New Climate Change ambassadors in Jos, Nigeria

Little miss Anasoh  planting a tree
with a commitment to plant two 
more in her school.
International Center for Accelerated Development Nigeria (ICADNG) is a community organization based in Nigeria that seeks to promote effective development in the community especially with a focus on the youth and women. Under Climate Change, they hold tree planting academies in the community where they bring a children, volunteers, members of the press and other stakeholders together to plant trees and set a practical example to the children on the importance of conserving the environment. Below is a report of ICADNG’s 2nd and 3rd Tree Planting Academies in Nigeria.

ICADNG conducted her 2nd and 3rd tree planting academies in Jos Plateau state. It was a fun filled academy that took the shape of workshop, expositions and cultural display of different heritage and tree planting party.
Children representing different primary schools in the tree planting
 academy pose for the press to remember the day they were trained
 as climate ambassadors.
The 2nd tree planting academy took place on the 23rd of November 2013 at the St. Peter’s parish Kabong Jos with ninety eight (98) participants from ten (10) schools. The schools in attendance include:
·         Millennium private school Jos
·         Command secondary school Jos
·         Daisy land divine academy
·         Valley Pride Private school
·         Royal rangers academy
·         Effective Private school
·         Global international 
·         Mariam kindergarten
·         Timtop academy
·         Beethoven’s college
The academy took place inside the St. Peter’s church with many dignitaries witnessing the opening ceremony including Priest, members of the media, the academia and parishioners who had come to lend support to their children and learn one or two things about climate change.

Critical thinking and group work stage during the word
café. A period to examine who are the carbon emitters.
Chukwunonso Ozokolie  -whose discipline is Agricultural engineering helped the children to landscape and  map out locations for planting while volunteers Calistus, Daniel, Charles and George supported the children to dig the soil. The event was supported by Golden Penny mobile kitchen which prepared the meal that the children ate. Volunteers Christy, Ann, Grace and Francisca prepared a sumptuous meal of noodles and pasta for the children. The mobile kitchen also provided music and table water and juice for the children while they planted; it was a fun packed event under the hot sun. The children sang and danced, they also formed a slogan with the theme “stop talking start planting” “if you must cut down one tree, then plant three” Miss Ruth Daniel presented the action plans derived from the word game and café held in thematic sessions while Miss Chiwendu Ogudiegwu presented the rhetorics.   

ICAD staff and volunteers supporting climate justice ambassador to plant well
Welcome our newest climate justice
A total of one hundred and twenty trees and flower seedlings of different varieties were planted including forest trees, Melina, pine, economic trees like orange, pawpaw, mango and pear trees and flowers. Each of the children made a promise to plant at least one tree and nurture it until the tree survived and can carry on by itself; they planted one tree/flower within the premises and took one seedling back to their schools for planting.

The occasion was witnessed by the Nigerian television Authority, plateau radio television cooperation and two print Medias – Development times and the National Guide newspaper.
Children working hard to draw up action plan for
future implementation in their schools.
It was fun again on the 5th of December 2013 when schools gathered for cultural heritage and tree planting at the Fatima private school Jos. This event was spectacular as many of the children showcased their culture, their kind of dance, food, drinks and trees that grow around their area. About one hundred and twenty children participated in this cultural carnival that brought together rich cultural diversity of people from different backgrounds including Cameroonians, Guineans and Benin republic.
Our Lady of Fatima Private hosted the event with ten other schools in attendance for the epoch making event these schools as follows:
·         Fatima Private school Jos
·         St. Theresa Girls school
·         St. Louise College
Climate justice ambassador planting one
of the variety of trees
·         Township Primary school
·         Government Day Secondary school Township
·         Methodist high school
·        Local Education Authority primary school Bukuru park Jos
·         St. Paul’s Academy
·         Nurture academy
·         Mariam Memorial Academy

The event was witnessed by many dignitaries including
the revered “Eze Igbo 1” of Jos, high level
government officials and members of the paramilitary.

Each ethic group from different schools appeared in
their cultural attire an
Participants being supervised to ensure that get it right
in their bid to draw a workable action plan for
public presentation.
d converged in their ‘village’ – a make shift hut which symbolizes the village where they come from. In this hut, cultural items, food and clothing, trees which are found in the locality are symbolically placed in and around the hut for visitors to view.
All the participants danced in a match past -  cultural group by cultural group, after which, dignitaries visited each village were the paramount ruler (an elder) explains what the culture of the people were, their kind of food and where they originated from, the kind of trees found in their areas and its significance. It was an outdoor event because of the size of participants and schools. There was an unusual  high number of children given the magnitude of the event, this eventually prevented the use of slide to teach the lessons  of climate change, gaseous emissions and its effect on the human race although that was mentioned in the presentation and visitation of different huts.

