Malawi facing hunger

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Floods in early 2015 were the worst in living memory in Malawi, washing away homes and food stocks, and ruining fertile land. Photo: UNDP/Arjan van de Merwe

Malawi facing worst food crisis in decade, requires $81 million in relief aid – UN agency

More than 2.8 million people will face hunger in the coming months in the worst food crisis in a decade in Malawi, where a staggering four out of every 10 children suffer from stunting, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.

“People in some affected districts have already started selling their livestock to make ends meet,” WFP said in a press release. “Women are also engaging in more firewood and charcoal selling, which degrades the environment and further aggravates the fragile climate.”

“The agency said more than 2.8 million people will face hunger in the coming months following severe floods and drought that ruined this year’s harvest.

“The floods early this year were the worst in living memory in Malawi, washing away homes and food stocks, and ruining fertile land,” it said. “Some crops managed to withstand the floods only to succumb to intense dry spells in the following months, making survival even more difficult for the most vulnerable.”

“Since the end of last year, WFP has provided relief assistance to avert hunger in households hit by poor rainfall during the 2013/14 growing season and the floods in early 2015. This operation has reached more than one million vulnerable people.

Read the full story: UN News Centre

National flood and runoff assessment



A new analysis and approach to watershed management

Watershed scientists offer national flood and runoff assessment

Source: University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Summary: The first continent-wide, multi-factor analysis of climate and land cover effects on watersheds in the United States, published today, provides a broad new assessment of runoff, flooding and storm water management options for use by such professionals as land use and town planners and water quality managers.

The first continent-wide, multi-factor analysis of climate and land cover effects on watersheds in the United States, published today, provides a broad new assessment of runoff, flooding and storm water management options for use by such professionals as land use and town planners and water quality managers.

Watershed scientist Timothy Randhir and his doctoral student Paul Ekness in the department of environmental conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst hope their new multivariate simulation and statistical models at the watershed system level will give managers some practical ideas on new incentives to get developers to include water quality, green infrastructure and conservation plans in their projects. They also want to encourage a new awareness of the need for cities and towns to cooperate when considering new development.

The study quantifies the connections between land use and climate, that is temperature and precipitation, to the runoff process and flooding in a watershed system at a larger scale than was available before. Details appear today in an early online edition of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences.

Read the full story: Science Daily

El Niño flooding in Burkina Faso


TREE AID statement on the flooding in Burkina Faso

There is currently severe flooding in parts of Burkina Faso, attributed to the El Niño weather system. El Niño has caused a delayed onset of the rainy season and now unseasonably heavy rains.

This flooding has already affected over 20,000 people and demolished 3,700 homes. It is likely that this extreme weather will affect food production and harvests. 

John Moffett, CEO of TREE AID, said: “Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our staff and partners, with whom we are in daily contact. TREE AID projects located in Burkina Faso are continuing, led by our dedicated network of field workers and have not been affected by the flooding.”TREE AID’s largest African office is based in the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, where the worst flooding is being experienced.

See the text and map: Tree Aid

Releasing massive amounts of the Colorado River from dams

Photo credit: Treehugger

CC BY 2.0 Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr

Why are they flooding the Grand Canyon?

by Melissa Breyer
Science / Conservation

The U.S. Department of the Interior has taken to releasing massive amounts of the Colorado River from dams, here’s why.

The Colorado River should reach the sea, that’s what it wants to do. It wants to start in the Rocky Mountains and wind its way 1,450 miles along the Arizona-California border into the Mexican delta, irrigating farmland and nourishing loads of wildlife and flora along the way before emptying itself into the Gulf of California. That’s what it did up until 1998. But then, gradually, ouch.

The mighty Colorado continues to take top honors in American Rivers’ annual rankingof America’s most endangered rivers. The conservation groups notes, “A century of water management policies and practices that have promoted wasteful water use have put the river at a critical crossroads.” Demand on the river’s water simply exceeds its supply, to the point that it no longer reaches the sea. Instead, it dribbles into nothingness somewhere in the desert of the Southwest.

As Jonathan Waterman wrote in The New York Times:

Now dozens of animal species are endangered; the culture of the native Cocopah (the People of the River) has been devastated; the fishing industry, once sustained by shrimp and other creatures that depend on a mixture of seawater and freshwater, has withered.

The river’s sad story began in 1922 with the Colorado River Compact, an agreement among seven western states to divvy up its bounty. Mexico was allotted 10 percent of the flow. Almost a century later and a study by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation finds that the entire river and its tributaries are siphoned off to meet the needs of 40 million Americans living in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. Along with hydrating 5.5 million acres of land, it also helps power much of the electricity that comes from hydro-power plants.

Did I say ouch? Ouch.

Read the full article: Treehugger

Increased desertification of unstable areas

Photo credit: Trade Arabia

Climate change ‘may worsen instability in ME’

Climate change could aggravate existing instability in the Middle East, a diplomat has warned.
French Ambassador to Bahrain Bernard Regnauld-Fabre said rising sea levels and increased desertification posed serious security concerns, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

One of the reasons was the potential displacement of large populations, which might have to relocate to escape flooding.

