UN urges Africa to diversify diet - China Daily

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NAIROBI - Africa should diversify its diet in order to combat the effects of climate change, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative in Kenya said on Wednesday.

Aeneas Chuma told journalists in Nairobi that the continent's heavy reliance on maize as the main staple food could affect its adaptation to climate change.

"Foods such as sorghum, millet and cassava which are indigenous to Africa could help reduce the effects climate because they are more suited to the continent climatic conditions," Chuma told the Africa Climate Change Workshop in Nairobi.

He said a more varied diet will help reduce pressure on maize as the main source of nutrition. "Maize is too expensive to grow it requires a lot of rainfall and fertilizer in order to reach maturity stage," the UNDP representative said.  

He said the staple crop is not indigenous to the continent yet is the most consumed food item. Many parts of Africa lack adequate rainfall to support maize growing and the situation is compounded by the low uptake of irrigation.

While Africa contributes only 4 percent of greenhouse gas emission, it is the most affected due to its lack of capacity to adapt to climate change.

"Climate change is here to stay and so Africa should adopt a strategy to fight including the use of drought tolerant crops," Chuma said. The UNDP is also providing support to build the continents capacity to access funds to help mitigate effects of climate change.    

Kenya's Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources Dawood Mohamed said that climate financing has continued to be elusive especially for Africa.

"Many financial mechanisms in place to support climate related interventions are not accessed by the continent despite its enormous needs," Mohamed said, adding that sourcing for more environmental funding is necessary to mitigate further negative impact on the economy.

"We are likely to lose up to 3 percent of our growth because of climate variability and that requires substantial financing to bridge that gap. Climate financing has been a very contentious matter in the global scene. It is one of the things that continue to sustain mistrust between developed and developing countries," he said.

The permanent secretary said despite several financial mechanisms in place to support climate related interventions, Africa still experiences low access to these funds.

Transparency has been a major issue on the part of the donors, he further argued, with most financing determined at a global level, leaving recipients blind to the pertinent parts of the funding process.

"There are a number of conditionalities set by funding agencies because they probably don't have that fund in the first place and want to buy time. By the time you meet those conditionalities a year or two has already gone by," he said.

"Even in the case of the clean development mechanism, which allows developed countries to meet their Green House Gas emission commitments by financing projects to reduce emissions in developing countries, projects in Africa only account for about 2.6 percent," the permanent secretary said.

Since Kenya's economy is dependent on climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture and tourism, it estimated that costs of climate change will be equivalent to a loss of 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2030, he added.

The permanent secretary said the Kenyan government borrowed $1.3 billion this year, from development partners, to improve production and transmission in the energy sector.

The three-day Climate Change Finance and Development Effectiveness in Africa forum will tackle issues surrounding Africa's vulnerability to climate change, links between climate change and development and access to climate change financing among others.

22 Sep, 2011

Source: http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&usg=AFQjCNE4PgknIBBog0o8SgTBankvaVLTOg&url=http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2011-09/22/content_13764063.htm
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