Polio: 240,000 Children To Receive Injectable Vaccine, Says WHO

Health

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The World Health Organization(WHO) has said that at least, 240,000 children would be immunized during the Injectable and Oral Polio Vaccination campaign scheduled to hold between 2nd and 6th May in Sokoto North, Sokoto South and Wamakko local government areas (LGAs) of the state.

The Supplemental Immunization Officer of WHO, Dr. Ana Elena Chevez disclosed this on Wednesday at a roundtable meeting with members of Journalists Against Polio (JAP) on Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV).

She explained that children living in the three local government areas required higher level of protection because the areas were classified as vulnerable to polio transmission following results from the isolation of the virus in the samples collected from sewages there.

Chevez added that the IPV, to be administered at 411 health camps located not more than half kilometre range from every settlement in the LGAs, would be given to all children at 14 weeks of age as part of the routine immunization in order to boost their immunity against type one, two and three polio virus.

“The Injectable Polio Vaccine works in a way different from the oral polio vaccine. It strengthens a child’s immunity through the blood while polio drops create immunity through a child’s intestines,” she said adding, “In fact, both the injectable and oral vaccines will strengthen the health of a child and provide even better protection against polio.”

Chevez stressed that unlike the oral vaccines, skilled healthcare workers were required to administer the injectable vaccines.

Describing the IPV as very safe and with no complex reactions to the ones administered to children, she also maintained that administering the IPV to the children was the only way to accelerate polio eradication as well as boost their immunity.

“We decided to introduce Injectable Polio Vaccine in high-risk areas due to the fact that a single dose increases bloodstream immunity against polio in children,” Chevez said.

How I Got Converted To GMO Food

Agriculture

By MARK LYNAS
APRIL 24, 2015

NAIROBI, Kenya — Mohammed Rahman doesn’t know it yet, but his small farm in central Bangladesh is globally significant. Mr. Rahman, a smallholder farmer in Krishnapur, about 60 miles northwest of the capital, Dhaka, grows eggplant on his meager acre of waterlogged land.

As we squatted in the muddy field, examining the lush green foliage and shiny purple fruits, he explained how, for the first time this season, he had been able to stop using pesticides. This was thanks to a new pest-resistant variety of eggplant supplied by the government-run Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute.

Despite a recent hailstorm, the weather had been kind, and the new crop flourished. Productivity nearly doubled. Mr. Rahman had already harvested the small plot 10 times, he said, and sold the brinjal (eggplant’s name in the region) labeled “insecticide free” at a small premium in the local market. Now, with increased profits, he looked forward to being able to lift his family further out of poverty. I could see why this was so urgent: Half a dozen shirtless kids gathered around, clamoring for attention. They all looked stunted by malnutrition.

In a rational world, Mr. Rahman would be receiving support from all sides. He is improving the environment and tackling poverty. Yet the visit was rushed, and my escorts from the research institute were nervous about permitting me to speak with him at all.

The new variety had been subjected to incendiary coverage in the local press, and campaign groups based in Dhaka were suing to have the pest-resistant eggplant banned. Activists had visited some of the fields and tried to pressure the farmers to uproot their crops. Our guides from the institute warned that there was a continuing threat of violence — and they were clearly keen to leave.

Why was there such controversy? Because Mr. Rahman’s pest-resistant eggplant was produced using genetic modification. A gene transferred from a soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (more commonly known by the abbreviation “Bt”), produces a protein that kills the Fruit and Shoot Borer, a species of moth whose larvae feed on the eggplant, without the need for pesticide sprays. (The protein is entirely nontoxic to other insects and indeed humans.)

Conventional eggplant farmers in Bangladesh are forced to spray their crops as many as 140 times during the growing season, and pesticide poisoning is a chronic health problem in rural areas. But because Bt brinjal is a hated G.M.O., or genetically modified organism, it is Public Enemy No.1 to environmental groups everywhere.

