Sunday, November 29, 2009

Climate Change brings extreme food shortage in 20 African Countries.

   The Food and Agriculture Organisation in its recent report, reveals the extreme condition of 20 African countries which requires external support to balance its food requirements. Statistics of food production in the last three yers are really alrming in these areas. According to report, the food insecurity in the region is part of the wider threat facing eastern Africa and the Horn, where prolonged drought and mounting conflict have left an estimated 20 million people needing food aid (IRIN News).

The report categorises the countries according to their severity and need to act urgently in supplying the food materials to each country. The countries like Kenya, Lesotho, Somalia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe have recorded with large fall in their food production compared to their previous years. The main culprits in this unexpected fall in the total food prdcution are adevrse weather, economic crisis and intensification from the civil violence, HIV/AIDS and other public health vulnerabilties. The lack of rain and extreme warming together with inadequate productivity will worsen the situation in these countries in the coming years.

  The countries like Eritrea, Liberia, Mauritania and Sierre leone are the countries where food production has  severe fall due to low production and the accessibility to major food grains by the public are basically destructed non-existence of peace conditions in these countries due to civilian war raletd damage of the public supply systems. While Mauritania has been undergoing this pathetic situation of basic food grain shortages for many years caused by intense drought.

  The food insecurity in localized areas in countries like Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d'Ivore, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan and Uganda requires intensified food supply programs through World Food Programs and the help for farmers to mitigate the effects of climate change to increase their production of basic crops. The countries like Ethioia and Sudan have been undergoing drought and famine conditions. The lack of rain in tha last wet season and intense evaporation of surface waters in Ethiopian Highlands have caused the recent drought conditions in areas like Tigray state in Ethiopia. The political situations in Sudan worsened by civil violence in Darfur and health vulnerabilites like outbreak of kala azar in southern Sudan have shked the food security of the country.

Food insecurity in Sudan is severe due to
civl violence and adeverse weather
  The African countries have been receiving the impact of global climate change for the last few decades. Whether it is produced by themselves or by other developed society in the world due to their intense passion for simplifying the act of living, they are receiving it! Can they contain this severe food insecurity for a long time? Similarly like the reduction mechanism, there can be a commitment mechanism, which shold include the developed naions who should contribute large proportions of their food production to these countries to make their peanance for polluting and becoming the culprits of creating such dangerous situation in another part of the world!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Climate change causes spreading of epidemics in Sudan, despite the Global Fund approval

 Harvests failed due to poor availabilitiy of rain, intensified the drought situations with long months of insecurity caused by inter-ethnic clashes, Southern Sudan is in the grip of "kala azar" infection and numbers are increasing at a rate of 80 admissions in the hopsitals in the first week of November. Kala azar a deadly disease also known as visceral leishmaniasis, have continued to rise in Southern Sudan, according to medical workers (IRIN news).

Many are suffering from "kala azar" disease. A scene outside
Malakal Hospital, Upper Nile State, in Southern Sudan.

  The symptoms of kala azar is like malaria, but transmitted by the sand fly, has hit some of the most remote and difficult-to-access regions of Upper Nile and Jonglei states. The life in these areas are also worsened by the recent inter-ethnic clashes. "Many patients were arriving too late at health centres and some die in the same day," reports Seaman.  The disease is almost always fatal within one to four months unless treatment is given, but some 95 percent recover if treated in time, reports IRIN news.

World Health Organisation, which also supports the treatment says in its report that 42 percent of patients were children under five, and 47 percent aged 5-17. Kala azar is endemic in some parts of Southern Sudan and outbreaks occur every 5-10 years. Treatment involves an injection every day for a month - requiring patients to stay near health facilities, which can put enormous pressure on those caring for them.

  The approved US$2.4 billion Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria can be promising to fight against the spreading new diseases which are mostly developed due to increased vulnerability in the midst of climate change effects. "These grants enable countries around the world to address some of the main problems they are struggling with every day," Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopian Health Minister and Chair of the Global Fund Board, said in a press release, as reported by IRIN News.

