by David Musyoka
NAIROBI, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has scaled down plans to set up a carbon fund in favor of mobilizing donor funding to develop projects that help member countries lessen the effects of climate change on food security.
The COMESA Carbon Fund, a 1 billion U.S. dollar fund had been proposed in 2010, to be raised from investors to finance projects that help reduce the impact of changing weather patterns on livelihoods, like afforestation, irrigation, and research into drought tolerant crops.
But the fund has been scaled down, as COMESA opts to work under a new arrangement involving members of the planned grand free trade area under the tripartite agreement involving the East Africa Community (EAC) and Southern Africa Development Community ( SADC).
"We have seen that the priority for our people is not the money from the carbon fund but projects that help them mitigate against the effects of climate change," said Sindiso Ngwenya, the Secretary General of COMESA in an interview with Xinhua in Nairobi over the weekend.
"For instance in Kenya, we are already helping communities establish greenhouse projects that use drip irrigation to grow food."
The scaling down has also been motivated by the drastic drop of carbon credit prices in the world market by more than a half in the last two years. Sale of the carbon credits from financed projects was expected to finance the carbon fund.
COMESA-EAC-SADC are now working with a 100 million dollar Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Program, a donor support facility from the governments of Norway, Britain and the European Commission, said Ngwenya.
This facility, administered under the tripartite arrangement, is expected to be scaled up to meet the increase demand for such projects.
The facility is a major win for member countries because of the current scarcity of resources for developing climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.
Successive studies have showed that climate change will severely affect sub-Sahara Africa's ability to produce enough food because of the interruption of on rainfall patterns and the reduced volume of rain water.
According to International Food Policy Research Institute, by 2050 in Sub-Saharan Africa, average rice, wheat, and maize yields will decline by up to 14 percent, 22 percent, and 5 percent, respectively, as a result of climate change.
This is partly the reason why call for proposals under the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Program is biased towards projects in agriculture and forestry, essentially, projects on mitigation and adaption of climate change.
Small-holder irrigation projects for instance are being encouraged as an answer to sustainable food production.
A new study released last week has recommended increased use of small-scale irrigation schemes to protect millions of farmers in the face of climate change and high cost of food in the global market.
The study says water for wealth and food security: Supporting farmer-driven investments in agricultural water management, expanding the use of smallholder water management techniques could increase yields up to 300 percent in some cases, and add tens of billions of US dollars to household revenues across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
In Ghana, for instance, small private irrigation schemes already employ 45 times more individuals and cover 25 times more land than public irrigation schemes, the report shows.