African Union-Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) in collaboration with African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) through the EU-funded phase two of the Fisheries Governance Project (Fish Gov 2) and SIDA-funded Conserving Aquatic Biodiversity Project organised a 2nd meeting of a platform of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and training workshop on negotiation skills.
There has been an acknowledged need for capacity building of African Union Member States as an accepted development theory in decision-making and participation in International Ocean negotiations. AU-IBAR and AUDA-NEPAD jointly organised the second meeting of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Platform and training in negotiating skills in Seychelles from 15 to 17 February, 2023 in response to the need for improved negotiating skills and participant recommendations from the last SIDS meeting held in August, 2022.
The absence of active engagement in International Ocean negotiations by African Nations is indicative of the skills gap in negotiation. Some Countries have failed to approve or execute International Instruments. The capacity of Governments to implement important International Agreements and Africa's voice must be reinforced. The consolidation of collaboration and coordination mechanisms, effective participation, and articulation of a unified African voice in Global fora such as climate change and Ocean governance require improvement.
AU-IBAR (the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources) is currently implementing the second phase of the Fisheries Governance Project (FishGov2) which aims to enhance the contribution of its member states towards sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in order to achieve its objectives set out in the AU Agenda 2063. The projects are funded by the European Union (EU) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) respectively.
Some of the specific objectives of the project is to ensure that Africa represented and effectively participates in international fisheries and aquaculture fora.
In order to achieve that, AU Member States, including SIDS (Small Island Developing States), must have the capacity to negotiate on international level and there needs to be a mechanism in place to coordinate African common positions with several activities including:
· The identification of specific needs of African SIDS and Madagascar and that these are into account in international fora and
· The enhancement of capacities on international issues and organization of specific training for pre-identified negotiators.
Hence, the AU-IBAR is organizing the 2nd Meeting of the African SIDS Platform and Workshop from the 15th February 2023 to the 17th February 2023 in Seychelles.
Additionally, the workshop seeks to consolidate the outcomes and recommendations of the first meeting that happened in August 2022 and to chart the way forward for strategic positions to ensure increased contribution to food and nutritional security, poverty alleviation and economic growth consistent with the Malabo Declaration that called for action on transformation of African agriculture by 2025.
Other specific objectives of the workshop includes:
In the above regards the FishGov2 and Biodiversity Projects with funding from EU and SIDA will co-organize the meeting in Seychelles with the following key objectives to:
· Consolidate the outcomes and recommendations of the first meeting of the AU-SIDS Platform and chart the way forward for strategic positions;
· Enhance the capacities of AU-SIDS and other pre-identified negotiators - in terms of international negotiations;
· Formulate a mechanism to coordinate African common positions and enhanced African voice at Global Fora for fisheries, aquaculture, aquatic biodiversity, environmental sustainability and climate change related regimes;
· Enrich and validate the final report of the consultancy on Identification of specific issues relevant to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and draft strategic positions and recommendations for the establishment/strengthening a platform of Small Island Developing States (SIDS);
· Enhance awareness and build capacity among stakeholders on the importance of the various regimes, relevant provisions, challenges and mechanisms for effective role and participation in global regimes;
Estimated 35 invited participants to the Workshop would comprise of delegates representing Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros, Cape Verde, and Sao Tome & Principe including Madagascar; Southern African Development Community (SADC); Regional Projects in Fisheries, Aquaculture and Blue Economy; Regional Sea Conventions (RSAs); African Union Centres of Excellence in Fisheries and Aquaculture (AU-COEs); Experts (Trainees and Trainers); AU-IBAR Consultants; Development Partners and relevant staff from the AU-IBAR.
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World Meteorological Organization is warning that Africa is extremely vulnerable to climate change.
By Judith Akolo
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has warned that Climate change continues to strike Africa with extreme weather events. The WMO Secretary-General, Professor Petteri Taalas in a statement says the devastating drought in the greater horn of Africa, including parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia is manifestation of the impacts of climate change.
“More than 13 million people are facing severe food insecurity in the horn of Africa and the health of 6 million children from these countries is affected by malnutrition,” said Prof. Taalas who spoke during the conference of heads of National Meteorological and Hydrological (NMHSs) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, says the failure of five rainfall seasons has had devastating effects of crops and this could impact the harvests.
