With the adverse effects of climate change on the rise, experts have noted the failure of communities to adapt, a major setback in the fight against climate change.
Changing weather patterns are having a direct impact on those most affected by the elements—smallholder farmers who are among the least prepared to deal with the changes.
According to Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (Icpac) executive secretary Laban Ogallo, data shows that useful climate services now exist but their applications have not been maximised.
Icpac is part of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) in Eastern Africa. Its mission is to foster sub-regional and national capacity for climate information, prediction products and services, early warning and related applications as a contribution to sustainable development.
“Information on weather patterns is extremely vital in our region. But of course, the information should be accurate and user friendly, ” he said.
Ogallo said early warning information will strengthen and encourage the shift from reliance on rain-fed agriculture to manage climate change, water and food security nexus as a measure of addressing food shortages.
“The region has been paralysed by fluctuating impacts extremes over the last several years and most of our socio-economic systems have not recovered from the past impacts, and it is just pertinent that the region begins to utilise the weather reports,” he said.
Bridget Fulagombe, Mangochi district coordinator for Malawi Lake Basin Programme, a local organisation that helps communities adapt to climate change effects, said communities have been badly hit by climate change effects and it is important for policy makers to start looking for other ways of helping the communities.
“Our communities need to be empowered to fight the effects of climate change,” she said.
She added that the Meteorological Department can help in this process.
“Smallholder farmers have, for a long time, suffered as a result of climate change. There are times some farmers have planted seed twice after dry spells. It is obvious we cannot fund these farmers and the best we can do is to simply empower them with the right information while we are helping them adapt,” she said.
Fulagombe said the weather patterns keep changing and using the same old methods is proving futile. She said, at the moment some smallholder farmers are being trained on how best they can take care of the ecosystem.
“The population has increased, putting pressure on the ecosystem due to careless cutting down of trees, for example. That is why We Effect is working with these communities on how best we can retain the ecosystem,” she said.