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Researchers urged to syndicate with policy makers in promoting climate change adaptation and mitigation

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Researchers urged to syndicate with policy makers in promoting climate change adaptation and mitigation

The regional conference on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in the COMESA/EAC/SADC regions has opened in the Kenyan Capital, Nairobi with a call on participants to open their minds to the opportunities likely to come with climate change rather than lament about the challenges it poses. 

Far from spelling doom, the conference heard that various climate models predict that climate change would result in increased rainfall in some parts of the region, an opportunity that policy makers should plan for.

Delegates join Ms Cecily Kariuki for a group photo

Officiating at the opening ceremony, Dr. Cecily Kariuki, the Principal Secretary in Kenya’s State Department of Agriculture, commended the ASARECA/KALRO projects, which are promoting adaptation to climate change through climate smart agriculture approach in Kenya, Madagascar, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda and Eritrea. She urged ASARECA to provide more leadership in developing and making available tools on how to use climate smart innovations at farm and landscape levels.

Hon. Wilber Ottichilo, a Kenyan Member of Parliament, on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, told participants that it is the responsibility of technical persons such as scientists to ensure that policy makers access information to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with climate change.

Ms Cecily Kariuki (centre) confers with Prof. Wachira (left). Right is Hon. Ottichilo

“Outcomes of research and technical deliberations should be turned into easy-to understand policy information and made available to Members of Parliament in the national and regional assemblies,” Hon. Ottichilo urged the experts. “What is the value of a scientific paper if it cannot change the thinking of policy-makers and improve the lives of our people? Your papers should be straight to the point and must connect development to the people, otherwise they will be of no relevance,” he concluded.

The two-day conference that is running from November 26-27, 2015 under the theme: “Exploiting Opportunities Presented by Climate Change to Build Socio-economic and Ecosystems Resilience”, is organized by ASARECA and COMESA in conjunction with UK Aid and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

In a keynote address, ASARECA Interim Executive Secretary, Prof. Francis Wachira, said although lots of innovations on how to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change had been validated in many projects on the continent, the innovations had not been documented into an inventory. “All best practices must be inventoried so that we don’t lose them, but instead make them available for wider dissemination and uptake,” he noted.

Pro. Wachira (2nd left) flanked by Kwena Kizito of KALRO (2nd right) receiving Ms Cecily Kariuki (left)

COMESA Representative at the Conference, Dr. Mclay Kanyangarara said it was critical that Africa goes for the annual Conference of Parties (COP 21), taking place this year from December 7-8 in France with a uniform position on what we want to be highlighted in the climate change agreement as regards agriculture. 

The workshop is meant to deepen understanding and create buy-ins into climate change adaptation and mitigation issues, stimulate drafting and adoption of regional action plans on how to minimize climate change-induced risks, and foster regional sharing of experiences, lessons learnt and best practices. 

Dr. Hezron Mogaka, the theme leader for Natural Resources Management and Ecosystems Services at ASARECA, explained that the workshop is one among many initiatives by ASARECA and partners to fast track adoption and implementation of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA).  He said ASARECA and partners are already on the ground implementing CSA innovations with farmers, however, this efforts needs to be picked up by Governments and out scaled to benefit more people.

 (L-R) Dr. Hezron Mogaka, Prof. Wachira and Hon. Ottichilo

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is an applied set of farming principles and practices that increases productivity in an environmentally and socially sustainable way; strengthens farmers capacities to cope with the effects and impacts of climate change; conserves the natural resource base through maintaining and recycling organic matter in soils and as a result, reduces green house gas emissions. The CSA approach also strengthens livelihoods and food security, by improving the management and use of natural resources, adopting appropriate methods and technologies for the production, processing and marketing of agricultural goods. 

Climate variability and change threatens a vast number of communities in Eastern and Southern Africa sub-regions if appropriate responses are not adopted. A vast majority of such communities depend on small-scale farming and/or pastoralism for their livelihoods. Varying and rapidly changing climatic conditions and the uncertainties associated with such variations come with a wide landscape of risks. The risks include crop failure, livestock deaths, and loss of agricultural-based incomes, food insecurity, malnutrition, and conflicts over the use of natural resources. This has occasioned measures to enhance community and ecosystem resilience, adaptive capacity, and coping mechanisms towards changing and varying climatic conditions. 

Article by Ben Moses Ilakut

Date Published: 
Monday, 30 November 2015