Prof. Taalas told the meeting attended by Heads of National and Meteorological and hydrological Services, regional and global experts in weather, climate and water services with decision-makers in Africa that more than 3 million livestock supporting the livelihoods of pastoral communities have died in the Region.
He told the meeting that is discussing the need for enhancing digital transformation of the Hydro-Meteorological Services in the Region that digital transformation of the NMHSs “will make accessing severe weather warnings and alerts easy,” he said and added that, “Technology transformation will strengthen and modernize NMHSs to perform their public weather functions for the safety of lives and property.”
The Secretary-General noted that the digital transformation of the Meteorological services in Africa will help fasten data transmission speed “and increase the ability to create products and services for realtime, exchange of information, critical for forecasting and warnings of hydro-Meteorological hazards, so as to warn the public and enhance safety.”
In his remarks, the Ethiopian State Minister for Water and Energy, Dr Abraha Adugna, noted that the frequency and intensity of hazards on the continent is significant adding that the impacts are having pressure in socioeconomic sectors.
Dr. Adugna said that the Ethiopia government in partnership with the Ethiopian Meteorological Institute (EMI) has established a modernized network for collecting meteorological data for early warning services in a bid to improve lives and livelihood.
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Drought situation worsening as livestock mortality continues
By Judith Akolo
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) is warning that the drought situation is worsening in the pastoral regions of the country. According to FEWSNET, water sources are drying up in the pastoral areas of Kenya following the end of the fifth consecutive rainy season.
In its February report, the Network indicates that the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) sentinel sites reports that, “livestock body conditions are getting from largely poor to very poor, with livestock deaths due to the drought continuing to be reported.”
The report indicates that people are traveling on average, three to 17 kilometers to access water, while livestock trek 10 to 33 kilometers due to limited water access. “Livestock milk production, a key source of food and income, remains well below normal, with livestock producing from zero to 0.9 liters per household per day,” says the report on the ongoing drought situation in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) in the country, and adds, “Overall, the ongoing drought continues to severely hinder household access to food and income, resulting in widespread Crisis.”
According to the report, the marginal agricultural areas of Kitui and Meru counties and in parts of Kilifi and Kwale counties, there are reports of crop failure following the below-average October to December short rains.
“Across the marginal agricultural areas, the maize crop is unlikely to reach maturity following the cessation of rainfall in late December and inadequate soil moisture to support growth,” the FEWSNET report warns.
A below-average harvest of green grams, cowpeas, and beans is also underway in most areas, compounded by the early consumption of green produce, especially beans which means that there could be nothing to harvest, “overall, households remain atypically reliant on market food purchases due to a lack of stocks from the below-average March to May 2022 season.”
The danger is that households are now relying on off-own farm activities such as selling charcoal, firewood, and petty trade to earn income, which could further undermine the quest to plant 15 billion trees by the end of 10 years, this as food prices remain high even as household earnings remain limited.
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Biennial Review reports enhancing agriculture transformation and development in Africa
By Judith Akolo
The African Union Commission (AUC) developed a roadmap for the fourth Biennial Review cycle.
The Director of Agriculture and Rural Development at the AUC Dr. Godfrey Bahiigwa says for the continent to realize the envisaged growth in the agriculture sector there is need to critically analyse the previous three Biennial Review cycles.
Speaking when he opened a four-day Training of Trainers meeting on the revised Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), Biennial Review reporting tools at a Nairobi hotel, Dr. Bahiigwa said that a re-examination of the “difficulties and issues encountered in the coordination of the Biennial Review process, data collection and quality, a review of the new indicators to be added, updating of the Biennial Review reporting tools and the e-BR,” was important as it has now enabled the directorate have a clear direction on how the Biennial Review cycles can be enhanced in order to realise the envisioned goals.
He noted that the Biennial Review Report is a fundamental instrument that shows outcomes of different agricultural efforts and interventions on the continent. “It enables countries to track, measure and report progress achieved against agreed result areas,” said Dr. Bahiigwa.
The Director said that the critical analysis that was conducted was aimed at addressing the challenges “and thereby improve the next BR cycle,” he said and added that, “Before the commencement of the critical analysis, we made sure that the process was inclusive and owned by all our stakeholders.”
