29 January 2013

East Africa: EAC Warned of Climate Change Effects

East African countries will continue to experience food insecurity if partner states continue to shun funding initiatives to mitigate climate change, an official from the East African Community (EAC) secretariat has warned.

Dr Nyamajeje Weggoro, the director for productive sectors at the EAC secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania, was speaking to The New Times on the sideline of a regional meeting on environment and natural resources, which opened in Kigali yesterday.

According to Weggolo, EAC member countries have resorted to importing food instead of identifying the root causes of food uncertainty, which he said are mainly tied to climate change.

"We do not take these things seriously and at the end we start importing food. States have not shown much interest in funding climate change mitigation projects," he said.

The official observed that over dependence on imported food products not only increases the cost of living but also widens trade imbalance and deficit.

In 2011, Rwanda adopted the national strategy on climate change and low carbon development that was also part of a wider plan to control the increasing number of cars in Kigali City and other major towns, as well as addressing environmental concerns

The policy, if approved by the cabinet, is also expected to check the waste toxic fumes that contribute to climate change.

Climate change can also be caused by human activities, such as burning of fossil fuels and the conversion of land for forestry and agriculture.

Coletha Ruhamya, the deputy director general of Rwanda Environment Management Authority, stressed that climate change problems cannot be discussed and mitigated by one country.

"What is needed is to join efforts in mitigating climate change and this is what we are doing at regional level. We are now looking at programmes and policies where we can join hands in fighting this problem for the benefit of our community,"

Food insecurity has recently hampered the region and Rwanda has since embarked on new policies to consolidate soil fertility with the aim of increasing production.

The policies include land consolidation, crop intensification as well as providing fertilisers to farmers.

Late last year the Rwanda Agricultural Board indicated that 503,000 hectares or 63 per cent of Rwandan's arable land was consolidated and the programme ensured that every farm accessed improved seeds and subsidised fertilisers.

Today the country's national average of fertiliser use currently stands at 30 kg/ha/annum compared to 6 kg/ha in 2006, thanks to land consolidation initiatives and provision of extension services.

Meanwhile, the five-day meeting is expected to consider and draft the EAC climate change strategy and EAC climate change master plan.

Participants are expected to endorse the EAC disaster risk reduction and management strategy, as well as EAC water vision.

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