Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kenya to recieve loans for natural resource base sustainable management

By Ochieng’ Ogodo


[NAIROBI] Kenya will receive US$33 million from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to finance the Upper Tana Catchment Natural Resource Management Project.
The project will also get another EUR 12.8 million from the Spanish Food Security Co-financing Facility Trust Fund will also be provided to fund the same project.
This new project is targeting smallholder farmers in the area with the objective of reduce rural poverty through sustainable management of their natural resource base.
The two loans was signed on May 23 between Josephine Wangari Gaita, Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya to Italy and the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD
Poverty and environmental degradation are inter-linked and linked in Kenya and poor water management, soil erosion, declining soil fertility and land degradation are compounded by the impact of climate change, which has led to a decline in agricultural yields over past decades.
An Aerial photograph of the flooded TANA RIVER in Kenya
In some parts of the country, the droughts in 2009 and 2011 generated food emergencies, while flooding in 2010 and recently in 2012 severely affected some parts of the country.
The project will be a scaling up of the Mount Kenya East Pilot Project for Natural Resource Management supported by IFAD and the Global Environment Facility. It will help to promote environmental conservation as a means to ensure sustainable livelihoods for poor rural people in five selected river basins of the Upper Tana River.
It will cover about 17,420 square kilometres and include 24 river basins that drain into the Tana River with the aim to increase the food production and incomes of the poor rural families living in the area.
Approximately 205,000 poor rural households will benefit from the project co-financed by the Kenya and will have a particular focus on women
With this new project, IFAD will have financed 16 programmes and projects in Kenya for a total investment of $247.5 million benefiting 4,200,097 rural households since 1979

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Climate change related impacts posing real challenges

By Ochieng’ Ogodo

[NAIROBI] For Edward Nduli, life has been a struggle for decades in Kenya’s Eastern province, but things were never as bad as they are today.
“For a region where majority are small-holder farmers and people depend on crop production for their livelihoods, the advent of unpredictable seasonal variations has visited upon us serious challenges for survival,” he said.
The last good rains, he remembered, were in 1997, during an El Nino occurrence. But thereafter, he says, “We saw the decline of rains with extreme erratic seasons, and this has continued since. Rain was becoming scarce and poorly distributed, and intercropping yielded nothing,” said Nduli
These are some of the climate change related impacts being felt in various parts of the world.  Dr. Andrew Newsham, Research Fellow, Climate Change Team, Institute of Development Studies says climate change could be disastrous for the environment, and its life supporting services that poor people across the world rely upon.
“Some plant and animal species will be able to migrate in response to changes to temperature and rainfall patterns,” he said.  A lot of biodiversity will, therefore, survive the impacts of climate change, but will appear in different places–further north or south, at higher or lower elevations.
They will not have the same possibilities to migrate, and they may be amongst the biodiversity we most value. One such example is the polar bear.
Drying river in Kenya     Pic: Ochieng' Ogodo