Dr. Bahiigwa noted that the addition of ninth technical working group on communication and advocacy on the Biennial Review process will help to enhance an understanding and knowledge on the process itself and how it can be of benefit to the member states.
“The BR process is a learning process and obtaining quality data has remained a top priority,” he said and called for an improvement in communication and advocacy of the overall Biennial Review process. “During this training, assigned experts will provide sessions not only on indicator profiles but also on data quality and on communication and advocacy, to better inform,” he said.
He told the meeting of Trainer of Trainers drawn from all the regional economic communities on the continent that they will be expected to support the BR process in their Regions and also provide training to member states in order to enable them to carry out the fourth Biennial Review exercise.
Among the areas being addressed in the CAADP Biennial Review and which arise from the Malabo Declaration on Agriculture Transformation include; Halving poverty through agriculture by 2025; Ending Hunger by 2025; Enhancing Investment Finance in Agriculture; Boosting Intra-Africa Trade in Agriculture Commodities and Services; Enhancing Resilience to Climate Variability; Enhancing Mutual Accountability for Actions and Results and Recommitment to the Principles and Values of the CAADP Process.
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Low fertility, over exploitation threatens survival of the donkey
By Judith Akolo
Low fertility rates, minimal attention and management by farmers as well as the recent commercial slaughter of donkeys for export of skin and meat threatens to drive the donkey into extinction.
In his presentation to the 2022 Pan African Donkey conference held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Tixon Nzunda, said that in Africa, “the donkey as a draught animal, has uses including transportation of goods, farm inputs and outputs, water, firewood and it is also a means of transport in some societies,” he said adding that, “this is so because the donkey is capable of passing through bad terrain where motorised transport like vehicles and motorcycles may not be able to access.”
The Permanent Secretary however noted that despite the importance of the draught animal, the donkey is among the disregarded animals in the livestock sector and today some farmers are hoodwinked into selling at US$ 132 which is equivalent to Tshs 300,000.
Nzunda explained that the reason the Tanzanian government has banned trade in donkeys and their products is because, in 2014 the government issued permits to two companies to start commercial abattoirs for donkeys with conditions that, “they would establish breeding farms, contract donkey farmers, donkey ranches and slaughter of restricted number of donkeys per day while strictly abiding to animal welfare issues,” he said adding that, “Unfortunately, all these conditions were not fulfilled and in 2022, the Government banned of the live donkey trade, donkey slaughter and trade of donkey skin and meat.”
He said that among the challenges facing the productive capacity and impede the harnessing of the full potential of the donkey as draught animal is the inadequate knowledge and skills of farmers on the use of donkeys, poor animal husbandry practices, poor genetic potential and minimal investment in supporting the donkey production.
“Most donkeys in Africa suffer from inbreeding, poor nutrition, inadequate health and veterinary services,” he said adding that donkeys are not given attention they need by the society.
During the ban, the Tanzanian government has put in place measures to help promote production as well as regulate donkeys within the livestock sector by reviewing the Livestock Policy of 2006 to include policy statements that promote donkey production, improve breeding and increase extension services on draught animals; Tanzania is also legislating on the donkey production, trade, slaughter, welfare and general uses of draught animals in the country; “The Ministry is developing guidelines management, breeding, trade, welfare and general production of donkeys.”
Among the key measures is the move by the Ministry of Livestock to initiate donkey identification and registration exercise through use of electronic ear tags, “so as to be able to map the distribution of donkeys in the country,” said Nzunda.
He further explained that the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries has formulated the five years (2022/23 to 2026/27) Livestock Sector Transformation Plan (LSTP) 2022 which sets out livestock-sector investment areas. Under the plan, the Tanzania government is setting up productive high-quality livestock breeds; water, pasture and animal feeds; animal health; extension; livestock research and training services; value addition of livestock products; and national ranching company done through the public, private sector partnerships.
He appealed to investors to take advantage of the provision in the LSTP and invest in the livestock sector “including donkey production considering the potential for a market for donkeys and donkey products like skin and meat.
The Permanent Secretary appealed to the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU –IBAR), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) the Animal Welfare and Animal Rights Societies to cooperate and promote donkey production. He urged researchers to carry out more research on the donkey so as to come up with ways improving the donkey fertility in order to increase their numbers.
