Kenya to strengthen private sector investment in geothermal energy

The Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund (CTF) has approved a $29.65-million concessional loan to Kenya to cofinance up to two geothermal projects to increase the country’s power capacity, particularly drawing on untapped geothermal resources in the Rift Valley. The programme would be implemented with support from the African Development Bank (AfDB), with the geothermal projects to be structured as independent power producers (IPPs). The CTF for geothermal generation would build on the energy advancements already under way in the development of the country’s Menengai Geothermal Field.

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To create a sustainable energy future, Kenya’s government recognised that it needed to sustain a stable investment climate for private sector participation in the energy sector, expanding transmission and distribution networks to deliver power to customers, maintain cost-reflective tariffs and reduce inefficiency in the sector to support more affordable end-user tariffs.

A key government measure in this regard was to promote IPP schemes selected through international competitive bidding processes to enhance investment flows from the private sector into the power sector. AfDB CTF coordinator Joao Duarte Cunha noted that the infusion of capital would serve to build investor confidence and improve bankability of these resources.

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“The success of the IPPs developed in this programme can serve as a beacon for other countries looking to achieve similar green energy goals.” Transformation of the geothermal energy sector was a core part of Kenya’s economic growth plan for its expanding and increasingly urbanising population.

In its 2030 vision, the country identified energy and electricity as key elements of its economic transformation, with geothermal energy as the lead technology. It was estimated that by 2020, the country’s projected installed energy capacity would triple from 2 177 MW to 6 766 MW, with geothermal contributing around 2 000 MW.

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Climate Changing and Environmental Pollution risking Food Production – Antioch Daily News

Climate change will have far-reaching impacts on food security – not only at the farm level but on the entire food chain from farm to fork, according to an international report released at COP21 climate talks in Paris.A new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture warns that climate change could impact the food supply in Colorado-and across the world.

As first time at a COP conference, agriculture had its own dedicated focus-day

This week, these concerns have been prominent on the agenda at the COP21 climate talks in Paris. For the first time at a COP conference, agriculture had its own dedicated focus-day, held on Tuesday by the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA), a partnership established between France and Peru to showcase and strengthen on-the-ground climate action in 2015 and beyond. “For years, agriculture, food systems, including oceans, including forests, have been knocking hard at the door—and now there’s movement starting,” said David Nabarro, former special representative of food security and nutrition for the United Nations, at the LPAA agriculture press briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

The challenge we now face is whether we can maintain and even accelerate this progress despite the threats from climate change. Mess around with this interactive map, created by the U.K.’s national weather service and the World Food Programme, to get an idea of what levels of carbon reductions and adaptation activities will bring in regard to food insecurity. A farmer tills his field. “Accurately identifying needs and vulnerabilities, and effectively targeting adaptive practices and technologies across the full scope of the food system, are central to improving global food security in a changing climate”.

“Changes in society and changes in climate will both be critically important to food security in the coming decades”, O’Neill said. “The risks are greatest for the global poor and in tropical regions”. “We must do all of this in the face of climate change that is threatening the productivity and profitability of our farms, ranches and forests”. However, this is likely to hit consumers and producers with changes to the prices of imported produce, as well changes to infrastructure, export demand, processing and storage.

That door should have been yanked open a long time ago, considering that our food systems are due to bear so much of the brunt of climate change. But there are strong signs of progress. The world needs creative solutions if we are to reduce agricultural impact and feed everyone on the planet (an estimated nine billion by 2050)—and some of the best have recently been aired at the talks.

Here are three that caught my eye: each places our global food system squarely on the climate table.

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Future of Food Production in insecurity

The first step in prioritising food systems is to confront what will happen if we don’t. On Tuesday at COP21 the World Food Program and the U.K.’s Met Office Hadley Centre launched a new, interactive mapping tool that predicts, in unprecedented detail, how future climate scenarios could influence food security, especially in the world’s developing nations. Based on five years of meteorological and agricultural research, the Food Insecurity and Climate Change Vulnerability Map shows how food security could change at the individual country level, either worsening or improving depending on three variables that users can tweak on the map: time scale (you can choose between the present day, 2050s, 2080s), emissions (low, medium, high), and adaptation (high, low, none).

