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ENVIRONMENT: Climate change threatens food security, affects crop productivity

Sep 26, 2014, 11:33 AM | Article By: Abdourahman Sallah

The 2011 crop failure in The Gambia was mainly attributed to climate change, and this has greatly affected the livelihood of local people, particularly women farmers whose survival, school fees, health bills, feeding depends on it.

In Central River Region, in provincial Gambia, there are six hundred and sixty-nine villages and these communities are farming communities.

They were hard hit by the effects of climate change, through floods which affected the cropping season, thus warranting the government of The Gambia to declare “crop failure”, and call on the international community for support, according to media reports.

Climate change is one of the major challenges hampering agricultural development in Africa, especially in the West and The Gambia, in particular.

This change in long-term weather conditions is threatening food security and, according to reports, local people are hungry and more people will go hungry according to media reports.

Agriculture-based livelihood systems that are already vulnerable to food insecurity face immediate risk of increased crop failure, new patterns of pests and diseases, lack of appropriate seeds and planting material, and loss of livestock, according to reports.

It is essential to have a climate summit, because it is no secret that climate change is altering the temperature to a great degree, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and the changes in excessive heat, abnormal flooding and humidity needs urgent action to remedy or minimise the effects of climate change.

It is one thing to have the summit, but another thing is to act on the outcomes of the summit, and this is what the United Nations is trying to do; for instance, organizing a summit and engage governments to come up with achievable plans to curb climate change.

For example, in Central River Region over one thousand people were rendered homeless due to flooding, and most of them were temporally housed before the government and relief agencies could come to their aid.

The UN summit provides a unique platform for leaders to champion an ambitious vision, anchored in action that will enable meaningful global agreement in 2015.

The summit encourages and urges world leaders to commit themselves financially or otherwise to support implementation of the outcomes of the summit.

Climate change can be tackled but requires collective and concerted efforts with multi-dimensional approaches to address it.

The effects of climate change if not adequately addressed would continue to disrupt national economies, increase disaster-related problems causing low crop productivity, thus aggravating poverty.

The government of The Gambia in collaboration with relevant CSOs and NGOs is currently embarking on mangrove restoration, and has engaged farmers to go in for early maturing crops to avoid being hit by erratic rainfalls which causes low crop productivity.

However, communities are urged to adhere to the information provided by Ministry of Agriculture for the benefit of the local farmers.

CSOs and communities have the belief that there are solutions available to cleaner economies.

The world’s general body, the UN, is in the position to inform member states of the dangers of greenhouse emission on the various continents, and which have a negative impact on the flora and fauna and these issues need to be discussed at the national level.

So the governments have to be committed to put in place mechanisms and plans to ensure that the masses are educated on the effects, and ensure that people are adhering to the resolutions that emerge from the UN summit.

However, looking at the statistics, climate change is caused by the developed nations such as USA, UK, China among others, which are emitting a lot of carbon dioxide.

Poor and vulnerable Gambians greatly suffer from the effects of climate change, and this is something that the summit must address not only in principle, but in actions to ensure that developed and highly industrialized nations limit their carbon emissions.

Environmental crisis leads to a drop in production of food crops, but also in pastoral activities. Climate change makes such crises recurrent, thus becoming one of the biggest challenges for local farmers.

Evidence has shown that climate change is affecting food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food systems stability.

This has impacted negatively on the livelihood of the local farmers, mostly the poor and marginalised people.

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