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Combat climate change to boost food security

By Adhiambo Odek | April 20th 2019

Increasingly, climate change has come with convergent impact on social, political, economical and environmental sectors resulting in new types of challenges for development.

With the cause and effect widely separated in time and space, climate change has a dynamic face that generates unfamiliar challenges in all spheres of social space and has thus attracted debate and studies within a wide spectrum of disciplines, aimed at identifying how best to curb the effects. The erratic rainfall patterns have accelerated land degradation, add to that poor land use and the impact is negative on food production, leading to loss of livelihoods, poverty and vulnerabilities.

How can one ensure sustainable adaptation methods? Sustainable development encompasses a range of economic, ecological and social issues and implies that no future generation should be worse off than the present. Climate change debate has resulted in formulation of a number of adaptation strategies. Adaptation responses differ across various scales, from plot and farm levels to the country and international levels depending on access to resources and technology. With the now available climate change knowledge, one would presume that without a doubt all is set for successful adaptation, but the low adaptive capacities at local levels is worrying. More recently participatory trans-disciplinary approaches in which all stakeholders participate is being favoured over the strait line top-bottom implementation.

Common adaptation strategies include enhancing green economy whose benefits cut across all sectors, use of new crop varieties and livestock breeds, better suited for the prevailing climatic conditions and agroforestry for soil catchment, water conservation and restoration of ecological balance.

Climate change adaptation involves adjustments in technological innovations, ecological, social and economic systems. If the thoughts carried in a number of persuasion theories can be evoked to guide message packaging, messages powerful enough to build the adaptive capacity of individuals, groups, or organisations to adapt will translate to successful adaptation.

Carefully packaged climate change messages that effectively raise awareness and motivate have not been given publicity to desired degrees by mass media, decision makers and planners.

Future development stakeholders need to exploit the now available climate change adaptation knowledge and media to effectively evoke stallholder farmers to effectively join effort in up scaling uptake of adaptation methods and ensure food security.

In Rarieda, one of the six sub counties of Siaya, where the uptake of adaptation methods is low, the county government alongside a number of NGOs among them Ace Africa and Wellthughilfe and agricultural officers are taking the lead to tame the effects of climate change. The strengths, weaknesses, challenges and available opportunities are being explored, resolved and exploited to formulate successful adaptation methods that increase resilience; land productivity, food security to improve livelihoods.

In its 2018-2022 County Integrated development plan, Siaya County government has planned to revive three dormant water dams, Nyalnawe, Adhiri and Uranga dams, to boost sustainable irrigation based agriculture. The Ace Africa working with small holder farmers in Ruma, Uyoma is encouraging solar irrigation and its German counterpart, Welthungerhilfe is encouraging climate smart agriculture, (CSA).  All these make for good ground for the community to join government efforts in fighting food insecurity that has for decades resulted in loss of lives countrywide.

- The writer is a PHD student at the Institute of Climate Change Adaptation, University of Nairobi

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