New climate justice ambassadors rejoicing upon
 graduation from the academy.
One other impact of the occasion was that the carnival allowed only for symbolic planting of few trees around the huts to symbolically show what tree does well in what community. Economic trees such as pawpaw (Carica Papaya), orange (Citrus) were planted while Cactus tree which is most common in Jos due to the cold nature and because many homes in Jos use it as means to fence their  houses. Wild forest trees were also planted. The children made a promise to plant trees in their various schools when they resume from the Christmas break with a hope that it would rain then. Their materials had not arrived at the time of the event as such they were told it would be given to them later.

Climate Justice Ambassador Miss Ruth Daniels asking the older one to stop talking and start planting

Other Issues of Actual Concern in Agriculture and Climate Change

There are a plethora of articles and stories written on the importance of agriculture as a significant contributor to economic growth and development. As you are aware, the climate change action debate is being vigorously pushed as one means of achieving sustainable development – a feat no country is yet to attain. And to just bog you once more with some grim statistic, the World Bank's "Turn Down the Heat" report released last year, predicts that by 2040, drought and increased heat could reduce by 40-80 per cent the area of sub-Saharan Africa suited growing maize, millet or sorghum. It says a 2°C increase in temperature (projected for 2040), could reduce maize yields by 5 to 22 per cent, wheat by 10 to 17 per cent, and sorghum by 15 to 17 per cent. That is why developing countries are being advised not to pursue an economic growth model through which the industrialized nations accumulated their wealth – by burning coal and clearing forests – so as not to add to the climate change problem. 

At the heart of this new and ideal ‘green economic growth’ in agriculture are new concepts such as carbon neutral growth or Low Emissions Development/Climate Resilient Development, the Carbon Markets to generate the necessary funding and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Conserving and Enhancing Forest Carbon Stocks (REDD+) for forestry. Intertwined with these new concepts is Climate-Smart Agriculture, the new ideal way of conducting farming both at the small scale and large scale levels in order to minimize carbon emissions from agriculture and forestry which together contribute about 31 per cent of the global emissions. As you might expect, these new concepts will be spearheaded into fruition majorly by international non-state actors who are sometimes accused of sidelining local non-state actors as they seek to assist communities where they operate.

Until recently in the agricultural sector, much effort has been driven towards climate change adaptation while fewer resources and attention has been spent towards mitigation and soil carbon sequestration potentials through sustainable land-water management. However, a soil carbon project piloted in Western Kenya among smallholder farmers has since been promising climate change mitigation in agriculture intervention in the developing world. The Kenya Agricultural Carbon Project (KACP) became the first soil carbon project in Africa to sign an Emissions Reduction Purchase Agreement (ERPA) with the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund in November 2010. But not everybody is genuinely in interested in such similar projects. Last year, it was reported that in Cameroon, a certain foreign company has bought land somewhere in the country in order to ‘sell’ the carbon in the soil and the trees to big companies in Europe and North America. 

The implementing organization, a Swedish public benefit organization (the term non-governmental organization is no longer being used here in Kenya) Vi Agroforestry is helping farmers adopt sustainable agricultural land management (SALM) practices, such as reduced tillage, use of cover crops and green manure, mulching, targeted application of fertilizers and agroforestry. Statistics indicate that to date, some 15,000 farmers in 800 farmer groups have adopted SALM practices, which have been applied to roughly 12,000 ha of degraded land. The organization targets to enroll a total of 60,000 farmers and apply SALM practices on around 45,000 ha by 2016. Vi Agroforestry estimates that this would result in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 60,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) each year, while also restoring degraded land, boosting crop yields and reducing the vulnerability of the farmers to the effects of climate change. This if achieved will ultimately prove to be a significant game changer in the field.

Going Forward on Climate Change, Youth and Agriculture in Africa

According to projections by the World Bank, by the 2040s, 80% of cropland in Sub-Saharan Africa will be infertile precipitating food price increases and other associated challenges. The way forward in relation to climate change and the agriculture sector in order to ensure food security as put forth by major international organizations such as FAO, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), and IFAD just to mention a few is Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA). FAO defines CSA as consisting of three main pillars:

  1. Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes (food security);
  2. Adapting and building resilience to climate change (adaptation); and
  3. Reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation), where possible.

This is good news but there are plenty of challenges to be overcome. The concept has very new dimensions such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Conserving and Enhancing Forest Carbon Stocks (REDD+) and Carbon Finance. All this is compounded by the fact that the level of awareness on climate change issues such as climate science and its associated heavy technical content is still very low and effective ways of downscaling climate information to the most remote hard to reach areas are not yet defined. Thus, communities are being faced with many new concepts that are still in development and yet to show widespread uptake. It is a good starting point but clearly more needs to be done to significantly raise the level of awareness and sensitization especially surrounding effective ways of communicating climate change by and among governments, educational and research organizations, media outlets, the private sector and other practitioners. 