As a starting point, the map could help countries forecast their food security risk and inform their planning, says Richard Choularton, chief of climate and disaster risk reduction at the World Food Programme. “The results of the analysis can provide some insight into vulnerability at the national level, when the specific factors behind the index are unpacked.” For example, in one country road access might emerge as the main limit on food security, in another it might be the variability of rainfall.

The map also shows what can be achieved if reduced emissions are paired with increased adaptive measures—like climate-smart agriculture—to make food systems more secure. “What’s most important, especially in the context of Paris, is that mitigation or adaption alone is not enough,” Choularton says. “We need a very serious combination of both.”

Keeping soil carbon on lockdown

The planet’s soils naturally hold vast quantities of carbon—two to three times more carbon than the air. Releasing it through unsuitable, soil-degrading agricultural techniques will contribute to climate change and also reduce soil health—but, if we keep more carbon locked in the soil, it has the power to both mitigate climate change and increase agricultural productivity.

On Tuesday as part of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, hundreds of partners joined to launch ‘4/1000’, an initiative designed to increase the storage of carbon in the earth: “If we were to increase the amount of carbon in the soil by just 0.4% then we would compensate entirely for the increase of carbon in the atmosphere—just to show how huge the potential is,” says Frank Rijsberman, CEO of the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Centers, one of the partners contributing to the initiative. As part of 4/1000 the CGIAR itself is proposing a $225 million project that aims to increase carbon storage by promoting better farming techniques in developing world agriculture. Methods like agroforestry and reduced soil tillage could keep carbon enclosed in the soil, leading to a 20 percent boost in yields, and in theory offsetting greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent. The benefits will be three-pronged, says Rijsberman: “We will mitigate greenhouse gas emissions; adapt agriculture to climate change and thus improve food security; and improve ecosystem functioning.”

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Global Collabration on Waste Treatment

An estimated 1.3 billion tons of food is lost and wasted annually between farm and fork, producing 3.3 Gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year. On Tuesday at COP21, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the International Food Policy Research Institute announced that to counter it, they’re launching a new platform that will encourage G20 member countries, the private sector, and NGOs to pool their resources toward the goal of fighting food waste. Today, that new forum—called the G20 Technical Platform on the Measurement and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste—goes live.

The platform is designed to “provide up to date information on policy, strategy and actions for food loss and waste reduction, and share best practices across countries—something which is badly needed,” says Anthony Bennett from the Rural Infrastructure and Agro-industries Division at the FAO. G20 member countries—which include China, Brazil, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States—along with other countries, will be encouraged to use the forum to share what works for them in cutting food waste, and what doesn’t. As the platform grows, it will also feature a database of low-cost, accessible technologies available to tackle this problem. The hope is that the platform will become a place where countries can unite and ultimately scale up their efforts to reduce the global impact of food waste.

These are just three of the many projects worth knowing about: as part of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, several other food-focused initiatives were launched this week, touching on everything from low-carbon beef to the sustainable management of marine food systems.

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World Responsible Tourism Awards 2016 at WTM London kick off 20th year of ethical tourism

New categories for 2016 include the ‘Best responsible tourism campaign’ which aims to celebrate the most successful marketing or advocacy campaigns in encouraging and promoting a more responsible style of travel.

Tourism businesses, organisations and initiatives around the world are now being invited to submit an entry into the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2016 at WTM London, as the world celebrates 20 years of responsible tourism action.

The global search for the world’s most enduring and inspirational examples of responsible tourism in action kicks off today with entries being accepted into five categories spanning issues across the tourism industry.

The announcement of the 2016 winners, at World Travel Market London, will this year be part of the celebrations marking 10 years of World Responsible Tourism Day – the largest event for responsible tourism action globally. Furthermore, this year marks 20 years of the global responsible tourism movement, with the South African government publishing a tourism white paper in 1996 putting responsibility at the centre of its strategy.

New categories for 2016 include the ‘Best responsible tourism campaign’ which aims to celebrate the most successful marketing or advocacy campaigns in encouraging and promoting a more responsible style of travel.

