Tag: VOICE

[VOICE] SOLAR POWER HELPS TACKLE DEFORESTATION

Author: Colette Benoudji, LEAD Tchad

The Chad government’s decision last year to ban the use of firewood for cooking was a brave attempt to reduce deforestation, but it has caused significant hardship among those who depended on it. A campaign to distribute solar cooking stoves has given thousands of women across the country a much-needed alternative, demonstrating how technological innovation can provide a neat solution to environmental and development problems.

Like other countries in the African Sahel, the semi-arid region bordering the Sahara, Chad is threatened with creeping desertification. Years of low rainfall have allowed the sands to advance on areas that used to hold vegetation. Evaporation and the diversion of water for agriculture have caused Lake Chad to shrink from 25,000 square kilometers in the early 1960s to just 3,000 square kilometers today, with the Sahara sands moving southwards across its northern shores. As a result of the effects of drought and desertification on agriculture, the UN and other experts have predicted a food shortage that could affect several million people later this year.

The government says desertification has been hastened by the indiscriminate cutting down of trees for charcoal, used widely for cooking. Last year, the country’s president, Idriss Déby, issued a decree banning the use of firewood and charcoal for cooking in an attempt to stem the loss of tree cover. This has been strictly enforced, and families have been forced to burn everything from furniture to plant roots to cook. The government has been encouraging the use of gas, but few Chadians have gas equipment.

Lead Tchad received training from the non-profit KoZon Foundation in The Netherlands to work on a technology-based solution to this problem, one that could help save trees as well as giving families an alternative means of cooking: solar stoves. These consist of a foil-covered cardboard reflector which directs sunlight onto a dark pot. The pot is kept in a plastic bag to retain the heat. They cost less than US$10 eachand are easy to use .

Lead Tchad team started to train groups of women in Chad in how to use the stoves. This led to a meeting with the ministry of women’s affairs, at which we convinced them that solar stoves could help ease the hardship that the government’s ban on charcoal was causing women across the country, especially those in poor rural areas . During National Women’s Week last year , we launched a national campaign to distribute solar stoves to women attending the event.

Since then, the KoZon Foundation, the Government of Chadthroughout the Ministry of Women Affairs and other groupshave distributed more than 2,000 solar stoves to women in Chad, largely to women coming from the rural areas. The technology is playing a crucial role in helping the government cut deforestation rates, while offering people an alternative, affordable source of energy for cooking. The stoves are being used everywhere, though there have been problems. Some women are nervous of trying the new technology and the cooking styles it demands. Furthermore, the stoves work less effectively during the rainy season.

Thanks to this initiative, Lead Chad received funds from AED/USAIDfor supporting women in 3 rural villages in Chad with solar stoves project. Women in rural Chad are 90% illiterates so that Lead Tchad  try to link this project with adult women alphabetization.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • Innovative technologies can play a vital role in changing destructive habits such as the unsustainable use of resources.
  • Legislation prohibiting the use of natural resources can cause hardship especially for the poor unless alternatives are made available.
  • One of the keys to the introduction of solar stoves is training: people need to be familiarized with a new technology and shown its advantages before they will adopt it.
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[VOICE] Parties’ pledges for cutting emissions under KP and LCA: How to build a strong dyke

By Ange-Benjamin Brida

In this UNFCCC negotiation it’s undeniable that cutting emissions and the idea of a review of target from 2°C to 1,5°C are some of the most crucial issues of this process on the way toward a Fair Ambitious and Binding agreement in Durban next year. And we would like to recall parties that we need here in Cancun a package that is more compatible with this objective and in line with science requirement. We need to build a dyke strong enough to save us from the “drowning” of Copenhagen.

