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.

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