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Justin Francis, founder of the Awards and managing director of organisers Responsible Travel comments “I am truly excited by what we will discover through the World Responsible Tourism Awards this year.

The organisations, initiatives and businesses we uncover each year have the power to shape the future of tourism, to be catalysts for change in an industry which will have a huge impact on global climate and development.

”I want to encourage any tourism business or organisation around the world, big or small, to submit an entry. We want to hear your story”.

The importance of the Awards in assessing how far responsible tourism has developed, and how much it been achieved in the last 10 years is not lost on chair of the judging panel, Professor Harold Goodwin of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and the  International Centre for Responsible Tourism. “Through the Awards winners every year we see the standard of what is being achieved by people taking responsibility for tourism getting higher and higher” he says “And every year we see more and more countries represented in our entries.

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“Tourism, if sold, enjoyed and organised responsibly is of global importance, something that has been recognised in the new Sustainable Development Goals, and our winners this year will set the standard to which all tourism businesses should aspire”.

Awards Judge Simon Press, senior exhibition director for World Travel Market London, hosts of World Responsible Tourism Day says “The World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM London are a central pillar of the success of World Responsible Tourism Day.

“The awards winners and shortlisted companies act as a benchmark and inspiration for what the global travel and tourism industry can achieve in responsible tourism practice.”

The 2016 categories:

  • Best accommodation for responsible employment
  • Best contribution to wildlife conservation – sponsored by Florida Keys and Key West Tourist Development Council
  • Best innovation by a tour operator
  • Best for poverty reduction and inclusion – sponsored by the Tobago House of Assembly
  • Best responsible tourism campaign

WTM London’s World Responsible Tourism Day takes place on Tuesday 8 November.

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Foresight Africa 2016: Banking on agriculture for Africa’s future

As countries across sub-Saharan Africa grapple with the challenges of sustaining high levels of economic growth, plunging commodity prices, and the effects of climate change, revitalizing agriculture must become a priority on the continent.

The latest World Bank report warns that anemic recovery in emerging markets will weigh heavily on global growth prospects.  Its 2016 growth forecast for sub-Saharan Africa stands at 4.2 percent, up from 3.4 percent in 2015.

A vibrant, sustainable and resilient agriculture sector is vital for sub-Saharan Africa’s economic future. Indeed, African agriculture stands at the cusp of transformational change. The numbers are compelling:

Farming is the primary source of food and income for Africans and provides up to 60 percent of all jobs on the continent.

Food production in sub-Saharan Africa needs to increase by 60 percent over the next 15 years to feed a growing population. Africa’s food and beverage markets are buoyant and expected to top $1 trillion in value by 2030.

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The continent is bursting with potential: At 200 million hectares, sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly half of the world’s uncultivated land that can be brought into production. Africa uses only 2 percent of its renewable water resources compared to 5 percent globally. Together with abundant resources, including a resourceful, enterprising youth population, strategic investments in agriculture can unleash virtuous growth cycles. How can Africa, then, capitalize on these opportunities?

First, African farmers need new technology—higher-yielding, more resilient food crops that deliver bountiful harvests. New techniques are beginning to boost yields in rice and cocoa, among other crops. Second, African farmers need more electricity, more irrigation, and better infrastructure that links them to lucrative regional food markets. Third, we need sound policies that do not discriminate against the farm sector.  Women produce the bulk of food in Africa, and yet they are largely locked out of land ownership, access to credit, and productive farm inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and farming tools. Further, they are often bypassed by extension services, limiting their productivity.

At the just-concluded climate talks in Paris, the World Bank unveiled a bold new plan that calls for $16 billion in funding to help Africa adapt to climate change and enhance the continent’s resilience to climate shocks, including a focus on climate-smart agriculture and supporting the vision for accelerated agricultural transformation of the Malabo Declaration.

As policymakers struggle to accelerate growth and tackle prevailing headwinds, it is worth noting that the agriculture sector has been shown to be two to four times more effective than other sectors in raising incomes among the poorest people.

Banking on African agriculture is an idea whose time has come.

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Source: brookings

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Better Water Use Can Cut Global Food Gap

LONDON—Although growing human numbers, climate change and other crises threaten the world‘s ability to feed itself, researchers believe that if we used water more sensibly that would go a long way towards closing the global food gap.

