Climate Change Threatens Africa’s Food Sovereignty

In recent discussions at the Africa Climate Summit, representatives from various organizations highlighted the urgent need for adaptation funding in Africa to support food security and address the challenges faced by the agrifood systems from climate change and its eventualities.

Africa is currently grappling with multiple crises, including the impacts of climate change, rising debts, extreme weather events, inflation, and global shocks such as the Ukraine-Russia conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changing climate has led to food insecurity, causing significant losses in agricultural practices for millions of farmers in Africa. Droughts and floods, which are increasingly frequent due to climate change, have resulted in declines in crop and livestock production.

In North and Sub-Sahara Africa, losses of up to USD 30 billion have been observed as a consequence of these extreme weather events and disasters.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has highlighted the need for urgent action to address climate change impacts on agrifood systems. Instead of continuously financing emergency response, disaster relief, and recovery efforts, there is a call for the allocation of climate change adaptation funds.

Allocating these funds would provide a more cost-effective approach to tackling climate eventualities impacts compared to the potential costs associated with inaction, which could soar to over USD 201 billion (equivalent to 12% of GDP) by 2050.

Dr. Esther Kihoro, a Scientist from the CGIAR GENDER & Youth Impact Platform, emphasizes the importance of women’s empowerment in the context of climate change within agrifood systems.

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Dr. Esther Kihoro, a Scientist from the CGIAR GENDER & Youth Impact Platform

She further stresses that given women are disproportionately affected it is crucial to assess the impact of development initiatives on women’s empowerment. This assessment can enable the introduction of context-specific agricultural technologies that benefit rural households.

The estimated cost of adaptation measures in Africa is approximately USD 15 billion, which is relatively small compared to the potential costs of inaction. It is essential to involve youth in addressing the climate change challenges faced by the agriculture sector considering their energy and minds of innovations.

Mr. Eliud Rugut, a Smallholder Farmer and Ban-Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens (BKMC) Youth AgriChampion from Kenya highlights the role of youth as innovators who can provide solutions to these challenges. Empowering and involving youth in the agriculture space through financing, capacity building, and technical support can shift the perception that deters them from engaging in agriculture.

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Mr. Eliud Rugut, a Smallholder Farmer and BKMC Youth AgriChampion in Spectacles during the discussions.

Addressing climate change urgently requires the acceleration of progress in sustainable production and productivity, as well as addressing inequality in access to safe and nutritious food. Simultaneously, efforts should focus on adaptation and resilience-building.

Climate adaptation initiatives in agrifood systems require strong and multi-year commitments to enhance resilience among local communities. It is crucial to prioritize long-term strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change on agrifood systems in Africa. 

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