Nelly Bassily | February 22, 2010
In news release issued in June 2008, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reiterated an oft-cited fact: “Although Africa produces only four per cent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions, its inhabitants are poised to suffer disproportionately from the consequences of global climate change.” At the time, UNEP was launching a new atlas of Africa, which features more than 300 satellite photos illustrating environmental change over the past 30 years. The effect of an overall rise in global temperature is dramatically marked by shrinking glaciers atop Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro and Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains.
To see the impact of climate change on everyday life, one need look no further than average farmers, such as those in our story from Zimbabwe. These farmers and countless others have suffered from alternating droughts and floods as rain patterns have become less predictable.
Erratic rainfall patterns are among the greatest challenges that climate change poses to small-scale farmers. Our news story mentions several adaptation techniques that farmers can use to cope with erratic rainfall:
-drip irrigation to use scarce water most effectively
-zero grazing to reduce reliance on natural pastures
-crossing exotic varieties with indigenous animal breeds to enable them to better cope with a dry environment
-switching to more resilient crops, such as sorghum and finger millet
-experimenting with short-season maize varieties
-For more information on the impact of climate change in Zimbabwe, see: http://allafrica.com/stories/200805220560.html
Some of the adaptation techniques discussed in this week’s news story may be useful for farmers in your area. Consider the following Farm Radio International scripts for additional information and resources:
-Choosing crops for drought prone areas (Package 73, Script 3, January 2005)
-Supply water directly to plant roots with pitcher and drip irrigation (Package 71, Script 10, June 2004)
-Farmer Phiri uses infiltration pits to combat drought (Package 64, Script 6, July 2002)
-The role of native breeds in maintaining livestock health: Story ideas for the radio (Package 63, Script 3, April 2002)
-Dr. Compost talks about compost piles (Package 61, Script 6, October 2001)
-A farmer practices zero grazing (Package 51, Script 3, February 1999)
You may also consider producing a call-in and text-in show, or a locally researched news story, on one or both of the following topics:
1) Local climate change observations:
-What differences in seasonal temperature and rainfall patterns have people observed?
-Have floods and/or droughts been more frequent in the last 20-30 years than in previous decades?
-What differences in the properties of soil have been seen in recent decades?
-What differences in vegetation have been seen, including crops, pasture, and wild plants?
2) Local adaptation techniques:
-What crops have farmers struggled with, and which have proven well-suited to these new conditions?
-What sorts of feeding and care techniques have livestock farmers used to cope with new conditions?
-What techniques are farmers using to prevent flooding and make the best use of available water?
-What other steps have farmers taken to maintain food security in the case of severe drought or floods?