CHRIS KAKUNTA, Lusaka
THE New Partnership for Africaâ€™s Development (NEPAD) needs about US$83 million to support a five-year Gender, Climate Change Agriculture Support Programme (GCCASP) which will look into special interests of women and youths in mitigating and coping with changes in climate.
The GCCASP, which will be implemented in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger and Rwanda is a project within the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and NEPAD gender programmes aimed at effectively delivering on its intended results, and the need to take into consideration the cross-cutting issues of gender and climate change.
According to Edna Kalima, programme officer under GCCASP, the project has been initiated to counter the gender imbalances which vulnerable groups like women and youths face despite the critical role they play in the agricultural sector.
Ms. Kalima said this during her presentation to the two-day GCCASP meeting held in Lusaka recently.
She said the funds will be sourced from multinational donors and managed by NEPAD at a continental level, through the trust pool fund which NEPAD will establish. At national level, resource mobilisation activities are also being conducted for the implementation of the programme.
Ms Kalima underscored the need for the countries involved to continue engaging development partners on resource mobilisation.
She said the programme is deliberately targeting women because they produce between 60 and 80 percent of food in most developing countries. Women are also responsible for half of the worldâ€™s total food production but are disproportionately affected by the threats posed by climate change and climate unpredictability.
In recognition of this role and the threats faced by vulnerable farming groups, the GCCASP was developed by NEPAD with support from the Royal Norwegian Development Agency (NORAD) to support efforts of women smallholder farmers and their institutions.
The support to institutions such as women groups and farmersâ€™ organisations is aimed at increasing their productivity, improve on the quality of their commodities and gain a voice in decision making around all aspects of the agriculture value chain, from production to marketing.
In participating countries, women-specific technical support initiatives will be made available to support women farmers and their organisations.
The support will also go towards closing up institutional gaps, capacity building of women smallholder farmers, creation and strengthening of women platforms and investments in upscaling successful and innovative practices.
The Norwegian government, which has been instrumental in funding climate change related programmes in many African countries including Zambia, noted that the demand for food will increase by as much as 50 percent by 2030 compared to the current needs.
According to Kari Thorsen, from the Norwegian Embassy who was representing NORAD at the GCCASP meeting in Lusaka, indicated that the increased critical challenge of food security and climate change will affect women more than anyone else.
Ms. Thorsen said the GCCASP responds well to Sustainable Development Goals, such as goal one which talks about combating climate change and its impact as well as goal number two which strives to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
Under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) being implemented in Zambia by the Ministry of Agriculture, there are gender disparities that have been identified by government in terms of input distribution.
Ministry of Gender and Child Development permanent secretary Daisy Ngâ€™aÂ Â Â Â mbi, who was represented at the meeting by director of planning and information Victor Mbumwai, said FISP has not fully met the national and regional benchmarks on gender despite statistical data proving that women small scale farmers account for about 60 percent of the food produced and consumed at household level.
Speaking when she officially opened the GCCASP meeting, Ms. Ngâ€™ambi said although there has been an increasing resource commitment to FISP, access to farm inputs is still dominated by male-headed households.
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya said the severity of the effects of climate change and variability continue to negatively affect the performance of critical economic sectors of Africa.
Climate change is undermining Africaâ€™s economic and sustainable development efforts, but most importantly, its impacts will be felt by the poor and vulnerable who do not have climate risk management gender Programmes of strategies.
Mr. Ngwenya, who was represented by Mekia Mohammed Redi, said several studies show that agriculture, energy and forestry sectors on which majority of Africaâ€™s population depend for their livelihoods have been negatively impacted upon by climate change.
For example, he said, severe droughts, high temperatures and flooding have reduced yields of staple food crops, diminished livestock productivity and have led to loss of arable land due to deforestation and forest degradation.
â€œClimate change alone is estimated to increase the number of undernourished people [in Africa] to between 40 million and 170 million, although impacts may be mitigated by socio-economic development,â€ Mr Ngwenya said.
He said climate change will also affect progress towards several development goals including poverty reduction, sanitisation, environmental sustainability and access to water.
â€œClimate change is again expected to particularly affect resource-poor households that are unable to invest in or take advantage of alternative income sources or new agricultural strategies, and less able to recover following droughts, floods, diseases or other shocks.
â€œResource-poor households and communities in marginal areas that dependent on rain-fed agriculture will be particularly affected by the effects of climate change and variability,â€ Mr Ngwenya said.
Although Zambia is not among the countries participating in GCCASP, it is imperative to note that some of the programmes being implemented in the countryâ€™s agricultural sector already have a gender perspective.
Therefore, by hosting the GCCASP meeting, Zambia can take advantage of its existing development plans to engage with NEPAD and be among the first nations to be considered when up-scaling the programme to other countries begins.
In relation to the purpose of the GCCASP Lusaka meeting, it is imperative that various programmes are gender responsive, especially in critical sectors such as agriculture and environment.
Stakeholders should strive towards strengthening the capacity of different segments of society in participating countries to derive more benefits from engaging in climate-smart agricultural practices and improve their capacity to cope with climate change and variability.
It is only through such concerted efforts at national and regional levels that the desired results aimed at promoting the recognition of specific vulnerabilities of men, women and other marginalised groups to climate change impacts could be minimised.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â NAIS
CHRIS KAKUNTA, Lusaka