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[LIMA, PERU] Africa needs innovative, sustainable and integrated landscape management  to address challenges of  food security, environmental conservation and climate change, an international meeting has heard.

Africa’s agriculture is linked to land, water and watershed uses, according to Magda Lovei, practice manager for environment and natural resources, at the World Bank Group, during the 13th TerrAfrica Executive Committee (TAEC) meeting on sustainable land management, desertification, biodiversity and adaptation to climate change in Peru, last month (4-5 December).

“We are linking up traditional ways of looking at natural resource management and climate change adaptation needs, including the need for early warning systems for floods and droughts.”

Magda Lovei, The World Bank Group

TerrAfrica Partnership, a regional initiative led by the African Union’s New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) Agency, is boosting watershed management partly because the practice could enhance agriculture.
According to Lovei, integrated landscape management will have great impact on women, noting that in Ethiopia, through the bank’s financing, they have rehabilitated some watersheds and hillsides, giving new possibilities such as beekeeping for women in honey production.
She explained that the work in Ethiopia makes lives easier because water comes back as upper watersheds become rehabilitated and women do not go far to fetch water, thus opening up other opportunities such as having more time with their families.

Lovei added that the World Bank Group has US$3 billion worth of investments in African countries — including Ethiopia, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal — co-financed with other partners such as Global Environment Facility and governments of Germany, the Netherlands and Norway to boost sustainable land management

“We support the Great Green Wall Initiative that spans from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, and even countries like Sudan, which are relatively newcomers in TerrAfrica Partnership, already have [land management] programmes,” said Lovei, adding that the Africa-based partnership, has to create an overall framework and agreements of what to be done and how.

Martin Bwalya, head of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme at the South Africa-headquartered NEPAD Agency, added that through the support of TerrAfrica Partnership, most African countries are becoming much more able to tackle climate change and land degradation.

Lovei noted that Africa is one of the most affected continents in terms of vulnerability to climate change, and natural resource management is at the core of it.

“We are linking up traditional ways of looking at natural resource management and climate change adaptation needs, including the need for early warning systems for floods and droughts; building of the capacity to look at impacts, [and] preparing communities and countries to deal with some of the already manifest signs of climate change,” Lovei told TAEC meeting participants.

She explained that the World Bank has close collaborations and dialogues with ministries of finance, and has been discussing climate change and adaptation needs at high-level policy issues.

According to Lovei, the World Bank is also working with governments to develop strategies and policies, especially with a focus on investing in the lowest level of communities to ensure initiatives meet local needs.

She explained that good land use practices dissemination is key and through the TerrAfrica partnership communication they are using a range of instruments such as videos and movies to reach out to both communities and policymakers.
Sergio Zelaya, special advisor on global issues at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, which is headquartered in Germany, said that sustainable landscape management and resilience in Africa and other parts of the developing world are linked.  

“Having more research and knowledge produced in the global South focusing on deforestation, land degradation and other meteorological effects is critical to addressing landscape management issues,” he noted.

Zelaya added that understanding the link between science and policy is crucial when addressing issues of sustainable land use, landscape management, climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation.
Disclaimer: TerrAfrica Partnership sponsored Ochieng’ Ogodo to attend its 13th TAEC Meeting on Sustainable Land Management (SLM), Desertification, Biodiversity & Adaptation to Climate Change (LDBA) in Lima, Peru.
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.