 The funding facilities should be made available to solve the problems of sudden outbreaks of diseases like Kala azar in Southern Sudan. The funders and their mechanisms become a very rigid process that they always look for long term processing and certain criteria that should be fulfilled, which are never possible to include unexpected outbreaks of health hazards like kala azar. In this context, most of the developing countries bewildered when such outbreaks of diseases hit hard on their bellies. It is very painful that such end receiveers get no help  due to these red tapism followed by the international funders. People need a sudden responding mechanisms which can be on the real time delivery basis, that can bring long term effects in the restoration of public health in third world countries.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Community Based Adaptation (CBA) can be a new mantra for Climate change adaptation !

   The recently organised Third International Workshop on CBA in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh in February 2009, organised jointly by the IIED, the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) and the Ring Alliance of 13 policy research organisations from across the world (IRIN news). Since the climate effects are suffered by the poorest communities in the villages in developing countries, the focus of the strategies is now turning towards the community-based adaptation techniqes (CBA) and the process of distribution of funding and information becomes easier and effective.

Water-logging is a problem in Bangladesh! Hence they
depend on floating islands and water-hyacinths for growing food!!!

   The community-based adaptation is still a an aspriational term according to Saleemul Huq, Head of the Climate Change Group at the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and he hope that lots of money being made available by the international community towards adaptation to climate change, to the poorest and most vulnerable.
   The CBA can be an effective process if it can be effectively implemented by identifying the end receivers of the climate change effects in third world countries. They are mainly traditional farmers in Asia and Africa where the effort to feed their own family and the country in general, have sacrifices everything of their own. Even at the midst of research developments and achievements, the technical support to the tradtional farmers in third world countries are nor effective, as such scientists around the world are still negotiating their terms with the stake holders and climate change businessmen in the five-star hotels and busy in dining with the most delicious food available on the surface of the earth, when millions starve in Africa and Asia!
     Hence, the Global Initiative on CBA launched at the workshop to promote the concept and share knowledge will be hopefully effective, as the initiative would not only build a support base of information for communities but would also serve the strategic purpose of advocating "specific quotas" for the most vulnerable in any new global funds for adaptation that may be agreed in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or other global processes, said Huq. The UK-based Institute for Development Studies has set up a website for exchanging information ( on CBA to inform NGOs and communities. Google Earth is also working with governments to map adaptation projects globally.

    The soul of the nature is in the villages, and the community based programmes are the only effective tools to understand the need of policies and plans to preserve the available water and other natural resources. The traditional methods which are cheap and best and long lasting can be identified and funding should be made available to create and maintain such traditional natrual resource preservation methods. The recent programs in India (by organisations like TERI, Goa) and Africa, which are success stories of community based programs and are not new to the world, on rainwater harvesting and watershed management, etc., have made immense impact in supporting the traditional farming and food production! Hence Community-based adaptation, CBA, can be a new mantra in the global climate change adaptation efforts!

Friday, November 6, 2009

East Africa can Hope!, While Climate change will devastate Africa, and hit Yemen already

    The coming years Africa will be lead to a more stressful situation.  The climate change effects can devaste Africa, warns says Prof. Sir Gordon Convoy, the outgoing chief scientist at the UK's Department for International Development, and former head of the philanthropic Rockefeller Foundation. According to Sir Gordon the continent will face intense drought, famine, disease and floods.

  The next 100 years will take Afica to a much hotter level, upto 4 degree celcius hotter than that it has now, says Prof. Sir Gordon. There will be less drinking water, diseases such as malaria will spread and the poorest will be hit the hardest as farmland is damaged in the coming century, Conway wrote. IRIN news reports the drastic situations that prevail in the spredaing of new killer diseases like, pneumonia and other lung diseases in the continent and the water related diseases like diarrhoea in some parts of Eastern Africa.

