July 17, 2015 - The eastern Free State province in South Africa is home to cattle, horses, ragged mountains and rich agriculture land, however, the increasing effects of changing climate such as prolonged droughts have begun to threaten the livelihoods of many in this agriculture hub. To commemorate this year’s Nelson Mandela International Day, the NEPAD Agency in partnership with the South African Weather Services, and the Department of Environmental Affairs, embarked on an outreach and awareness programme in the towns of Memel, Vrede and Warden.
Celebrated annually, Nelson Mandela International Day was officially adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009 in recognition of the former president’s birthday on July 18. The day has however become more than a celebration of Madiba’s life and legacy but has evolved into Iglobal movement to honor his life’s work by encouraging individuals and organizations to effect concrete actions in order to change the world for the better.
The NEPAD Climate Change Fund project in the area in partnership with South African Weather Services aims to train extension agents and farmers on the application of agro-meteorological information in order for information to be used to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies against continually changing climate. “Our area is often facing prolonged droughts which results in bad crops, therefore the training by the South African Weather Service is very important to us,” said Mrs. Motaung of Memel.
Vincent Oparah of NEPAD Agency addressing Memel Community
Representing the Director of Program Implementation and Coordination Division within NEPAD at the event was Mr. Vincent Oparah. He stated that “issues of climate change and land degradation on the African continent are very evident, given that they affect the lives of millions of people, especially in the rural communities, such as the one in Memel, therefore, it is paramount that communities through out the continent be equipped with the right tools to adapt and mitigate the changing climate.”
Honorable Thomson planting a veggie garden
The South Africa Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms. Barbara Thomson, highlighted the importance of engaging with communities on the ground on weather, climate and agrometeorological issues. She added that the issue of implementation of a food security strategy is key when carrying out this campaign within rural communities. She also handed vegetable seedlings for a community vegetable garden to the community of Zamani township on the outskirts of Memel courtesy of NEPAD Climate Change Fund and the South African Weather Services. She thanked NEPAD and its donors for funding the agrometeorological project in the area.
The NEPAD Climate Fund was established in 2014 with support from the German government. The fund is aligned with African Union priority initiatives and frameworks namely the NEPAD Environmental Action Plan and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan. It is open to national and provincial institutions of the African Union Member States and Regional Economic Communities. The fund is currently funding 22 projects across the African continent.