Wednesday, 23 March 2016

CALLS FOR AN IMMEDIATE STOP TO DREDGING & SAND-FILLING THREATENING OTODO GBAME COMMUNITY & SURROUNDINGS




Today, the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation stands in solidarity with our members here in Otodo Gbamecommunity, an ancestral fishing village located off MTN Project Fame Road in Lekki Phase I, off Ikate roundabout. We celebrate Otodo Gbame, a community that has managed to preserve its social integrity and traditional way of life in the face of encroaching elite development of the Lagos “Mega City” on all sides. 

 

We are deeply concerned about the plight of our brothers and sisters in Otodo Gbame in the face of the massive dredging and sandfilling project ongoing in the neighboring Lagoon. This land reclamation project is being implemented by Destiny Dredgers International Ltd (DDI) and Hanson Dredging and Marine Services Ltd, but is spearheaded by none other than the now infamous developers of Lekki Gardens who are facing criminal prosecution for more than 34 deaths resulting from the tragic building collapse on 8 March 2016.

 

We want the world to know that the activities of the LekkiGardens developers are responsible for more suffering than even what we have seen in the most recent tragedy. Since August 2015 when the land reclamation project began, the people of Otodo Gbame community have watched helplessly as massive sandfilling has begun to fill their lagoon, destroying their akajafishing traps, cutting off their access to their traditional fishing grounds in the main Lagos Lagoon, and restricting the free flow of Lagoon water to and from the community, thereby increasing contamination in the community’s water supply. 

 

We join with the community in believing that these impacts on the community’s livelihoods and water sources may have weakened immune systems and enabled the recent measles epidemic that ravaged Otodo Gbame earlier this year. According to the community, over 70 children lost their lives during this epidemic. We join them in their grief and mourning.

 

The Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation is a movement of the urban poor for our dignity and development, made up of community savings groups in over 50 slums and informal settlements here in Lagos – and growing also in other Nigerian cities. In addition to community-led economic empowerment through our savings groups, we work with our member communities to undertake citywide slum profiling, mapping, and enumeration to identify and understand ourdevelopment challenges and opportunities. 

We are affiliated with and supported by Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), a global network of slumdwellers’ federations in 36 countries around the world. Last month, we joined the SDI delegation at the UN Habitat III Regional Meeting for Africa, held in Abuja, where we were pleased to see the importance of community-generated data was welcomed and included as a central point in the final Abuja Declarationadopted at the meeting

 

In response to the recent health crisis in Otodo Gbame and the health needs identified by our member communities in their profiling processes, we have reached out to build partnerships to support community-led solutions. This week, we are welcoming one such partner – the Access to Health Project from Northwestern University from Chicago, USA – to visit many of our communities in Lagos and help us respond to various health challenges including infectious disease, water and sanitation, maternal health, and fire safety.

 

We also welcome the recent announcement of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, in the aftermath of its response to the measles outbreak in Otodo Gbame, of its intention to map all the slums in Lagos to understand their health needs. As community-based experts on mapping, profiling and enumeration, utilizing global best practices developed by the SDI network, we at the Federation have already reached out the Ministry of Health to offer our partnership in their efforts. We are pleased that we have been invited to submit a full proposal and we are committed to following through to ensure a truly pro-poor and inclusive approach to health mapping and the generation of realistic community solutions.

 

Even as we build such partnerships to respond to the health needs of communities like Otodo Gbame and otherwise bring pro-poor inclusive development, we emphasize that our vision for the future of urban Nigeria can only be achieved if there is an end to forced evictions that destroy our communities and proliferate poverty and slums in our cities. 

 

Last year, in the aftermath of the forced eviction of our sisters in brothers in Ijora Badia communities in September 2015, we at the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation took a firm stand against forced evictions of our member communities and the urban poor in general. We appealed at that time for the Lagos State Government to form an inter-ministerial working group to partner with us to bring an end to forced evictions in the city. 

 

We hereby renew our appeal for the same and reaffirm that we will stand with our brothers and sisters in Otodo Gbame – and any other slums and informal settlements that face such threats –to respond to and face down any threat of forced eviction.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Global Civil Society: UN must reject banks funding dirty energy

UN climate fund must reject HSBC, Crédit Agricole

Both banks fund dirty energy, say civil society groups

An alliance of Asian people's movements joined over 170 civil society groups worldwide in calling for the main UN Green Climate Fund (GCF) to reject the partnership bids of HSBC and Crédit Agricole.

