This week climate change experts will gather at the Conference of Parties 28th (Cop28) session in Dubai. However, many believe it might be too little too late, especially for African countries which are impacted by severe weather changes.
Preparation and adaptability remain the biggest hurdle farmers across Africa must endure, in many cases at the expense of their production and livelihood leading to more poverty and joblessness.
The right people are left out
Climate change expert from Livestock Management Agency, Toopiwa Ditshwenyego based in Botswana, said in her work many livestock farmers were found wanting because there was no investment in awareness campaigns to the right people.
She said as the COP28 conference approached, voices from African farmers were excluded and solutions would be made on their behalf which would not be relevant for them.
“I am expecting more discussions on how livestock farmers can adapt to climate change and build resilience. For the past four years that I have worked directly with livestock farmers, I have realised that they do not know how climate change affects them.
Capacity building on climate change needed
“They are never prepared nor have any mitigation strategies against climate change. What is needed from this coming COP28 is capacity building on climate change,” she said.
Ditshwenyego said it was important that events like COP28 target groups that are working closely with farmers in rural communities for information dissemination and the impact of climate change on businesses that operate in the animal agriculture industry.
She said African representative in agriculture was also a concern, especially in the Southern part of the continent.
“It is extremely important that as the African continent, we have more representatives for the fact that most countries in Africa are far behind on issues of climate change,” she added.
Collaboration is key
Prof Erich Fischer, a global expert on extreme climate events and lead author of the intergovernmental panel on climate change assessment report, said a collective effort is required, adding that structures and programmes must be in place to deal with the research questions associated with extreme weather events.
“The flooding in Libya and fires in Hawaii have been unprecedented in location and scale. We need to work together in deploying scientific capabilities to avert future environmental disasters,” he said.
According to the Extreme Climate Event Research Alliance, a working group in climate change in South Africa, there was a need – especially in agriculture – for climate science to meet the needs of disaster risk management and contribute to planning and preparation on seasonal and long-term time scales.
“The need for improved strategic research is aimed at better understanding the mechanisms and risks associated with extreme events, and investment in the appropriate skills and technology,” the report stated.
Meanwhile, farmers in Mzansi have been experiencing extreme hot conditions making it difficult for smooth operations on their farms.
We are not on the same page
Steve Sikwane, a livestock farmer in Thabazimbi, Limpopo said the weather lately has been hectic for his livestock and there is also a struggle with water.
“From my point of view, if Cop28 could come up with ways on how the government can combat climate change for us as farmers, that would be appreciated. An ordinary farmer like myself needs to know what to do when weather patterns change.
“It is important to emphasise education, many farmers do not even know what is Cop28. We need to start with the basics,” he said.
Sikwane said he would like to see programmes for climate change being implemented, even in local municipalities.
“While we might think climate change is a buzzword, our local municipalities need to make sure that their sewerage facilities are working. When we don’t have water, our livestock end up going to the canals and rivers to drink unclean water which leads to biosecurity issues.
“So, until we are all on the same page and doing what is right, our expectations should be: what are we doing in our little corner to combat climate change?” he said.
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