The drying tendencies that parts of the world like Southern Africa are projected to experience over the coming decades is likely to lead to greater harvest failures, even if people use locally bred and well-adapted seed varieties.
 “We may see it making more sense for people across large parts of Africa to switch from cultivation to livestock as a result of rainfall reductions,” But a drying tendency may, in some places, lead to greater levels of bush encroachment and consequently less grazing availability.
Acidification of the oceans–an increase in the acidity of the oceans as a result of human-caused by carbon dioxide (CO2)–could have big implications for marine biodiversity. More CO2 in the oceans means higher levels of carbonic acid and lower levels of the carbonate ions that many marine organisms use to make their shells and skeletons. This could have negative effects on coral reefs that must calcify (rebuild) their skeletal structures faster than the rate at which they are eroded.
But Newsham said more funding for the protection of biodiversity which provides important functions and services for livelihoods is one of the remedies needed, but in a way that local people don’t bear the costs of such protection.
“It’s about getting good ways of using such biodiversity. But getting funding for environmental projects is not easy in an era of climate change, where funds might be more likely to go towards other issues like decarbonising the energy infrastructure,” said Newsham
Another important consideration would be getting the costs of environmental degradation into the way economy works. This could have short term benefits but must be a long-term goal. Paying governments to keep biodiversity, instead of extracting mineral resources might help.
In the Yasuní reserve in Ecuador, the government has promised to refrain from extracting the oil from underneath this biodiversity hotspot if it can raise from national and international sources 50 percent of the revenue it would forego.
The REDD initiative (Reducing Emissions through Avoided Deforestation and Degradation) which is about maintaining carbon sinks, biodiversity and habitat but also the ecosystem services which we need to make our economy function is another case in point. But it must be pro-poor.
Reducing carbon emissions is critical. It must be done to avoid the prospect of ‘runaway climate change’ with greater magnitude implications for ecological and social systems hard to predict. 
Political will key to GHG reductions
Newsham said the biggest one is generating the political will to implement a global regime of legally binding emissions targets, especially in terms of getting the biggest emitters and geo-political powers – among others the USA, China, Brazil – to sign up.
But a lot is happening at the national level in terms of responding to climate change like the very serious and well-funded response of the Bangladesh government.
Finding ways to decouple economic growth both from carbon intensity and environmental destruction is important.
 “We’re still at a point where growth wins over the environment all too frequently when it comes to national development priorities. There still is not enough political desire to confront the environmental consequences of economic activity that is held to contribute to economic growth,” he said.
“If there is an issue in the climate change agenda that I would flag as in need of receiving more attention,” said Newsham, “it is to ensure that efforts to reduce carbon and to reduce environmental degradation are done in ways that are pro-poor.”
Water scarcity in some parts of the world will deepen Pic: Ochieng' Ogodo
We are all going to feel the impacts of climate change. The higher the global average temperature rise, the more ‘dangerous’ the level of climate change we will let ourselves in for, and the more everyone will struggle.
However, the impacts of climate change will almost certainly be harder to deal with in countries with fewer financial resources, weaker governance and in which climate sensitive livelihoods such as farming are still very prevalent as opposed to where the government and the infrastructure can deal with an increase in extreme weather events.
According to Dr. James Kinyangi, a climate change expert at Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the East African Regional Program Leader, even a 2 degree Celsius rise in global mean temperatures by 2100, which is an optimistic scenario, will radically change the face of farming. 
Potential to transform productivity
“Climate change has the potential to transform the patterns and productivity of crops, livestock and fisheries, and to reconfigure trade, markets and access. For instance, in a study of the 50 most globally important crops, results illustrate a general trend where, as the world warms, suitable growing areas will shift towards cooler temperatures at higher latitudes, where most developed countries are located.,” Kinyangi said.
 Therefore, while developed countries may gain substantial production potential, many developing countries—particularly those in food-insecure subtropical and tropical regions—will likely lose out.  
By 2090, according to Kinyangi, agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa would be heavily impacted, with almost all parts of Africa registering a decline in growing season length. “It is not only the future and the gradual change in conditions we have to worry about. It is the extremes in the coming seasons that may already hit farmers,” he said.
 Many climate scientists suggest that many strange weather events will be more frequent and more severe. In the developed countries, there is some indication of increased drought severity and duration in the western and southwestern United States and other areas in Europe.
Climate change can transform productivity  including  livestock  Pic: Ochieng' Ogodo
There is a trend toward reduced mountain snowpack and earlier spring snow melt runoff peaks across much of these nations. Kinyangi said this trend is very likely attributable at least in part to long-term warming, although some part may have been played by decadal-scale variability. These may have substantial impacts on the performance of reservoir systems.
Climate change will impact all aspects of farming. There will be reduced crop yields, loss in livestock productivity, increased pests and diseases, including those associated with post-harvest storage, changes in the availability of irrigation water, negatively impacted aquaculture. There will also be some new opportunities, but in general the negative impacts outweigh the positive ones.
Short and long term actions
But there are both long and short term actions that could be taken.  In the long term, he calls for reducing emissions and improving carbon storage. In the short term, he said, there is need for crop breeding for future climates, better agricultural practices transferred from one region to another, enabling policies in environmental management and food systems and seasonal forecasts for adaptive management.
Climate information services is also key as is agricultural intensification and technical compatibility in ways to reduce GHG emissions or sequester carbon. It is also important to improve knowledge on the economic feasibility of environmental mitigation and its links to investments in food security
He also said there is need for “a new research initiative that integrates and applies the best and most promising approaches, tools and technologies. The involvement of farmers, policy makers, researchers, the private sector and civil society in the research process is vital.”
Successful mitigation and adaptation, he added, will entail changes in individual behavior, technology, institutions, agricultural systems and socio-economic systems. These changes cannot be achieved without improving interactions among scientists and decision makers at all levels of society.
He also said there is need to consult more and negotiate globally so that expectations for international programs are grounded in reality, a consultation that will be facilitated and made more effective in taking steps in each country to address reductions in GHG emissions. “Also we need to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol, as it does provide for trans-boundary market based programs to encourage climate friendly development. That involves both science and economics,” said Kinyangi.
It is increasingly evident that regardless of the mitigation efforts today and in the future, temperatures will continue to rise, at least the next five decades because if earlier emissions of greenhouse gases. The magnitude and frequency of extreme events are also likely to increase while the magnitudes of future effects are still not well understood. Adaptation and mitigation are, therefore, urgent challenges in future changes are to be limited.
Ochieng’ Ogodo is a Nairobi based journalist whose works have been published in various parts of the world including Africa, the US and Europe. He is the English-speaking Africa and Middle East region winner for the 2008 Reuters-IUCN Media Awards for Excellence in Environmental Reporting. He is the chairman of the Kenya Environment and Science Journalists Association. He can be reached at or