However, he added that renewable energy could hold the key to a more peaceful Middle East.

“In Egypt, an increase of 50cm, or almost 20 inches, in the sea level would cause millions of people to flee the Nile Delta, with security consequences for the entire region,” he explained.

“Increased desertification of unstable areas, such as the Sahel (in Africa), would foster the growth of criminal networks and armed terrorist groups, which are already thriving there.

“Similarly, climate disruption would exacerbate the threats that are currently concentrated in regions from Niger to the Arabian Gulf.”

Read the full article: Trade Arabia

Floodwater used to grow herbs in Dakar (Senegal)

Photo credit: TRUST

Emilie Faye stands near a floodwater retention basin in Pikine, a suburb of the Senegalese capital Dakar. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

Dakar women grow herb business from floodwater

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Author: Kathryn M. Werntz


Though the coastal cities of Senegal are situated on the fierce Atlantic Ocean, it is floods from heavy rains they struggle with, rather than rising tides.

Inondation à Pikine -
Inondation à Pikine –

A common solution is to pump floodwaters into the ocean. But one innovative project is trying to capture the water instead, for use in gardening during water-short periods of the year.

Pikine, les Parcelles assainies et Guédiawaye, les trois villes de la banlieue dakaroise, bénéficieront, très prochainement, d’un programme spécial de lutte contre la pauvreté. -
Pikine, les Parcelles assainies et Guédiawaye, les trois villes de la banlieue dakaroise, bénéficieront, très prochainement, d’un programme spécial de lutte contre la pauvreté. –

In Pikine, a suburb of Senegal’s capital Dakar, the “Live with Water” project captures floodwater in large sandy basins, around which cash crop gardens of mint and basil provide an income for local residents.

Using the basins, floods that once wiped out houses, strained the local economy and heightened the risk of disease have been converted into a new stock of fresh water for a West African community that is dusty and dry much of the year.

“Before, one had to accept that houses here flood. But this project opened our eyes to see there is a solution,” said Emilie Faye, a local leader who has been instrumental in the project.

Faye points to the seat of her couch, indicating the flood level in years past. The wall and ceiling of her home are discoloured and peeling due to secondary damage from humidity.


The redirected floodwaters serve a multitude of purposes. The surface drainage system leads water into an underground canal which empties into a natural filtration system. Water then flows through a series of basins, creating a reservoir and a green space in the middle of a crowded, dusty suburb.

The basins, a burgeoning ecosystem of their own, are now populated with medicinal plants, fish and herons.


Read the full article: TRUST

Climate change projects for a sustainable solution

Photo credit: Google

Farmers in Sierra Leone

Effects of Climate Change in Sierra Leone

Climate change refers to an increase in average global temperatures. Natural events and human activities such as deforestation, increasing population pressure, intensive agricultural land use, overgrazing, bush burning, extraction of fuel wood and other biotic resources are believed to be contributing to an increase in average global temperatures. This is caused primarily by increases in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2).

Sierra Leone is experiencing adverse climate conditions with negative impacts on the welfare of millions of Sierra Leoneans. Flooding during the raining season, off season rains and dry spells have sent growing seasons out of orbit; on a country dependent on a rain fed agriculture. Alarm bells are ringing. Lakes are drying up. There is reduction in river flow. The water table is at its lowest ebb. The red flag is up. No one is talking. The warnings are being dismissed. It’s been business as usual.

The result is fewer water supplies for use in agriculture, hydro power generation and other domestic purposes. The main suspect for all this havoc is climate change. This has been confirmed following release of the 4th IPCC Assessment report. Africa will be worst hit by the effects of climate change. Sierra Leone not exempted.

The agricultural sector contributes about 47.9% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and agriculture is the largest employer of labour with 80% of the population working in the sector. The dominant role of agriculture makes it obvious that even minor climate deteriorations can cause devastating socioeconomic consequences.

Read the full article: allAfrica

Floods, landslides and droughts in Nepal

Photo credit: Google

Surkhet, Nepal Village Plateau

Farmer to farmer video at the Himalayan Permaculture Centre – Photostory


Nepal is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change experienced through recurrent natural disasters such as floods, landslides and droughts. The majority of the working population are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Subsistence agriculture is often practiced by rural communities who often rely on the climatic conditions and traditional farming practices. In the past years, changes in the climatic conditions such as warmer winters, changing rainfall patterns and warmer temperatures have greatly affected agriculture productivity and disrupted the planting seasons leading to crop failure and food shortages.

To build a community that is more resilient to the impacts of climate change and improve the livelihoods of rural communities in the Surkhet region, innovative and creative ways are needed to communicate action that supports sustainable and resilient livelihoods in the long-term in the face of uncertain climatic conditions, especially in rural deprived areas.

