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The East African : Nov 28th 2015
34 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK NOVEMBER 28 - DECEMBER 4, 2015 S U S TA INAB L E D E VE LO PME N T New risk atlas, green villages help Kigali deal with climate change Rwanda is p≥one to d≥ought, landslides, floods and windsto≥ms By JEAN-PIERRE AFADHALI Special Correspondent R esidents of Rwanda’s Muyobe Green Village in Mu- hanga district in the Southern Province, say life has become more bearable since the government relocated them to the site. The Village, made up more than 100 households, is part of Rwanda’s climate change adaptation and green development programme. Its residents once lived in hilly areas and slopes — which define the country’s landscape. These areas are prone to frequent landslides due to heavy rains that experts attribute to changing weather patterns. “The rains used to wash away our crops every year, people lost their lives, roads were damaged and there was stagnant water everywhere posing the risk of an outbreak of waterborne diseases,” said Jean Kabayiza, who was relocated in 1998 from Gishwati forest in Western province. “Now I do not worry about my crops being washed away; I grow maize, beans and Irish potatoes.” Gishwati is a natural forest that has been depleted over time due to large-scale cattle ranching and refugee resettlement. For Bosco Habyarabatumye too, life became better after the relocation, which also saw the government plant trees on the hills. “I now grows maize, beans and Irish potatoes and also keep cattle,” said the farmer. According to the National Green Growth and Climate Re- A resident of Rwanda’s Muyobe Green Village. Extreme weather could negatively impact Rwanda’s economy. Pic: Jean-Pierre Afadhali silience Strategy 2011, Rwanda is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. “Extreme weather and cli- mate change could negatively impact the country’s economy which could result in annual economic loss of just under 1 per cent of GDP by 2030,” notes the strategy paper. The view is supported by the The National Risk Atlas of Rwanda offers a potential development tool for the country.” Lamin Maneh, co-ordinator UNDPRwanda National Risk Atlas of Rwanda, launched recently by the Ministry of Disaster Management. The document highlights a number of disasters Rwanda is exposed to, most of them related to the effects of climate change. It notes that the country will continue to be hit by drought, landslides, floods and windstorms. It, therefore, recommends a doubling of efforts towards climate change mitigation and adaptation. “Hazard event scenarios and associated risk scenarios are essential to disaster preparedness including contingency planning and risk financing mechanisms,” notes the Atlas. According to the Atlas, many districts in the Eastern Province are likely to experience severe drought, impacting on DEALING WITH DISASTERS Recommendations outlined in the National Risk Atlas of Rwanda include: The need to collect appropriate data to help asses the country’s exposure and vulnerability levels for disasters such as flooding, up to the village level so that adequate measures are taken to prevent and counter the effects. That in order to adequately asses landslide hazards and the food security of the country. The crops most exposed are bananas, cassava and Irish potatoes. While the highlands of the Congo-Nile Ridge in the Western, Southern and Northern Provinces are prone to landslides, the Atlas says about 40 per cent of the country’s population is exposed to landslides at moderate to very high slope susceptibility. “This document if fully ap- plied offers a potential development tool for the country,” said Lamin Maneh, the co-ordinator make mapping more robust, there is a need to compile a catalogue of historical events containing additional technical information about their origins. The need to conduct thematic analysis for specific policy and decision making by considering risk profiles in areas and aspects such as disaster preparedness, health, education, local development and tourism development. of United Nations Development Programme in Rwanda, at the official launch of the Risk Atlas. Rwanda’s Minister for Dis- aster Management, Seraphine Mukantabana, said that the document was not one to be shelved. “The Atlas will help us miti- gate the impacts of climate change and live in a way that increases protection against disasters,” said Ms Mukantabana. “The information in this Atlas is for everyone — from decision-makers to citizens.” F≥om Maputo to Nai≥obi fo≥ climate justice TURN FROM PAGE 34 ans say, is to consolidate the stories of climate impact from Africa and put them into one narrative so that when Africa goes to the meeting in Paris, it will present a united front. “Africa as a continent relies heavily on agri- culture. In fact, 60 per cent of our people can’t live without it. And research shows that agriculture will be the most impacted by climate change,” said Janah Ncube, the Pan African director for Oxfam. He reiterated the need for Africa to speak with one voice in Paris, noting that a study con- ducted by the organisation had found that it would take an Ethiopian 240 years to generate enough carbon emissions equivalent to what one American is generating today. Petition from Mauritania Aminata Nyang, an MP from Mauritania said that the impacts of climate change in her country were visible. “It is a desert country and the little rains we used to have, have disappeared. In my capacity as a Member of Parliament, I have come here so that my country will also benefit from the agreement that will come out of Paris,” said Ms Nyang. The final event of the Climate Action Week was held in Nairobi. It was a march involving thousands of people, including schoolchildren. They marched through the streets of Nairobi demanding climate justice, and stressing the need for every person to take part in the climate change conversation. It was at this march that all petitions collect- ed from Africa were brought for counting. The civil society said it targeted at least one million petitions, a target they easily surpassed. A farmer from central Kenya. Picture: File 11 Af≥ican count≥ies to sha≥e plant genes By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI Special Correspondent KENYA AND Uganda are among 11 African countries that are using and sharing plant genetic diversity to adapt to climate change, ensure food security and alleviate poverty. In a programme known as Seeds without Borders, the 11 African countries will jointly implement two international agreements to conserve and exchange plant genetic resources with each other and with the rest of the world, and share related benefits. The agreements — the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Plant Treaty) and the Nagoya Protocol, govern how countries exchange seeds beyond their borders. “But to implement these agree- ments at the country level is not always straightforward,” said Michael Halewood, a senior scientist and head of policy research and support unit at Biodiversity International The International Panel on Cli- mate Change predicts that agricultural production is set to decline, with yields of major crops in Africa declining by up to 8 per cent by 2020 and from 10-20 per cent by 2050. This means that there is an ur- gent need for alternative varieties or replacement crops that can grow in the changing climatic conditions. Andreas Drews, manager of the ABS Capacity Development Initiative said that if countries are to make the most out of the biological diversity that they have at their disposal, they have to implement these agreements together. “The continent is faced with new environmental challenges, such as increased flooding, heat and drought — and that is why everyone needs crop diversity, to be able to maintain food security for everyone,” said Dr Drews. The other nine countries shar- ing plant genetic diversity are Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi and Senegal.
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