  While serious drought and famine conditions are predicted for the continent, the East Africa and Horn of Africa will be benefited by the more wetter period in the coming years, as Sir Gordonn gives the hope for the countries like Ethiopia and Somalia.

Where as the situations in the other side of the Red Sea, Yemen already in search of water as the tens of thousands of people in Milhan District, Mahwit Governorate, around 100km northwest of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, are facing acute water shortages due to lack of rainfall, according to local officials, reports IRIN news.

 Yemenis searching for water: Climate change effects already hitting the globe.

Most of redisents in this district depend on rainwater and hence are vulnerable in the dry season, and many springs have dried up already, according to Mohammed al-Nuzail, head of the General Rural Water Authority (GRWA) in the governorate. While Abdullah Al-Numan, an environment expert at Sanaa University, reasons that decreased rainfall in Yemen over the past seven years may be the result of changing climate in the region and according to him, in many parts of Yemen, including the northwest region, rainfall decreased from 300mm more than 20 years ago to 180mm over the past five years.

  While Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change is fast approaching, situations in different parts of the globe are alarming and strategies which are near to the ground realities should be planned and implemented. The adaptation and mitigation strategies should be implemented in rural level through effective management of natural resources and new methods of livelihoods for the support of the common man.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Changing climate brings the new killer desease in Africa.

  Climate change effects that created world wide spreading of newly developed strains of flu viruses and the related fever and lung infections has made the public health under utmost difficult situation, not only in developing countries, but also in developed countries like U.K and Netherlands. The newly changed climate conditons in Africa brings new types of lung deseases, among which pneumonia is found as the deadliest and the number one killer disease in Africa. The IRIN reports the spreading of pneumonia, "the number-one killers of children worldwide – deadlier than AIDS, malaria and measles combined," spreading among children and the diagnosis is not done scientifically. 

                                                    Pneumonia kills millions of African children.
    The grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about US$40 million to improve diagnosis and testing in  five developing countries such as,  screening tehniques and Mass tag PCR technology to carry out the test for 30 causes of infection is an important milestone. The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) plans in 2009 to offer vaccines, approved by World Health organisation (WHO) in August 2008 - donated by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals - that protect against seven strains of the lung disease – 1.3 million in Rwanda and 500,000 in The Gambia. 

  The quality of health in world wide is degrading due to lack of proper waste management systems in domestic and industrail sectors,  increased population, poor sanitation and the non-preapredness from the public health officials especially in the Asian and African countries and even in some developed countries. The methods of diagnostics in developing cointries are very poor that makes lots of delay in treating diseases. Lung infections like pneumonia can become dangerous and chronics situations will lead to the death of children in masses. Hence the realisation of public officials like Samba Sow, the director of Mali’s Centre for Vaccine Development about the importance of improving diagnostics as much critical to live saving vaccines(IRIN), has much to add to control to the spreading of lung desease in African continent. While all these link to climate change world wide, the projects like Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) are still appear as weaker mechanisms to deliver a wider range of support. Ironically  it makes business to the stakeholdres who expect massive profits even out of these life threatening problems!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Can Kampala Convention help climate change migrants?

  The birth rights for life protection of people displaced by natural disasters, resulted from climate change especially during the last few decades invite attention by the policy and law makers of the higher officals in Africa, reports of IRIN news .

The Kampala Convention, a unique treaty adopted by the African Union (AU), promises to protect and assist millions of Africans displaced within their own countries. The treaty recognizes natural disasters, and  conflict and generalized violence prime factors that displace people heartlessly. Jean Ping, chairperson of the Commission of the African Union is optimistic about the inclusion of displacement by natural disasters was informed by the global debate on the need to develop a framework for the rights of "climate refugees" - people uprooted from their homes and crossing international borders - because the changing climate threatened their survival.

