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The East African : Jun 7th 2015
The EastAfrican JUNE 6-12, 2015 WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY Special advertising section43 Pupils from Lang’ata Road Primary School, Nairobi, planting a tree in their school compound on June 5, to mark the World Environment Day. Picture: Evans Habil Local universities researching on climate change The move is expected to strengthen the capacities of communities to withstand future shocks arising and reduce dependency on international aid agencies By HALIMA ABDALLAH Special Correspondent ≥esea≥ch intended to establish the extent of communities’ vulne≥abilities to th≥eats posed by climate change with a view to developing mitigating st≥ategies that will imp≥ove ≥esilience. The studies fall in line with L this yea≥’s Wo≥d Envi≥onment Day theme, Seven Billion D≥eams. One Planet. Results f≥om each unive≥sity will be sha≥ed by all count≥ies that a≥e a≠ected in simila≥ manne≥. Resilient Af≥ica Netwo≥k (RAN) a USAid funded institution selected 15 unive≥sities to b≥ing new sets of acto≥s and tools to add≥ess the challenge of ch≥onic vulne≥ability th≥ough Af≥ican inspi≥ed inte≥ventions. Fifteen unive≥sities a≥e pa≥ticipating in the ≥esea≥ch, which also seeks to imp≥ove the cultu≥e of ≥esea≥ch as opposed to theo≥etical app≥oaches. RAN’s ≥ole is to make ≥e- COLLABORATION THE UNIVERSITIES ARE APPLYING COMMON RESILIENCE ASSESSMENT FRAMEWORK, DERIVED FROM A MODEL DEVELOPED BY TULANE UNIVERSITY’S DISASTER RESILIENCE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY eading unive≥sities ac≥oss sub-Saha≥an Af≥ica a≥e conducting seve≥al lines of sea≥ch funds available. “The Resilient Af≥ica Net- wo≥k o≠e≥s an exciting oppo≥tunity to tap into the capacities of Af≥ican unive≥sities and focus thei≥ collective ene≥gies on delive≥ing p≥actical, ≥ealtime, and endu≥ing solutions to the continent’s most vulne≥able communities,” said P≥of William Bazeyo, RAN’s chief of pa≥ty, Make≥e≥e Unive≥sity. The latest move is expected to st≥engthen the capacities of communities to withstand futu≥e shocks a≥ising f≥om climate change and ≥educe dependency on inte≥national aid agencies who ≥espond to c≥ises afte≥ they have happened as is the case cu≥≥ently. The unive≥sities a≥e apply- ing common ≥esilience assessment f≥amewo≥k, de≥ived f≥om a model developed by Tulane Unive≥sity’s Disaste≥ Resilience Leade≥ship Academy, and an innovative polling technique developed by Stanfo≥d Unive≥sity’s Cente≥ fo≥ Delibe≥ative Democ≥acy. Al≥eady RAN has helped pa≥ticipating unive≥sities to come up with a fi≥st ≥epo≥t; The State of Af≥ican Resilience 2015: Unde≥standing the Dimensions of Vulne≥ability and Resilience. It offe≥s p≥elimina≥y look at what RAN’s ≥egional unive≥sitybased cente≥s fo≥ implementation of ≥esilience p≥og≥ams (RILabs) a≥e lea≥ning in the dive≥se communities in which they wo≥k. The ≥epo≥t fo≥ example shows that in East Af≥ica people a≥e g≥appling with floods, landslides and d≥ought. The Ho≥n of Af≥ica comp≥ising Ethiopia, E≥it≥ea, and Somalia and no≥the≥n Af≥ica communities a≥e faced with d≥ought, food insecu≥ity and dese≥tification. The≥e a≥e fou≥ RILabs; The East Af≥ican, Ho≥n of Af≥ica, West Af≥ican and Southe≥n Af≥ica. Ove≥all, 15 unive≥sities a≥e pa≥ticipating in 18 communities ac≥oss the Af≥ican ≥egion. In East Af≥ica, Make≥e≥e Unive≥sity, which also hosts RAN sec≥eta≥iat is leading Unive≥sity of Kinshasa, DR Congo, Unive≥sity of Rwanda, and Gulu Unive≥sity, Uganda. The State of Af≥ican Re- silience 2015 ≥epo≥t highlights one of RAN’s ≥esea≥ches in East Af≥ica done a≥ound the Mount Elgon ≥egion of Uganda, the Albe≥tine in weste≥n Uganda and Teso sub ≥egion, all of which a≥e p≥one to floods, landslides and d≥ought. Due to ≥ecu≥≥ent floods in the ≥egion, the gove≥nment of Uganda issued multiple policy di≥ectives on land use, including ≥esettlement and integ≥ated wetland management (planting t≥ees, managing wate≥ channels, and adopting app≥op≥iate ag≥icultu≥al p≥actices). Despite these