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Adopt Non-Communicable Diseases targets at World Health Assembly, civil society demands

By Ochieng’ Ogodo


[Nairobi] Ahead of next weeks’ 65th World Health Assembly in Geneva, civil society members are expressing fear that Non-Communicable Diseases may not be tackled adequately in the meeting.
This, they say, may result in a setback on progresses on global target to tackle NCDs and cripple the momentum that has been built, following last September’s historic UN Summit on NCDs in New York in which UN member states committed to a range of actions to tackle the NCD epidemic.
NCDs are responsible for 60 percent of all global deaths and are the leading cause of death in most high-income countries (80%-90%), and also in most low-income and middle-income countries. The burden of these conditions is growing.  In all settings
 The Chair of the NCD Alliance and CEO of the International Diabetes Federation Ann Keeling said in a press release May 17, “In the run-up to the UN Summit on NCDs, we urged Member States to include meaningful targets to prevent and control NCDs.  We particularly called for the adoption of an overarching goal to reduce preventable deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025. Member States deferred decisions about targets to 2012.  Eight months on from the UN Summit, there can be no excuse for the world’s Health Ministers not to adopt at least this global goal, and supporting targets.”
 In accordance with the Political Declaration agreed at the UN Summit, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a discussion paper in December 2011, in which 10 targets were presented. As well as an overarching target of reducing preventable NCD deaths by 25% by 2025, there were nine other targets covering tobacco, salt, alcohol, and a range of other contributors to the NCD epidemic.
But following input from just 21 Member States (when the UN has 194), the second discussion paper, released in March, had reduced the proposed targets to just five.
Rheumatoid arthritis: A person's joints swell                 Photo: Quizlet