 

"If the Green Climate Fund is serious about helping developing countries cope with climate change, it must not partner with dirty energy funders like HSBC and Crédit Agricole," said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) and active observer for Southern civil society in the GCF board. "We urge the GCF Board, which is now holding its 12th meeting in Songdo, Korea, not to approve their application for accreditation as financial intermediaries."

 

Today, on the eve of the GCF board meeting in Songdo, APMDD and other groups released a statement detailing the two banks' well-documented involvement in recent money laundering and other scandals, their large exposure to coal and other polluting industries, and their anti-people and anti-environment policies.

 

The groups stated that HSBC and Crédit Agricole rank among the top 20 private sector banks financing coal. HSBC channeled almost €8 billion while Crédit Agricole gave around €7 billion to the coal sector between 2005 and April 2014, according to BankTrack data.

 

Both banks also financed non-fossil-fuel sectors with a large negative impact on climate, citing HSBC as a major financier of palm oil in Indonesia's.

 

"HSBC is bankrolling dirty and harmful energy as a major financier of Indonesia's palm oil sector. The logging and burning of rainforests and peatlands for palm oil has led to a lot of carbon emissions. It has also displaced entire communities and farmlands," said Jefri Saragih, executive director of Sawit [Palm Oil] Watch, an APMDD member organization based in Bogor, Indonesia.

 

The GCF was founded under the United Nations climate convention to redistribute money for climate adaptation and mitigation from developed to developing countries. Over $10 billion is currently pledged to the fund. If the GCF board approves the banks as their "accredited entities", they will be able to receive and disburse funds to support adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.

 

The groups also noted in their statement that the vast majority of GCF resources are expected to flow through international and developed-country entities, even though the funds are supposed to prioritize national banks and other institutions, particularly those in developing countries.

 

"The Green Climate Fund Board must reject HSBC and Crédit Agricole. Creating new business for big banks with large fossil fuel portfolios and poor records on human rights and financial scandal would undermine the very purpose of the Fund," said Karen Orenstein of Friends of the Earth U.S.

 

"To accredit HSBC and Crédit Agricole is to short-change the vulnerable communities and the countries that the Fund is meant to directly benefit. There is no profit to be made in building the resilience of those adversely impacted by climate change. Public funds must be used to support local communities in developing countries, not to subsidize big banks," saidSam Ogallah of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance.

 

"Accrediting HSBC and Crédit Agricole would be inconsistent with both the Paris Agreement, and with upholding high human rights standards. Any private sector partner of the GCF must have a credible strategy in place to make its entire portfolio and operations consistent with keeping global temperature rise to no more than 2 °C, let alone well below 1.5 °C," said Annaka Peterson of Oxfam.

 

"The accreditation of these banking giants would jeopardize the reputation of the Green Climate Fund and expose it to unnecessarily high fiduciary risk. HSBC and Crédit Agricole provided US$7 billion and US$9.5 billion, respectively, to the coal industry between 2009 and 2014, and their coal financing does not show a clear downward trend. Moreover, HSBC is deeply embroiled in massive financial scandal," said Yann Louvel of BankTrack.

 

A U.S. judge recently ordered the release of a report by an independent monitor overseeing the cleanup of HSBC's massive money laundering -- the report is said to be so damning that it would provide a "road map" for criminals seeking to launder money and finance terrorism.  

Saturday, 5 March 2016

YOUTHWASH, AMCOW, WATERAID LAUNCH NATIONAL YOUTH FORUM ON WATER AND SANITATION JOBS

As part of the agenda to commemorate World Water Day 2016, YouthWASH Initiative Africa in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Water Resources and support from African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) and WaterAid Nigeria announce to convene a Youth Forum and Concert on Water and Sanitation Jobs in Nigeria with theme: Exploring youth entrepreneurship development and job creation opportunities in the water and sanitation sector.

