With innovative technology and renewable energy, Africa can rewrite her climate story – UNDP

Solar Ship aircraft. Image taken from Solar Ship.
Solar Ship aircraft. Image taken from Solar Ship.

Experts on Thursday  urged African governments to innovate with advanced and cheap forms of technology and renewable energy to mitigate effects of climate change.

UN Development Programme (UNDP) environment specialist Biplove Chaudhary, told delegates attending a climate change and food insecurity conference in the South Sudanese capital Juba that governments needed to embrace smart agriculture.

He also said that government needed to embrace a proper natural resource management to mitigate negative effects of climate change.

“African food production systems are most vulnerable due to climate change. Africa does not contribute much to climate change adaptation yet it’s very vulnerable,’’ he said.

Chaudhary added that maize output may be reduced by 22 per cent across sub-Saharan Africa amid the prevailing food insecurity, and instead called for change in cropping types with cereals being replaced by non-cereals.

Chaudhary also said that poor market access for agricultural inputs, trade and limited infrastructural investments have constrained commercialisation of agriculture.

David Smith, from the UN Environment Programme said that political stability depended on sustainable use of natural resources.

“In resource-dependent countries like South Sudan, successful development requires comprehensive integration of sustainable environment and natural resource management in national development plans, UN and other development assistance strategies,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Paul Opio, of the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) revealed that the recent increased intensity and frequency of drought amid high rural-urban migration in the horn and Eastern Africa caused decline in yields and production, hence increased food prices in most cities.

“Climate is changing and agriculture needs to change, one clear area that FAO pointed out is to do with data.

“ It’s only with informed data that we are able to act and to sustain food production there is need to deal with smart agriculture,’’ Opio disclosed.

He said that FAO and the East African bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development have embarked on using the Resilience Index Measurement and Analysis, to explain why and how some households have the ability to cope with shocks and stressors better than others.

He lauded the success of the Predictive Livestock Early Warning  system that has enabled Kenyan pastoralists with monthly foreseeable knowledge on forage outlook.

“Sharing information in the region is key and countries need to learn from each other, of the Cross Border Animal Health Coordination mechanism being implemented by IGAD countries like Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia,’’ Opio said.

Michel Del Buono, UNDP energy consultant, said disappearance of glaciers in Eastern Africa will signify the end of permanent rivers.

He said that human actions partly driven by climate change in the upstream states along the Nile River like Ethiopia and Uganda seriously affect river flow in downstream countries like Egypt, which largely depended on the world’s longest river for agriculture.

Egypt has until recently been engaged with Ethiopia that is constructing the Renaissance dam along the Nile waters for fear of the huge dam construction diverting water flow.

“Inland areas of Africa incur high transport costs for hydro carbons used to fuel power plants, transition to renewable energy may take over 25 years,’’ Buono said.

He said that the growth of renewable energy use in Somalia was much driven by the private sector despite lack of subsidies from government and the UN.

“In Somalia the private sector is moving fast on renewable energy without UN, government subsidies and within 30 years the population will be relying mostly on renewable energy,’’ he said, adding that this led to lower tariffs.

Buono urged South Sudanese authorities to provide the private sector with requisite incentives to help develop the energy sector with focus on hybrid plants for public electricity.

“If South Sudan needs electricity within two years it has to encourage the private sector to come in other than investing in hydro power which could take five years to complete,’’ he said.

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