COP28: Rich countries must commit more climate finance for adaptation of African livestock sector, say experts

Investments necessary to sustain fastest-growing population on planet, write African leaders, scientists and experts

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 28 November 2023
Livestock support 800 million herders and smallholder farmers across sub-Saharan Africa. Photo: iStock

High-income countries at the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change must agree to increase investments to assist Africa in adapting its livestock systems, African leaders, scientists and experts have said in an open letter. The funding is necessary to sustain the fastest-growing population on the planet, they said. 

The document described livestock as a “climate solution with legs” for 800 million herders and smallholder farmers across sub-Saharan Africa. More than 50 organisations and individuals, including Josefa Sacko, African Union commissioner for agriculture, rural development, blue economy and sustainable environment, have signed the open letter. 

Read more: Smallholder farmers are filling climate adaptation gaps from their own income, finds survey

The document has been released ahead of the COP28 climate summit, which will begin November 30, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

Livestock can help restore degraded land and support biodiversity, as well as help communities rebuild in the aftermath of disasters, the signatories wrote, according to a press statement by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which coordinated the letter. 

Despite the potential for sustainable livestock development to contribute to climate adaptation and resilience, Africa’s livestock sector continues to receive only a fraction of overall climate finance, the document said. 

Africa received just 11 per cent, or $30 billion, of its total climate finance needs in 2020, the letter stated. Less than one per cent of this finance reached the livestock sector. Meanwhile, the Horn of Africa is facing an unprecedented and ongoing drought during which at least 13 million livestock have died,  endangering the lives and livelihoods of the communities they support.

Read more: Lack of livestock health infrastructure worrying, says parliamentary panel

Livestock are the lifeblood of millions of people across Africa, supporting greater nutrition, economic opportunities, and adaptation in the face of rising climate extremes and food insecurity challenges, said Appolinaire Djikeng, director general of the ILRI. 

“Parties at COP28 must urgently recognise the full potential of climate adaptation for Africa’s livestock sector to sustainably feed and support a quarter of the world’s population by 2050 and direct funding accordingly,” he said. 

Investments into the small-scale livestock systems across Africa to improve resilience can also help reduce the sector’s emission, the letter stated. For example, greenhouse emissions can be reduced by up to 30 per cent by expanding simple, improved practices on smallholder farms and preventing livestock losses. At the same time, it can boost productivity, animal welfare, food security and incomes.

Read more: Climate-related health emergencies, disease outbreaks surge in Horn of Africa: WHO

There is a range of opportunities in the livestock sector that can help support sustainable development and climate justice across Africa, the document pointed out. This includes developing more reliable forages and feed, more resilient indigenous livestock breeds, more resilient animal health systems and support services such as digital information tools, finance and index-based livestock insurance.

“Supporting climate adaptation in Africa through investment in livestock is not just an economic issue, but a form of climate justice, given that Africa has contributed less than three per cent of historic global greenhouse gas emissions,” said Huyam Salih, director of African Union — Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.