing agency, New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)

Estherine Fotabong



In line with Africa’s theme at COP 22, ‘Africa in Action, NEPAD Director of Programmes Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong says high level political engagements are required to support the negotiating team achieve Africa’s major objective of pushing agricultural adaptation in the main agenda of the COP processes and be able to access climate financing.

Fotabong said this during a side event at COP 22. “Agriculture’s role to African countries’ implementation of nationally determined contributions has to be well articulated at the highest level and let it benefit from climate finance because without money, nothing will move,” she says.

While agriculture does not have a strong presence in the Paris Agreement, 98 per cent of African countries’ nationally determined contributions have an agricultural adaptation component.

Discussions over the years have centred on treating agriculture as a mitigation component, but the continent whose majority population derives livelihoods from agriculture and other natural resource-based industries, sees agriculture as a key adaptation driver in the face of climate change.

“The potential for Africa’s agriculture is high because there is still a lot of room for innovation and new technologies to be employed. All it requires is some policy coherence in all national strategies and money to support the largely agricultural driven NDCs as we have seen from the analysis which we did,” said Mark Frik of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

Frik urged African countries to take advantage of the available readiness funds at the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to put in place coherent plans which resonate with national policies. However, at implementation stage, one issue that has been a topic in Africa’s agricultural development is the involvement of youth.

The youth, considered the majority, are accused of not being interested in agriculture, and one of the reasons cited is lack of financial capital in a sector which is largely rainfall-driven in Africa. It is this point that Nkiruka Naemego, member of the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC), urged stakeholders to address and get youths involved in agriculture, a sector that has been identified to be the continent’s lifeblood for economic transformation.

“AYICC has published a book showcasing youths’ involvement in agriculture and also tabulates their concerns on issues such as climate finance which is key to Africa’s agricultural adaptation,” said Nkiruka, highlighting the need to engage and support youth participation in climate smart agricultural systems.

She said youths would be enticed to engage in agriculture if they were exposed to sustainable practices and financing solutions that guarantee their investments. And this was a key question that NEPAD’s Fotabong highlighted citing the practicability of climate smart agriculture which is unfortunately not becoming business as usual due to financial constraints.

“A research by Norwegians in Zambia showed that conservation farming raised the production profile of smallholder farmers, but it is not becoming business as usual, and we have established that the major reason is lack of finance because this type of agriculture is capital intensive in the initial stages,” she said.

But the answer could lie in the work of the Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance spearheaded by NEPAD targeting to reach 25 million African farm households by 2025. Backed by the 31st African Union (AU) Summit in 2014 where heads of state and government emphasized the importance of agriculture and climate change by endorsing the NEPAD programme on agriculture and climate change, the vision is to have at least 25 million smallholder households practicing Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) by 2025.

This came about after realizing that despite most countries in Africa making efforts to highlight the impacts of climate on agriculture, gaps and disconnects still exist between climate change impacts and adaptation efforts.

The gaps include absence of plans and policies that incorporate climate change issues, education on climate change among communities, and information on outreach programmes, a point that Fotabong highlighted at the 2nd Climate Smart Agriculture Forum held in Nairobi.

“In order to catalyse better adaptation and cope with the impacts of climate change, the various stakeholders such as governments, NGOs and civil society, and private sector should work together with communities proactively.

“Communities should be fully capacitated in the various areas of crop management, community mobilisation and empowerment, disaster preparedness and have access to robust technologies and information such as new crop varieties that are drought and disease tolerant,” she says, stressing the importance of political will.

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