Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Entitled ‘Climate Frontline’ Launched

“African Voices Feeling Impacts Largely Perpetrated by Industrialised Nations”
VOL:1 ISSN:15 Concern Universal recently launched a book entitle ‘Climate Frontline’ at the Coconut Residence in Kerr Serigne.

The book, which is jointly published by Concern Universal, FARM-Africa, Find Your Feet, Self Help Africa and Utviklingsfondet/The Development Fund, focuses on issues of climate change and its impact on the world as well as the lives of people in African communities.

In climate frontline, African women and men describe, in their own words, how climate change is affecting their lives and how they are adapting to survive. These communities are not only living with climate change, instead they are implementing strategies in order to adapt to the changing conditions.

“Government and international bodies should recognize that these communities have experiences that can help reduce negative impacts of climate change,” the book charged.

According to the Non-Governmental Organisations behind climate frontline, actions to tackle climate change must start by listening to and supporting communities living on the climate frontline. “We hope climate frontline can contribute to sufficient and reliable climate change adaptation support for these communities,” they said optimistically.

The book also conceded that international concern about climate change is rising rapidly, but international action lags behind. Other reports demonstrate clearly the scale of the problem at the global and regional level. “This report is different; it allows the voice of men and women in vulnerable African communities to be heard directly.” It argued.

It noted that the accounts presented here clearly demonstrate that: climate change is reality in vulnerable regions of Africa and communities are doing their best to adapt to their changed environment by building on local knowledge and diversifying their livelihoods.

“We should have rains twice a year… now we are lucky to get showers to give us pasture. But this is not the only change we see. The climate has changed inside the people as well,” a Kenyan from Kyuso District was quoted as saying, on his experience on climate change.

By sharing the experience recorded here, the publishers of the book hoped that policy-makers, NGOs and frontline communities can learn more about adaptation and begin to work together to transform surviving communities into thriving communities.

However, they argued that in order to do this, much more support is needed for adaptation in the form of sufficient, fair and reliable funding support that is spent in a coordinated, responsive and cost-effective way.

“This report was published as international climate negotiations gear up for the United Nation Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009, together with thousands of other civil society organisations; they are calling on countries to agree an ambitious, fair and binding agreement on both mitigation and adaptation.”

According to the publishers, latest estimates has it that around $80 billion per annum is needed for adaptation, dwarfing the less-than $1 billion currently available; the cost of adaptation must be borne primarily by those responsible for creating the need, i.e. high-income, high-emission countries; funding flows must be predictable and long-term not dependant on what they called the erratic ‘charity’ of donors.

Furthermore, the book states that a single adaptation funding mechanism should replace the current proliferation of separate funds; priority must be given to the worst-affected countries and communities; spending should be channeled via the most cost-efficient routes, including civil society organisations.

The report also charged that high-income, high-emission countries must rapidly reduce their own emissions, as well as support investment in low-carbon development paths for low income countries. “This cost of mitigation must be borne in proportion to responsibility for the production of the greenhouse gas emissions that have contributed to the climate crisis,” it stressed.

The book shows that while most people in the Northern hemisphere are still debating and worrying about how climate change will or will not affect them, some of the world’s poorest communities are way ahead of us. It is almost among the rural communities in Africa (as well as Asia and Latin America) that we find in the frontline of climate change. Not only have they been living with climate change for years, but they are already effectively implementing strategies in order to adapt to the changing conditions.

A Glimpse of the Future

A majority of Africans lived in rural areas and are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture for food and income. The accounts collected here paint a worrying picture of climate changes seriously affecting African farmers. The stories are of great importance because, not only do they reveal the extent of the problems facing many African farmers today as a result of climate change, they also serves as a grave warning of how these difficulties will increase in the years to come.

African Have Found Successful Adaptation Methods

In order to survive, these farmers have already had to change their way of life and the way they farm. Many of the adaptation methods they have implemented are providing to be highly successful, and their experiences can be put to good use in neighboring villages and regions or even be attempted in other countries and on other continents. As the need for adaptation becomes more pressing with worsening climate change, the lessons learned today can reduce suffering tomorrow.

African Farmers Cannot Combat Climate Change Alone

However, the book argued that farmers in African cannot do it all alone. Even though many of the measures being undertaken are small-scale and relatively inexpensive, they are usually dependent on outside support; financial support, technical knowledge, organizational skills or political influence.

Local and national governments and international bodies should recognise that the adaptation methods implemented so successfully in local African communities are important ways forward in the global struggle to reduce the harmful effects of climate change. “These methods can be scaled up and spread further field,” it suggested.

“The greatest challenge is not knowing how to adapt to climate change, but gathering enough support for working methods to be put into action.”

The Key is Diversification

The Climate Frontline also argued that the problems facing poor rural African communities are complex and so are the causes and effects of climate changes on a local level, because of the reality is complex, local communities need a wide range of solutions and coping strategies.

Each of the following stories highlights a relevant method or strategy for adapting and some strategies will focus on management of water and wood resources, others on agricultural improvements, while some people will have to change their livelihoods altogether.

However, a combination of several methods is necessary in order to strengthen vulnerable communities. “As many of our accounts reveal, diversification is a key factor in successful climate change adaptation.

Climate Change Adaptation is also Reducing Poverty

No one should be under the impression that there is a quick fix that can eradicate the consequences of climate change. The only lasting solution is to reduce global emissions and this can only happen if there are political changes on an international level.

However, the concrete steps undertaken by the men and women in these accounts do more than just temporarily adapt to climate change; they also ensure long-term sustainability and reduce poverty. It is, therefore of utmost importance to scale up successful adaptation projects like these in accordance with local needs and conditions.

Based on these series of issues, the intergovernmental panel on climate change was quoted as saying: “Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change and climate variability, a situation aggravated by the interaction of ‘multiple stresses’, occurring at various levels, and low adaptive capacity.”

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