Nairobi -- Around 120 representatives from 60 Africa regional adaptation knowledge platforms and other organizations have boosted climate change adaptation efforts in Africa, one of the world's most vulnerable continents to shifting climactic conditions, by endorsing the Africa Adaptation Knowledge Network (AAKNet) as a key tool for creating a coordinated approach.
Africa is particularly susceptible to climate change for a variety of reasons: its reliance on rain-fed agriculture, limited supply of freshwater, widespread poverty and disease, weak institutions, variable access to information and technology, complex disasters and conflicts, and inadequate access to basic services.
Severe droughts in the Sahel in 2012 and the Horn of Africa in 2011 brought into sharp focus the serious impacts of climate change, highlighting that there has never been a more urgent need for stronger adaptation as a priority in providing sustainable solutions to reduce the vulnerability of a great majority of Africa's one billion citizens.
Despite the challenges, there are many examples of adaptation measures that are improving lives across the continent, such as a Global Environment Facility-funded project to restore mangroves in Djibouti that enhanced local income as it tackles coastal erosion.
Another example is in Togo's northern Savane Region, where rainfall is about 500mm per annum. The shortage of water outside the short rainy season triggers many social and economic problems, such as the long distance trekked by women and girls to fetch water, impacting school attendance and educational achievement. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the Togo's Ministry of Water Resources supported the rehabilitation of two small dams for harvesting rainwater. This improved year-round water supply to local communities, expanding rural livelihood opportunities and triggering emerging entrepreneurs in market gardening, brick construction and fisheries.
At a meeting at the headquarters of UNEP in Nairobi, delegates adopted a declaration endorsing AAKNet, part of the UNEP-facilitated Global Adaptation Network, as the continental network responsible for spreading such practices through:
- Coordinating, facilitating, harnessing and strengthening the exchange of information and knowledge;
- Building new alliances to enhance collaboration and innovation;
- Harmonizing and aggregating knowledge in useable packages tailored for addressing particular climate risks;
- Fostering and supporting strategic planning and policy processes;
- Building capacity to provide short, midterm and long-term solutions to climate change.
The meeting came just a few months after the Eighteenth Conference of Parties (COP18) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change injected energy and momentum into the advancement of the adaptation agenda.
AAKNet was established in April 2012, when it brought together over 120 representatives from 20 African nations, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies to create a pool of knowledge that can be used to increase concrete adaptation measures across the continent. It serves as a hub for knowledge, research and collaborative partnerships on climate change adaptation, and the official endorsement is set to significantly ramp up the network's efforts and reach.
The network aims to support planning and implementation of climate change adaptation through sharing valuable knowledge and experiences with governments, regional authorities, and communities facing similar climate challenges, along the way overcoming such obstacles as fragmentation, lack of alignment of practices, insufficient understanding of end users and overlap.
For more information, please visit the AAKNet website or contact: