Norah

Now is the time for world leaders to secure a fair climate deal that puts our farmers at an advantage over climate change crisis.

Uganda, as a country is endowed with such beauty, filled with so much opportunity and promise and yet we also face many challenges. One of the greatest threats to our development is the impact of climate change as rising temperatures; drought and flooding are already hitting majority of Ugandans hard.

As world leaders come together in Paris this week for the critical 21st Session of Conference of Parties (COP21) climate negotiations. We want to urge them to take into consideration the struggles of communities in Uganda and Africa as a whole, who are fighting to survive the climate crisis particularly our women farmers.

The stakes have never been higher for vulnerable communities in our country and across Africa. The Intergovernmental panel on climate change has warned that Africa will be severely struck by the impact of climate change due to its geographical position, limited adaptive capacity, widespread poverty and low level of development. We are experiencing ever more unpredictable weather patterns that place at risk the livelihoods of farmers, affecting crop yields and pushing up food prices for everyone. 70% of those living in poverty including most farming women in Africa depend on rain fed agriculture as a source of income and livelihood. In Uganda, the heaviest burden is falling on small-scale women farmers who are the majority of the country’s food producers. Yet our agricultural sector has not been invested in sufficiently to make it as profitable and gainful as it should be and now climate change is taking its toll.

Adaption mechanisms such as changes to crops and farming techniques and access to the right information will help make farmers more resilient, protecting the livelihoods and food security of our communities. To achieve this we must promote positive gender equity to ensure participation in decision making about national and community development priorities and resource allocation. If Uganda is to progress in an all and inclusive manner, women and men alike must be invited to the table.

Adaption mechanisms such as changes to crops and farming techniques and access to the right information will help make farmers more resilient, protecting the livelihoods and food security of our communities. To achieve this we must promote positive gender equity to ensure participation in decision making about national and community development priorities and resource allocation. If Uganda is to progress in an all and inclusive manner, women and men alike must be invited to the table.

As climate change hits harder, there is ample evidence of growing inequality, which as a result undermines the fight against poverty and disentitles the citizens from sharing the benefits of the economic growth. The model of our development efforts in Africa should therefore prioritise in systems that cushion citizens from adverse weather patterns.

Therefore besides the call for a binding agreement on carbon reduction measures, we are asking for a concrete commitment to climate financing with mechanisms to ensure adaptation is given priority to reduce the evident vulnerability of our food production systems. Specific financial packages tailored to support women food producers will improve the living conditions of many, including young people. While urban unemployment can reduce if the young people are active in the value chains of good production systems, agriculture through public financing can be made attractive as a source of sustainable income, encouraging our young people to actively engage and participate in it.

We cannot be talking about the future of our country and our continent if we do not address the concerns of our food producers who make up the biggest percentage of Africa’s population. If the issues confronting our farmers are not addressed and given priority, then we will have failed those very communities and groups vital to the development of this country and Africa as a whole. As a result, we will perpetuate further social injustices and inequality within our societies.

For the next two weeks and in the future we want to ask world leaders to focus and show commitment on achieving an ambitious but fair climate deal which will guarantee that at least 50% of the public finance goes to helping developing countries with climate adaptation.

We hope that our leaders will commit and act now to secure an equitable climate deal that protects and provides a future for the most vulnerable across our continent.

Written by: Dorah Ntunga, Ngele Ali and Rama Omonya
Photo: Zahra Abdul/Oxfam