The forum which has been scheduled to commence on the 21st March 2016 at the Silverbird, Central Area, and Abuja from 9:00am to 5:00pm will be concluded with the Music4WASH concert, an open air event also at Silverbird Galleria space on 22nd March 2016 from 2pm to 7pm.

The 2016 World Water Day has as its theme: Water and JobsWorld Water Dayis an event held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

This forum will be the first platform of its kind in Nigeria to discuss problems facing youth participation in exploring water and jobs opportunity, showcasing opportunities for youth engagement in water and jobs and empowering youth towards developing social solutions for water sustainability, sanitation and hygiene targeting jobs creation and entrepreneurship development.

This year event promised to be an opportunity to also learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others and take action to make a difference by also providing job opportunities while resolving these recurrent water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) challenges confronting Nigeria as the giant of Africa said, Nature Obiakor, National Coordinator, YouthWASH Network Africa.

REGISTER HERE to be part of the National Youth Forum on Water and Sanitation Jobs 

My Land, My Life: West Africa Women Farmers Speak Out


      
      

Rural women across West Africa are taking a stand on the 8th of March and will stand up for their #LandRightsNow. In Niger, Mauritania, Ghana and Burkina, they will march and/or protest on March 8th, whereas they will take parts in different other activities in the  following day in Nigeria, Mali, Benin and Senegal, where the west African caravan of convergences on water and seeds will meet.

Beyond popular mobilization, the caravan will put together different kinds of activists, whether they fight for gender, transparency, justice and/or land access. Common messages will be put together within a green book that shall be delivered to Macky Sall, current ECOWAS chair.

In Nigeria specifically, an event around public mobilization and sensitization to garner support for women land rights and inheritance will held on the 10th of March. Also, there will be  an engagement with decision makers and other relevant stakeholders to build a strong base for support towards the actual climax of Land right campaign in Nigeria.

The event is another opportunity to stress on the crucial role of women to achieve sustainable development goals, and specifically for the GROW campaign focusing on the first two ones about poverty alleviation and Zero Hunger.

According to experts, women represent more than 60% of the agricultural labor in sub-Saharan Africa. They account for 60 to 80% of food production on the continent. They make up almost half of the agricultural labor force and are involved in 80 to 90% in food processing, storage and transportation as well as hoeing and weeding.

Despite this significant contribution, only 15% of women farmers own their farm, whereas women herders who manage almost alone milk production and play an increased role in small ruminants breeding and poultry farming , do not know at all or have very little knowledge on how to secured protection of breeding pasture.
While rural women are a powerful driver for agricultural development, their potential is still hampered by the disparities between men and women.

Oxfam believe that if women farmers had the same factors of production and opportunities as their male counterparts in the world, they would be able to increase their crop yields by 20 to 30% and help prevent millions of people from starving.

From the Sustainable Development Goals through ECOWAS down to the Malabo Declaration, we noticed that land has always been a challenge for rural women. Land is a right granted to women specifically by legal instruments in West Africa. And states have ratified the law. But in practice, the reality is quite different and sometimes dramatic, especially in terms of inclusive management or equitable access.

In West Africa, From Nigeria to Mauritania through Ghana, Togo, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso or Senegal, rural women still faces three major challenges: equity in access to land, safety of operating and investment by women and the protection and preservation of women's land rights.

     
    

Furthermore, women’s lack adequate and secure access to land. They are the first victims of land and related natural resources grabbing. All these and more together threaten the capacity of communities to meet the challenges of sustainable agricultural and food systems today and tomorrow.

“Women are not only limited to play major roles in cash crops, staple-food production, processing or marketing. As holders of local and traditional knowledge in farm seed conservation and natural resources management, they also play a critical role in the transmission of traditional knowledge to future generations. For all these reasons, women should be leaders in the transition to sustainable agricultural and food systems”, explains Constant Tchona, Head of Programmes of Oxfam in Nigeria.

There is need for more push for reform of the Land Use Act to make communities take ownership of their land while advocating against all cultural barrier to women’s rights to land and inheritance in Nigeria.

“Oxfam In Nigeria will continue to engage Nigerian Government and businesses to provide secure access to land for smallholder farmers and especially for women - who often do most of the work on the land, but face the biggest battle to call it their own”, said, Constant Tchona.