Read the full story: weAdapt

Droughts and floods

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Flood victims rush to a rescue boat of the Malawi Defence Force in Makalanga.

Photo: UNDP/Arjan van de Merwe

21st century ‘hottest’ on record as global warming continues, UN agency warns

Devastating weather patterns and increasing temperatures will last into the foreseeable future as global warming is expected to continue, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed today as it explained that 2014’s ranking as the “hottest year on record” is part of a larger climate trend.

“The overall warming trend is more important than the ranking of an individual year,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud clarified today in a press release. “Analysis of the datasets indicates that 2014 was nominally the warmest on record, although there is very little difference between the three hottest years.”

High sea temperatures, the UN agency has said, have contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others. Twelve major Atlantic storms battered the United Kingdom in early months of 2014, while floods devastated much of the Balkans throughout May. The monthly precipitation over the Pacific side of western Japan for August 2014, meanwhile, was 301 per cent above normal – the highest since area-averaged statistics began in 1946.

At the same time, crippling droughts have struck large swathes of the continental United States while Northeast China and parts of the Yellow River basin did not reach half of the summer average, causing severe drought.

The diverse climate impact which afflicted nations around the planet throughout 2014 were, in fact, consistent with the expectation of a changing climate, Mr. Jarraud continued.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

Improvement of food security and water management

Photo credit: Pixaboy

Buffalo in Uganda

African Water Facility to Help Tackle Food Insecurity, Flooding and Droughts in Uganda and South Sudan.

The African Water Facility (AWF) announced on January 9, 2015 that it has offered a €1.97 million grant to the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP) to increase water availability for multiple purposes in the Nyimur region of Uganda and South Sudan. The grant will support the improvement of irrigated agriculture and food production, fisheries, electricity generation and sanitation as well as the prevention of flooding and droughts in the region.

The AWF grant will help prepare the construction of a multipurpose dam and a reservoir on the Nyimur River through feasibility studies, engineering design studies and environmental and social impact assessments. The planned infrastructure investment will allow approximately 5,105 ha of land to be irrigated through a community irrigation scheme, and enable 350 kW of electricity to be produced from a small hydropower facility. The project will directly benefit approximately 12,000 people.

The AWF will also support the mobilization of funds from donors through project preparation and fundraising activities such as donors’ roundtables.

“The project will improve the livelihoods of surrounding communities by reducing the ravages of flooding and droughts, as well as foster food and energy security and in the long run help consolidate peace and security in this fragile region” said AWF coordinator Akissa Bahri.

Read the full article: allAfrica

The use of “gabions” or simple rock walls to slow down the flow of flood water (Treehugger)s

Read at :

How to reverse desertification. With rocks.

by Sami Grover

From a fanciful Sahara forest concept to the planting of trees to stop the encroachment of desert, we’ve seen plenty of ideas for turning arid, hostile environments into productive ecosystems.

The work of permaculture expert Geoff Lawton is often quoted in this regard. From exploring existing, 2000-year-old food forests to greening the deserts of Jordan, he’s been talking about and teaching dry land permaculture concepts for many years.

His latest video is another offering on this topic, looking at the use of “gabions” or simple rock walls as a means to slow down the flow of flood waters, encourage the build up of silt and organic matter, and begin the process of natural regeneration.

Here’s the teaser (the full video is available for free via Geoff Lawton’s website, but you’ll need to sign up to view it):


Kitchen gardens, tools and training on best practices for growing vegetables and trees for food security in Sindh, Pakistan (ACTED)

Read at :

Improving food security through kitchen gardens in Sindh

In 2011, severe flooding affected millions of people in Sindh, Pakistan. Many lost their homes and livelihoods and have struggled to find the means to rebuild their lives. ACTED launched a shelter and food security assistance to support affected communities by providing shelters, kitchen gardening kits and tree plants to help them start to rebuild their lives.

Choti is a widow from in Sindh, Pakistan. She lives in one of the 23 districts in South Sindh which was devastated by large scale flooding in the summer of 2011. Estimates from the government of Pakistan and the humanitarian community indicate that nearly 5.15 million people were affected, and an estimated 1.8 million were displaced in the province according to a multi-sector needs assessment. Around 50% of the affected were children, and 25% were adult women.

Nearly 90% of those who were displaced have now returned back to where they used to live before the flooding, with most finding their homes and land destroyed. When Choti’s village was flooded, she was forced to live on the side of a road for weeks. Before the flooding, Choti lived with her eight children and made her living off the land. After the flooding, she was left with no home and no source of income.

Early recovery following the emergency

Choti and her fellow villagers were supported by ACTED through a programme of shelter and food security assistance. ACTED has implemented programmes including early recovery assistance in the form of community infrastructure rehabilitation through cash for work and food for work activities. Adaptable and locally appropriate shelters were provided, as well as tools, kitchen gardening and tree inputs, with relevant trainings. . This was achieved through one project supported by USAID.


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