Africa’s drylands are getting more support. How to make the most of this

image Farmers working the land in the Western Sahara, Egypt. DeAgostini/Getty Images

The United Nations (UN) recently launched the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide. It is a response to evidence that our current abuse of nature has accelerated global warming and degraded natural resources to a degree that threatens the wellbeing of people.

The Decade will use overseas development aid to influence land use policies that align with its 10 point strategy. This will be channelled through instruments such as the Global Environment Facility’s drylands programme and the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund.

These efforts will be particularly important to Africa’s drylands. Drylands are typically low rainfall areas where high temperatures and a lack of water constrains crop, animal and forest production.

In Africa, drylands cover 60% of the continent. They are home to over 525 million people who depend on rainfed agriculture and livestock husbandry. The weather conditions, combined with the effects of human activity on the land, make drylands highly vulnerable to land degradation, known as desertification. This includes the loss of soil, soil fertility and vegetation.

Unpredictable climate and challenging socio-ecological conditions have shaped societies with astonishing and innovative coping capacities. For instance, dryland pastoralists produce more than half of Africa’s red meat and milk.

However, the climate crisis, with temperatures rising 1.5 times faster then anywhere else in the world, threatens the balance communities have created in this landscape. Conflicts over resources are on the rise and so is migration.

Investments in Africa’s drylands are needed to restore this balance and sustain productivity while catering to the next generation’s aspirations: providing job opportunities and turning local business into engines for development.

Neglected and underfunded

Drylands are an overlooked biome. This is rooted in the origins of the Rio conventions – three conventions created with the aim to promote a sustainable planet for future generations.

One of these conventions, the Convention to Combat Desertification, was adopted in 1994 to address the concerns of African leaders about poverty, drought and food insecurity. But, unlike climate change and biodiversity, programmes under this convention – which aimed to halt soil erosion and the loss of soil fertility – were not perceived to contribute to a global public good. This left the Convention to Combat Desertification chronically underfunded and drylands remained a lower environmental priority.

With international environmental funds not available, the first leadership of the convention wanted to tap into development funding. They did this by painting a bleak picture of degraded lands, rapid population growth and inadequate livelihood options. But, for years to come, this made private investors and development financiers shy away from investing in agricultural enterprises in Africa’s drylands.

Now, with the launch of the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, much more funding will be channelled into drylands through projects on the ground.

Making an impact

To ensure that these investments make the most impact, there are a few lessons to bear in mind.

We recently attended the Global Landscapes Forum. This brought together experts, policymakers, businesses, investors and local communities. It involved 232 speakers, with 127 from Africa, and 50% of whom were women. They gave a clear message about how funds can lead to change.

Land degradation in drylands is a multi-faceted problem. Single sectoral approaches – like maximising crop yields or banning fires – won’t work. The solution for sustainable African drylands is to ensure there is optimal vegetation, water and soil resources under the constraints of climate change and inadequate human and financial resources.

All of these measures are important because restoration alone won’t work. More is needed to solve the underlying economic problems of population growth and insufficient income opportunities in the drylands. Opening up economic opportunities through land restoration will.

To achieve this, modern innovations and science need to work hand in hand with local practices and knowledge to produce the quality and quantity of products needed to build investment cases in restoration. One example of this is the Supporting Pastoralism and Agriculture in Recurrent and Protracted Crises programme, which brings together scientists and local communities across sub-Saharan Africa. It links pastoralists and their milk and meat products to investors as well as markets.

Funding is needed in capacity building for land-use practices and business skills. In addition there need to be investments in equipment and infrastructure as well as stronger local governance and institutions.

Approaches must give responsibility and rights to local communities, the owners and custodians of the land. They must be equal partners in restoration efforts. Through years of implementing landscape restoration activities, it is clear that only programmes that co-design interventions with local communities – which assure equal benefits and access rights – lead to long-lasting change.

Women and young people, whose lives are disproportionately affected by degradation, must be at the fore.

In Kenya, for example, these areas are predominantly inhabited by patriarchal communities. Women are responsible for nurturing the children and, without productive lands for food and firewood, their lives are very challenging. Various progressive pieces of legislation were enacted in the recent past. However women continue to be marginalised and discriminated against.

Women must be supported in leading inter-generational dialogues within their families and clans. The idea would be that these would foster a shift in social norms to ensure equitable access to land regardless of gender or age.

As for young people, the traditional way of life can no longer offer a prosperous future for them all and off farm opportunities are very limited.

There are encouraging stories of new generations of entrepreneurs in dryland areas that are turning community-based NGO activities into sustainable businesses. Sahel Consulting, for example, links private investors to women dairy producers in Nigeria. Enda Energie is an initiative that links women cooperatives to personal care and cosmetic markets where they sell fruits.