Just thinking aloud





I didn't intend to share this but I will not be fair to my conscience to allow this go just like that. For six years I toiled without pay but for passion. I came into journalism not by educational choice but as a solace from the injustice that abound in our society. I worked not knowing where journalism will lead me but sure of the power of the pen.

I heard about investigative journalism but just maintained my lane of reporting on environmental and community development till our past crossed. I ensured I did my homework, published and broadcast what I had. The wave came with its surges, the wind with its rage and them came the hurricane.

I expected to see what I was taught about investigative journalism come to play but what I got was worse than a leper condemned to the forest to rot. I became a touch not, a forbidden evil, a troublemaker and the worse! Thrown out like a child with the bathing bowl. Kicked out like the politicians whenever the Military were ready for a take over.

I weep for my country Nigeria! I weep for generation yet unborn! I weep for as many lone voice in the wilderness! I weep for those who are afraid to speak truth to power and conscience of those drunk with their ills! 

This is not the END but the morning of a NEW ERA! When justice shall prevail! When the weak will know they are strong in the face of their oppressors!

For those that kept quiet when they should have spoken! For those that shortchanged me to feel good among the CABALS. For those that accepted sweet porridge for generation yet unborn! May the God of the weak and poor reward you!!!

Six years meant nothing to you? Gone like the wind? But if that is how you want us to say Adieu. I allow you fulfill your desire.

My life has been a battle of success that has made me and defined my path. You don't know and may never understand!!

I am Augustina Armstrong-Ogbonna and remain STRONG till I bite the dust!!!!!

Let the innuendo translates itself!!! Aluta Continua!!! Viva! Viva!! Viva!!!

Friday, 4 March 2016

Climate Action Network sends open letter demanding justice for murdered activist




Climate Action Network (CAN), a community of over 1,000 NGOs in more than 110 countries fighting for action to tackle climate change, expresses sadness, regret and condemnation at the brutal murder of Berta Cáceres that took place in her home on Thursday 3 March.

As the world’s largest environmental community we urge the authorities to act swiftly and bring to justice those responsible for her murder.

The CAN community also expresses concern for the safety of Berta’s colleague Gustavo Castro Soto who was injured in the attack. As an important witness to this serious crime we demand that the Honduran authorities ensure his well-being, and that they conduct a transparent investigation without impunity.

Berta co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to fight for their rights. She led the peaceful opposition to the building of a dam that would have destroyed local communities’ farmland and limited access to drinking water. In 2015 she was awarded the Goldman Prize, the highest recognition for environmental activists.

Together we face the threat of climate change. As climate impacts increasingly hit home governments and citizens must work together. To do this effectively we must shun false solutions and uphold human rights - this is what Berta did, and she paid for it with her life.

CAN calls on all involved with regional dam projects to do everything in their power to stop the violence and intimidation against activists.

Ethiopian organizations, USAID, and CIMMYT partner for rapid help to drought-hit farmers

As government and external agencies marshal food relief for millions facing hunger from Ethiopia’s worst drought in decades, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) is leading a major, one-year push to provide drought-hit maize and wheat farmers in Ethiopia with urgently-needed seed to save their next harvest.

With a $3.97 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, CIMMYT is rapidly procuring emergency supplies of maize and wheat seed for free distribution to more than 226,000 households in 67 drought-affected counties of Ethiopia, benefitting more than 1.35 million people who have lost their seed from the lack of rains. 

Building on pre-existing efforts funded by USAID under the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative,Feed the Future, and involving CIMMYT to strengthen maize and wheat seed production and distribution systems in Ethiopia, the project will obtain seed from areas favored by recent good harvests. 

Needy farmers will receive enough seed to sow from ¼ to ½ hectare of land - a quarter or more of the typical farmer’s landholding - along with instructional materials about the varieties and best farming practices. 

For maize, the project will distribute seed of high-yielding, broadly adapted, drought tolerant varieties developed by CIMMYT and partners in Ethiopia as part of another, long-running initiative whose seed production and marketing efforts are being massively scaled up with USAID support. 