The only one way to build this dyke safely is to make a real engineering plan, and then agree what everyone should contribute with, according to their capabilities. After that, everybody can bring their stones to the construction. Meanwhile our delegates, manly those from developed countries, are not using this safe and wise approach here concerning the negotiation. We are building things in the context of climate talk instead of moving according to science-based pledges. Developed countries are still promoting this pledges based on an interests approach which will not fulfill the target.Current mitigation pledges result in a massive 5-9 gigatonne gap per year by 2020. The recent UNEP report indicates that a substantial part of the gap results from loopholes and double counting.

Distinguished delegates: a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is an essential part of a balanced outcome in Cancun.Rejecting the one legally binding framework we have for emission reduction commitments is simply unacceptable. We hope that countries opposing a second commitment period will show more flexibility this coming week.We need to have more science-based pledges and more equity in the Cancun package. Please ensure that the following four key elements are included in both the KP and LCA texts:

1. A process to clarify existing pledges

2. Acknowledgement that current accounting is less than what science requires

3. A process to make sure pledges are strengthened before they are cemented into the legal

Text.

4. Long-term Zero and Low Carbon Action Plans

As the ministers are still coming we urge parties to comeup with more pledges. Another drowning could not be acceptable. Delegates: roll up your sleeves and let’s build a strong dyke!

Getting use to Climate Change is not to adapt: Landslides & floods in Uganda.

 

By Isaac Kabongo

Reality is here living with us, and local communities have accepted to live with it: the impacts of climate change. The floods or prolonged heavy rains that cause landslides are ceasing to be the breaking news in local media and many communities in Uganda; it is now both, a fashion and a way of life. Uganda is vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change due to rampant poverty, weak existence of institutional capacity, inadequate skills, limited knowledge by planners and decision makers, low level of technological development, and limited financial resources among others. Climate change’s strikes undermine the achievement of the millennium development goals as well as the overall development strategy of the country.

So the question is ‘for how long should we wait before the international community understands that enough is enough’?  The need to take action has outlived its time, but its relevance remains as important as ever. The global community in the spirit of cooperation and development should give priority to coming up with a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement to tackle climate in Cancun. Communities living with the reality of climate change have been taken as hostages and much is said and promised to help them to come out of this situation, but nothing tangible happens. Local communities have learnt how to live with the dead and the injured due to severe floods, hunger and landslides and others have been accused of cannibalism even when they are not.

The truth is that communities are doing everything possible to adapt. However, their resilience is still very low because yet the existing structures can’t support them.  

Very few adaptation options are investigated and promoted as floods and landslides continue to make havoc. Farmers interviewed by CAN Uganda while conducting climate hearings, have clearly indicated that they are not properly equipped to adapt to climatic changes and protect their livelihoods. Furthermore, there is poor preparation to disasters and limited support for local coping strategies. Communities are equipped with rudimentary technologies which makes them almost permanently incapable of responding to the growing threat of climate change in the region.

Early adaptation to climate change can moderate impacts and even secure benefits. New international finance and political attention on climate change also has the potential to strengthen weak institutions and to reduce the social vulnerability and inequity which has long been a target of development assistance. However, although pockets of excellent technical expertise and disparate activities on climate change are emerging, in part through the response to the UNFCCC, action by government to date falls well short of what is needed to climate-proof Uganda's development. Alongside explicit capacity constraints in terms of resources and personnel, there are less obvious constraints to effective action such as confused mandates, dysfunctional arrangements for inter-agency working, and weak institutional and professional incentives for pro-active action.

The international climate talks through the UNFCCC must work quickly and decisively towards a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate change agreement. The international community as it tackles climate change should put humanity first before economics.  Time will judge global citizens wrong, if we fail to bold action to reduce the impacts of climate change.

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[VOICE] Climate Change Strikes Ethiopia

Climate change is affecting the lives of many, especially those that are highly vulnerable, like Africa, Small Island States and Least developed countries. A recent report on the Climate Change Vulnerability Index, released by global risks advisor firm, Maplecroft, has confirmed that Ethiopia is one of the countries with an extreme risk to be affected by climate change.

