Friday, 3 February 2012

Climate change adaptation and ICT in Africa

Professor Wangari Mathai was an environmentalist who fought several battles with wisdom and diplomacy to save the environment. In the era of climate change and environmental pollution, this daughter of Africa who hailed from Nyeri in central Kenya devoted her entire life to saving the environment. This made her a winner of the prestigious Nobel Peace Price which was awarded to her in Oslo in Dec. 2004. She’s gone physically but she left a legacy which will live on and the battle continuous. The weather around the world is becoming more dynamic with every passing moment due to global warming. This has resulted in prevalent droughts, crop failure, food insecurity and pressure on the limited resources .

The environment is the most important resource today in the fight against climate change, global warming, food insecurity and poverty in Africa and the rest of world. Effective adaptation to climate change in the remote rural regions of Africa is critical and it will require timely and accurate climate information. As climate change intensifies by day, one of the best methods we have to address climate change adaptation is modern information technology. One such technology namely FRONTLINESMS is in use in African countries. This service disseminates timely climate information through text messages to the farmers. Such Early warning systems enables farmers to take relevant adaptation measures in good time. Stake holders in agriculture, climate change and food security need to employ various effective early warning tools for success and sustainability of their development efforts. This stakeholder includes farmers, herders, aid workers and policymakers.The early warning tools will increase their ability to convey the relevant information to their clients and partners.

These technologies will ensure development and delivery of powerful solutions for the problems that lead to famines. According to Hillary Clinton Kenya and Ethiopia have coped better in the current drought than in previous years because the government invested in the small-scale farmers and herders. It is a high time the governments and development agents should encourage and subsidize adoption of information technologies by poor rural farmers for climate change adaptation, food security and poverty reduction. In addition markets information systems must also function well enough to provide timely and reliable detailed information on market prices and market trends that reflect scarcity or abundance of the produce, to enable the farmers and other agricultural value chain players make decisions and adapt accordingly. This will help to ease the pressure exerted on limited resources by global warming and climate change.