For young people involved in agricultural activities, climate change will negatively impact their ventures more so because their capacity to govern a changing climate is as you would expect very low. Even though there exists many graduates in the continent, most of them do not know how to write successful grant proposals for climate funding under the existing mechanisms. This is primarily because most Professors in African universities do not teach the students they supervise this crucial area both for subsequent research activities and while seeking adaptation project support in form of funding. 

Even though the odds are stuck against the agriculture sector in view of the devastating effects of climate change, there exists some degree of climate action that is currently underway to initiate a low-emissions agricultural revolution in the form of CSA. What is needed is supporting young people write successful grant proposals so that they contribute significantly in the agriculture and natural resources management through meaningful local climate action. The UN-led multilateral climate change talks have largely stalled and Africa has to continue relying on grassroots-level climate action if it is to sustain its trajectory towards low emissions development pathway.

How Climate Change Affects Food Security Dimensions and the Society in General

In developing countries, the agriculture sector is expected to produce food and income to support food and nutrition security as well as contribute to poverty reduction for a growing population. Climate change is already threatening to significantly undermine these expectations as its impacts in the sector are direct and pose serious adverse effects on the populace. The agricultural sector including crops, forests, livestock and fisheries productivity will be affected by changes in climatic conditions including:

  1. Availability of good quality water
  2. Habitats and species distribution
  3. Timing and length of growing season
  4. Distribution of agro-ecological zones
  5. Ecosystem stresses (erosion by water and wind, acidification, salinization, biological degradation) and so on.

Climate change affects everyone albeit differently depending on their livelihoods and socio-economic status. The most adverse effects will be on those already vulnerable, people depending on climate-sensitive/dependent livelihoods such as agriculture and tourism. These are the disadvantaged poor and marginalized groups especially women and youth who neither yield political nor economic power to cope with a changing climate. Let us now see how climate variability impacts on the fishery and aquaculture sub sector could affect a typical food system in for instance the rural Kano Plains of Western Kenya. The region traditionally depends to a large extent on fishing as an economic activity to make a living. The illustration is only hypothetical as climate change effects are very specific to the local context.    

A decade ago, Mr. Ouma Ogendo was an accountant with a multinational company in Kisumu who quit his prestigious job to establish a fish hatchery venture in a greenhouse in his rural home area. Until last year, his business was very successful entailing rearing catfish fingerlings, then selling them to fishermen who used them as bait to catch Nile perch in the nearby Lake Victoria. Using a modern method of breeding the fingerlings – such as the re-circulation aquaculture system – which involves rearing fish in vessels under controlled and automated systems for maximum and quick yields, he controlled all factors such as predators, pollution and temperature. However, this year was particularly bad for him as the invasion of the menacing water hyacinth led to a steep decline in fishing in the lake. This meant that demand for the fingerlings also dropped forcing him to close shop and seek alternative ways of making a living. In addition, extreme precipitation during this year’s rainy season led to the nearby River Nyando bursting its banks and overflowing built dykes resulting to flooding which damaged his greenhouse, effectively shattering his dream of running his own aquaculture business. These unanticipated climate variability events have significant impacts on the local food system. 

Since all the fingerlings Ogendo had remaining for sale got damaged coupled with the problems of water hyacinth and floods damaging roads leading to the local market, the availability of fish for food decreases due to trouble with food processing (storage) and distribution. As a consequence of the fore goings, local market prices for fish and other food items goes up significantly, forcing households to buy other cheaper products such as cassava, sweet potatoes, and indigenous vegetables such as gynadropsis and black nightshade. As such, access to highly nutritious food is limited and Ogendo eventually decides to abandon aquaculture altogether to grow such crops which work better with local conditions. His decision (and similar others like him in the area) ultimately affects local food production. The diet of local poor farmers’ families becomes unbalanced due to lower quality cheap food products as the only affordable source of protein and micro nutrients affecting food consumption. This in turn predisposes families to malaria and diarrhoea, both of which are favoured by high temperatures in the area. The illnesses if contracted will further reduce their bodies’ ability to absorb nutrients from the available cheap food – utilization.   

Thus, the stability of an entire community’s food system is affected by climate variability with direct implications on production, processing, distribution and consumption. Indirect effects are felt as well in the form of changes in markets, food prices and supply chain infrastructure. Additionally, some people are forced to completely change their economic activities to ones whose income generation is stable and more reliable.