by Lisen Stenberg and Sonja Vermeulen
The Department for International Development of the UK (DFID) has just won a prize for “Best Technological Breakthrough” at London’s Climate Week, for their support of a project aimed at developing drought-tolerant maize in Africa. The innovation is the result of research by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), one of the CGIAR research centers. The new crop varieties are designed to resist climate change-induced water shortages, and they already being used by 2 million smallholder farmers in 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Herders in Northern Kenya who have lost their cattle due to the intensive drought are getting their first payments as part of an innovative insurance program known as Index Based Livestock Insurance or IBLI. This was reported by the International Livestock Research Institute who developed this insurance programme together with Cornell University and the Index Insurance Innovation Initiative program at the University of California at Davis. Read more »
In this newly released video interview, made by Francesco Fiondella at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), CCAFS theme leader James Hansen discusses the causes of the current drought plaguing the Horn of Africa. He points out that even if the lack of rain is a root cause of the crisis, it is still only one of many factors that has lead to the ongoing drought. Other factors are on a more long term basis, such as poverty, which leads to vulnerability to climatic shocks and population growth, where many depend on rainfed agriculture for their livelihoods. The environmental issues plaguing the area namely water and soil degradation also exacerbate the situation further. Read more »
According to a recent article in The New Agriculturist pastoralism is the best way to cope with drought. This statement is based on the findings from the report ‘An Assessment of the response to the 2008-2009 drought in Kenya’, produced by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Based on interviews with pastoralists the researchers found that the best way for them to cope with famine was to ensure that they had access to grazing and watering areas. Pastoralism was also viewed as the most productive use of drylands in the Horn of Africa and increased mobility of pastoralists could prevent future food crisis in these areas. In other words, by allowing pastoralists to move to other, unused grazing areas, they can more easily mitigate livestock losses during a drought. This is becoming increasingly problematic however, the report states, since mobility is being reduced and impeded. The report recommends that interventions targeting the removal of restrictions to mobility and access should be considered as prime activities during preparedness. To read more about the ILRI report please click here. Read more »
A new analysis of the Horn of Africa famine by Oxfam's Duncan Green looks at what is known so far about its causes, and what can be done. We've covered this issue before, noting that it's impossible to link the devastating East Africa drought with climate change but there are many connections.
Green concludes that whether this extreme weather incident is linked to climate change or not, it is an indication of what may come as such incidents become more commonplace. Read more »
Devastating reports coming from the Horn of Africa indicate that some places are experiencing the worst drought in 60 years. And while it may seem logical to blame the dry conditions on climate change, CCAFS theme leader Philip Thornton warns against attributing a single event to climate change. In a recent interview, he told IRIN Africa that there are challenges in projecting climate change impacts in East Africa:
”Some people think that East Africa is drying, and has dried over recent years; currently there is no hard, general evidence of this, and it is very difficult as yet to see where the statistical trends of rainfall in the region are heading, but these will of course become apparent in time.”
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)