14 May 2012

East Africa: Impact of Climate on Mountain Ecosystems Under Scrutiny

Nairobi — A four-year project aimed at addressing the lack of knowledge about the impacts of climate change on food security, livelihoods and economic prosperity in mountain ecosystems has been launched in East Africa.

The project, Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystem Services and Food Security in Eastern Africa (CHIESA) will be coordinated by the Nairobi-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) with funding from Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Brigitte Nyambo, head of technology transfer at icipe, told SciDev.Net that the key objective will be to fill knowledge gaps through capacity building for regional research and administrative organisations.

This will be achieved by training researchers, enhancing monitoring and prediction facilities, and disseminating data and information.

"Scientific outputs will be shared with agricultural communities, extension agents and government institutions to support decision making on adaptation options and tools and to enhance their capacity to adapt to climate change," said Tino Johansson, the project coordinator.

Johansson added that the project will train Master's and PhD students to aid their research, and ensure that their universities give them ample time to balance studies and research.

CHIESA will also train its staff to conduct research, to ensure the project is successful.

The project is also expected to establish adaptation tools and management frameworks for target areas, according to Johansson.

CHIESA will build capacity in Ethiopian, Kenyan and Tanzanian research and administrative organisations engaged in agriculture, entomology, hydrology, ecology, and geo-informatics.

In addition, it will assess climate change impacts on rain-fed and irrigated agriculture; adaptation strategies for changes in pollination services; and insect pest management in agricultural systems.

Richard Odingo, a former vice-chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the IPCC had demonstrated that ecosystems "are under threat due to climate change and so is food security, which depends on these ecosystems".

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