Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rockefeller foundation on climate change, drought and agriculture

Fighting and winning the war against the effects of climate change holds the key to enhancing investments into the key sectors like the agricultural sector that could enable African states to achieve faster economic growth. Judith Rodin, the president of Rockefeller Foundation, said fighting the effects of climate change could provide an opportunity for increasing investments into the agricultural, financial and medical sectors in a way that generates economic growth. Rodin said investments that focus on tackling the social effects of climate change have the potential to change the lives of the African populations and create industries that could also help in fighting poverty across the continent. "If social investing is embraced by the continent, it could redirect enormous capital flows to the region. Most of the impact investments are above 1 million U.S. dollars and the evidence shows that potential money for investment is in the billions of U. S. dollars," Rodin told Xinhua in a recent interview in Nairobi. She said focusing on climate impact investments such as the development of drought-resistant seeds, prevention of floods and the development of anti-malarial drugs and mosquito nets could contribute to the economic development of the African continent. "Because most investors are big organizations, the industry is searching for opportunities amongst already established social enterprises. Due to the fact that Africa lacks social services, impact investment could develop to become a very large industry with big economic footprint," Rodin said. The investment programs in Africa are geared towards increasing the agricultural productivity of the farmers because most of the population is concentrated in rural areas. "Drought, which is caused by climate negatively, affects the harvests - so most of our funds are directed on farmland.
Most of the programs of the foundation are in collaboration with the governments," she said. Given that the Africa is still largely based on agriculture, Rodin said her organization is funding projects to improve the yield per acreage so that Africa achieves food security. "This will ensure the continent takes advantage of its large supply of arable land to feed itself," she added. African Union's Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programs (CAADAP) spearheaded by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) seeks to address the challenges facing agriculture. Rodin said the funding in the sector targets the areas identified by the CAADAP. "Most of our work complements the work of state agencies. We also bring in new ideas to policy makers in order to help the continent achieve food security," she said. The Foundation is working with the World Bank and other development agencies to avail resources to reach as many farmers as possible. It is also financing private companies to develop drought- resistant seed to be sold to small scale farmers who live in areas affected by climate change, Rodin said. "We use innovative finance models to enable farmers to combat the effects of climate change. We have partnered with finance and micro-finance institutions to offer non-secured loans to farmers vulnerable to climate change." Kenya's Equity Bank has developed an insurance project that tracks the changes in the weather, leading to the compensation of the farmers in case they get no harvests due to the effects of climate change. Meanwhile, research has shown that climate change is one of the factors that impact on food security in Africa. Climate change has also brought about increased incidences of floods. The Rockefeller Foundation has partnered with the Alliance for Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA) to develop seeds that are resistant to the effects of flooding.

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