Farmers can help fight climate change, hunger via agroforestry

OPINION |

Abdi Abdulahi unties a rope from a fresh carcass of a calf that succumbed from hunger in the ongoing drought in Tana River County. [Caroline Chebet, Standard]

Despite the progress made in the past two decades to fight malnutrition, almost one-fourth of children under age five are stunted.

They are also at risk of malnutrition and hidden hunger due to poor diets.

More than nine out of the ten stunted children live in Africa and Asia.

At the centre of this challenge is a broken food system that fails to provide children with the diets they need to grow healthy.

Climate change, population pressure, loss of biodiversity, increase in energy prices, and land-use changes, especially the conversion of arable land to commercial and infrastructure development are some of the factors limiting the poor and vulnerable communities from achieving their right to food in the developing world.

As we celebrate World Food Day, it is important to re-affirm that every person has the right to food as per the UN’s International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights mooted in 1966.

This made access to and affordability of adequate food a universal human right.

The responsibility of ensuring the right to food lies with the authorities of each country.

International cooperation plays a key role in guaranteeing a fair distribution of food.

The UN projects that hunger will not be eradicated by 2030 unless bold actions are taken to address inequity in access to food.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 report estimates that nearly a third of the global population (2.37 billion people) did not have access to adequate food in 2020.

Global market

This means a sharp increase of almost 320 million people in one year.

The drivers of this rise are care lockdowns and limited freedom of movement imposed to contain coronavirus as well as rising prices of food products in the global market.

These drivers have had a serious impact on most of the African countries, East Africa included.

The UN World Food Programme says 30.4 million people in East Africa were facing severe food insecurity by August 2021.

This has been caused by the inability to attain the right to food including vulnerability to climate shocks such as droughts, floods and extreme temperatures, desert locusts, conflicts, economic instability, and high levels of poverty.

The world should shift now from words to actions if in eradicating hunger. Vi Agroforestry believes the solutions lie in the empowerment of smallholder farmers to produce and distribute food, making it accessible and affordable in local markets.

Agroforestry can sustainably help solve most of the challenges to food production posed by the effects of climate change.

Governments should harness agroforestry’s potential by improving the coordination of national activities.

We urge governments and donors to increase development funding to sustainable food production, including agroforestry.

Joy Kivata is the Regional Communications Officer at Vi Agroforestry.

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