Mortality and blood pressure targets remained – both 25 percent relative reductions by 2025. The tobacco and salt targets had been watered down.  The civil society now says other targets had been dropped, including the target on alcohol (a relative reduction of 10 percent adult per capita consumption—after intense lobbying from the alcohol industry, which objected strongly to any attempt to reduce overall consumption worldwide, since this clearly directly affects profits. 
But in the second discussion paper was a new target to reduce levels of physical inactivity by 10 percent by 2025. Only 25 countries commented on this new, smaller set of targets, although 59 attended a Member State consultation on 26-27 April.
Keeling said, “If countries are serious about tackling the NCD crisis afflicting them all, they must be bold and commit to 10 targets, not 5 or fewer. We need to recapture the passion demonstrated at the UN Summit and commit to realising in full the ambitions articulated in the Political Declaration.”
She pointed out that the UN recently adopted 10 new targets for 2015 on HIV/AIDS when this is one condition. Yet the international community appears to be resisting the same number of targets for NCDs, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease, that have at least four common risk factors (tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity).
Measurable targets are essential since, as WHO Director General Dr Margaret Chan says, ‘What gets measured, gets done.’ The NCD Alliance believes that, at the very least, UN Member States should commit to the overarching target on mortality at next week's World Health Assembly, in order to unequivocally demonstrate their commitment to the process agreed at the UN High-Level Meeting.
The Alliance is also calling for an emphasis on treatment as well as prevention in whatever targets are adopted.
“Prevention efforts are absolutely essential to reducing future cases of NCDs. And in addition there is an urgent need to provide care for people living with NCDs today to prevent premature death and crippling complications,” said Keeling. 
The NCD Alliance wants the 10 targets to be kept, with one dedicated to “Equitable and increased availability of affordable, quality essential medicines and technologies for communicable and non-communicable diseases in all healthcare sectors”.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Water resources management key to Africa’s security, health and development