The stakes are especially high because Mr. Rahman is one of only 108 farmers in Bangladesh currently permitted to try out the new variety. Moreover, this is among the first genetically modified food crops to be grown by farmers anywhere in the developing world. Virtually every crop, in every other country, has so far been blocked.

In neighboring India, green campaigners managed to secure a nationwide moratorium against the genetically modified eggplant in 2010. In the Philippines, a Greenpeace-led coalition has tied up the variety in litigation for two years. Greenpeace activists took the precaution of wrecking field trials first, by pulling up the plants.

I, too, was once in that activist camp. A lifelong environmentalist, I opposed genetically modified foods in the past. Fifteen years ago, I even participated in vandalizing field trials in Britain. Then I changed my mind.

After writing two books on the science of climate change, I decided I could no longer continue taking a pro-science position on global warming and an anti-science position on G.M.O.s.

There is an equivalent level of scientific consensus on both issues, I realized, that climate change is real and genetically modified foods are safe. I could not defend the expert consensus on one issue while opposing it on the other.

In Africa, however, countries have fallen like dominoes to anti-G.M. campaigns. I am writing this at a biotechnology conference in Nairobi, where the government slapped a G.M.O. import ban in 2012 after activists brandished pictures of rats with tumors and claimed that G.M. foods caused cancer.

The origin of the scare was a French scientific paper that was later retracted by the journal in which it was originally published because of numerous flaws in methodology. Yet Kenya’s ban remains, creating a food-trade bottleneck that will raise prices, worsening malnutrition and increasing poverty for millions.

In Uganda, the valuable banana crop is being devastated by a new disease called bacterial wilt, while the starchy cassava, a subsistence staple, has been hit by two deadly viruses. Biotech scientists have produced resistant varieties of both crops using genetic modification, but anti-G.M.O. groups have successfully prevented the Ugandan Parliament from passing a biosafety law necessary for their release.

An eminent Ghanaian scientist whom I met recently had received such a high level of harassment from campaigners that he was considering taking a dossier to the police. Activists in his country have also gone to court to stall progress in biotech development.

The environmental movement’s war against genetic engineering has led to a deepening rift with the scientific community. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science showed a greater gap between scientists and the public on G.M.O.s than on any other scientific controversy: While 88 percent of association scientists agreed it was safe to eat genetically modified foods, only 37 percent of the public did — a gap in perceptions of 51 points. (The gap on climate change was 37 points; on childhood vaccinations, 18 points.)

On genetic engineering, environmentalists have been markedly more successful than climate change deniers or anti-vaccination campaigners in undermining public understanding of science. The scientific community is losing this battle. If you need visual confirmation of that, try a Google Images search for the term “G.M.O.” Scary pictures proliferate, from an archetypal evil scientist injecting tomatoes with a syringe — an utterly inaccurate representation of the real process of genetic engineering — to tumor-riddled rats and ghoulish chimeras like fish-apples.

In Europe, leaders in Brussels propose to empower all member states of the European Union to ban genetically modified crops, if they so wish. Hungary has even written anti-G.M.O. ideology into its Constitution. Peru has enacted a 10-year moratorium.

As someone who participated in the early anti-G.M.O. movement, I feel I owe a debt to Mr. Rahman and other farmers in developing countries who could benefit from this technology. At Cornell, I am working to amplify the voices of farmers and scientists in a more informed conversation about what biotechnology can bring to food security and environmental protection.

No one claims that biotech is a silver bullet. The technology of genetic modification can’t make the rains come on time or ensure that farmers in Africa have stronger land rights. But improved seed genetics can make a contribution in all sorts of ways: It can increase disease resistance and drought tolerance, which are especially important as climate change continues to bite; and it can help tackle hidden malnutritional problems like vitamin A deficiency.

We need this technology. We must not let the green movement stand in its way.

Mark Lynas is a researcher at the Cornell Alliance for Science and the author, most recently, of “The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans.”

Researchers Partner On New African opportunities for sustainable food systems

Agriculture

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Twenty-three (23) African and European research partners are presently collaborating on a long term research and innovation towards a sustainable improvement of food and nutrition security and the livelihoods of African farmers.

