We should not allow climate change to destroy our socio-economic fabric

Feb. 23, 2012. Arusha, Tanzania

This was emphasized by Musa Sirma, Minister, Ministry of East Africa Community (EAC), Kenya in his Opening Address to a CUTS International meeting in Arusha, Tanzania on 23 February. CUTS International, a research-based NGO working on trade, agriculture, competition and other development-related issues is organising a two-day meeting to launch its new project entitled "Promoting Agriculture-Climate-Trade Linkages in the EAC". The meeting is attended by about 50 representatives of international and regional organisations such as FAO and the EAC as well as of governments, CSOs, private sector, think tanks and media from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. PACT EAC is being funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Minister Sirma narrated first hand accounts of extreme weather events that are negatively affecting agriculture and food security in the region. He emphasised the need for deep reflection to understand the linkages among climate change, food security and trade, and hoped that the PACT EAC project will generate recommendations for realistic and effective policies as well as build the capacity of stakeholders to implement the policies. He offered CUTS of his full support in this endeavour.

Ramamurti Badrinath, Director CUTS International Geneva, welcomed the participants and outlined the importance of agriculture which provides livelihoods to 80% of the EAC population. Yet, about 40% of East African are malnourished, a situation that can get worse due to climate change. According to him, PACT EAC project strives to meet this challenge through awareness-raising, inclusive research and training, and multi-stakeholder capacity building.

Jean Claude Nsengiyumva, Deputy Secretary General of the EAC Secretariat also addressed the meeting on behalf of the Secretary General, Dr. Richard Sezibera. He gave an account of the impressive institutional development of EAC and emphasised the need for regular interaction among stakeholders for the preparation and implementation of holistic policies related to trade, climate change and food security. He considered PACT EAC to be an important contribution towards this end and assured CUTS of full support by the EAC Secretariat, particularly in view of the MoU between the two organisations.

PACT EAC Inception Meeting is going to discuss important issues related to the research, training, advocacy and networking agenda based on expert presentations. The outcome will be finalisation of an action plan and the emergence of an interlinked community of EAC stakeholders on trade, climate change and food security issues.

For more information:

Clement Onyango, Direcor CUTS Africa Resource Centre, Nairobi. cvo@cuts.org

Rashid S Kaukab, Associate Director CUTS International Geneva. rsk@cuts.org