Sunday, November 27, 2016

Africa’s Smallholder Farmers Among the Most Hurt by Climate Change

Drought struck farm field (Photo Credit: FAO) Click to Enlarge.
Experts use many numbers when talking about climate change.  However, rising temparatures, the resulting crop failure, and the consequent loss of livelihoods and destitution of millions of households are this year’s most important and urgent developments for millions of smallholder farmers across the vastness of the African agro-ecological landscapes.

To illustrate the unfolding crisis, let us consider the case of Malawi, one of the few countries to have achieved a fair deal of agricultural success but is now facing the worst drought in over three decades.  As is the case with many countries in southern Africa, Malawi has experienced widespread crop failures due to a devastatingly strong El Niño.  The country witnessed late on-set of rains, erratic rainfall, floods and prolonged dry spells this year.

As a result, the production of maize - the country’s main staple crop - is estimated at just over 2.5 million tonnes in 2016.  This is 16 percent lower than the reduced harvest in 2015 and 34 percent below the previous five‑year average and has left 39 percent of the population dependant on national and international food aid to survive - a 129 percent increase over last year’s vulnerable population.  In the hardest hit areas, harvest reduced by 70 percent while farmers in some areas simply couldn’t plant as the rains never came.

Dealing with this challenge in the future will require both efforts to reduce climate change and, most importantly, strategies to enable farmers to adapt to its effects.  All eyes are now on the outcomes of the meeting that took place in Marrakesh of the world’s climate change experts and policy makers, aimed at setting the world on track to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.  Last year, the same experts met in Paris and reached a welcome agreement that seeks to limit the rise in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels by 2℃.  However, the emissions of greenhouse gases are not yet falling and the effects of climate change are worsening.  Much more still needs to be done to address this challenge proactively. 

Nowhere else is the imperative to act more urgent than in Africa, where 70 percent of the population is dependent on rain-fed, smallholder agriculture.  As the case of Malawi demonstrates, rising temperatures in Africa often signal drought and other extreme weather events that put the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers at greater risk, increasing their vulnerability to famine and diseases.  This reality is here with us today, and far beyond Malawi and southern Africa, with large swathes of the continent currently under the grip of a historical drought.

Read more at Africa’s Smallholder Farmers Among the Most Hurt by Climate Change

1 comment:

  1. The problem is the combination of overpopulation and industrialization. This causes global warming and climate change.

    Of course overpopulation causes some further problems: air and water pollution, deforestation, mass extinction of animal species, rising food prices and lack of food, mass migrations, increased emergence of new epidemics and pandemics, elevated crime rate, and so on.

    Some countries in Asia and Africa have already recognized this problem. They try to solve it with mass abortions, laws or financial incentive. Unfortunatelly not always with success, as you can see in the following graph: The world population is still growing.

    Scientists say, that rainfall will decline over subtropical land. Bolivia is also aready affected by climate change.

    If we could reduce human world population, this would certainly solve all mentioned problems. I am ready to help.