Climate change adaptation: Talk and action, but no funding (IPS, Trust)

| November 28, 2016

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Bongekile Ndimande’s family lost many of their cattle during the recent drought, but she has ensured herself a reliable source of income thanks to goats.

Ms. Ndimade lives in Ncunjana village, in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa. The drought cost her more than $21,000 US in lost livestock. But, like many farmers in her area, she has shifted to raising more goats.

She says, “Goats have given me food and income because I am able to sell them within a short space of time, unlike cattle.”

This change has made Ms. Ndimande more resilient to climate change. Goats are much better than cattle at dealing with drought and a changing environment.

Adapting to climate change was a focus of discussion at the UN climate change conference, COP22, held in Marrakesh, Morocco. The conference ended Nov. 18.

The government of Morocco took a big step for climate change adaptation, announcing an initiative to transform and adapt African agriculture, with a goal of distributing $30 billion in funding. But climate change adaptation received little financial support from the large donor countries who attended COP22.

Bruce Campbell is the director of the CGIAR research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. CGIAR is a group of international agricultural research centres. Mr. Campbell says that almost every African country has included agriculture in their climate action plans. But according to the African Development Bank, $315-400 billion is needed in the next decade to adapt agriculture to climate change.

Rauri Alcock is the director of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions for livestock farmers. He says goats are a great way for livestock farmers to adapt. He explains: “We see that male farmers who have had cattle and lost them are now moving towards keeping goats because goats are more resilient and better animals in a harsh [and] changing environment.”

He also says goats are easier for women to herd than cattle.

Women are affected by climate change and drought differently than men because they have different responsibilities. According to the aid group CARE International, women in Inhambane province in Mozambique spend up to six hours a day in search of water—three times more than before the current drought.

Some women and girls have resorted to eating less and selling sex for food and money. CARE International shared their stories at COP22, while pushing for more funding for communities to adjust to extreme weather and a changing climate.

Late on Nov. 18—the final day of COP22—members adopted a decision urging donor countries to increase finances for climate action in developing states towards a goal of $100 billion a year by 2020. The decision urged that “a substantial share” of government funding be designated for adaptation measures.

Donor countries currently spend barely $10 billion a year to help the hardest-hit communities adjust to the reality of climate change. Many advocates were dismayed by the lack of enthusiasm to increase this support at COP22.

In Chad, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim works at the community level to support pastoralists as they adapt to climate change. She says climate change is evident in how much less milk cows produce. Now, many pastoralists are adapting their diet and eating more cereals. She adds, “But most of us don’t know or have never eaten [them.]”

In addition, many waterholes have dried up, and women have to walk further for food, water, and firewood.

Ms. Oumarou took her experiences to the COP22 talks in Morocco, as the co-chair of the International Indigenous People’s Forum on Climate Change and the head of an association for indigenous women in Chad. But she also works hard at the community level, in partnership with Chad’s government, to create more immediate change.

She has helped the Mbororo community to map resources in the area, which will help give indigenous people more control over their land and confidence in managing existing resources.

She says, “I want action on the ground, not only words in papers.”

To read the articles on which this story was based, go to:

Drought-hit women struggle as “compassion” runs dry at climate talks (Trust):

Climate change, a goat farmer’s gain (IPS):

Chad pastoralist made to sit on floor now stands for her community (Trust):

Photo credit: Busani Bafana/IPS