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Future climate conditions for the SADC Region

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Many are optimistic as the region is starting to move out of a very devastating drought experience over the past two years. The El Niño event which brought about the drought was the strongest recorded in the region.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), wetter than average conditions during January to March 2017 are expected over most of the areas affected by the drought. Some relief from the effects of the past two seasons is expected.

The La Niña event that followed El Niño was however very weak and outside what usually happens. The reality of the changes in climatic conditions is upon us already, and we need to brace ourselves for the effects of these changes in the near future.

For the first time, the region’s temperatures are said to have increased by 2°C, twice the global temperature average. The +3°C increases are predicted to start in the 2030s, about 13 years from now.

A presentation by Professor Francois Engelbrecht of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) pointed that these increases and related extreme events are expected to impact agriculture, energy demand and water security.

The presentation was made at Vuna’s (a DFID funded regional agriculture systems programme, implemented by Adam Smith International, working in the East and Southern Africa region) conference on climate change and transformational adaptation in the agricultural sector in east and southern Africa.

 He also pointed out that “southern Africa is likely to become generally drier with frequent droughts” and that all models are predicting decreases in soil moisture.

 

El Niño continues to bite in the SADC region

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The ongoing drought in the region is continuing to exact a heavy socio-economic toll on farmers

The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) has warned that the ongoing drought in the region is continuing to exact a heavy socio-economic toll on farmers despite recent rains.

Large income losses, defaulting on loans, crop losses, failure to plant due to poor rains, not enough drinking water, livestock deaths due to poor grazing and compromised crop quality are some of the noted effects farmers have had to deal with due to the El Niño induced drought.

Media reports show that seven SADC countries are at greater risk of food insecurity. Countries hit the hardest in the SADC region are Malawi, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mozambique, Angola, Lesotho and Swaziland.

“The drought has led to an erosion of farmers’ production base, a loss of hope, dignity and confidence about the future. Many farmers are facing financial ruin,” said SACAU’s Chief Executive Officer, Ishmael Sunga.

 “Our current situation is a product of inadequate investment in necessary infrastructure in the past. We risk being trapped in continuously dealing with these challenges. We must consolidate our effort to ensure a more forward-looking view,” said Mr Sunga.

According to a recent report published by Oxfam International, 41 million people are estimated to require food aid before the next harvest in March-April 2017. The report, The Longest Lean Season, reveals that 28 million people require urgent aid now.

Mr Sunga noted that some of the effects would form part of programmatic interventions in the new year while other interventions would be more long-term.

“Dealing with the severe results of climate change requires a holistic approach; more youth coming into the industry and further technological developments alongside established agricultural methods will help drive a climate change resilient globe,” added Sunga.

SACAU acknowledges the desperate need for long term and short term solutions.  Despite the ending of the weather phenomenon’s cycle, its effects continue to be severely felt.

“While food aid is welcomed, there are potential negative impacts not only on local prices for food but also on local production and investment,” said Mr Sunga.

“We cannot continue with a business as usual attitude. History may repeat itself and millions could starve and our efforts towards food security irreparably harmed,” he added.

To avoid this, Mr Sunga suggested that agricultural stakeholders take a regional comprehensive approach that is multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder in nature.

“We need to establish a coordination centre – an Agricultural Development Fund with risk management capacity – that will support a strategic and long term approach that encourages investment in production and trade related infrastructure,” he said.

SACAU Newsletter, December 2016

Click here to download the SACAU newsletter, December 2016.

 

SACAU Newsletter, March 2016

Click here to download the SACAU News, March 2016

SACAU to release drought survey for regional action

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SACAU members from 12 SADC countries have responded to an urgent call for information on the impact of the drought in the region to help the confederation plan a way forward.

Coordinated by Dr Manyewu Mutamba, the survey evaluates the impact of drought in each country and also identifies the major challenges faced by farmers.

“The survey covered all SACAU members in 12 countries as well as commodity platform members,” says Dr Manyewu Mutamba.

“The response was good, almost all SACAU members responded. Overall about 50% of those invited to the give feedback responded despite the short time window.”

The results are critical to ensure a co-ordinated regional response.

“It has become clear that farmers across Southern Africa are in the clutches of an unrelenting drought,” says Dr Mutamba, adding that all SACAU members are affected.

“It’s already clear that transport and infrastructural bottlenecks will be a constraint to an effective drought response.   A regional approach to tackling these challenges is better placed to galvanize long term solutions, investments and strategies for disaster preparedness in the future,”  says  Dr Mutamba.

The second step will be a high level report based on the survey which will highlight the extent of the drought and the major impacts as well as some of the possible actions to help farmers manage the impacts of the drought.

“We are finalizing a report that will summarize the responses and capture the key outcomes of the survey,” says Dr Mutamba  “This report will be the basis of an information session and media briefing with various stakeholders, partners and media,” he adds.

SACAU will release full results at a press conference on Tuesday, 01 March, 2016.