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Tanzania bans trade in donkey and donkey products
By Judith Akolo
The Tanzanian government has banned trade in donkeys and donkey products in a bid to save the beast of service from imminent extinction.
Tanzania Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa Majaliwa says a strategy for ensuring the protection and conservation of the donkey is being established as the ban on the slaughter of donkeys is enforced.
In a speech read for him by the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Mashimba Ndaki during the 2022 Pan African Donkey Conference Majaliwa said that the donkey is very important to the rural economy of Tanzania hence the government will ensure its protection and preservation.
At meeting held at Kisengan International Conference Center in Dar-es-Salam, Tanzania, the Tanzania Prime Minister called on regional countries to also ban donkey trade in their jurisdictions so as not to create a route through which the trade could continue leading to the extinction of the donkey.
Experts in animal welfare are warning that the multi-billion dollar Ejiao industry that uses donkey skin which is boiled to produce the gelatine used in the production of Ejiao could wipe out the whole donkey population in Africa. It is estimated that the Ejiao industry currently requires approximately 4.8 million donkey skins annually which could wipe out the African total donkey population of 48 million in 10 years.
The Prime Minister further noted that the benefits from the donkey in supporting the rural economy are too great to be left to “those that are over-exploiting the donkey resource,” said Majaliwa adding that already Tanzania has taken measures aimed at protecting the donkey and conserving the beast of service.
He said that while the ban is enforced, among the measures being undertaken are; putting in place a strategy to create public awareness on the donkey as part of the main contributor to the rural economy; putting in place a budget to specifically deal with the production of donkeys; to establish breeding areas for donkey multiplication.
The Tanzania government is also undertaking a census of its livestock to ascertain the exact numbers, which the Prime Minister said is in a bid to ensure they plan well for the sustainable utilization of its resources as well as planning and to put in place measures in promotion of the donkey.
Donkeys are mostly used for transportation of goods to rural markets in Africa, used in fetching water for households as they are well suited to move through rough terrain and they are also hardy animals that can survive harsh environments that are seen in Africa.
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AUC wants the donkey protected for sustainable agriculture on the continent
By Judith Akolo
The African Union Commission says, over exploitation of the donkey that has seen an alarming reduction in the population of the beast of service on the continent, could disrupt efforts aimed at ensuring sustainable agriculture and food systems.
The Commissioner in charge of Agriculture Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment Josefa Sacko warns that communities living in the fragile environments such as the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands of Africa, which cover about 66% of the continent are at risk of losing a major component of their livelihoods in what they benefit from the donkey.
In a speech read for her by Prof. James Wabacha, an Animal Health Specialist based at the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) at the 2022 Pan African Donkey Conference held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Amb. Sacko said that in the agriculture sector, “animals are central to production systems and their welfare is a key challenge in the delicate balance between their welfare and the socioeconomic demands.”
In the presentation made at the conference that also called for banning of trade in donkeys, Sacko said that donkeys play a critical role in rural communities for transport, water pulling for construction, farming and waste collection hence central to livelihoods and the communities sustainability and wellbeing.
She noted that even as donkeys “are considered as invisible workers and neglected species,” there is need for development of policies, strategies and legislations to ensure the preservation and conservation of the donkey.
“I encourage Member States and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to include donkeys as part of livestock in their respective national and regional livestock development components of their National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) and their regional agriculture investment plans (RAIP) as well as the national and regional CAADP compacts,” she advised.
While giving grim statistics, Sacko explained that 40% of the gross domestic product in the agriculture sector comes from livestock resources, on a continent in which 70% of the people live below the poverty line. She further averred that 66% of Africa is arid or semi-arid with over 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa living in the ASALs and are wholly dependent on the donkey for “transporting water to the homesteads, goods to the market and even building materials to the new environments in search of pasture and water for the other animals,” she added, “people living in ASALs have access to less that 1000 meters cubed of water per capita per year hence benefit from the donkey, as the animal plays a crucial role in collecting water for livestock and families in these dry areas.”
Saying that recent times have seen the deterioration and degradation of the environment leading to water stress with more people relying on fetching water for survival, “the donkey is a critical part of their lives.”
