Expert Reaction to Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change in Africa

Prof Shem Wandiga,Former Director of the Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation, said:

“In Africa continent, adaption is the only thing we can do. And you can do it yourself. We can make everyone do something to save the planet. And I know we love to ask, what is the government doing? What is my company doing? What is the United Nations doing? What are donors doing? Those are wrong questions ladies and gentlemen,”

“We have to accept that in this era everyone has a right to do something in adaptation. Some of the things we can do are; by building houses in a secure location, so that when it’s flooding you’re not washed down. When building schools, hospitals, putting up infrastructure like roads, railways and others ensure they are in safe locations,”

“We can do landscape restoration and reforestation. When you plant a tree you’re not planting it for the government. Stop cutting forest. You plant a tree for yourself and for your survival. Take it as this is my survival and therefore I have to plant this tree. Don’t say that the Chief has not instructed you to plant trees or the District Commissioner, no, it is me who’s planting this tree so that I can survive in the changing climate conditions,”

“There are a lot of natural disasters which are going to occur and will continue to occur. See how you can avoid these disasters. It is not the government to help you; it is you to help yourself. We are in borrowed time therefore; we need to do everything to save ourselves,”

“When we destroy nature; nature has a vicious way of hitting back. So please stop destroying nature rather do things that support nature. When you dig up to the riverbank and you have the river washing away your land, don’t say that God is busy helping everybody everywhere, help yourself don’t dig up to the riverbed/bank,”

“And now we have Covid, you may say that you’re not going to be vaccinated, you’re not going to wear masks and go to crowded places. When the disease kills you, you blame the government and people. Let us all be aware that nature is always very vicious when provoked,”

“Africa’s need is in adaption given its vulnerability, and its negligible contribution to current and historic emissions. Our African union has resolved and decided that for Africa region where to invest money is in adaption and not mitigation though adaptation can also mitigate,”

“When you plant trees and reforest, the trees will absorb the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and so you are doing mitigation. When you plough and you don’t disturb the soil and grow fruits and crops in an agricultural conservative way you’re also mitigating. You’re not allowing CO2 in the soil or the rotten roots to go into the atmosphere,”

“So by doing adaptation does not mean we are not mitigating. We are mitigating at the same time except we do not have the big money to put the CO2 under lock from the atmosphere, which is an expense we cannot afford.  We do not have the big money to do such things as doing electrification of all the countryside or use electric cars and vehicles. We still have not reached there but can still begin to do those things,”

“It is also apparent according to the climate change convention that we still need assistance of about $20-30 billion per annum over the next 10-20 years to assist us in doing this. But in giving this assistance, there is as tendency that the west is taking. We cannot give you money because you are corrupt,”

“That reminds me of the days that we used to go to UNESCO Executive Board. When I arrived there, there was a special ambassador who was very fond of looking and greeting me.  Whenever I come in every six months he comes and says; son, excellence and nice to see you. And I would say nice to see you too. Then he would say how the situation is? Then I could ask what situation? Then he would reply, corruption. So, when he saw me the only thing he could see on my face is corruption,”

“That is the over dramatization of what is happening in the continent. I believe all developed countries and everybody else has undergone through the phases of corruption and misuse of money. But it should not be used as an excuse to stop assisting Africa.  I was poor as a church mouse and when I’m being told how the corruption is, I remember how sadly I am that poor yet someone is putting me as one of the corrupt. That one is not the way that we should go,”

“Adaptation investments reduce hardships caused by climate change in Africa. The potential benefits of adaptation spending are not to be undermined by concerns about absorptive capacity. Yes, our economies cannot absorb most of the money that we are given but we should encourage and critically train our people to have a high absorptive capacity and a clear way of using money without misspending it,”

“We need to improve our current adoptive capacity in the continent. And most of those adaptive capacities are not going to be separate from the traditional development activities. If we do the traditional development activities we will be able to adapt to this climate change,” “There is need to complement whatever we do with emission reduction. Whatever we do should not increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,”

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