A report by the Natural Resources Institute in Finland says that the focus of the research is on sustainable intensification of the agrofood system in Africa.

“The research will understudy the consequences of sustainable intensification of food production to the environment, economy and society.”

It observed that farming practices have impacted negatively on the environment as a result of which many people still do not have enough to eat and cannot escape poverty.

“Although the current food production systems have enabled a substantial increase in food production, the farming practices have also impacted the environment. In addition, many people still do not have enough to eat and cannot escape poverty,” the report stated.

The 23 research and innovation institutes from 21 countries will partner in the new initiative, PROIntensAfrica to explore the whole effects of African Agrofood system.

“It is projected that the expected growth in the world population from 7 to 9 billion and the changing diets will require 70% more food by 2050. There is no single solution to production increase, so a diversity of pathways for sustainable intensification needs to be explored and exploited,” says the coordinator of the initiative, Huub Löffler from Wageningen University and Research centre (WUR), explained.

He added that the initiative starts off in a situation where many tailor-made routes towards sustainable food systems have already been advocated in literature.

“The difficulty of sustainable intensification lies in each food system’s requirement to meet their specific supply and demand. As such, high input farming might be suitable for a specific region while organic farming is more suitable for another region,” he further said.

The PROIntensAfrica initiative, according to will go beyond the debate of best systems for sustainable intensification in Africa. We will combine elements of different systems, yielding into innovative systems to optimally meet specific requirements, says Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of the from Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

While observing that pooling African and European research resources was perceived as the best way to align existing research and instigate new research initiatives, the statement also stated that “joint programming is one of the main instruments of the European Commission to accomplish more synergy and increase the effectiveness of resources.”

The resources pool for ProintensAfrica therefore, is not only about science, but also about policy and funding. More so, the philosophy of the future IntensAfrica programme is that there is no one model is better than another.

Philippe Petithuguenin from CIRAD says: “There are controversies and we will take them on board but our role will not be to act as a judge. However, the research questions and knowledge generated will serve as fuel to the debate.”

While communication is considered crucial to develop and enhance the interactive dialogue between all stakeholders,
ProIntensAfrica also considers consultation, case studies, stakeholder panel workshops as major parts of its activities.

African partners in the project are: FARA (Ghana); CORAF/WECARD (Senegal); CCARDESA (Botswana); ASARECA (Uganda); AFAAS (Uganda); ARC (South Africa); CSRI-CRI (Ghana) and INERA (Burkina Faso).

European partners are: Wageningen UR (The Netherlands); CIRAD (France); UCL (Belgium); SLU (Sweden); IICT (Portugal); Luke (Finland); University of Copenhagen (Denmark); ZEF (Germany); INIA (Spain); NRI (England); Teagasc (Ireland); BOKU (Austria); University of Life Sciences (Czech Republic); University Szent Istvan (Hungary) and Bioforsk (Norway).

Press Release: Nigeria Gets Biosafety Law

Agriculture, Environment, Health

PRESS RELEASE

By

Prof. Lucy Jumeyi Ogbadu, Director-General/CEO, National Biotechnology Development Agency, Abuja

Nigeria has finally joined the league of Biotechnology countries

President Goodluck Jonathan has signed the National Biosafety Agency Bill, which is a milestone in the domestication of modern biotechnology in Nigeria a giant stride that will allow the country to join the league of countries advanced in the use of this cutting edge technology as another window to boost economic development in Nigeria. It will create more employment, boost food production that will put a smile on the faces of farmers and alleviate hunger if given good attention by government.

The National Biosafety Act is crucial in the management of Modern Biotechnology in the country. Modern Biotechnology has been identified as an important tool that can help countries to achieve food sufficiency/food security, industrial growth, health improvement and environmental sustainability while the Biosafety Act will give the legal framework to check the activities of modern biotechnology locally as well as imported GM crops into the country as well as providing avenue to engage Nigerian scientist s/experts from different fields to identify and pursue solutions to our local challenges”.

