Sunday, March 2, 2014

Despite climate change, Africa can feed Africa

Richard Munang and Jesica Andrews in Sierra Express Media via Africa Renewal: Climate change comes with never-before-experienced impacts. For example, crop yields and growing seasons will decrease even as changing rain patterns will worsen people’s access to water. Yet Africa’s population is projected to reach 2 billion in less than 37 years, and in 86 years three out of every four people added to the planet will be African.  

Decreasing crop yields and increasing population will put additional pressure on an already fragile food production system. That is why experts have warned that if the current situation persists, Africa will be fulfilling only 13% of its food needs by 2050. This situation will further threaten about 65% of African workers who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods including children and the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity.

Hunger already affects about 240 million Africans daily. By 2050, even a change of about 1.2 to 1.9 degrees Celsius will have increased the number of the continent’s undernourished by 25% to 95% (central Africa +25%, East Africa +50%, Southern Africa +85% and West Africa +95%). The situation will be dire for children who need proper nourishment to succeed in their education. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has estimated that African countries could lose between 2% and 16% of gross domestic product due to stunting of children as a result of malnutrition.

...Unlocking Africa’s potential requires that policy makers in agriculture and the environment join forces with civil society and non-governmental organizations to consider options that will enable the environment and farmers to cope with climate change. One of the options being advocated is the ecosystem-based adaptation,, which is to mitigate climate change impact through the use natural systems such as drought-resistant varieties, more efficient methods of water storage and more diversity in crop rotation, says UNEP...

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