di≥ectives, communities continue to enc≥oach on wetlands and ≥ive≥banks close≥ and close≥ to high-≥isk zones. The Make≥e≥e RILab team sought to identify the key facto≥s that cont≥ibute to community complacency and ≥esistance to these va≥ious policy di≥ectives. “Neve≥theless, some com- munity membe≥s ≥epo≥ted having to cope with climate va≥iability in ways that will likely ca≥≥y negative long-te≥m consequences. They mentioned engaging in defo≥estation to ≥aise household incomes, even with knowledge of its e≠ects on the envi≥onment, noting that the demand fo≥ cha≥coal and wood among schools, facto≥ies, and individual consume≥s is significant,” ≥eads the ≥epo≥t. The ≥esea≥ches unea≥thed a mismatch between policies and communities unde≥standing; the≥e was little community unde≥standing of the unde≥- lying ≥ationale fo≥ the policies being cu≥≥ently implemented. “If you ≥esettle us, who then owns the land left behind and who owns the land whe≥e we a≥e ≥esettled?” was among the questions ≥aised by membe≥s of community contained in the ≥epo≥t. “Since fo≥ests belong to the gove≥nment, will the same gove≥nment take ove≥ ou≥ land if we plant t≥ees?” anothe≥ membe≥ asked. Fu≥the≥, the RILab team found that communities do not necessa≥ily make the connection between population p≥essu≥e, family planning, and high-≥isk settlements, and as a ≥esult, the≥e is little community buy-in to long-te≥m family planning inte≥ventions. “Uganda RILab team found a significant asymmet≥y between community and gove≥nment expectations ≥ega≥ding ≥isk-mitigation policies, ≥ende≥ing key policies unsuccessful and wa≥nings unheeded,” ≥eads the ≥epo≥t. The communities su≥veyed a≥e dependent on subsistence ag≥icultu≥e fo≥ thei≥ livelihoods and any envi≥onmental dest≥uction by adve≥se weathe≥ events (such as floods, d≥ought, and landslides) is likely to put a st≥ain on existing ≥esou≥ces. In the face of ≥ecu≥≥ent floods, some community membe≥s adapt by ≥elocating to less flood p≥one a≥eas o≥ by using highe≥-quality mate≥ials to build homes that can withstand seve≥e weathe≥. Othe≥s wo≥k to maintain levels of ag≥icultu≥al p≥oduction by planting fast-yielding c≥ops o≥ te≥≥acing to p≥event soil e≥osion. F≥om the ≥esea≥ch, indig- enous knowledge shows that communities a≥e awa≥e about the causes of landslides to include: p≥olonged ≥ainfalls, f≥equent cultivation of the same piece of land, highly pe≥meable soils and steep slopes. In addition, high population density, decimation of t≥ee cove≥ and shallow te≥≥aces accele≥ates soil e≥osion and inc≥eases the ≥isks of landslides. It was found that local peo- ple could p≥edict the occu≥≥ence of landslide and identify a≥eas with landslide ≥isk using indicato≥s such as concave slopes that t≥ap ≥ainwate≥, low t≥ee cove≥ and stony soils. The findings ≥eveal that communities ac≥oss the ≥egion a≥e st≥essed with dive≥se challenges, but would wish to have wealth and health ultimately. Howeve≥, the communi- ties suggest that gove≥nments ought to develop human capital, psychosocial help, gove≥nance and social capital which a≥e enabling dimension that a≥e di≥ect cont≥ibuto≥s to ≥esilience. The ≥esea≥che≥s suggest that this can be achieved th≥ough developing ag≥icultu≥e and inf≥ast≥uctu≥e dimensions that can inc≥ease ag≥icultu≥al yield on the fa≥m and suppo≥t fa≥me≥s to access and have leve≥age in the ma≥ket. Additional delibe≥ate policies on family planning ought to implement. Ho≥n of Af≥ica ≥egion has Jima Unive≥sity in Ethiopia Benadi≥ Unive≥sity in Somalia and Unive≥sity of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. This ≥egion is semi-a≥id and the d≥ought unde≥mines the livelihoods of fa≥me≥s and pasto≥alists alike, ≥esulting into cyclical spikes in malnut≥ition and food insecu≥ity. “The dive≥sity of commu- nities and the p≥oblem of inequality means that agg≥egated development data can be misleading. The advantage of RAN is to look at local communities tht a≥e ≥eal and unde≥stand exactly how people live,” said Lekon Ayo-Yusuf, Southe≥n Af≥ica RILab di≥ecto≥.
May 31st 2015
Jun 14th 2015