Politicians and experts have simply underestimated what better water use can do to save millions of people from starvation, they say.

For the first time, scientists have assessed the global potential for growing more food with the same amount of water. They found that production could rise by 40%, simply by optimising rain use and careful irrigation. That is half the increase the UN says is needed to eradicate world hunger by mid-century.

The lead author of the study, Jonas Jägermeyr, an Earth system analyst at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), says the potential yields from good water management have not been taken fully into account.

Climate resilience

Already parched areas, he says, have the most potential for increases in yield, especially water-scarce regions in China, Australia, the western US, Mexico and South Africa.

“It turns out that crop water management is a largely under-rated approach to reducing undernourishment and increasing the climate resilience of smallholders,” he says.

In theory, the gains could be massive, but the authors acknowledge that getting local people to adopt best practice remains a challenge.

They have been careful to limit their estimates to existing croplands, and not to include additional water resources. But they have taken into account a number of very different water management options, from low-tech solutions for smallholders to the industrial scale.

“Our study should draw the attention of
decision-makers at all levels to the potential
of integrated crop water management”

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Water harvesting by collecting excess rain run-off in cisterns—for supplementary irrigation during dry spells—is a common traditional approach in regions such as Africa’s Sahel. But it is under-used in many other semi-arid regions in Asia and North America.

Mulching is another option, covering the soil with crop residues or plastic sheeting to reduce evaporation. And upgrading irrigation to drip systems can play a major part.

Water management becomes increasingly important to food with continuing climate change, because global warming is likely to increase droughts and change rainfall patterns.

Wolfgang Lucht, co-author of the study and co-chair of PIK, argues that the global effect of proper water use has been neglected in the discussion about how to feed the world.

“Since we are rapidly approaching planetary boundaries, our study should draw the attention of decision-makers at all levels to the potential of integrated crop water management”, he says.

Another, less optimistic study from the Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland, examines climate change effects on the Tibetan Plateau.

It finds that global warming affects glacier melt, soil erosion and the release of sediments into rivers and lakes, damaging water quality. This is already having a significant impact on 40% of the world’s population, which lives downstream in India and China.

Transport of pollutants

The study found that concentrations of mercury, cadmium and lead in high-altitude lake sediments in areas with low human activity were significantly higher than in more densely populated low-altitude areas. This shows, the authors say, that atmospheric long-range transport of pollutants in remote Himalayan areas may deposit them at high altitudes.

The plateau has extensive permafrost cover, storing a lot of carbon. The temperature in the area has been increasing for the past 500 years, and the climate in the central plateau has been warming more than other regions in the last century.

Water from the plateau feeds the Yangtze, Yarlung Tsangpo (known in India as the Brahmaputra) and Ganges rivers, on which more than one billion people depend for their water.

Professor Mika Sillanpää, the director of the university’s Laboratory of Green Chemistry, calls for urgent research to understand the carbon cycle in the Himalayas.

“Global warming is releasing increasing amounts of carbon matter from permafrost to waters and then to the atmosphere,” he says. “This will intensify regional and even global climate change. It will affect human livelihoods, rangeland degradation, desertification, loss of glaciers, and more.”

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Source: truthdig

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Rebuilding Trust After Flint: What About the Water in Your City?

With the unfolding horror of Flint’s water crisis, filling a glass of tap water suddenly feels risky.

Throughout history, water quality has been a challenge – cholera, dysentery, and other diseases have felled great cities. Today, more than a billion people remain without safe water access around the world.

And yet, internationally, water is now recognized as a human right, and how to manage it equitably and sustainably is highlighted in climate change agreements as well as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Climate change and energy conservation imperatives are driving changes. As cities learn to protect source water, capture rainwater, recycle grey water, involve the public and establish watershed committees, creativity in urban water management is taking off.

In the end, though, water consumers want results – clean water gushing from their faucet. They wonder: Is my city a leader or a hazard to my health?

Flint can be looked at two ways. It may be an exception, a story of a callous governor making cost-saving decisions at the expense of Flint’s mostly black and brown children. Or it could signal the beginning of a systemic breakdown within the more than 50,000 water utilities in the United States.

