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COP26 summit is over: What’s in for farmers

President Uhuru Kenyatta met several leaders on the sidelines of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.

The name Anatacia Philan from Baringo County may not ring a bell.

Philan is not a celebrity or a policymaker nor is she a high-flying career woman.

She is a simple smallholder farmer from Baringo County but her climate change story was beamed on videos at just concluded 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP26 in Glasgow UK.

Her moving story was used to demonstrate how climate change has turned upside down the lives of poor, innocent farmers who do not understand why farming is no longer as straightforward as years back.

She explained how during droughts, their men migrate with their animals and women have to stay to look after children and the elderly.

“The women and children left at home have no food, no water. We walk long distances to look for food and water, sometimes we don’t find any,” she was captured saying.

Philan represents millions of vulnerable people bearing the full brunt of the impact of climate change.

She represents our mothers, grandmothers, and aunties in the villages wondering why the rains nowadays misbehave and floods and droughts are the order of the day.

Save agriculture

So beyond the head-spinning announcements that leaders and delegates spent hours negotiating and horse-trading, many from the Global south were asking, so what’s in for such vulnerable masses bearing the heaviest burden from an increasingly heating earth?

They are the ones who suffer most when the rains fail, super pests attack, the water sources dry up and farming becomes an impossible venture.

Sadly, the heavy polluters amended critical documents in their favour, giving developing nations a raw deal. 

That said, there are some wins worth mentioning because they will go a long way in impacting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in developing nations.

My take-home was the vote of confidence on climate-smart agriculture and the investment in it. Some 45 countries committed to stepping up protection of nature and overhauling farming to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

UK Environment Secretary George Eustice noted that to keep 1.5 degrees alive, there is a need for action from every part of society, including an urgent transformation in the way we manage ecosystems and grow, produce and consume food on a global scale. The 45 governments pledged urgent action and investment to protect nature and shift to more sustainable ways of farming.

The statement said the measures would include “leveraging over $4 billion of new public sector investment into agricultural innovation, including the development of climate-resilient crops and regenerative solutions to improve soil health”. No need to celebrate just yet. These pledges and commitments are not legally binding, the test of the agriculture commitments would be how far they are built into each of the 45 nations’ formal climate action plans.

Hellen Miseda is a Quality Assurance Editor,  [email protected]

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