The Biosafety Law also recognizes the complex issues to be addressed by Central Authorities in the judicious application of Modern Biotechnology; it bases the deliberate release of GMO on Advance Informed Agreement (AIA)”.

Biosafety Law:

I. Defines offenses and Penalty for violation of the act

II. Contains powers to authorize release of GMOs and practice of modern biotechnology activities.

III. Confers the power to carry out risk assessment/management before the release, handling and use of GMOs,

IV. Covers all genetically modified organisms/Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) and products thereof including food/feed and processing.

V. Covers socio-economic consideration in risk assessment

The Benefits of Modern Biotechnology include among others, the following:

a. Capacity for enhanced food security

b. Environmental protection and conservation through production of stress tolerant planting materials for re-vegetation, re-afforestation, soil binding for erosion control as well as genetically enhanced organisms for bioremediation of oil polluted sites

c. Improvement in plants and animals yields as well as nutritional values

d. Production of new breeds/varieties of animals and plants.

e. Reduction in the use of pesticides

f. Reduction in farming land area with higher yields, facilitates Job and wealth creation, leads to better health facilities,

g. Promotion of bioorganic fertilizer development and industrial growth through feedstock development.

h. Promotion and development of biopharmaceuticals production, Stem Cell technology, biometrics, etc in Nigeria

i. Biodiversity conservation

Purpose of the Law

The Biosafety Law is for an act to provide for the management of Biosafety and other related matters and it seeks to:

a) Harness the potentials modern biotechnology has to offer under a legal regulatory regime.

b) Ensure environmental, human and socio-economic safety while harnessing the benefits associated with the practice of modern biotechnology and its outputs,

c) Exercise the sovereign right over all the nation’s natural resources and authority to regulate access to such resources.

d) Allay the fear of the populace on the socio-economic consequences of modern biotechnology, especially among the small scale farming systems that are prevalent in Nigeria.

e) Reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to the principles of the World Trade Organization and to reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to the goals and objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which Nigeria has signed and ratified.

f) Safe use of modern biotechnology and provide holistic approach to the regulation of modified organisms in Nigeria.

g) Safeguard human health and the environment from any potential; adverse effect of genetically modified organism including food safety.

h) Provide measures for the assessment of genetically modified organism and management of risk in order to ensure safety in the use of genetically modified organisms to human health and the environment.

i) Ensure that the use of the genetically modified organism does not have undesired impact on socio – economic and cultural interest either at the community or National level.

j) Ensure the Law makes provision for the establishment of a competent agency which would work in line with existing institutional bodies to prevent unsafe use of genetically modified organisms as well as develop risk managements plan and strategy for protecting human health, biology diversity, and the environment from potentials risks associated with genetically modified organisms.

k) Ensure that Nigeria will have the opportunity to harness the potentials modern technology has to offer in the field of improved food production, medicine/health, Industrial growth and environmental sustainability, generation of Employment and wealth creation through the Modern Biotechnology industry.

l) Bring about responsible Research and Development in Modern Biotechnology,

m) Ensure that Nigeria will be able to guarantee the purity of its agricultural products for the international market, there by gaining international partners and also foreign earning.

n) Ensure that Nigeria will not serve as a dumping ground for unregulated Genetically Modified Organisms which may have impact on the environment and human health

Nigeria Gets Biosafety Law, Joins League of Biotechnology countries

Agriculture, Environment, Health, Science

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Nigeria has finally joined the league of biotechnology countries with the signing the National Biosafety Agency Bill into law by President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday.

The Law seeks to domesticate modern biotechnology used by advanced countries as cutting-edge technology to boost economic development.

A statement signed by the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of National Biotechnology Development Agency, Prof. Lucy Jumeyi Ogbadu stated that the Act would “create more employment, boost food production that will put a smile on the faces of farmers and elevate hunger if given good attention by government.”

