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Greening up against drought in Turkana

Turkana in northern Kenya is one of the driest regions of the East African nation. This 77,000 square kilometre county receives an average of just 200mm of rain annually, compared to a national average of 680mm. And with three consecutive rain seasons failing since 2020, many residents are now faced with food scarcity, one of the painful effects of an ongoing  drought.  According to Peter Eripete, Turkana County’s Head of Public Service, the effects of drought are hardest felt by the residents who are mainly pastoralists. Their reliance on livestock means that when their livestock die, their income levels fall drastically, affecting entire families’ food security.   In Kangirenga Village in Katilu, an administrative Ward in southern Turkana, we found Lokutan Amaler preparing her only meal for the day - boiled maize. Food has been hard to come by for Lokutan and her family. “I had nothing to eat. All my food storage containers are empty. If I had not received this maize from a well wisher, I would not have had anything to eat today” Lokutan explained as she stirred the boiling maize in a cooking pot over a three-stone fire.   Traditionally, the Turkana people have always been dependent on their livestock for sustenance. Whenever they need to buy foodstuffs or household supplies, they sell a goat or cow at the market and with the money received, make the necessary purchases. But with the shortage of rains leading to a lack of pasture, many cows, goats and even camels have died, leading to a loss of income for many across this vast county. To get out of the recurring cycle of lack of food whenever drought visits, a few people have now diversified their sources of sustenance.  Lokutan has planted green grams a short walk from her home. Her garden is part of  a 10-acre agriculture project initiated by Panafricaire. Eunice Eseison, who coordinates the farming project for Panafricaire says “Convincing the residents to take up farming was an uphill task. Though a few saw the sense it made, it took us very long to convince many that farming was something they could do profitably because it went against their culture”.   But with time, those who enrolled in the project including Lokutan have seen the benefits after finding an alternative source of food at every harvest, and income when the excess is sold in the local market.  While the work done by organizations like PanAfricaire to mitigate the effects of drought are commendable, food security still remains a concern in Turkana. Greater investments are needed to have more land under cultivation with improved farming practices that will increase productivity from the land. This will allow greater year-round harvests for Lokutan and other farmers, ensuring that they are always cushioned from the harmful effects of the drought. 

Greening up against drought in Turkana
The weather alone cannot explain droughts and floods

Communities all over the world have suffered some of the most brutal effects of drought and flooding this year. Flash floods in western Europe, eastern and central Asia and southern African. And catastrophic drought in Australia, southern Africa, southern Asia, much of Latin America, western North America and Siberia are cases in point. The impacts extend well beyond the individual events. For example, the rise in food insecurity in the southern African region and unprecedented wildfires in North America, Europe and Central Asia.   What is going on? This is much more than bad weather in some cases, and is increasingly so. The UNCCD organized an event at COP26, the Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow, United Kingdom, to focus attention on the land-water-climate nexus. The science and policy responses discussed make it clear that human decisions exacerbated by climate change are significantly – and arguably, catastrophically – amplifying the impact of drought and floods.  The discussion encouraged more strategic land use decisions. Decisions that ensure what we do where, and in particular, what we plant where, mitigatesthe impacts of both extremes, be it too much or too little rainfall. It also shed light on how important it is to have healthy soils. Soils that are replete with organic matter will obtain “more crop per drop”, and reduce the risks associated with drought and flooding.  Extreme events, including both droughts and floods are on the rise. With more land projected to be get drier and more and more people living in drylandsin the future, the discussions centered on the shift more than 60 countries are making from “reactive” response to droughts and floods to “proactive” planning and risk management designed to build resilience. Participants from Malawi, Pakistan, Honduras, Grenada and Burkina Faso provided concrete examples of policy alignment and cross-sectorial approaches to implementation. Here is a quick overview of the highlights. Read more:  Land and drought

The weather alone cannot explain droughts and floods
Call for gender case studies and good practices

Enhancing knowledge on the differentiated impacts of land degradation, desertification and drought on women and men With a view to strengthening gender-related knowledge, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) secretariat is currently conducting a "Study on the differentiated impacts of land degradation, desertification, and drought on women and men." The study aims to address the socio-economic dimensions of land degradation and desertification with a gender lens and document existing practices. In line with objective 4 of the UNCCD Gender Action Plan, this study will also contribute to developing a baseline on gender-related issues in land degradation and desertification. It builds on the efforts of the UNCCD Parties to produce gender-related knowledge and sex-disaggregated data on matters relevant to the Convention. The Secretariat seeks to collect cases studies and promising practices from Convention Parties, international organizations, civil society organizations (national and international), indigenous peoples’ organizations, academia, and other relevant actors on 5 different topics: Information and data on differentiated gender roles in the communities fighting land degradation, desertification, and drought. How women and men experience changes in environmental conditions, in particular land degradation, desertification, and drought. How land degradation affects women’s empowerment (including participation, economic empowerment, health, mobility, access to and use of resources, access to social services). How land degradation exacerbates the socio-economic vulnerability of specific groups of women. How gender is mainstreamed in national policies related to desertification and land degradation. Transformative actions taken by governments at the national level to ensure that women and men benefit equally from policies and programs addressing land degradation, desertification, and drought. Case studies submitted in English, French, or Spanish will be reviewed and collated, and the Secretariat may follow up to gather further information on individual projects or case studies. Case studies should be sent by 1 December 2021 to the following address: gender@unccd.int .You can also contact us at this address in case you have any questions. Download the questionnaire: PDF | WORD  Read more: UNCCD Gender Action Plan Land tenure

Call for gender case studies and good practices
Restore Balance with Nature campaign is underway

For centuries, we have used nature to live. As a result: Nearly one million species are at risk of extinction. Nearly three quarters of the Earth's ice-free land has been transformed to meet human demands for food, raw materials, and homes. If humans continue to emit greenhouse gases at current rates, global temperature will rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius target within decades. Today, we need nature to survive. Protecting and restoring nature can help drive a green recovery and prevent future pandemics. Investing in nature-based solutions will allow us to build forward better, greener, healthier, stronger, and more sustainably. The three Rio Conventions on biodiversity, land and climate are joining forces to ensure that each and every one of us takes action in their own environment in order to change the course of the world to restore balance with nature. Learn more about the campaign at the Rio Conventions Pavillion website and follow it on social media: @UNCCD @UNBiodiversity @UNFCCC. Read more: Rio conventions Land and climate Land and biodiversity Solution brief: Restored Land, healthy people, green recovery

Restore Balance with Nature campaign is underway
Assessment tool for gender-responsive SLM technologies reviewed

On 14-15 September 2021, the World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) and UNCCD conducted an expert review workshop to fine-tune the jointly developed methodology used to assess gender-responsiveness of the sustainable land management (SLM) technologies. The event facilitated an exchange between experts and practitioners from a variety of regions and organizations who addressed a number of technical and practical questions including the regional relevance of the methodology as well as the challenges and benefits of its application. Considering the tool’s potential impact on the ground, participants also discussed how it can contribute to tackling the wider gender-related issues as well as what data it could generate to support policy decisions. The UNCCD Gender Action Plan (GAP) emphasises that gender equality and women’s empowerment are key to the implementation of the Convention. The joint  project on gender-responsive SLM technologies and approaches launched by UNCCD and WOCAT in 2020 focuses on one of the four priority areas for action outlined in the GAP – enhancing women’s access to leading SLM technologies that effectively support UNCCD implementation.

Assessment tool for gender-responsive SLM technologies reviewed