 So far Internationally Displaced persons (IDPS) are not protected in Africa.
  This new effort from the delegates of African Union will pave a path for international agencies to cooperate with Internationally Displaced Persons in Africa. But the idea while offering promises and security to the innocent and uneducated people who are thrown into forced migration arises from unexpected natural calamities, it also leaves some question of its effectiveness. The main reasons are African Union is still a growing mechanism in its soil, the divided and non-democratic states in many parts of Africa and the devastated state of level of education and awareness, and economic insuffiency to curb such unexpectaed migration, its vastness and magnitude, when it really in peak and happening. 
  These are all realities. But the ground truth is that effort is initiated and humanity will extend there support from every part of the world to help there mothers and children, and brothers and sisters to secure their life and livelihoods and make them to feel at home!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Climate change effects in East Africa: health vulnerabilies in Ethiopia

The last few years especially the last decade has faced more challenges on the life in East Africa due to the extreme climate change effects.  In 2008, from 21-27 September, the Ethiopian health ministry reported 634 new cases and one death in Afar, Amhara, Somali, Oromiya, Southern regions and in the capital, Addis Ababa. The UN Office website: , highlight the alarming situation happened in Ehtiopia, last as recent evidences of climate change effects.  
WHO noted that nutrition surveys conducted in Amhara, Oromiya and Southern regions between July and September had revealed "serious" to "normal" conditions, with global acute malnutrition ranging from 10.8-12.8 percent in parts of Amhara and Oromiya, indicating a serious nutritional status.
  The outbreak of diarrhoea is mainly concentrated on the pilgrims to and from from holy sites in Addis Ababa and it is reported that the holy water sites are the source of infection and also the infected ponds, wells and rivers.
  Erratic and late rains, failed agricultural production, increased prices for basic food grains and the non-availability of food materials to the most needed people in the rural villages and the lack of support from the international food supplying agencies in war foot manner have been considered as the main reasons for the food crisis and the realted health risks in the recent times in Ethiopia. The climate researchers have not done their basic adaptation and mitigation straegies to work out for local authorities to controll the health and food shortage risks in the rural Ethiopia.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Climate change effects in East Africa: Northern Ethiopian scenario

         Climate change effects are now world wide phenomenon since the last many decades. The increasing temperature, rising global sea-level, spreading forest fires, and depleting natural resources, like surface and ground water reserources, are the alarming effects. The third world countries are the most vulnerable to these situations. Developed countries are trying to adapt or mitigate the climate change effects.

   The scenario in East Africa, especailly in Ethiopia is very alarming. The country of Ethiopia, is otherwise also in the mosy vulnerable state as they are always affected by frequent droughts and famine. The increased population, high percentage of poor and the uneducated village population, inadequate resources for food, water, shelter and the extreme variations in the day to day weather, etc. all causes increased rate of spreading of deseases and death in the Ethiopian Highlands and other areas. The Northern most Regional State of Tigray has more stress due to increased rate of evaporation which causes depletion of surface water reservoirs and the drying of the earth surface there by leaving difficult for irrigation of agriculautral fileds, production of hydropower, etc leaving the northern Ethiopia in darkness at night and also non-availability of power during the day time for indutrial production during the end of summer season.

Drying of the agricultural fields common scene
in Mekelle, Tigray, Ethiopia.

   Recent decrease in the annual rain fall rates and the non-preparedness to combat the drought situations from the local government authorities have made the situation worst for farmers of Tigray state. The recent case is the less amount of rain fall that has received in the July to September months in 2009. This is already reflected in the production of most essential food grains in Tigray state. It will reflect more drastically in the coming months, especially during the 2010 summer months while allocating the power to the industries and the domestic users during the day and night schedule. Also the non-availabiltiy of drinking water and other domestic and industrial water requirements will face more stress in the highlanders of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government has to make thorough studies and preparedness to combat such situations in the 2010 summer.

Dr. Rajeevan Moothal, Assistant Professor,
Dept. of Earth Science, College of Natural and Computational Science,
Mekelle University, Arid Campus, Mekelle, Ethiopia.