Insurance Scheme Offers Hope for Drought-stricken African Farmers

By James Reinl

A partnership between United Nations and African Union (AU)
agencies will help African economies insure themselves against the
droughts and other extreme weather events that plague the
continent, organisers say.

The AU’s African Risk Capacity
and the U.N. Convention
to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
stuck a deal in Bonn,
Germany, this week to raise money for the safeguard scheme and
advance policies that help countries adapt to weather threats.

Organisers say that 45 million people across Africa cannot put
enough food on their tables, especially in the south and east of
the continent, where punishing dry spells have cut harvest yields
and pushed up prices of staples.

“Reducing the impacts of drought and other natural disasters
by helping member states improve climate resilience through
innovative mitigation and risk financing instruments are key to our
mandate,” Mohamed Beavogui, ARC’s director general, said in a
statement on Wednesday. 

“The agreement signed today with UNCCD will create a
functional synergy in our efforts to help countries better
understand their risk profiles, improve knowledge and strengthen
capacities for climate adaptation and food security.” 

Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary of the UNCCD, described a new
financial vehicle called the
eXtreme Climate Facility (XCF)
that would raise money for AU
members to access to alleviate their parched agricultural

The XCF will be “an important tool to help African countries
to cope effectively with the impacts of drought”, said Thiaw,
formerly a Mauritanian official and deputy chief of the U.N.
Environment Programme.

Drought-ravaged countries can apply to the fund for help
adapting to drought and other weather calamities, organisers said.
Payouts will be corruption-proof and provided as “climate change
catastrophe bonds”.

“The message is clear. We will see an increasing number of
droughts with unprecedented severity, which are exacerbated by
climate change. No country or region, rich or poor, is immune to
the vagaries of drought,” said Thiaw.

“The UNCCD is helping 35 of Africa’s 57 countries to create
the mechanisms they need to take early action to avert drought
disasters. Today, Africa is ramping up pre-emptive actions as a
unified front against future drought and climate-induced disasters
in the region.”

The inking of an agreement between the two agencies came amid a
week of growing concerns over harsh dry spells across Africa that
are reducing harvests, killing wildlife and worsening security for
millions of people.

On Wednesday, the Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute
, a study group,
released a report
saying that three decades of conflict in
Somalia — together with crippling droughts and flooding — were
strengthening the hands of militants and weakening the
government’s power. 

In the Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe, at least 55
elephants have died from starvation since September, officials said
on Monday. The locations of their carcasses — near water holes
— suggested they had traveled long distances to drink.

On October 15, aid agency Concern Worldwide, which co-compiles
the Global Hunger Index, said hunger levels in the turbulent
Central African Republic were “extremely alarming”, while
levels in Chad, Madagascar, and Zambia were “alarming”.

“Today marks the beginning of a unified front against drought
and climate-induced disasters in the African region,” Thiaw said
in a statement on Wednesday.

“Our key aims are to support the establishment and
implementation of national drought plans and mobilise innovative
financial instruments to better mitigate the risks of extreme
climate situations.”

According to the UNCCD, droughts already bad and they are
getting worse. By 2025, some 1.8 billion people will experience
serious water shortages, and two-thirds of the world will be
“water-stressed”, the UNCCD says. 

Though droughts are complex and develop slowly, they cause more
deaths than other types of disasters, the UNCCD warns. By 2045,
droughts will have forced as many as 135 million people from their

But there is hope. By managing water sources, forests, livestock
and farming, soil erosion can be reduced and degraded land can be
revived, a process that can also help tackle climate change. 

The post
Insurance Scheme Offers Hope for Drought-stricken African
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Insurance Scheme Offers Hope for Drought-stricken African Farmers