According to the statement, “The National Biosafety Act is crucial in the management of Modern Biotechnology in the country. Modern Biotechnology has been identified as an important tool that can help countries to achieve food sufficiency/food security, industrial growth, health improvement and environmental sustainability.

“The Biosafety Act will provide the legal framework to check the activities of modern biotechnology locally as well as imported genetically modified crops into the country, including the provision of avenue to engage Nigerian scientists/experts from different fields to identify and pursue solutions to our local challenges.”

It could be recalled that during Netmapping Workshop organized by Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology at Maizube Farms in Minna, Niger State, former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar observed that “Agricultural Biotechnology has changed the lives of the rural cotton farmers in Burkina Faso. It has also changed the lives for the better of poor farmers in Brazil and Argentina.”

While recognizing the complex issues to be addressed by Central Authorities in the judicious application of Modern Biotechnology, “the Biosafety Law also bases the deliberate release of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) on Advance Informed Agreement (AIA).”

The signed Law addresses the following:
i. Defines offenses and penalty for violation of the act; ii. contains powers to authorize release of GMOs and practice of modern biotechnology activities; iii. confers the power to carry out risk assessment/management before the release, handling and use of GMOs; iv. covers all genetically modified organisms/Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) and products thereof including food/feed and processing and
v. covers socioeconomic consideration in risk assessment.

What Nigeria stands to benefit from Modern Biotechnology among others include the following: a. capacity for improved food security; b. environmental protection and conservation through production of stress tolerant planting materials for re-vegetation, re-afforestation, soil binding for erosion control as well as genetically enhanced organisms for bioremediation of oil polluted sites

Others are: c. improvement in plants and animals yields as well as nutritional values; d. production of new breeds/varieties of animals and plants and e. reduction in the use of pesticides.

Also, f. reduction in farming land area with higher yields, facilitates Job and wealth creation, leads to better health facilities; g. promotion of bioorganic fertilizer development and industrial growth through feed-stock development; h. promotion and development of biopharmaceuticals production, Stem Cell technology, biometrics, etc in Nigeria and i. biodiversity conservation.

One thing the law will provide is an accelerated agricultural development for an African giant.

Nairobi ABBC-2015 Declaration: Lift Ban on GMO Imports in Kenya

Agriculture

Delegates from 30 countries from around the world, attending an International Agri-Biotech and Biosafety Communication Conference (ABBC-2015) in Nairobi have called on the Kenya Government to lift a 2-year ban on GMO imports. 

Addressing the delegates comprising of farmers, scientists, policy makers, private sector, the media and science communicators, the Principal Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development, Dr, Wilson Songa emphasized the role of agricultural biotechnology in propelling the country towards prosperity. 

“To harness this potential the GMO import ban must be lifted,” he said.  In addition, he said that Kenya has adequate capacity to develop and ensure safety of GMO products.

Members of Parliament present, called upon the government to release a report by the task force constituted after the ban by the Ministry of Health to look into the safety of GM foods.

The ABBC conference brought together organizations and networks involved in agri-biotech and biosafety communication across the world to take stock of the progress and dynamics of biotech communication over the past two decades.

It was organized by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agricultural Applications (ISAAA), African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation (NCSTI), Biosciences for Farming in Africa (B4FA) and other partners.

One of the key lessons was that agri-biotech and biosafety communications must be simplified and messages delivered in appropriate languages for different stakeholders to make impact.

The delegates came up with the Nairobi Declaration 2015,  which reads as follows:

We, the participants of the International Conference on Agri-Biotech and Biosafety Communication, held on 12-14 April 2015 in Nairobi, representing the academic and research community, civil society, law makers and policy advisers, the media, farmers and other stakeholders drawn from 30 countries across the world, collectively issue the following statement resulting from this conference:

Whereas:

1. The world faces unique and particular food security challenges in future, as the human population increases towards a likely 9.6 billion by 2050 and climate change raises additional problems for agriculture in terms of water and temperature stress, increased disasters and extreme weather;