In addition carbon credits can be a real incentive for investors in clean energy technologies, such as solar cooking or biogas. Governments must recognise the potential of drylands so these initiatives can flourish. This includes ensuring people have access to markets and finance so they can sustainably scale up.

Finally, external funding programmes must support the de-risking of pastoralism and enhanced resilience to shocks. This can be done through, for instance, index based financing and insurance.

The Conversation

About The Author

Anja Gassner, Global Landscapes Forum science advisor and Senior Scientist, World Agroforestry (ICRAF). Kimberly Merten, Cora van Osten, Adinda Hassan and Sophie Callahan from the Global Landscape Forum contributed to this article.

Related Books

Climate Adaptation Finance and Investment in California

by Jesse M. Keenan
0367026074This book serves as a guide for local governments and private enterprises as they navigate the unchartered waters of investing in climate change adaptation and resilience. This book serves not only as a resource guide for identifying potential funding sources but also as a roadmap for asset management and public finance processes. It highlights practical synergies between funding mechanisms, as well as the conflicts that may arise between varying interests and strategies. While the main focus of this work is on the State of California, this book offers broader insights for how states, local governments and private enterprises can take those critical first steps in investing in society’s collective adaptation to climate change. Available On Amazon

Nature-Based Solutions to Climate Change Adaptation in Urban Areas: Linkages between Science, Policy and Practice

by Nadja Kabisch, Horst Korn, Jutta Stadler, Aletta Bonn
3030104176
This open access book brings together research findings and experiences from science, policy and practice to highlight and debate the importance of nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation in urban areas. Emphasis is given to the potential of nature-based approaches to create multiple-benefits for society.

The expert contributions present recommendations for creating synergies between ongoing policy processes, scientific programmes and practical implementation of climate change and nature conservation measures in global urban areas. Available On Amazon

A Critical Approach to Climate Change Adaptation: Discourses, Policies and Practices

by Silja Klepp, Libertad Chavez-Rodriguez
9781138056299This edited volume brings together critical research on climate change adaptation discourses, policies, and practices from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Drawing on examples from countries including Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Russia, Tanzania, Indonesia, and the Pacific Islands, the chapters describe how adaptation measures are interpreted, transformed, and implemented at grassroots level and how these measures are changing or interfering with power relations, legal pluralismm and local (ecological) knowledge. As a whole, the book challenges established perspectives of climate change adaptation by taking into account issues of cultural diversity, environmental justicem and human rights, as well as feminist or intersectional approaches. This innovative approach allows for analyses of the new configurations of knowledge and power that are evolving in the name of climate change adaptation. Available On Amazon

From The Publisher:
Purchases on Amazon go to defray the cost of bringing you InnerSelf.comelf.com, MightyNatural.com, and ClimateImpactNews.com at no cost and without advertisers that track your browsing habits. Even if you click on a link but don't buy these selected products, anything else you buy in that same visit on Amazon pays us a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, so please contribute to the effort. You can also use this link to use to Amazon at any time so you can help support our efforts.

 

This article orginally appeared on The Conversation

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

bright light from under small building light terraced rice fields under starry sky
Hot nights mess up rice’s internal clock
by Matt Shipman-NC State
New research clarifies how hot nights are curbing crop yields for rice.
A polar bear on a large mound of ice and snow
Climate change threatens the Arctic’s Last Ice Area
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
Parts of an Arctic region called the Last Ice Area are already showing a decline in summer sea ice, researchers report.
corn cob and leaves on ground
To sequester carbon, leave crop leftovers to rot?
by Ida Eriksen-U. Copenhagen
Plant materials that lie to rot in soil makes good compost and play a key role in sequestering carbon, research finds.
image
Trees are dying of thirst in the Western drought – here’s what’s going on inside their veins
by Daniel Johnson, Assistant Professor of Tree Physiology and Forest Ecology, University of Georgia
Like humans, trees need water to survive on hot, dry days, and they can survive for only short times under extreme heat…
image
Climate explained: how the IPCC reaches scientific consensus on climate change
by Rebecca Harris, Senior Lecturer in Climatology, Director, Climate Futures Program, University of Tasmania
When we say there’s a scientific consensus that human-produced greenhouse gases are causing climate change, what does…
Climate heat is changing Earth’s water cycle
by Tim Radford
Humans have begun to alter Earth’s water cycle, and not in a good way: expect later monsoon rains and thirstier…
Climate change: as mountain regions warm, hydroelectric power plants may be vulnerable
Climate change: as mountain regions warm, hydroelectric power plants may be vulnerable
by Simon Cook, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Change, University of Dundee
Around 27 million cubic metres of rock and glacier ice collapsed from Ronti Peak in the northern Indian Himalayas on…
Nuclear legacy is a costly headache for the future
by Paul Brown
How do you safely store spent nuclear waste? No-one knows. It’ll be a costly headache for our descendants.

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.