At Africa Climate Week, CSOs, farmers seek stronger emphasis on climate change adaptation

Flooding in Mozambique as Tropical Cyclone Desmond makes landfall (Photo Credit: Al Jazeera)
Flooding in Mozambique as Tropical Cyclone Desmond makes landfall (Photo Credit: Al Jazeera)

More than 40 civil society organisations across Africa Thursday unanimously agreed that the region’s governments need to pay urgent attention to climate change issues.

In a joint statement issued at the end of the 2019 Africa Climate Week held in Accra, Ghana, the group called for a transformation of the current industrial agriculture by prioritising agroecology.

The theme for this year’s event, which held between March 18 – 22, was ‘Climate Action in Africa: A race we can win.’

“The solution to climate change is within the realm of non-market mechanisms and pro-people initiatives,” said Labram Musah of the Vision for Alternative Development, Ghana.

“Agroecology will not only tackle climate change, it will also ensure that local livelihoods are protected.”

Although it contributed little to global warming, Africa is one of the most highly vulnerable regions to the effects of climate change.

This week, at least 89 people were killed in Zimbabwe after Cyclone Idai tore across the eastern and southern parts of the country.

More than 1,000 fatalities were recorded in neighbouring Mozambique, prompting the president to declare a state of emergency in the southern African nation.

The participants at the Africa Climate Week observed that farmers who depend on predictable rainfall patterns are harvesting lower yields due to poor soil quality, pest invasions, droughts, floods, and waters drying up in many communities.

They also observed that the trends, in most cases, hit women and girls the hardest, noting that women farmers face discrimination when they try to access finance to make investments needed to cope with the impacts of climate change.

The participants further observed that the more industrialised countries and economic powers such as the United States, Japan, and other European countries should take on more of the responsibility for mitigation while the poorer nations be allowed to channel their resources to adaptation programmes.

“Since the beginning of the Africa Climate Week, we have been witnesses to how the fossil fuel industry trade associations and their allies tried to steer the discussions away from the real solutions,” said Philip Jakpor, Head of Media and Campaigns at Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN).

“We stand with farmers and other groups advocating agroecology in place of industrial agriculture which contributes to climate change.”

Among the key demands at the event include the enforcing existing environmental laws and implementing policies and programmes to halt the rate of environmental degradation, supporting women farmers with less labour intensive innovations and technologies, and adequate budgetary support targeting women.

Other demands include challenging false solutions being put forward by actors with commercial interests which would further entrench inequality within the citizenry.

“We deeply remain skeptical of false solutions such as – climate-smart agriculture, carbon markets, geo-engineering and recognise that climate insurance has a limited role to play in building resilience,” the participants stated.

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