By Jeffrey Moyo
MASERU (ACP-IDN) – Three years ago, Lesotho, Southern Africa’s small mountain kingdom surrounded by South Africa, was hit hard by the drought that led to the driest season in the region in 35 years. In the tiny dynastic nation, the El Niño driven-phenomenon resulted in a fall in maize production, the country’s staple food.
But now thanks to ACP, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, a group that was created by the Georgetown Agreement in 1975, climate change impacts in African countries like Lesotho have met their match.
The Georgetown Agreement of June 6, 1975 created the ACP, an organization, which aims to ensure sustainable development within its member states, and strives for their greater integration into the world economy. All ACP member states, except Cuba, are signatories to the Cotonou Agreement with the EU.
The Cotonou Agreement is a treaty between the European Union and the ACP Group of States signed in June 2000 in Cotonou, Benin’s largest city, by 78 ACP countries and the then 15-member States of the EU.
With ACP assisting to combat climate change impacts in Africa, in Southern Africa’s mountain kingdom, last year the Lesotho Disaster Management Agency (DMA) instituted the first systematic analysis of Lesotho’s water management system to assess its vulnerability to climate change.
With funding from the ACP-EU, Lesotho’s Disaster Management Agency then, through technical support from the World Bank and the World Food Programme (WFP), established and installed the physical infrastructure for an Early Warning System (EWS) in 2015.
For Litsitso Motsephe, a climate change expert in Lesotho who holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies from Zimbabwe’s Midlands State University, with ACP on their side, climate change challenges have been made easy to bear.
“A number of developments meant to help the kingdom to defeat climate change impacts have been instituted by organisations such as ACP and this has seen slight improvements especially in the agricultural sector over the past three years,” Lesotho’s Motsephe told IDN.
Not only Lesotho has stood to benefit from measures introduced by ACP. Even other poor African countries like Swaziland have had their fair share of help from ACP, thanks to the organization’s initiative of supporting Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation activities in ACP countries through technical assistance and capacity building.
Seized with a bid to fend off climate change impacts across Africa, ACP is on also record stepping in to contain the management of natural disasters and the associated risks here on the continent, subsequently helping in the promotion of programs leading to Resilient Recovery in the face of climate change impacts in the region.
In April this year, experts from all the six ACP regions gathered in Brussels to discuss natural risk management and climate change challenges in ACP countries. The Brussels convention served as a solid framework to guide the ACP group’s follow-up strategy for Disaster Risk Management for the next five-year period 2018-2023.
As part of the ACP group’s strategy to include ACP climate change experts in the natural disaster risk management experts’ policy dialogue on resilience and adaptation, representatives from other regional institutions such as the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa, the Pacific Regional Environmental Program, Pacific Island Forum, East African Community and Indian Ocean Commission, were also invited to tell their experiences to the Brussels discussions.
According to a UNEP press release, UN Environment Deputy Executive Director, Ibrahim Thiaw and the Secretary-General of the ACP Group of States, Patrick I. Gomes signed then, in the margins of the joint ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, a Memorandum of Understanding that aimed to reinforce the collaboration between the ACP Secretariat and the UNEP in the field of environment and climate change.
Then, at the signing, Mr. Thiaw said: “This is a very important moment for UN Environment and for our relationship with the ACP countries and its Secretariat. Our collaboration under the terms of this new Memorandum of Understanding will help consolidate and further develop our cooperation on environment and climate change in the context of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.”
Just this year, two years after another Brussels meeting, the Secretariat for ACP, in collaboration with the European Commission, hosted the autumn meeting of the Consultative Group (CG) of the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and the Recovery (GFDRR), again in Brussels. As such, the ACP among other organisations like the EU, supports disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change activities in ACP countries through technical assistance, strengthening capabilities and consultative and analytical work.
Last year, the Intra-ACP Global Climate Change Alliance+ (GCCA+) Programme, an initiative of the ACP Group of States funded by the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) to strengthen dialogue and cooperation on climate change, was launched during a Side Event at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. [IDN-InDepthNews – 01 December 2018]
Photo: Lesotho has had its fair share of the climate change impacts owing to the El Nino crisis in the past years. Credit: Lesotho: Agence Kaolin