By Ochieng’ Ogodo


[Cairo’ Egypt] Many African countries are still struggling to meet development targets on access to safe water, a new research has revealed.
At the African Union (AU)/African Ministers Council on Water-which coincides with the 4th Africa Water Week-held in Cairo and ahead of the AU Heads of State Summit June 2012 – it was observed that safe water gaps remain in Africa with 19 out of 25 countries globally with least access to safe water being African.
Thirty African countries including Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, DRC, Kenya, Sudan and Mozambique, between 30percent and 70 of populations have no access to safe water. 
Consequently diverse water-related diseases such as diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, dengue fever, intestinal helminths, schistosomiasis, trachoma, dracunculiasis, poliomyelitis, trypanosomiasis, bancroftian, filariasis, and nchocerciasis. are ravaging African countries due to poor environmental, water and health management. They are affecting tens of millions. 
About 160 million people are infected with schistosomiasis/bilharziaa parasitic disease from flatwormsalone, causing tens of thousands of deaths yearly. According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 500 million people are at risk of trachoma of which about 146 million are threatened by blindness, and 6 million are visually impaired 
 Nineteen African countries are among 25 globally with least access to safe water dominate and topping 50 countries with highest child mortalityBetween 23% and 59% of children in these countries suffer stunted growth arising from malnutrition and disease. Between 43% and 91% of overall populations in these 19 African countries have no access to improved sanitation; and between 18% and 68% of their populations live below the poverty line. 
Better water management key to Africa's development. Pic: Ochieng' Ogodo
Water management for agriculture is a huge challenge besides safe one for domestic consumption. Agriculture accounts for roughly 70% of water consumption globally
Countries without long term sustainable water resources development and management plans including efficient irrigation, are more vulnerable to drought and famine, as seen in the Horn of Africa, and a second developing tragedy across the Sahel in West and Central Africa – where hunger, starvation, disease and displacement have combined to devastating effect to affect about 14 million people. 
Poor or none existing management of water resources also means Africa is heading towards multiple conflicts based on intra and cross border tensions over water according tot the research.
A person requires 2-4 litres per day for drinking. The UN estimates each person needs 20-50 litres of water a day to ensure basic drinking, cooking and cleaning, and it takes 2,000 - 5,000 litres of water to produce a single person's daily food.
Africa’s doubling population from present 1 billion to 2 billion by 2050 without corresponding improvement in clean water supplies, and improved cross community/border water management will likely lead to increase in disease and conflict.
And a combination of any of these, drought, floods, water scarcity, poverty, poor leadership and weak governments will contribute to social tension and instability that could result in failure of some states.  
Lack of sustainable access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene costs Sub-Saharan African more in lost GDP than its countries receive in development aidDepending on the country and region, economic benefits for each dollar invested in clean water and sanitation have been estimated to range from US$ 3 to US$ 34.
Poor water resource management and lack of sustainable access to clean water has a further negative impact on women’s development: Where water is not available and has to be fetched, women/girls are about two and a half times more likely than men/boys to be main water carriers for families, and it is estimated that women in low-income countries spend about 40 billion hours annually fetching and carrying water from sources that may not even provide clean water, with overall negative impact on women’s and young girls education and productivity.
Water is essential for agriculture
 The Africa Public Health Alliance that released the research expressed concern over apparent poor multi-sectoral development planningand called on Water Resources Ministers and related sectors to adopt urgent population based Integrated and Multi Sectoral Policy and Investment Plans - as the only path to truly sustainable development, and as core basis of Africa’s Post MDGs Agenda on Health, Human and Social Development.
Rotimi Sankore, Africa Health Human and Social Development Alliance, “The cumulative negative domino effect of lack of clean water, and poor water resources management across Africa is leading to multifaceted mortality and morbidity costing millions of lives, and entrenching a cycle of poverty.”
He added, “The centrality of water resources to everything from agriculture, food security and nutrition; sanitation, hygiene and overall health; industry; human settlements and displacement; and development in general means it has to be brought to centre stage of the African human security and development agenda” 
Hundreds of thousands die every year from preventable diarrhoeal diseases, and malnutrition, majority of which are children under 5 years old highlights the gap in coordination between sectors of government. In Sub-Saharan Africa treating largely preventable diarrhoea consumes an estimated 12 percent of health budgets”  
Sankore that child mortality numbers are just mind boggling: 861,000 under 5’s die a year in Nigeria; 465,000 a year in DRC; 271,000 a year in Ethiopia; 143,000 a year in Sudan and South Sudan; 133,000 a year in Tanzania; 122,000 a year in Kenya; 121,000 in Angola; 120,000 in Mali. 
Lack of clean water, sanitation, malnutrition, poor water resources and environmental management, are also seriously undermining incredible efforts – sometimes by the same governments - to mitigate impact of infectious diseases such as HIV, TB and Malaria.
On this week’s 10th Anniversary of the first African Ministerial Conference on Water, the Abuja Ministerial Declaration on Water, and 4 years since 2008 Sharma El Sheikh Heads of State and Government AU Summit Commitments for accelerating achievement of Water and Sanitation Goals, African countries should have made far more progress than they currently have
“We can’t prevent a full scale drought, but we can prepare for lack of rain through better management of water, agricultural and food resources – stressing that  “Lack of forward planning is not a natural disaster,” said Sankoro
In developing countries, 50 - 70 percent of industrial, commercial and human waste is dumped untreated into waters, seriously polluting an already inadequate water supply.

Related links: 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Localised mobile weather service improving safety of fisher people in Uganda