Impacts of climate change are being felt in different parts of the country already. There are more erratic and heavy rainfalls with short rainy seasons. Vulnerable countries such as Ethiopia have low adaptive capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change or none. In order to take any actions on climate change first we need to understand the problems by consulting with the affected people and find the best adaptive measures, as indigenous knowledge is very crucial.In Ethiopia, development interventions by different NGOs play an important role by providing resources for adaptation to climate change whose capacity needs to be enhanced. Therefore, it is very important to take lessons from this kind of practices and their impacts for developing and promoting proven and acceptable adaptation strategies.

In Ethiopia’s case, pastoral communities are among the most vulnerable groups who are affected by climate change. Borena zone in the southern part of the country is one of the chronic drought prone areas with underdeveloped infrastructure, harsh, and unpredictable environment. Due to these reasons, the zone has faced increased frequency of seasonal droughts, erratic and insufficient rainfall and flash floods. In turn it has led to feed and water scarcity, bush encroachment, food shortage, migration and human and livestock diseases.

Some of the interventions that the Federal and Regional governments have been undertaking include; range rehabilitation, asset protection, livelihood diversification and the productive safety-net and humanitarian interventions (during emergency situations). Non-governmental organizations have also been supporting the pastoral community through the implementation of projects aiming at ecological restoration, range rehabilitation, social protection and managing disaster risks. However, given the severity of the problem, much remains to be done by taking into consideration the added burden from the impacts of climate change on pastoral assets-livestock, water and pasture.

The major problem faced by this community includes rangeland degradation in the form of bush encroachment (invasion of species), poor pasture and feed scarcity. In order to enhance the management of rangelands, a local NGO operating in the area, Action for Development, has been engaged in bush clearing and water development projects and drought response measures such as destocking, supplementary livestock feeding, water rationing, and emergency livestock health services which has marked a change in the condition of the rangelands (particularly pasture), and in the health and productivity of the livestock. The water development interventions have increased the access to water and guarantee water availability and reduced the workload of women and the stress of livestock and herders from traveling long distance to access water. Since all the interventions were instrumental it ensured the feeling of community ownership and sustainability of water provision among the target communities. 

In order to make ongoing and future development interventions climate resilient these good practices need to be scaled up by empowering the local communities and institutions. Therefore, Parties who are negotiating in Cancun need to take actions now and make serious mitigation and financial commitments so that communities in vulnerable countries better adapt to climate change by scaling up good practices.

Mahlet Eyassu

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[Voice] To define or not to define?

The beginning of the UN climate negotiations in Cancun, COP16 began with very low expectations by the majority of states.  After the bursting of last year's bubble of COP15 in Copenhagen , states have entered this year with a sense of disappointment and an attempt to rebuild the trust that was lost. A common vision among parties for this year is a set of COP decisions on specific issues that will essentially feed into a larger deal to be agreed upon in full by next year's COP17 in Durban, South Africa. A potential agreement on technology transfer, capacity building, a new framework for adaptation, and a finance mechanism that will establish a new Climate Fund to be operational by Durban, are all elements of potential concurrence among parties this year. There are however some key controversial issues that stand out like thorns in the process including emission reduction targets, a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, and an assessment of vulnerabilities under adaptation.

Under adaptation there is a debate to open up the definition of vulnerabilities. This debate is endless and has no viable solution and will only open up a Pandora's box that cannot be sealed. To define vulnerabilities means to label states that are most vulnerable, and hence rank them and prioritize funding for those that are most vulnerable. Under the convention, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are currently given some priority with respect to LDC fund however no other priority with respect to vulnerabilities has been defined.  Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and African states with hot spot areas become prioritized in terms of vulnerabilities based on their ability to cope with such disasters caused by Climate Change.  Different proposals and definitions have been posed. Some propose to assess the most vulnerable states based on the socio-economic impacts of climate change, while others look strictly at the physical and environmental aspects. Naturally different countries vary in their ranking of vulnerability based on each aspect. A synthesis of all assessments may be a feasible option, however may still open some controversial doors.  India's proposal for it to be based on the per capita principle will obviously be refused by states such as Qatar or UAE which have a very high GDP per capita.  

