Harnessing Ecosystem based Approaches for Food Security and Adaptation to Climate Change In Africa
This conference report represents the output of the first Africa Food Security and Adaptation Conference, which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in August 2013. Recent severe droughts in the Sahel in 2012, and the Horn of Africa in 2011, together with projected 5-22% reductions in crop yields and growing populations by 2050, provided a stark context through which participants shared experiences, collate lessons learned, and identify key barriers. The conference was a mixture of plenary and panel group discussions featuring academics, experts and specialists in the various climate change related sectors.
The first plenary session saw participants from multiple sectors sharing examples of projects - largely bottom-up, gender-sensitive projects targeting small-scale farmers - harnessing ecosystem-based approaches to enhance food security and climate change adaptation. Regarding adaptation, the infusion of indigenous and scientific knowledge has led to the restoration of both terrestrial and marine species, as communities become adamantly preservationist as awareness of climate change grows. Successful examples include the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), which has increased fauna conservation, and afforestation campaigns in Uganda and Ethiopia. Other topics covered include barriers (such as weak corporate social responsibility and corrupt governments), a review of lessons learned, mainstreaming ecosystem-based approaches for food security and climate change adaptation, and the implications for Africa under different average climate warming scenarios. Participants were greatly concerned that a two degree target now seemed unfeasible, resulting in a general consensus regarding the maximising of resource utilisation and the cessation of any intervention that increases greenhouse gas emissions.
Recommendations that emerged from the conference are split by policy and planning, capacity building, funding mechanisms, implementation, demonstration projects, and research and development. These include:
- Expanding existing policy frameworks at all levels to integrate ecosystem-based approaches, include all stakeholders, and align regional and global processes to increase food security.
- Building awareness campaigns through dialogues, sensitivity training, and on-farm demonstrations.
- The sourcing of funding through various actors, mobilised through grassroots agricultural organisations.
- A focus on youth and gender dimensions, the application of latest scientific knowledge, and the use of community driven development approaches.
- Building strong partnerships and networks, and promoting ecosystem-based approaches which contain sustainable livelihoods packages.
- Sharing data, promoting rigorous academic programs, and technologies compatible with local contexts should all be a focus.