Sacko warned that if the donkey population continues to be decimated for export for their skin, women and children in the arid and semi arid lands “may have to take over the burden of carrying the water for the livestock and the family and where the family is too poor to afford motorized transport, the women and children will have to take over the burden of carrying their goods and trek on foot where they relied on the donkeys.”
Sacko expressed worry that disregard for animal welfare often leads to poor animal health and poor quality or contaminated animal-based food products, with resulting economic losses.
She called for the need to increased recognition of the link between animal welfare, productivity, incomes and livelihoods in subsistence and small scale production systems which are typical of the developing world.
“Concern for animal welfare is therefore intrinsically a concern for human wellbeing and animal productivity and entails an inclusive approach within the animal resource sector,” she said.
She appealed to member states of the Africa Union to embrace sustainable development and utilisation of animal resources with the consideration of animal welfare principles in order to realize the aspirations of the continental frameworks and agendas including the realization of the transformation of Agriculture in line with the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), Malabo commitments as well as Agenda 2063 of the Africa We Want of the Africa Union.
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Knowledge management is key to leveraging the agriculture sector in Africa
By Judith Akolo
Experts in food nutrition and knowledge management are saying that Africa is dependent on agriculture for its economic sustainability, hence there is need to ensure that the sector thrives.
The director of the Regional Centre against Hunger and Malnutrition (CERFAM) based in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Patrick Texeira, avers that knowledge generation, sharing and overall, knowledge Management is key to Africa’s development.
He says that Africa has a plethora of good practices and innovations that have generated good results in addressing food insecurity and malnutrition, hence the need to make good practices readily available and accessible through their identification, documentation, replication, so as to create greater impact on agricultural development, food security and nutrition
Texeira notes that if the agriculture sector on the continent thrives it is two to four times more effective in the reduction of poverty, in comparison to other sectors.
“It is unfortunate, the continent is not on the right track to achieving goals of Agenda 2063, the Malabo Declaration, or the Sustainable Development (SDG) agenda,” he says and adds, “in fact projections by the UN, indicate that Africa will not be able to feed 60% of its population by 2025,” he adds, yet the agricultural economy is the main source of income for more than 33 million smallholder farmers in Africa.
Texeira says smallholder farmers mostly produce the staple food crops, “and even though, producing nearly 70% of the global food supply, they are amongst those left the most food insecure,” he told the 18th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme Partnership Platform (CAADP PP) held via webinar.
While noting that on average, growth in the agriculture sector has shown to be two to four times more effective in the reduction of poverty, in comparison to other sectors, Texeira said that there is need for “the transformative power of knowledge management to leverage agriculture and food systems good practices and evidence-based solutions to end hunger and malnutrition in Africa.”
In his presentation, “The transformative power of Knowledge Management to leverage Agriculture and Food Systems good practices and evidence-based solutions to end hunger and malnutrition in Africa” Texeira said that knowledge management can support the achievement of CAADP as well as the Malabo Policy Learning Event (MAPLE) commitment through the promotion of good practices by: offering a space to create synergies with partners from other sectors, and, by presenting digital platforms which can support identification, dissemination, replication, and scaling-up of these good practices, “all in the hopes to learn from each other in order to build on the past successes and to excel towards future realisations,” he said.
The head of CERFAM which is Africa's leading hub for promoting good practices to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, noted that knowledge management can create an enabling environment for nutrition sensitive-agricultural activities and investment within the food-system, so as to improve food security and nutrition in Africa.
While agriculture sector has shown to be two to four times more effective in the reduction of poverty, in comparison to other sectors, “it is unfortunate, the continent is not on the right track to achieving goals of Agenda 2063, the Malabo Declaration, or the Sustainable Development (SDG) agenda,” he says and adds, “in fact projections by the UN, indicate that Africa will not be able to feed 60% of its population by 2025.”
He notes that the causes of hunger and malnutrition on the continent are not only due to lack of access to the right quantities but also the lack of access to quality food, “it is not only a question of increasing food production to ensure food security, but equally important is the types of foods consumed and the micronutrients they bear, so to also ensure nutrition security,” he advises.
He calls for agricultural transformation in order to provide for food, that is affordable, nutritious, healthy, and of quality, “thus providing food and nutrition security,” hence the need to design policies that are nutrition-sensitive.
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