Africa’s water could rescue the continent from climate change

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 28 Nov 2011

The African continent is the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to its dependence on rain-fed agriculture but can harness the potential for hydropower, said Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa on Monday.

Africa currently uses only 10% of its hydropower potential

“The challenge for Africa is to decouple economic and social development from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation to an extent which has no precedent in the developed world,” said Molewa, who is leading the SA’s negotiation team at COP17 in Durban.

Water shortages caused by climate change threaten agriculture and human health in Africa, she said. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted yields from rain-fed agriculture to shrink by half by 2020.

“This will spell famine for many,” she said.

Water shortages have already affected the agriculture and livestock industries in Kenya, she said, and African nations that currently have water surpluses will shift to water scarcity before 2025.

But Africa’s water resources could also rescue the continent from the effects of climate change in the form of renewable energy, she said. The continent currently uses only 10% of its hydropower potential.

“A national, regional and international effort towards unlocking this potential is an example of how African societies could go from being amongst the most vulnerable to become climate resilient,” she said.

Molewa repeated the SA government’s support of the “polluter pays principle”, imploring developed nations to fund green projects in developing nations, since they are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Africa contributes only 4% of global GHG emissions, but SA is responsible for almost half of that.

Molewa also highlighted the Africa Pavilion at COP17, which presents opportunities for green-development projects on the continent.

The effects of climate change on Africa are “unacceptable” and climate-change talks must “produce a credible, fair, equitable and balanced outcome” in the coming weeks.

Source: Business Live

Famine claims hundreds every day in Somalia

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 22 July 2011

Famine in Somalia has killed tens of thousands of people in recent months and could grow even worse unless urgent action is taken, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Wednesday. FAO has appealed for $120 million for response to the drought in the Horn of Africa to provide agricultural emergency assistance.

Around 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are currently in need of emergency assistance

Hundreds of people are dying every day and if we do not act now many more will perish,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

“We must avert a human tragedy of vast proportions. And much as food assistance is needed now, we also have to scale up investments in sustainable immediate and medium-term interventions that help farmers and their families to protect their assets and continue to produce food.

Special report

In a special report published today [20 July 2011] the FAO-managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network officially declared a state of famine in two regions of southern Somalia, Bakool and Lower Shabelle.

The report warns that in the next one or two months famine will become widespread throughout southern Somalia.

Together with ongoing crises in the rest of the country, the number of Somalis in need of humanitarian assistance has increased from 2.4 million to 3.7 million in the last 6 months.  Altogether, around 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are currently in need of emergency assistance. Continue reading

Rise in sea levels threatens millions

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 14 July 2010

Sea levels are rising unevenly in the Indian Ocean, placing millions at risk along low-lying coastlines in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, scientists say in a study.

The Seychelles Islands show the largest sea-level drop.

Researchers from the University of Colorado and the National Centre for Atmospheric Research say the rising sea levels are caused in part by climate change and are triggered by warming seas and changes to atmospheric circulation patterns.

In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, US President Barack Obama warned that if the world does nothing to confront climate change, “we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades”.

The authors of the latest study say higher seas could exacerbate monsoon flooding, placing crops, homes and livelihoods at greater risk. They argue a better understanding of the changes are needed to improve risk assessment planning for the future.

Sea levels in general are rising globally by about 3mm (0.1181 inch) a year. Scientists blame rising temperatures caused by the growing amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, that trap heat in the atmosphere. Continue reading