Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pastoralists in Africa grapple with climate change

IRIN: As many as 250 million people in Africa may not have enough water to meet their basic needs by 2020 because of climate change, a specialist in poverty, environment and climate change said on 27 January. "The day-to-day impacts of climate change, such as higher temperatures and erratic rainfall, are increasing many people's vulnerability to hazards," Charles Ehrhart, the poverty, environment and climate change network coordinator for CARE International, told policy-makers and representatives of pastoralists from the Horn, eastern and central Africa, at a consultative meeting on ways of mitigating the humanitarian effects of climate change on pastoral areas.

The two-day meeting was one of a series organised by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the African Union (AU), aimed at developing a continent-wide policy framework to secure and protect the lives, livelihoods and rights of pastoralists in Africa. Ehrhart said by 2020, climatic changes would have contributed to water stress, land degradation, lower crop yields and increased risk of wild fires, resulting in a 50 percent decline in agricultural productivity. The consequences, he added, would be severe food and water shortages, with affected populations coming under significant pressure to migrate.

…Moses Ndiyaine, a pastoralist from Tanzania, suggested the creation of a special global fund for pastoralists to help them devise early-warning mechanisms, improve veterinary services and lobby their governments for pastoralist-friendly legislation.

Jeanine Cooper, OCHA-Kenya head of office, said there was an urgent need to address longer-term drivers of food insecurity in marginal agricultural areas to enable vulnerable populations build resilience by supporting coping and adaptive strategies. She said poor and erratic rainfall, reduced maize production due to post-election violence in early 2008 and high costs of farm inputs, as well as high fuel costs, had precipitated a food crisis in Kenya.

A nomad at prayer in Africa, photo probably taken by Kazimierz Nowak (1897-1937) during his trip through Africa - a Polish traveller, correspondent and photographer. Probably the first man in the world who crossed Africa alone from the North to the South and from the South to the North (from 1931 to 1936; on foot, by bicycle and canoe).

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