National food system at risk of destabilized by climate change, NASFAM warns

The entire food system is at risk of being destabilized if the government and non-state actors do not take decisive steps to mitigate effects of climate change, National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFM) has warned.

NASFAM Chief Executive Officer Dr. Betty Chinyamunyamu sounded the warning on Friday last week during a validation workshop on Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) processes and climate change.

Chinyamunyamu–We need to take decisive steps to address effects of climate change–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

NASFAM organized the workshop in conjunction with Farmers Union of Malawi with support from SACAU to share, validate and discuss results of a study recently conducted on enhancing active involvement of National Farmer Organizations (NFOs) in INDCs processes and climate change management.

SACAU recently supported various NFOs in the engagement of a consultant to conduct a rapid assessment on the existing processes and forums for farmers’ engagement at country level as well as the current extent of engagement in these processes and forums.

In her opening remarks at the function, Chinyamunyamu stressed the need for stakeholders to identify lasting solutions to climate change, adding that climate change is no longer a myth as its devastating effects have already affected farms and families whose livelihoods depend on farming while driving up food prices for consumers.

Participants to the validation workshop on Intended Nationally Determined Contribution processes and climate change

“For many years, farmers could see evidence of climate change all around them, but they struggled to decode it and fully understand what they needed to do in order to mitigate as well as adapt to it and its impacts.

“Now that climate change has escalated and can be seen through devastating droughts, floods, pests and disease outbreaks and other ways hitting farmers first and hardest, the need for their engagement in adaptation and mitigation practices is at its greatest,” she said.

But Chinyamunyamu lamented that although farmers in developing countries bear the most brunt of the crisis despite that they are not the major contributors to climate change.

She also expressed disappointment that there is little financing towards climate issues.

Quoting a recent United Nations (U.N.) report, the NASFAM CEO stated that adaptation needs in the development countries like Malawi are set to as much as $340 billion a year by 2030.

“Yet, international funding to help countries adapt stands at less than one-tenth of that amount. It is our expectation that this is one of the areas that we need to discuss and find a lasting solution to,” said Chinyamunyamu.

In her presentation, NDC Coordinator at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change (Environmental Affairs Department), Roberta Makoko, said droughts and floods have cost Malawi an on average 1.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) annually, whereas the combined effects of floods of 2015 and the subsequent drought of 2016 cost the economy over five percent of annual GDP.

Makoko warned that El Nino conditions will likely increase climate extremes, resulting in increased severity and frequency of floods, droughts, and strong winds over the period spanning from 2020 to 2040.

She said Malawi will need $46, 329 to address effects of climate change for the mentioned period.

During the workshop, a consultant presented his assessment results in areas such as stakeholder mapping; levels of engagement, participation and collaboration; an inventory of programmes, projects, strategies, action plans linked to climate change management and current opportunities and obstacles for effective participation of NFOs.

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