By Ochieng’ Ogodo


[NAIROBI] A new partnership involving the use of mobile technology, weather forecasting and local know-how to provide a localised weather alert service is improving the safety of fishing people in villages on Lake Victoria in Uganda.
A pilot partnership, the Uganda Department of Meteorology (UDoM), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), MTN, Ericsson, National Lake Rescue Institute (NLRI) and the Kalangala Fishing community have made it possible the delivery of daily weather forecasts and well-timed warnings in local languages. 
The pilot phase is being tested by over 1000 fishermen in the Kalangala District of Lake Victoria. MTN, Grameen Foundation AppLab Uganda and Ericsson are preparing a wider service offering together with UDoM, which will then be available for the entire Lake Victoria community in the next three months.
On completion of the pilot, MTN Uganda, jointly with UDoM will deliver the mobile service free of charge to MTN customers. Availing the weather information service will enable fishermen and traders to make informed decisions such as when and where to fish in Lake Victoria, thus helping to save lives and preserve livelihoods.
The pilot scheme that involves training 19 fishermen community representatives in basic understanding of weather forecasts and how to respond to various alerts was announced on May 10.
The community representatives using mobile phones will pass on their knowledge to fishermen and traders to sign up to the Mobile Weather Alert service with the value of the Mobile Weather Alert forecast service is being repeatedly confirmed. 
In a survey conducted by Grameen Foundation AppLab Uganda, 200 fishermen using Mobile Weather Alert service reported the weather alert service being important with 96 percent of the respondents saying it has improved the safety of their lives.
Being the world’s second largest fresh water lake, Victoria was chosen for the pilot since it provides a livelihood, directly and indirectly, to over 3.5 million people. It supports Africa's largest inland fishery and produces over 800,000 tons of fish annually, currently worth about USD 600,000,000.

But it is estimates indicate that as many as 5,000 members of the fishing community die in boating accidents in the lake each year because lack of preparation for bad weather conditions.
Uganda fishermen to benefit from localised weather alerts
“This is a real demonstration of the importance of meteorological expertise to our society. It has also provided the Uganda Department of Meteorology with valuable feedback on the reliability of our forecasts for localized conditions on Lake Victoria. In future we hope to extend the Mobile Weather Alert project to other fishing communities, farmers and other community sectors as part of a wider effort to improve the reliability and reach of severe weather forecasting,” said Michael Nkalubo, Commissioner, Uganda Department of Meteorology
”MTN is excited about the pilot, and indeed this partnership, as it allows us to use mobile technology to further touch our communities in a way that brings about socioeconomic change to their daily lives. We also believe that the pilot holds great long-term benefits for the fishing community in the Lake Victoria region, and the rest of the continent,” said Christian de Faria, Group Chief Commercial Officer, MTN.
Mary Power, Director Resource Mobilization, WMO said “Severe Weather and Climate events account for almost 90 percent of natural disasters and related losses of life and property globally. Establishing and sustaining Early Warning Systems in places vulnerable to these events, such as Lake Victoria, where low incomes and marginal living conditions increase peoples` vulnerability, is critical.”
According to Mwambu Wanendeya, Head of Communications and Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability, Ericsson sub Saharan Africa working towards Ericsson’s vision about a Networked Society in Africa is not just about building or expanding networks but also about addressing local issues as well as some of the world’s biggest challenges, including security, climate change, sustainability, and the availability of education and health care.
 Saving Lives on Water and Protecting the Marine Environment, said Tim de Wet, Founder of National Lake Rescue Institute, was a their core objective for marine communities utilizing the waterways of East Africa and the mobile weather alerts has accorded marine communities the basic human right of an ‘informed’ decision as to whether they travel, trade or fish on the Lake.
 “In our work with small-holder farmers across Uganda, we have similarly found strong demand for timely and highly localized weather information. This solution, if properly contextualized, could be a powerful tool to also improve farm productivity and mitigate the risks of climate change through new products such as weather index-base crop insurance,” said Sean Paavo Krepp, Grameen Foundation Country Director.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