It is imperative however to assess vulnerabilities both on a national as well as regional level. Regional cooperation is necessary for effective adaptive capacity of all states. This is especially relevant within the context of country specific proposals submitted to the Adaptation Fund Board.  A proposal for instance submitted by Ethiopia to increase its adaptive capacity with the construction of a dam on the Blue Nile against floods, may actually increase the vulnerability of states further downstream such as Egypt. This essentially defeats the purpose of the overall context of the UNFCCC process. Hence it is necessary when discussing the context of vulnerability within adaptation to promote cooperation and collaboration on a regional level and enhance regional projects of adaptation against vulnerabilities.  This is especially important for states with shared resources.  A common understanding of equity within this process is the only way to ensure a workable and fair agreement for our future generations.

Lama El Hatow

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[VOICE] Climate Change and Bangladesh: Adaptation planning to address Impacts and Vulnerabilities

Bangladesh is expected to be the most vulnerable country in the world in next 30 years mainly because of its exposure to climate-related natural disasters and sea-level rise; human sensitivity in terms of population growth and pattern, development, natural resources, agricultural dependency and conflicts; in adequate adaptive capacity to combat climate change (Maplecroft, 2010). In fact, multiple hazards instigated by various climatic factors including temperature variation, erratic rainfall, flood and recurrent flood, cyclone and storm surge, drought, saline intrusion coupled with social or non-climate factors (such as population density and poverty) are already affecting the many parts of country especially in the coastal region, north-west and low-lying areas.  

The Government of Bangladesh realizing the consequences of the climate change has made striking progress in terms of policy, strategy and institutional arrangement. Following allocation of 100 million USD in 2008 and 2009 together to bring adaptation and mitigation actions on the ground, the country recently established Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) and approved another 100 million USD for 2010/2011 to implement the projects and programmes under six major themes (i. Food security, social protection and health ii. Comprehensive Disaster Management iii. Infrastructure iv. Research and knowledge management v. mitigation and low carbon development and vi. Capacity building and institutional strengthening) of the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP). This fund will be managed and implemented by the government and technical support will be provided by the World Bank to facilitate that the requirements are met in the implementation process. A governing council and a management committee chaired by the government will be the apex bodies to manage the fund. However, representatives of the line ministries, development partners and civil society will be included in both the council and management committee. In addition, a policy titled “Climate Change Trust Fund Policy” has been developed by the Cabinet as part of an integrated plan to face disaster due to climate change in the country.

The government also officially launched the “Climate Change Unit” under the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in June 2010. At this stage, the CCU is headed by the Joint Secretary, MoEF. The unit will be equipped with 9 senior officers and 33 staff. National level experts will also be recruited as advisors to strengthen the unit and make it better functional. The MOEF and CCU have already approved 66 projects for implementation in vulnerable coastal zone, drought prone area, flood and low lying ecosystem, hilly and haor area, and charlands covering mainly water, agriculture, forestry, infrastructure, health, capacity building sectors etc. Some of the projects are approved for conducting action research and institutional strengthening. However, most of these projects will be implemented by the different relevant government institutions. Some of the projects will be implemented by NGO or Civil Society Organizations at both national and local level. 

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CAN Southern CSOs Pre-COP 16 Preparatory Meeting (Mexico City) - 2010

 

This meeting was one of the most intense discussions in a focused setting for CAN’s southern members. Last year CAN International under the Southern Capacity Building Program engaged in inter-country and regional capacity building sessions which were narrower in their objectives.  
The Pre-COP 16 Southern CSOs Preparatory Meeting was in a sense the next logical step forward in the discussions amongst Southern CSOs to strengthen their capacities and develop a joint understanding of the challenges existing in the global south. The range of expertise and backgrounds represented within the group of participants was another positive element responsible for the outcome of this meeting.
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