So far, despite decaying infrastructure and budget pressures, water utilities have delivered on their promise of healthy water. Many cities have taken positive steps to avoid what has happened in Flint.

Flint is preceded by plenty of disasters, most the result of bad management decisions, that have eroded public confidence and prompted utility action. In 2014, algae blooms, fed by heavy nitrate use, ruined the water supply in Toledo, Ohio. A dramatic chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia, left that city’s water undrinkable. These calamities are free advertising for the United States’ $13 billion bottled water market.

But before giving up on public water, there’s evidence to consider. As tragic as the news is out of Flint, said American Water Works Association Communications Director Greg Kail, almost all of the nation’s water utilities are in compliance with the Safe Water Drinking Act’s Lead and Copper Rule. The utilities would have to acknowledge any violations in annual Consumer Confidence Reports. “In the vast majority of cases,” said Kail, “water professionals discharge their duties with seriousness and protect public health. When something like Flint occurs, it strengthens their commitment.”

On the heels of Flint, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) circulated reassuring letters to legislators and customers describing their water quality measures. The DEP proactively distributes 1,000 test kits per year to customers to collect household-level data on lead and other contaminants. The MWRA and DEP both rely on feedback from customers, what Stephen Estes-Smargiassi, the MWRA’s director of Planning and Sustainability, described as “building confidence at the retail level. We want customers to have a good feeling about their water after they interact with us.” The MWRA, like many water utilities, tracks and publishes water quality data on its website, and has a water quality hot-line with a public health professional to respond to inquiries. In Flint, the switch to a new water source was not disclosed, and customer complaints were routinely ignored.

In-house and regulatory safeguards shouldn’t stop alert water citizens from making a nuisance of themselves at City Hall, but in the vast majority of cases, public urban water meets EPA standards. While the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gives the nation’s drinking-water infrastructure a “D” grade – raising red flags about the $3.2 trillion the United States needs by 2020 to upgrade water infrastructure nationwide – the report also says that outbreaks of disease attributable to drinking water are rare.” While that is not a ringing endorsement, healthy water advocates can point their public officials to smart cities that manage their water well, investing in transparent governance, “grey infrastructure” – piping and treatment – and “green infrastructure” – rehabilitating ecosystems to ensure water quality and quantity.

New York City’s water system is emblematic of this trend, frequently featured at water-management conferences around the world. Its innovative planning began in the 1800s with gravity-fed pipes carrying pristine water to the city from the Catskill and Delaware watersheds. In the 1980s, facing contamination from industrial agriculture and encroaching suburbanization, rather than build a $6 billion treatment plant, the water utility pioneered urban-rural collaboration in what came to be known as “payments for environmental services.” In return for healthy drinking water, the city transferred cash to rural areas to improve animal-waste management on farms and sanitation in towns.

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Although New York City likes to claim title to the “champagne” of drinking water, in 2014 it was edged out by Boston in the American Water Works Annual Tap Water Taste Test. Similar to New York City, Boston keeps water clean at its source. Whereas New York primarily forges land-use agreements with private landowners, Boston concentrates on protecting public lands in collaboration with state agencies. Conserving the forest around the Quabbin and Wachusetts reservoirs means that, to achieve Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, Boston water requires only minimal treatment.

The city’s good tasting water isn’t just an aesthetic bonus: It means that when water smells bad or is discolored, customers call the utility to complain.

Upstream and downstream, watersheds are home to competing economic interests, many of which can compromise water quality. Governments have used both carrots and sticks to ensure responsible water and land use that yield clean water. After stirring a hornet’s nest of angry farmers with strict regulation enforcement, New York’s water utility switched tactics and offered direct aid to farmers who voluntarily engaged in watershed-friendly farming.

