Working with communities and nature to build resilience to shocks

As the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP27 takes place, there are hopes that the “African COP” will mobilize the funds and action needed for a climate-resilient Africa.

Author: Dianne Tipping-Woods of the African Nature-Based Tourism Platform

Ndaula Liwela, a farmer from Machita in Namibia’s Zambezi province, points to the scattered flowers of a baobab tree lying on dry land near his home. “This year the fruit will be small and few,” he says, even though the iconic tree is known for its ability to retain water and thrive in dry conditions. After a few weeks, he usually planted his crops, “but when we saw that the clouds hadn’t even started to set, we stopped plowing.”

As the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP27 takes place from 6-18 November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, there are hopes that the “African COP” will mobilize much-needed climate funds and action. sustainable Africa, but that means little to Liwela, who worries about how to feed her family in the face of an increasingly uncertain future.

His home in Namibia’s northernmost province is located in the Kavango Zambezi Transboundary Conservation Area (KAZA), a five-country transboundary park created to protect biodiversity while supporting the people living in the landscape. It is not far from the Zambezi River, but water is scarce. Liwela makes a living by picking baobabs and other wild fruits every year, but this year even this wild store seems to be letting him down.

Image credit: Nikhil Advani WWF US

Much of Africa is affected by a warmer dry season followed by a later rainy season. Extreme events such as drought are increasing in frequency and severity.

“Livela’s story is not unique. Over the past year, we’ve interviewed farmers, fishermen, haymakers, and many others who rely on natural resources in this region. They noted the impact of changing weather conditions on their ability to sustain themselves. This makes them vulnerable not only to the effects of climate change, but also to other shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic.” Sigrid Nyambe, Namibia representative of WWF. As part of WWF’s Climate Crowd programme, it works with communities in the region to gather information about the impact of climate change on communities. This information informs pilot projects to help rural communities adapt to the changes they are experiencing, while reducing pressure on biodiversity.

Report of IPCC Working Group II Effects, Adaptation and Vulnerability etcThat many climate risks are greater than previously expected, especially for vulnerable African countries. Many countries have included nature-based solutions as part of their national climate change adaptation plans, but low levels of action require financial and technical support.

Speaking at the Finance Forum for Nature-Based Solutions organized by the UNFCCC’s Permanent Finance Committee, UN Climate Change Under-Secretary-General Owais Sarmad said: “We are facing a double crisis of climate change and nature. The two are inextricably linked. The mutual, intertwined devastation is getting worse day by day. If nature and climate change are linked, it only stands to reason that nature-based solutions should form the basis of addressing both.

However, according to the company’s CEO Inger Andersen United Nations Environment Programme In a recent article from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, “only about $133 billion is directed towards nature-based solutions, and investments must triple to meet climate, nature and land neutrality targets by 2030.”

“In the last few years, we have seen two crises, climate change and the global pandemic – intersect. Both affect the most vulnerable communities the most and affect the way people interact with their natural resources,” says Nikhil Advani, director of climate, communities and wildlife at WWF. In Namibia, for example, climate change and the pandemic have increased the unsustainable use of natural resources, Advani says. African Nature Based Tourism Platform . This project was launched in 2021 to connect funders with nature-based tourism communities in 11 countries in eastern and southern Africa, helping to identify the most affected communities and businesses and their most pressing needs.

More than half of Namibian citizens interviewed for the 2021-2022 Climate Crowd project reported direct impacts on local wildlife, including high mortality rates and migration of wildlife to other areas where water and food are more abundant. Fifty-eight percent of respondents reported that crops had failed or yielded very little in recent years, while 62 percent reported poor livestock health. About three-quarters of the respondents said that seasonally harvested wild fruits have also decreased. As natural resources become increasingly difficult to find, more people and their livestock come into conflict with wildlife.

“The data we’ve collected shows that we need to focus on adaptation efforts that protect the most vulnerable people,” he said. Within KAZA, there are examples and opportunities for building resilience through initiatives with climate adaptation strategies. These practical, nature-friendly pilot projects through Climate Crowd often use solutions shaped by the community’s own traditional, indigenous and local knowledge and practices.

Beekeeping is an environmentally friendly and potentially profitable complementary industry that helps communities cope with unpredictable crop yields. Youth in these communities are often unemployed and lack access to income-generating activities as rain-fed agriculture declines. One such project in Namibia involves training youth in beekeeping in the villages of Muyako, Omega 3 and Luitchikkhom in the Bwabwata National Park. David Mushavanga, a local bee farmer with over 16 years of experience, will implement the project in partnership with WWF Climate Crowd and the Ministry of Ecology, Forestry and Tourism.

Other projects in Namibia will focus on increasing water security through rainwater harvesting and solar-powered wells, climate-friendly agriculture, installation of clean stoves and other alternative livelihoods such as handicrafts.

“Climate Crowd is a bottom-up, community-driven initiative. It is important to support projects where the community feels a sense of ownership. These projects can help them build resilience to multiple shocks and stresses. Environmental emergencies such as climate change can cause more social and economic damage than COVID-19,” says Advani.

Through Climate Crowd and the African Nature-Based Tourism Platform, WWF works with community-based natural resource management organizations in several other eastern and southern African countries to provide financial and technical support for solutions that protect natural ecosystems and benefit people. shocks and stresses.

For example, in Malawi, a recently funded project led by African Nature-Based Tourism Platform partner KAWICCODA is supporting the expansion of conservation-friendly alternative livelihood activities in a five-kilometer belt around Kasungu National Park.

“Both the climate crisis and the pandemic threaten the well-being of people and nature, so we urgently need to test projects that make people and nature more resilient. We can learn from these crowd-led initiatives. And then we can scale them,” Advani said.

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