September 2016 brought the record-breaking hot streak to an end after the world witnessed nine consecutive hottest months ever recorded. While the Arctic is melting, the Third Pole is losing its glaciers at a staggeringly fast rate. The issue of climate change has been ignored in the US election debates, but the country, along with Canada, has started to witness climate change refugees. Wildfire frequency, severity and damages are also increasing.
Shorter rainy seasons due to climate change has opened new set of challenges for smallholder farmers in Africa, especially the ones living in fragile mountainous regions. Eccentric and extreme weather events have spelt disaster for farmers in India who witnessed severe drought and extreme flood within a span of two months, causing crop failure and destruction of properties.
With the water level likely to rise by one metre in coming decades, 30 million Bangladeshis are likely to lose their land. The concern over food insecurity is shared by Latin America and the Caribbean as well. That’s precisely why African countries are increasingly switching to climate-smart agriculture by sustainably increasing agricultural production. A UN report has recently warned that climate change could drive 122 million more people into extreme poverty by 2030.
Coral bleaching across the world, triggered by ocean warming, appears to be the most severe ever and the people of Lakshadweep may soon be the first climate change refugees in India. Ocean warming is not only intensifying typhoons hitting Asia but also leading to loss of fish stocks and crop yields. On top of all this, the CO2 levels in earth's atmosphere have permanently crossed the dangerous 400 PPM mark.
Women farmers in Vietnam shift their production model
Climate change challenge is particularly important in Asia because more than 60 per cent of the world’s undernourished people live here. In Vietnam’s Long An province, women farmers have adapted to climate change by shifting their production model. Thanks to Pham Thi Huan, a local farmer, her fellow companions were able to switch to raising ducks for egg production and distribution. This development came after rice cultivation proved difficult due to climate change. Her initiative not only created jobs, but also improved women farmers’ standing in society.
Community in Uttarakhand fights water crisis
When large swathes of rural Uttarakhand in India were facing severe water crisis in the summer of 2016, the situation in Kausani was under control. Local women’s group had launched a movement to save the Kosi River by planting broad-leaf trees around it. The women not only treated catchment areas to ensure proper drainage but also prevented land use by livestock.
Since a major part of Uttarakhand’s rural population depends on springs and mountain streams, the women’s group decided to work on protection of sources. Still, sensitising other communities about the importance of catchment treatment activities remains a challenge.
Bangladesh adopts crab farming
Bangladesh is yet to fully overcome the disastrous impact of cyclone Aila that hit the country in 2009. The impact of that severe cyclone was felt most intensely in southwestern Bangladesh. Salt water intrusion during and after cyclone rendered the fertile rice fields of the region barren and uncultivable.
While the cultivation of paddy was becoming difficult and shrimp production also witnessing a decline, the poor and small land holders in the region have found a lucrative source of income in crab fattening. It is traditionally practised in mangrove swamps, shrimp ghers (converted rice fields) and at the confluence of tidal rivers. The fish culture systems in Sundarbans region of Bangladesh proved to be excellent hubs for soft shell and mud crabs.
Dryland fisheries in Africa to counter food insecurity
In the drylands of sub-Saharan Africa, fisheries have often been neglected by policymakers and the resilience of fish resources to climatic changes has been underestimated. Fisheries not only provide a direct source of livelihood to over 10 million Africans but also ensure food security in the rural areas, especially at a time when the continent is likely to see greater frequency in floods and droughts.
During lean season, fish hide upstream in river tributaries. When it rains, these drylands fill up and fish immediately rush back. These fish are very productive and can lay tens of thousands of eggs. According to a FAO report, Lake Ngami in Botswana and Lake Liambezi in Namibia were both dry for over two decades but they now witness outstanding fish yields. Sudan's Khasm el-Girba reservoir, which turns bone dry every year, witnesses the return of fish. Interestingly, dryland fisheries can produce up to four times the amount of fish as a tropical lake or large reservoir.
Some worldwide challenges that came to the fore in the past one year
Climate change causes melting of the permafrost in Tibetan Plateau
Ocean warming leading to loss of fish stocks, crop yields: IUCN
Wheat production to decline as global temperature increases
Climate change may cause 160,000 deaths in India every year by 2050
509 glaciers in ‘Third Pole’ disappeared in last 50 years
Dryland fisheries in Africa can punch in nutrition, end hunger
Climate change may double malaria risk from dams in sub-Saharan Africa
Bleached to death