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The Observer (Kampala)
by: ANDREW MAFUNDO
The tragic reality is that the earth is reaching a tipping point faster than ever before and this will affect all of us.
The atmospheric temperatures are expected to increase across the globe and rainfall may increase or decrease, depending on location. Ultimately, climate change will have significant negative impacts on the economy, human health, energy use, and biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The current severe heat stress and reduced air quality that we are experiencing is an alarm bell for everyone to engage in the climate change fight. Since Uganda is heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture, it is believed that the most impact of climate change will be decreased agricultural production, leading to food shortages.
Conservationists argue that Uganda had made a positive move to sign up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and following its development of the National climate Change Policy and Implementation Strategy in 2012/13.
A road map for the development of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) was submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on climate Change at the beginning of 2015.
However, the full implementation of the priority adaptation and mitigation actions principally remain on paper because they are conditional on the support of international stakeholders.
The government needs to urgently review and make relevant reforms in the current climate change adaptation approach most especially building institutional capacity to conceptualize climate-compatible development projects as well as increase and manage climate finance.
The current climate change impacts and costs are expected to persist because of our past and present-day environmental decisions. We must act now to adapt and build resilience to a changing climate so that we are able to proactively manage risks, protect our health and ensure the well-being of Ugandans.
Government should prioritize and increase climate change action funding at the different levels of government. The office of NEMA focal person and local government environment task force continue to be under funded yet they are expected to oversee environmental protection activities in the entire district.
Towns and peri-urban areas seem to be more affected and forgotten. The population far exceeds the infrastructure capacity, leading to the deterioration of the urban environment. The authorities have not taken tangible action or invested in mitigation and adaptation measures.
For example, there is continuous environmental degradation and pollution in Kampala and Wakiso, which include solid waste, abattoir waste, sewage, sanitation, drainage, industrial pollution, plastic and traffic pollution, atmospheric pollution, urban agriculture, soil dumping in wetlands and land-filling, rapid and unplanned urbanization and water hyacinth.
In the past, little climate adaptation financing was directed towards the rural areas. Nevertheless, early this month, during the national celebrations to mark 2019 World Wetlands day at Limoto primary school in Pallisa district, the government, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), launched a $44.3m project.
The project is funded by the Green Climate Fund to support building resilient communities and ecosystems through restoration of wetlands and attendant catchments and will be implemented in 24 districts of eastern and southwestern Uganda.
In order to achieve sustained ecological restoration, government and implementing partners should be ready to handle challenges that face such projects, namely: lack of clarity on institutional mandates, roles and responsibilities, lack of grassroots community involvement, corruption and political interference.
The local governments in the benefitting districts need to be involved because they play a leadership role. Further policy attention should be aimed at constructive engagement in the design and implementation of programs that can receive funding and emphasize accountability for effective use of climate finance and improve the effectiveness and equitable distribution of funding for climate change adaptation in the entire country.
There is an immense opportunity to engage and empower grassroots women and youth groups to act on climate change to achieve sustainable development. They have vast knowledge and experience to fully participate in deciding climate change action especially in turning the tide on the land use.
We all have a responsibility to make better environmental choices in our own homes, at work, and on the means of travel. Without a doubt, industrialists, religious and cultural leaders, politicians, the media and business owners play a central role in the protection of environment.
It will take everybody’s involvement and contribution to tackle the scourge of climate change.
By: Lynsey Chutel
Addis Ababa is determined to rebrand itself as a global city, with a hi-speed train and high-rise buildings quickly replacing its old-world charm. Part of what will maintain its distinction is the proper recognition of Ethiopia’s historic culture.
And why shouldn’t the city market its culture to the world, and its own citizens, asks Design Week Addis Ababa founder, Metasebia Yoseph.
Yoseph was born and raised in the United States but joined the returning Ethiopian diaspora in 2013. With art history as a major, she came back to gain work experience in the national museum but found that Ethiopia’s cultural and historical artifacts were often neglected. She returned to the US to complete a graduate degree in communication and came back to convince Ethiopian businesses that what they need was a good PR strategy.
It was a hard sell, but the 35-year-old convinced an old family business to start a Facebook page. It was Ethiopia’s weavers, carpenters and your designers reinventing an old craft that she was more interested in selling, though. Local businesses would rather work with suppliers in Dubai or Cape Town “because that is being perceived as the best.”
“This disconnect between the commercial, creative and cultural was really what I was trying to fill the gap in,” she says.
Yoseph started Design Week Addis Ababa in 2015, mostly out of her own pocket with one sponsor on board, French beverage giant Castel, who produce Ethiopia’s Rift Valley wine.
This year was a turning point though: political optimism under president Abiy Ahmed has brought more attention to Ethiopia’s capital. Tourism Ethiopia has come on board, designating it as a “destination event,” and Heineken signed up as an event sponsor.
Design Week Addis Ababa (this year Feb.11 to Feb. 17) is still growing. The average event traffic is about 150 at most and the entrance is free, compared to the more established Design Indaba in South Africa which charged nearly $620 for a three-day pass and host hundreds of guests. Exhibiting designers, like Zimbabwean designer Sekai Sandamu paid a nominal fee to bring her Kaisan range to potential Ethiopian buyers.
It opened and closed with an event and exhibition space typical of design weeks, launching at the newly opened Hyatt hotel. For the rest of the week, it partnered with other brands and organizations to host satellite events on the design week platform. One of those is Yenaé jewelry, who used Design Week Addis Ababa to launch their line in Ethiopia.
“There isn’t that much knowledge about designs and what forms they come in and I think Design Week created that platform,” says the line’s co-founder Felekech Baratu.
Yenaé is a delicate yellow and white gold jewelry line that draws on the designers’ Ethiopian and Eritrean history, with the symbols immediately recognizable as Orthodox crosses. The brand was conceptualized between Ethiopia and the United States, where co-founder Seble Alemayhu lives and the jewelry is crafted. Once they grow a presence in Ethiopia, the aim is to build a localized production line and eventually showcase other African cultures.
This is a problem Yoseph says she’s often encountered with local artisans—the lack of reliable prototyping, production, and then of course distribution. This push for modernization doesn’t sit well with some. Locals who haven’t even heard of Design Week Addis Ababa voice concern about returnees reinventing cultural heirlooms that are still a part of daily life. Yoseph may be recreating an international design week model, but it’s very much with Ethiopia at the center.