African countries need robust climate change policies – FAO

from Ghana Business News..

June 6, 2013

There is the need for African countries  to formulate and implement robust policies, to mainstream climate change adaptation and mitigation into national and sub-national development plans.

Dr Lamoudia Thiombiano, Country Representative, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, who made the call, also said there was the need for these countries to increase public and private investments in agriculture and rural transformation.

He was speaking at the ongoing 2nd Climate Change and Population Conference being hosted by the Regional Institute of Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana, Accra.

Dr Thiombiano asked African countries to develop database with modeling and early warning and monitoring systems and called on the academia to play major role in helping to identify, promote and disseminate relevant agricultural technologies with ecosystem approaches.

He also called for increased collaboration between development partners, donors and research institutions, adding that these actions would help to address climate change issues that had become so real in most parts of the world, including Africa.

Dr. Thiombiano, who is also the Deputy FAO Regional Representative for Africa, noted that world assessment report reveals that increased global atmospheric concentrations of green house gases and warming of the climate system were unequivocal.

He explain that there was rise of air and ocean temperatures, snow and ice melting worldwide and sea level rising while there is significant increase of precipitation in parts of North and South America, northern Europe and northern and central Asia.

Dr Thiombiano said the Sahel, the Mediterranean, Southern Africa and parts of Southern Asia were becoming drier, which called for ecosystem approach to capture the synergies and manage the trade-offs among food security, sustainable development, environmental sustainability and climate change.

He noted that climate change potential impact on food security included food availability, reduced agricultural production, temporary effects on local markets as well as market prices of imports, food accessibility, increase in food prices, loss of farm income and also affected fish farms and fish harvesting opportunities.

Dr Thiombiano mentioned sustainable land management, integrated water resource management, integrated mountain development and integrated ecosystem management with focus on food security and gender-sensitivity and local activities, as measures to be undertaken to address the situation.

He said the FAO was assisting in implementing collaborative projects to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire as well as carrying out sustainable forest management in Cameroon.

“There is also support for sustainable climate change adaptation in marine artisanal fisheries communities in West Africa amidst strategic framework for fisheries, aquaculture and climate change”, Dr Thiombiano said.

Professor Paul Vlek of the West African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), said as a result of policy gap in most African countries, most disaster response initiatives tend to be ad-hoc and short term.

He said WASCAL was thus established last year by 11 African countries as an autonomous body to strengthen the research, educational and policy capacity and competency of West-African countries to deal with issues of climate change through adapted land use on a scientific basis.

Prof Vlek said the German Government as the main partner is supporting the WASCAL initiative with 50 million dollars as an initial capital.

He indicated that climate change issues affecting most African countries, include increase in temperature ranges from 1.2-1.3 °C , shorter rainy season, greater variability in rainfall and runoff, regional floods and droughts, greater frequency of extremes.

Prof Vlek called for increased collaboration between development partners, donors and research institutions to address climate change issues that continued to plague human kind the world over.

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