2. Some progress has been made in meeting the Millennium Development Goals on extreme poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality and food security. Much work remains to be done to ensure that citizens of all countries enjoy the full opportunity of healthy and sustainable access to food;

3. Biotechnology and genetic engineering, while not being the only solution to these challenges, offers great potential in addressing many specific concerns in food production, including micro-nutrient deficiencies, productivity and yield gaps, pest and disease problems;

4. There exists an international scientific consensus that the “genetic modification” process itself does not raise any risks over conventional breeding approaches

5. The debate around genetically modified  products continues and is often characterized by emotive and misleading information about purported dangers that are not supported by any scientific evidence;

6. Highly restrictive policy and regulatory environments exist in parts of the world, greatly hampering the capacity of farmers to access innovations that will improve farm productivity, household incomes and food security;

We hereby declare our commitment and determination:

i. To work collectively to improve the communications environment, including the use of the latest as well as traditional communication strategies to ensure effectiveness.

ii. To work inclusively, with all stakeholders, including those opposed to this technology, in an effort to build consensus and common understanding.

iii. To promote choice, so that farmers, consumers, and other end-users can make informed decisions that reflect their best interests.

iv. To address the concerns of people at all levels, to ensure the widest participation possible.

v. To demonstrate how agricultural production challenges can be tackled using biotechnology, and how it can directly contribute to food and nutrition security, poverty alleviation, job creation and sustainable economic development.

vi. To support credible scientists who are most trusted by the public and governments, to be effective communicators and to have a closer relationship with media and policymakers to ensure that scientifically-informed messages reach target audiences.

In particular, we gratefully acknowledge the active participation of Members of the Kenya National Assembly (KNA), and many senior government representatives who participated in this conference, and welcome their invaluable inputs to ensure the current ban on importation and consumption of GM foods in Kenya is lifted.

Large Consumption, Impact of Climate Change Will Affect Food Security and Water Supplies – Says FAO

Agriculture, Environment

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said although there would be enough water to produce food for 10 billion people in 2050, consumption rate and the impact of climate change would still threaten food security and water supplies in many regions.

According to the report already, water scarcity already affects more than 40 percent of the world’s population because too much water was being used to produce food.

FAO and the World Water Council (WWC), in the joint report stated that by 2050, 60 percent more food would be needed to feed the world’s people, a situation that would warrant food production, sustainably to ensure future supplies of food. This, the report observed, was because farming remained the largest user of water.

Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General of Natural Resources further stated: “In an era of accelerated changes, unparalleled in our past, our ability to provide adequate, safe and nutritious food sustainably and equitably is more relevant than ever.

“Water, as an irreplaceable element of achieving this end, is already under pressure by increasing demands from other uses, exacerbated by weak governance, inadequate capacities, and under-investment.”

The report added that excessive use and pollution of water resources in key food-producing regions were threatening the sustainability of jobs that depend on water and agriculture.

President of the WWC, Benedito Braga, stated that “Agriculture has to follow the path of sustainability and not the one of immediate profitability.”

FAO and WWC therefore called on governments to provide enabling policies as well as private and public sectors to investment in order to ensure that crops, livestock and fish were produced sustainably, including ways that also protect water resources.

This, they said was essential to reduce poverty, increase people’s incomes and ensure food security, the report said.

Off-grid Smart Villages States key role of mini-hydro schemes in Nepal

Energy

Off-grid Smart Villages States key role of mini-hydro schemes in Nepal
By Abdallah el-Kurebe

As a follow up to the awareness campaign on rural energy for policymakers in Eastern Africa, held in Arusha, Tanzania in June last year, SmartVillages Initiative has launched a Smart Villages and Practical Action off-grid village energy workshop in Nepal.

The Arusha workshop explored the East African/Tanzanian environment for village energy, local case studies, challenges and opportunities, with a view to formulating policy recommendations for policymakers, funders, NGOs and other stakeholders in that region.