African countries now going for integrated water resources management

By Ochieng’ Ogodo
[Cairo, Egypt] More than seventy-five percent of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) member countries are implementing national water laws with nearly half are executing national plans for integrated water resources management in line with the Africa Water Vision for 2025
The finding is contained in a new survey by the United Nations launched during the 8th General Assembly of AMCOW May 14-18.
Based on data collected from 40 member countries by UN-Water to determine progress towards sustainable management of water resources using integrated approaches the survey “2012 Status Report on the Application of Integrated Approaches to Water Resources Management in Africa”  found that 18 of those countries have integrated water resource management (IWRM) plans under implementation.
This is a marked increase from a similar study conducted in 2008 that found 5 countries, out of the 16 that responded had IWRM plans or were in the process of developing them.
According to the new survey, several respondents had improved performance in water resources management providing direct benefits towards their national social and economic objectives.
“I am encouraged by the progress that has so far been made with integrated approaches to water resources management, which establishes a solid foundation for development and peace,” said immediate former AMCOW President, Hon. Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of South Africa
She said in a press release, “It is crucial that we increase our efforts to implement past declarations on water and sanitation to advance the well-being of Africa’s people, environment and economy. This is in the spirit of the Africa Water Vision 2025.”
But despite the progresses made so far, the report said, there were still many challenges and a great deal more, in terms of commitment and resources, was required to assure food and energy security, as well as access to safe drinking water and sanitation to a growing population.
Top among these challenges are flooding, droughts and pollution that threatens Africa’s water resources and it is feared these could become more severe due to climate change and variability.
The survey recommends targeted action to intensify efforts and opportunities for country-to-country knowledge sharing, especially on disaster preparedness and water risk management as a means to increase resilience to climate change. 
Financial constraints, institutional capacity gaps and weaknesses in coordination mechanisms between sectors and government departments have also been highlighted in the report as key challenges to integrated water resources management in Africa.
Delegates at the 4th Africa Water Week in Cairo
It emphasises the need to carry out far reaching reforms aimed at strengthening the capacity of relevant institutions for managing trans-boundary water systems, as well as the capacity of local river basin organisations and national apex bodies.
“Water resources are an essential ingredient in the advent of a green economy in Africa,” says AMCOW Executive Secretary, Bai-Mass Taal. “All nations must create transparent and integrated approaches to prioritise wise and efficient allocation of water. The outcomes of the survey should be utilised as a first step towards the development of a permanent reporting mechanism on each country’s progress towards that goal.”
The report produced jointly by the African Union Commission (AUC) and AMCOW, the AUC’s Specialised Technical Committee on Water and Sanitation, pointed out that detailed documentation of these benefits, including better and more consistent indicators, could increase government commitment and financing for water management and infrastructure.
It recommends that a more rigorous reporting system on progress in water management in Africa is initiated by AMCOW to provide a better basis for informed decision making at the national level.
And in efforts aimed addressing the twin challenges of water security and climate change AMCOW also launched The Strategic Framework for Water Security and Climate Resilient Development during the Global Water Partnership and partner Climate Development  Knowledge Network, the framework is designed to  help senior professionals and decision-makers to identify and develop “no or low regret” investment strategies, to integrate these into planning processes, and to influence future development activities so they become more resilient to climate change and variability.
It will also contribute to the implementation of climate change related commitments that were made by African Head of States in 2008 in the Sharma el Sheikh declaration on water and sanitation. 
Molewa said that the increased frequency of droughts and floods in Africa are sober warning of future climatic changes introducing new risks and treats viability of African development.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Farmers in six African countries to benefit from US$7m commercial products project