The wheat seed for distribution is of high-yielding varieties able to resist Ethiopia’s rapidly-evolving wheat disease strains. According to Bekele Abeyo, CIMMYT wheat breeder/pathologist for Sub-Saharan Africa, who is coordinating the seed relief initiative, procurement will benefit from recently-begun CIMMYT-led work, also with USAID support, to multiply and spread improved wheat seed. 

“While addressing the pressing need to have seed before the spring rains, when many families sow, the work also promotes more widespread awareness and use of the latest improved varieties and farming practices,” said Abeyo, who added that all the varieties had been developed using conventional breeding and that most of the seed was being sourced from Ethiopian farmers and seed enterprises. 

Wheat and maize to meet rising challenges and demand

Maize and wheat are strategic food crops in Ethiopia, grown on more than 3 million hectares by nearly 14 million households. 

High-yielding, resilient wheat varieties from CIMMYT and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), along with supportive government policies and better cropping practices, have caused Ethiopia’s wheat production to more than double in just over a decade, rising from 1.6 million tons during 2003-04 to around 3.9 million tons over the last few years. “Food security has measurably improved in households that have taken up the improved wheat technologies,” according to Abeyo, who also cited rust resistance research led by Cornell University and involving CIMMYT, as instrumental in developing and spreading disease-resistant improved varieties in Ethiopia and in supporting the creation of a global wheat disease monitoring and rapid-response system.

Maize was originally a subsistence staple in Ethiopia, but government policies and research investments have propelled it to become the nation’s second most-widely cultivated crop and the most important source of calories in rural areas. Average national yield has doubled since the 1990s to surpass 3 tons per hectare, the second-highest level of productivity among nations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Having worked in Ethiopia since the 1970s, CIMMYT has contributed many improved varieties, including maize with enhanced protein quality that can increase height and weight growth rates in infants and young children. Seed of this maize will also be distributed through the relief initiative. 

Seeding a food-secure future

“The partnership with USAID for future food security, livelihoods, and nutrition in Ethiopia perfectly fits CIMMYT’s mission and the aims of long and valued collaborations in the country,” said Martin Kropff, CIMMYT director general. “With partners’ help, we will monitor the uptake, use, and impact of the maize and wheat seed distributed through the initiative.”

"Through years of USAID support and most recently through the U.S. government's Feed the Future initiative, we've worked hand-in-hand with the government of Ethiopia and partners like CIMMYT to build the country's capacity for lasting food security and resilience to recurring drought," said Beth Dunford, Assistant to the Administrator for USAID's Bureau for Food Security and Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future. "As the current crisis outstrips Ethiopia's ability to cope on its own, USAID is committed to helping the country meet immediate needs as well as protect hard-won development gains and speed recovery through efforts like this emergency seed support."

High profile Honduran activist Berta Cáceres murdered

Berta Cáceres, 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize winner, was murdered last night in her home. Reportedly, her assassins waited until well after dark before breaking into the house where she slept.

Our condolences to her family, friends and all who worked alongside her.

“This is a sad day for Honduras and the world,” said Jagoda Munic, chair of Friends of the Earth International.
“Given the situation in Honduras, in which indigenous, environmental and human rights activists like Berta Cáceres are targeted by government and corporate security forces alike, international pressure is needed to bring the murderers to justice and protect those brave enough to speak out on behalf of their fellow citizens and the environment.”

Her legacy

Berta Cáceres rallied her fellow indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.

Since the 2009 coup, Honduras has witnessed an explosive growth in environmentally destructive megaprojects that would displace indigenous communities. Almost 30 percent of the country’s land was earmarked for mining concessions, creating a demand for cheap energy to power future mining operations. To meet this need, the government approved hundreds of dam projects around the country, privatizing rivers, land, and uprooting communities.

Among them was the Agua Zarca Dam, a joint project of Honduran company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) and Chinese state-owned Sinohydro, the world’s largest dam developer. Agua Zarca, slated for construction on the sacred Gualcarque River, was pushed through without consulting the indigenous Lenca people—a violation of international treaties governing indigenous peoples’ rights. The dam would cut off the supply of water, food and medicine for hundreds of Lenca people and violate their right to sustainably manage and live off their land.
-- Goldman Environmental Prize website

It’s not yet known who is behind Cáceres assassination, but as a indigenous, environmental and human rights activist she knew well the risks she faced. In 1993, she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats posed to indigenous communities by illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods.