A similar challenge emerged in the Midwest. Iowa’s $30 billion grain trade is fattened by a multimillion-dollar infusion of chemical fertilizers, only a portion of which actually ends up feeding corn and soy plants. Much of the rest of it is washed into the Raccoon River, a principal Des Moines water source. Bill Stowe, the chief executive of Des Moines Water Works, said that the state failed in its efforts to get farmers to willingly reduce nitrate runoff. “It’s very clear to me,” Stowe said in a New York Times article, “that traditional, industrial agriculture has no real interest in taking the steps that are necessary to radically change their operations in a way that will protect our drinking water.” Treating the nitrate-filled water to potable water standards isn’t cheap, so in 2015, the water utility served the farmers the bill via a lawsuit against two upstream counties. While this may sound like the makings of an urban-rural civil war, the lawsuit has set in motion an important public debate in Iowa about who ought to pay for clean water.

Self-taxing may seem unlikely today, but California voters in 2014 approved a $7.5 billion bond to repair and replace aging and vulnerable water infrastructure. Parched lawns, made more visible by Governor Jerry Brown’s vocal leadership on water conservation and climate change, shook voters from complacency; water can’t be taken for granted. The bond meant that water bills will likely spike, but voters put thirst before wallets. Funds will be used to, among other things, shore up water reliability, meet safe drinking-water standards, and clean up groundwater. Some $260 million will go to the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund’s Small Community Grant Fund, run by the State Water Resources Control Board. In the Bay Area, a 2002 voter-approved bond has helped the San Francisco Public Utility Commission blend groundwater with Sierra Nevada snow melt and incentivize San Francisco builders to collect and treat water onsite, part of what Paula Kehoe, director of Water Resources at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, describes as “a new water paradigm.”

Such a paradigm may not come without a struggle. When United Water won the contract to manage Atlanta’s water system in 1999, they halved the workforce and increased rates. Brown and orange water dripping from city faucets led to boil-only alerts. Then Mayor Shirley Franklin canceled the contract in 2003 and restored municipal management of the water system. Around the world, citizens are forcing re-examination of private contracts and pressuring city governments to take back control of water services. Faced with rate hikes without service improvements, communities question how returning profits to private shareholders squares with managing water for the public good. The Transnational Institute’s remunicipalization tracker reports that in the past 15 years, 235 cities in 37 countries have brought water systems under public control.

Flint has moved the country like no other water crisis. When one water utility betrays the public trust, Estes-Smargiassi said, “it damages confidence everywhere.” The injuries in Flint will persist well beyond its scarred children. It may be some time before families feel reassured enough to drink from their tap. And yet every day and everywhere, there are examples of committed water workers and forward-thinking city officials demonstrating that, with enough investment and public oversight, water can be managed for the public good.

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Source: truth-out

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South Africa: Drought Leads to Failed Crops, Water Shortages

The main street of this dusty South African town is lined with empty buckets, marking each residents’ place in line as they wait for their daily water ration to be brought in by unreliable trucks.

Keeping watch over her buckets, Pulaleng Chakela sleeps in a wheelbarrow on the side of the road to save her spot in the line. The 30-year-old wraps herself in a little blanket as temperatures drop overnight, and asks a male friend to sit nearby for safety.

“If I don’t wait here all night, the water will be finished,” she said.

A flatbed truck carrying three 5,000-liter tanks arrived midmorning when temperatures had already reached 40° C (104° F). Murmurs of relief are soon replaced by angry shouts as residents learn they have been further rationed from filling four buckets to just two. In the chaos, Chakela slips two extra buckets in the line. The situation is so unfair that she feels no guilt, she said.

Disaster areas

Chakela is joined by dozens more residents of Senekal, a small town in South Africa’s rural Free State province, one of four regions declared disaster areas as a drought dries up South Africa’s heartland – along with much of eastern and southern Africa – bringing with it failed crops and acute water shortages.

The drought is a sign of a changing climate the whole region must prepare for, say experts. The El Nino weather phenomenon has returned to southern Africa, marked by delayed rainfall and unusually high temperatures, according to the World Food Program.

The environmental effects of El Nino are expected to last until at least 2017, affecting the food security of 29 million people due to poor harvests, said the WFP report.

The conditions in Senekal should serve as a warning to the rest of region to prepare themselves for the dry years ahead, said Tshepiso Ramakarane, manager of the Setsoto municipality, where Senekal is located.