 By Ochieng’ Ogodo


[NAIROBI] Farmers in six African countries will benefit from Phase II of the Commercial Products (COMPRO-II) project, said Dr. Bernard Vanlauwe, Director for Natural Resource Management and Central Africa with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture today.
The six, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda, and Tanzania will benefit from the COMPRO-II project, a US$7m grant from the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at institutionalizing quality assurance mechanisms and facilitation of the rapid dissemination of top quality agricultural commercial products for increased yields and food security of smallholder farmers in the region.
IITA that will lead the project will work with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa – Soil Health Program (AGRA), Farm Input Promotions (FIPS), the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Research Area of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (TSBF-CIAT), the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI), and universities, national research organizations, extension organizations, and quality control entities in the different target countries.
“The plan is to raise awareness among over two million smallholder farmers on effective and profitable commercial products by 2016 through public-private partnership,” according to Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General on April 20.
Of these households, 420,000 will have tested at least one effective commercial product and at least 50 percent of these will have adopted the technology and achieve a 15-30 percent yield increase with substantial impacts on food security and income.
“The key expected outcome of the project is the institutionalization of screening and approval of commercial products,” said Prem Warrior, Senior Program Officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Sub-Saharan Africa in the last decade, has witnessed economic growth amid population increases and rising demand for food. Consequently, investments in soil fertility have become indispensable to increase agricultural productivity, and access to agricultural inputs is required to achieve this goal.
Whereas it’s important to have an access to inputs, quality assurance of agricultural inputs was of utmost significance to protect farmers, retailers, wholesalers, and importers, and to minimise health and environmental hazards.
For instance, new biofertilizers, biopesticides, and chemical agro-inputs have been commercialized, but these products are often insufficiently evaluated for quality and efficacy due to weak national and regional regulatory systems, says Vanlauwe.
Scientists have been working under the first phase of the Commercial Products project, also known as COMPRO I, in the past three years and have identified three effective commercial products out of the over 100 products evaluated that enhance yields by 15-30 percent.
The products include Rhizobium inoculants for legumes, mycorrhizal inoculants for bananas, and seed coating of for maize.
“COMPRO-II will leverage on the gains earlier made in phase one, which covered Kenya, Ethiopia, and Nigeria,” said Vanlauwe.
Phase II of the project proposes to:
  • transit these technologies into Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda,
  • institutionalize regulatory and quality control processes,
  • disseminate effective products through public-private partnerships,
  • develop communication tools, and
  • strengthen human capacity.
At the end of the project, more farmers are expected to confidently use these products because their safety, efficacy, and quality will be ensured through institutionalized regulatory and quality assurance mechanisms.
The COMPRO-II project will be officially launched on 16 and 17 May 2007 in Dar-es Salaam, Tanzania.

IITA and ILRI to work together to tackle hunger challenge in Africa

By Ochieng’ Ogodo

Journalist -Kenya

[NAIROBI] The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have decided to step up collaboration in tackling the challenge of hunger.
The two major centers in Africa that are part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), intend to build synergies that would unleash the power of crop and livestock improvements to address poverty and malnutrition in Africa.
Director General of ILRI, Dr Jimmy Smith and his IITA counterpart Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga are currently in ongoing discussion on how this can be effected.
At a dinner held in honor of Smith on Saturday May 5 in Ibadan, Nigeria, Sanginga said he foresaw a closer partnership of the two institutes.
He reiterated that IITA alone could not solve all of Africa’s problems, hence the need for partnership with institutes with similar vision as IITA.
The two institutes have in the past joined forces in bringing benefits to African farmers in projects such as ‘Promoting Sustainable Agriculture in Borno’ or PROSAB.
That project which was implemented in northern Nigeria helped raise incomes by 81 percent among participating households and also improved the nutrition of beneficiaries.
 “We need to work more closely to help farmers get benefits,” Sanginga said in a press release.
The Director General,  (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga (left) in a tête-à-tête with the 
Director General of  (ILRI), Dr Jimmy Smith (right), in Ibadan, Nigeria

Smith said he envisioned IITA and ILRI harnessing their strengths for the betterment of farmers.
 According to him, the presence of a ‘crop and a livestock’ research partnership in Africa provided an opportunity for the continent to mine.
The Kenya headquartered ILRI has as its mandate improvement of the productivity of livestock while IITA based in Nigeria works towards improvement of sub-Saharan’s major staples such as cassava, yam, maize, soybean, cowpea, cocoa, banana and plantain.  Both institutes operate Africa wide, and have over the years signed an agreement to maintain offices on each other’s campus.
Dr Iheanacho Okike, ILRI’s Country Representative in Nigeria, said the collaboration between IITA and ILRI was a step in the right direction that would create a major impact in sub-Saharan Africa. “It is a perfect alignment,” he added.
He noted that the discussion for greater partnership between the two institutes was at an opportune time when the CGIAR through its reform agenda is fostering greater collaboration among centers.