The work of COPINH is still sorely needed. Honduras has been called, “the deadliest place for environmental activists”, and is a country where corruption is a major problem. Twelve activists were killed last year alone for their efforts to defend land and the environment, according to a report by UK-based NGO Global Witness - more per capita than any other country (a record Honduras has held for the last 5 years).

At Friends of the Earth International, we have for a long time admired the work of Cáceres and COPINH, and at times worked together. In 2013, Friends of the Earth supporters joined voices around the world in support of Cáceres when she and other activists were facing prison sentences.

 

In her own words

When accepting the Goldman Environmental prize:

 

On threats to her own life:

"The army has an assassination list of 18 wanted human rights fighters with my name at the top. I want to live, there are many things I still want to do in this world but I have never once considered giving-up fighting for our territory, for a life with dignity, because our fight is legitimate. I take lots of care but in the end, in this country where there is total impunity I am vulnerable… when they want to kill me, they will do it."
-- Berta Cáceres, 24 December 2013

Last year, Cáceres was interviewed about the death of a fellow activist, Tomás Garcia - who was shot at close range during a peaceful protest at the site of the same Agua Zarca hydro-electric dam. This is how she ended that interview:

“We truly believe in solidarity and in hope despite how hurtful this process is. And we can only think of how our brother, Tomas, is no longer with us, of how much he is missed, not just by his family-- his sons and daughters, but by COPINH as well. And despite everything that’s happened, we still have hope in our people’s struggle.”
-- Berta Cáceres, 9 December 2015

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Southern Africa: urgent measures needed to address El Niño impact


SADC regional bloc agrees on short and medium/long term actions

Farmer bringing feed for livestock at a feedlot in Beitbridge, Zimbabwe. Photo © FAO/ Believe Nyakudjara

Countries in the Southern African Development Community need to urgently implement a set of agreed-upon measures to mitigate the effects of El Nino. A strong El Niño has seen the 2015-2016 rainfall season being one of the driest in over 35 years in Southern Africa and has far reaching effects on main sectors including agriculture, fisheries, forestry, water, health, education and sanitation.

Crop and livestock production are already projected to decline sharply, triggering shortages and price hikes, and threatening people’s livelihood. This could mean a reversal in recent gains made in reducing malnutrition and also leave an increased number of people vulnerable to food insecurity, particularly women, children and HIV-affected people.

Speaking after a meeting convened by SADC, in partnership with FAO and the World Food Programme, David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for southern Africa said the region faced a predicament, which called for swift and coordinated action.

“In a region where 70 percent of the population depend on agriculture, the consequences are dire. Such a sharp decline in production is likely to result in increased malnutrition and hunger,” he said. “This comes against a backdrop of declining economies and the fall of most currencies in the region against the US Dollar, making this situation so severe that it can indeed be described as ‘El Niño plus’” Phiri added.

Southern Africa faces second successive drought season

The current crisis comes hot on the heels of a poor 2014-2015 season, which drought decimated crop yields in almost all the countries in the region – the total for 2014 was 43 million tonnes compared to 33 million tonnes for last year.

SADC meeting participants acknowledged that climatic extremes would continue to recur and hence there was a need for the region to develop and implement both short, and medium/long-term measures in a coordinated manner.

FAO is already responding to the needs of communities. The focus of the agency’s immediate interventions includes supporting male and female farmers by providing drought-tolerant crops, seeds and livestock feed and carrying out vaccinations.

FAO is also supporting longer-term resilience-building approaches among vulnerable groups, including the rehabilitation of irrigation systems, improving farmers' access to rural finance, and promoting wider use of climate-smart agricultural technologies. Several countries have already produced national plans that address the impact of El Niño on agriculture.

“The main challenge we are facing is that because the onset of drought is a slow process, funding to address the crisis remains inadequate. We are confident that this meeting has served to convey the urgency for action,” Phiri said.

Some 165 delegates from the agriculture, environment, food and nutrition, disaster management, climate change, water, health, planning and finance sectors from the 15 SADC member states participated in the 2-day meeting, which ended on 26 February 2015. Other participants included representatives from the humanitarian, development and donor communities.