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THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY: How Africa can Survive and Thrive

The climate emergency affects us all deeply, in so many ways. But for farmers it has more drastic implications. It undermines all aspects of the food systems that they depend on. Extreme weather devastates their crops and livestock, and destabilises the very water cycle that they are intimately a part of. They are not the only ones affected. The impacts of the climate crisis on agricultural production, supply chains, and labour productivity in climate-sensitive sectors plays havoc with both food prices and incomes. And it strongly affect people’s ability to purchase food. The COVID-19 pandemic, the worst drought in forty years, persistent conflict, and the violence of wars all contribute to food scarcity and insecurity, particularly in Africa. Something different has to be done! Scientists project that things will only get worse for Africa if current trends continue. Vital questions arise that must be faced: Will our soils be able to meet our demands for food and fodder? Will we be able to produce the food that we desire to eat? Will the forests survive so they can protect us from the weather? Will the water resources be able to meet our needs for people, animals, and plants? Beyond the measurement of degrees, indicators, and ambitions, these are some real questions we should pose and address. Because it is our people who are at the centre of the storm. But the bigger question is whether they are seen to be at the centre of the problem or the solution. Today, the majority of the solutions put forth and funded by governments and donors to address these problems are, in the long term, making things worse. Industrial agricultural methods, posing as “Climate Smart Agriculture”, encourage excessive use of chemical inputs on plants and in the soil. The development of carbon credit programs serves to legitimize pollution and uproot communities from their land. These are just a couple of examples of the false solutions brought by the rich and powerful. But there is a different narrative at work in Africa. The stories in this AFSA Barefoot Guide show that African farmers, long seen as victims, are beginning to implement lasting, sustainable solutions to the climate crisis in Africa. Indeed, they are examples that could well be followed by all farmers. Through agroecology practices, not only can they naturally adapt to the inevitable and growing harm of the climate crisis, but they can also make significant contributions to its mitigation. AFSA stands fully behind farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk and all who support them in learning and working together, so that not only can they survive the climate emergency, but thrive.