By Mary Hearty
Though Africa is the least contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, the continent needs to upgrade its climate change mitigation and adaptation measures to circumvent its severe effects.
Prof Shem Wandiga, a retired Professor of chemistry and former acting Director Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation (ICCA) made these remarks during a media briefing held by Africa Science Media Centre (AfriSMC).
The expert in climate change and adaptation emphasized on prioritization of adaptation processes that could ensure sustainable water resources, agriculture, and land management during this era of climate change.
According to Prof Wandiga, water has become one of the most precious tradable commodity trading at about 62%. Therefore, Africa should adapt practices such as roof top water harvesting and finding good sources of water which is of high quality.
He also mentioned building of sand dams for water filtration and ground water recharge, saying: “This is an innovative means of preventing salty water from intruding into fresh water reservoirs especially at the coastal region.”
On conservation of forests and rivers, Prof Wandiga stated that rain comes from the forests, thus Africans must ensure good forest cover to preserve the rivers.
He advocated for natural practices that could restore degraded land which include cattle bunching and healing of severe gullies through managed grazing and trampling among others.
In order to ensure sustainable agriculture, Prof. Wandiga suggested the use of quality seeds, proper manure management, intensive bio-farming, harvesting under conservation agriculture and revitalizing land.
“Trees are our survival kits and planting of trees should be a responsibility of each person. We have to ensure that the type of trees that we plant is the correct one,” he stated.
On the use of quality seeds, the retired Professor advised that we have to ensure that we have quality seeds for our food production. “The quality seeds that we used to produce were not manufactured. We used to produce these seed ourselves. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible,” he said.
“The type of seed that we produce is very important in the type of climate that we have. We need to have seeds that produce more yields with the amount of rainfall that we have. For instance, if you have seeds that last for 6 months before producing food, that is a wrong seed since rain cannot last that long.”
Also, he advocated for proper manure management calling for use of available resources such as animal fertilizers in rural areas which could lead to increase in production of yields.
Looking at the benefits of conservation agriculture, Prof. Wandiga said, “This farming system promotes maintenance of a permanent soil cover, minimum soil disturbance and diversification of plant species.”
“Additionally, it helps in controlling pests. And for this reason, we need to practice this farming system since it is climate smart agriculture. It enhances biodiversity and natural biological processes above and below the ground, which contributes to increased water and nutrient use efficiency and to improved and sustained crop.”
Moreover, he advised that sustainable land management could be achieved through planting trees and crops, and harvesting in ways that produce natural nitrogen fertilizers in the soil and benefits the longevity of the land. “You do not deplete the soil cover or soil nutrients to maximize the productivity of the soil,” Prof. Wandiga noted.