Strategies for adapting to climate change in rural Sub-Saharan Africa
The ten ASARECA member countries (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda) have adopted, or are planning to adopt, a range of climate change adaptation strategies in agriculture (see Table 1 for a summary). Of the 26 strategies mentioned, only two are common to all 10 countries, while five more are common to five or more. The strategies common to all member countries include the development and promotion of drought-tolerant and early-maturing crop species and exploitation of new and renewable energy sources. Most countries have areas that are classifiable as arid or semiarid, hence the need to develop drought-tolerant and early-maturing crops. Strangely, only one country recognizes the conservation of genetic resources as an important strategy although this is also potentially important for dealing with drought. Biomass energy resources account for more than 70 percent of total energy consumption in ASARECA member countries. To mitigate the potential adverse effects of biomass energy depletion, ASARECA countries plan to harness new and renewable energy sources, including solar power, wind power, hydro and geothermal sources, and biofuels. Eight of the 10 countries cite the promotion of rainwater harvesting as an important adaptation strategy, either small scale with small check dams or large scale with large dam projects. The five measures that are common to more than five countries are (a) the conservation and restoration of vegetative cover in degraded and mountain areas; (b) reduction of overall livestock numbers through sale or slaughter; (c) cross-breeding, zero-grazing, and acquisition of smaller livestock (for example, sheep or goats); (d) adoption of traditional methods of natural forest conservation and food use; and (e) community-based management programs for forests, rangelands, and national parks. The promotion of environmentally friendly investments and Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects that can be funded through carbon trading is a feature of only one country. Three examples of strategies that warrant greater region wide collaboration are the conservation of genetic materials, development and promotion of drought-tolerant species, and soil conservation. To date, the national adaptation policies of only three countries have indicated that they carry out these strategies.
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