Friday, September 6, 2013

Resilience, flexibility key to African climate adaptation

Erin Berger at the Thomson Reuters Foundation: How climate change may affect farmers and food security in southern Africa depends on a range of crop, climate and economic models, which have been brought together in a new book designed to help policymakers understand and prepare for the coming changes, researchers say.

The book, “Southern African Agriculture and Climate Change”, delves into climate challenges facing farmers in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. “Sometimes I think it’s helpful for policymakers to see the numbers about the degree to which climate change will impact productivity,” said Tim Thomas, a research fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute, and one of the authors of the book. “It helps them see the mix of population growth, GDP growth and climate change, and how that all melds together.”

Three research organizations and scientists from each southern African country worked together to create the book, which they hope is a more useable analysis of available data. Over the past three years, the researchers looked at crop, climate and economic models to develop a range of different climate change scenarios for each country. They explored how these different scenarios might impact food security, resource management and livelihoods.

Southern Africa is already experiencing rising temperatures, changes in rainfall and more extreme weather events. The region overall is expected to become more food insecure, particularly with a rapidly rising population as well. But the analysis points out important variations between countries....

A fruit stand in Swaziland, shot by Sara Atkins, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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