“For the next 10 to 15 years, the situation is likely to get worse,” he warned, adding that only days of sustained rainfall can solve the town’s woes, despite the occasional scattered shower. “We are in the middle of a crisis.”

Other towns in the district have even less water, but Senekal is in worse shape because of its poor infrastructure and distance from the nearest dam, pointing up the vulnerability of many places in the country to drought due to poor sanitation and running water systems.

Dealing with water shortage

The local municipality has now been forced to buy well water from surrounding farms at 1 cent a liter, distributing about 50 liters of water to each of Senekal’s 8,000 households at no cost.

Those who can’t wait up to ten hours in a line, however, have been forced to buy water directly from the farmers at premium prices.

Makhantsi Khantsi, a single mother of four who works as a security guard, said the farmers are charging her nearly seven times as much as they make the municipality pay and that’s on top of the $10 she has to shell out for the 10 kilometer (6 mile) cab ride.

For laundry, the options are even more grim, and Khantsi and a dozen others use the stagnant, algae-ridden water collected in an abandoned sewage treatment tank to wash their clothes.

“When you are desperate, what must you do?” asks Refiloe Mangati, as she washes her children’s school shirts by hand, scrubbing with too much detergent and rinsing quickly in the hope the algae – and the tadpoles – won’t stain them.

On the farms surrounding the town, hot gusts of wind pick up dust on empty fields where there should be crops.

“We have not planted a single seed,” said Borrie Erasmus, who grew up on the Biddulphsberg farm, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside Senekal. This is the first time in the five decades he has worked his family farm that he has missed the spring planting season.

Financial toll

If it rains for a few days before autumn, he may still plant sunflowers, but that won’t offset the more than $60,000 Erasmus has already lost this season.

“One bad crop can put you back three or four years and now we have no crops,” said Erasmus. Even if the weather returns to normal, it will still take at least five years for farmers to pay off the loans they’ve had to take out to survive.

South Africans, already facing a weak currency, will soon feel the effect of rising food prices as the country may have to import corn, Agricultural Minister Senzeni Zokwana warned on Monday.

Over the Free State, the few clouds gathering in the distance may bring some temporary relief, but farmers here say they need more certain intervention.

“We’re hardy farmers, we’re used to getting by without much, but these are such extraordinary circumstances that there is a need for government to help,” said Erasmus.

Source: voanews

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A plan to spur climate resilient infrastructure in Africa

In Africa and by Africans is the central concept behind plans to set up a new facility to spur climate resilient investment planning on the continent.

The proposed establishment of the Africa Facility for Climate-Resilient Investment is the brainchild of the World Bank, the African Union Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

And it’s an integral part of the World Bank’s US$16 billion Africa Climate Business Plan that was officially unveiled at the climate conference, COP 21, in Paris – which will see the Bank put in about one third of the needed funds through its arm for the poorest countries, IDA, the International Development Association.” To sustain Africa’s growth, and speed up efforts to end extreme poverty, investment in infrastructure is fundamental. Africa needs about US$100 billion a year for the next decade to fill its infrastructure gap. ” Raffaello Cervigni said.

For Cervigni, the need for the Africa Facility for Climate-Resilient Investment is obvious. Africa has extensive infrastructure needs – and it’s also a continent that’s already feeling the impacts of climate change. Failure to combine the two, he says, could mean significant losses in revenue for governments and higher costs for people.

“Quite frankly, failure to integrate climate change into the planning and design of the infrastructure could lead to major negative development impacts, such as crop losses, traffic disruptions and significantly higher energy costs,” he says.

A recent World Bank/UNECA study shows that incorporating climate change considerations into the design and planning of infrastructure can considerably reduce future climate impacts to the physical and economic performance of hydropower and irrigation investments.

Furthermore, the analysis indicates that failure to integrate climate change in the planning and design of power and water infrastructure could entail, in the driest climate scenarios, losses of hydropower revenues of between 5 and 60 percent (depending on the basin); and increases in consumer expenditure for energy up to 3 times the corresponding baseline values. In the wettest climate scenarios, business-as-usual infrastructure development could lead to foregone revenues in the range of 15 to 130 percent of the baseline, if the larger volume of precipitation is not used to expand the production of hydropower.