The Smart Villages Kathmandu Workshop held on April 10th was directed at learning “from the Nepalese expertise in off-grid energy provision that might help other countries in South Asia and beyond. In particular, mini-hydro was identified as an under-utilized technology with massive global potential,” Communications Officer of SmartVillages, Meredith Thomas said in a release.

The workshop brought together a cross-section of participants in the Nepali off-grid energy sector.

Co-leader of the Initiative, John Holmes stated that “Energy provision is on the agenda for the new Sustainability Goals and both ourselves and Practical Action are looking to provide policy guidance on how best to reach ‘last mile’ remote off-grid communities,” adding,
“Holding workshops in key regions enables us to gain a better understanding of local solutions and experience that might yield broader lessons.”

The workshop’s agenda harped on the necessary conditions that would ensure that development benefits flowed directly from energy access. “It also sought to develop an appreciation of the distinctive challenges encountered in Nepal and how they have been overcome,” the statement added.

The Nepalese Government-run centre, the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, including other stakeholders in the private sector, shared their experiences in promoting off-grid renewable energy projects.

The discussions that followed dwelled on rural electricity access transformation “by use of market mapping to identify barriers to the development of village mini-grid markets and possible interventions.”

The workshop also identified that “small hydroelectric plants installed on naturally occurring rivers and streams, were seen as a promising technology.”

The Nepal Micro Hydropower Development Association said that the technology had successfully generated approximately 28MW of electricity in Nepal, adding that a total of 2,900 micro-hydro plants of different sizes and capacities, had been installed and grants access to 350,000 households.

The workshop provided new insights from the experiences of installing micro-hydro mini-grids in remote villages in Nepal.

“We also received an update on the initiatives being taken to catalyse productive enterprises at the village level enabled by access to electricity”, Holmes explained.

Further, the discussion delved into the mini-grid ownership model and the respective roles of the community and private sector in its implementation as well as the importance of integrating energy access initiatives with the development of local productive enterprises.

Participatory Market System Development, formulated by Practical Action, was proposed as a tool to identify barriers to the development of markets that is able to produce high-value energy-enabled goods and services. “This approach has implications for the future of the 1.3 billion people worldwide who lack access to electricity,” the statement concluded.

Arusha Hosts Post-Durban Dialogue On Climate Change and Agriculture

Environment

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

A three-day Post-Durban Dialogue on climate change and agriculture, aimed at examining the outcome of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP 17) held in Durban in November-December 2011, has opened in Arusha, Tanzania.

Jointly organized by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); the East African Community, (EAC) in collaboration with Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS-EA) and a global programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR),

According to a statement, the Dialogue which brought climate change and agriculture experts from nine Eastern Africa countries of Burundi, DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda together, will “focus on decisions of agriculture with a view to propose activities that would be considered under the agricultural work programme of Parties (members of UNFCCC).”

Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture, Prof. Jumanne Abdallah Maghembe, represented by the Director General of Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), Ms Epiphania Kimaro assured experts at the opening session of the regional governments and Economic Communities’ commitment “to respond to the impacts of climate change collectively through policy and practical measures since the impacts had no boundaries.”

The minister commended COMESA and other partners for the technical support being provided to ensure that developing countries fully benefited from negotiations.

He added that the experts dialogue is an important opportunity for member States to reflect on the outcome of the Conference with the aim of preparing how to implement specific decisions that are of priority to the region and specifically to identify key issues relating to agriculture with a view to prepare a common position for consideration by the subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) during its 36th Session schedule for May 2012.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sector Mr. Jean Claude Nsengiyumva, who was represented by EAC Climate Change Coordinator, Mr. Brian Otiende informed the meeting that EAC was in the process of implementing three critical policy documents approved by the EAC Heads of State Summit in April 2011.

The policy documents include EAC Climate Policy (2011); the EAC Food Security Action Plan (2011-2015) and the Heads of States Summit Declaration on Food Security and Climate Change.

Claude reiterated that the EAC, COMESA and other strategic partners were committed to working with stakeholders in Eastern Africa with a view to developing a common position on issues related to agriculture for consideration by SBSTA and other bodies of the COP.