“Although it will add significant costs to our development goals, climate-proofing infrastructure provides a cost effective opportunity in the long run,” adds Elham M.A. Ibrahim, the African Union’s Commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure.

Getting right the design and planning of long-lived infrastructure like power stations, roads and canals will be the focus of the Africa-based center of technical competence and excellence. Its aims is to assist governments, planners and developers in Africa to integrate climate change in project planning and design, thereby attracting climate finance from the Green Climate Funds and other sources.

The World Bank’s Senior Regional Advisor for the African Region, Jamal Saghir, promises it will be a knowledge hub for decision makers and “a different way for us at the World Bank to do financing.” With a fundraising target of US $50 million by 2020, the new facility hopes to spur more climate-smart investments and lead the way to a more climate-resilient future for this continent that is home to more than one billion people.

Mauritania’s Minister of Environment, Amedi Camara, is optimistic that the new institution will help his country to design a roadmap for future urban development, particularly on its coastlines.

“This technical Facility will help our countries plan for climate impact, especially in planning for impacts on our most vulnerable people by preserving the natural resources they rely on,” he notes.

The Facility’s activities will include: creating an open data platform; developing guidelines on how to integrate climate risks in key climate-sensitive sectors, such as water, energy and transport; providing advisory services on climate-smart investment planning and design; and conducting training and capacity building in the region. Collaborators will include CR4D, Future Climate for Africa and other related initiatives in addition to the World Bank Group, African Union and UNECA.

Source: preventionweb

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Paris Climate Accord’s Impacts to be Felt Beyond Emissions Through Supply Chains, Sustainability Initiatives

The unprecedented Paris climate accord is expected to bring additional focus on most or all sustainability initiatives by companies, and require additional tracking and reporting efforts, said executives at Source Intelligence (SI), a global compliance solution provider.

The Paris climate accord includes commitments from 186 of the 195 signatory countries to cut or limit the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as more transparent reporting. These countries, in turn, are expected to place additional requirements on companies to reduce their overall carbon footprint, SI officials said.

“Already, just days after this historic accord, there are calls for stronger and lasting due diligence to ensure the goals and ideals of this pact will be fulfilled. This means continued and heightened focus on companies based in the European Union, in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the United States to carry out even more sustainability initiatives or increased reporting of these efforts,” said Jess Kraus, Chief Executive Officer of Source Intelligence. “The pressure for accurate and thorough reports will only increase.”

Source Intelligence, whose roots were in carbon reduction solutions, has now emerged as the global leader for supply chain transparency and reporting. Having created a scalable technology supported by a 24/7 multi-language engagement team and the world’s largest supplier data base, SI is currently providing an invaluable resource to many of the world’s largest brands facing a variety of compliance matters. These include mandatory conflict mineral reporting in the U.S., restricted substances reporting in the EU, human trafficking on a global basis and more.

Source: 3blmedia

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Who Is Addressing Sustainable Agriculture?

Q. What about agriculture? Current conventional practices often lead to land degradation and massive deforestation. What is happening to address non-sustainable agriculture on a global scale?

A.   The environmental pressures from global agriculture are indeed enormous.

The demand for food is rising, in large part because of population growth and rising incomes that give millions of once-low income people the means to eat richer diets. Global demand for beef and for animal feed, for instance, has led farmers to cut down huge chunks of the Amazon rain forest.

Efforts are being made to tackle the problems, and a slew of announcements are coming this week at the Paris climate conference.

The biggest success has arguably been in Brazil, which adopted tough oversight and managed to cut deforestation in the Amazon by 80 percent in a decade. But the gains there are fragile, and severe problems continue in other parts of the world, such as aggressive forest clearing in Indonesia.

Last year, scores of companies and organizations, including major manufacturers of consumer products, signed a declaration in New York pledging to cut deforestation in half by 2020, and to cut it out completely by 2030. The companies that signed the pact are now struggling to figure out how to deliver on that promise.

Many forest experts at the Paris conference see the pledge as ambitious, but possible. And they say it is crucial that consumers keep up the pressure on companies from whom they buy products, from soap to ice cream.

Source: nytimes

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