For the African delegates who took part in Thursday’s “Africa, Climate Change and Israel’s Contribution” conference in Jerusalem, many voiced that they hoped to learn better water resource management, see more Israeli technology like sustainable energy and green growth on their continent.
Speaking to delegates from Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Rwanda, Swaziland and the Ivory Coast, all told TPS that they were seeing the devastating effects off climate change on their countries.
Owen Singura from Uganda said that there has been extreme weather in his country alternating from mudslides and drought in the north because of climate change. “Both damage the soil and make it difficult to plant,” he said, adding that he, together with four friends, are working towards developing drought resistant seeds, “which will also be insect and pest resistant.
“If there is drought, insects are more likely to eat and attack crops, so the seeds we are developing will deter them from doing so.”
As part of his plan to reach this goal, he is studying a Masters in Plant Sciences with Emphasis in Food Safety and Security at Tel Aviv University, and hopes to take what he learns about sustainable agriculture and technologies back to Uganda to help those struggling in the agricultural sector.
Abdul who was attending the conference from the Ivory Coast, said that although his country has not been hit too badly by global warming and climate change just yet, he worries that in 20 to 30 years they will be.
“We already have water problems – three to four million people don’t have access to clean drinking water and we need Israeli technology to help us change this.”
“I want to be prepared and ready for when the real effects come,” he said,” because it is coming, it’s just a matter of time before we too are hit by famine and water scarcity.”
He added that he hopes his government will take a lesson from Israel and get desalination processes fully off the ground.
With Israel slated to open an embassy in Rwanda soon, Gilbert Msabimama and Jean de Dieu Twagirumukiza, who are in the country doing agrostudies, told TPS that they hope Israel will bring more of its techniques and technology to help the country.
“We have been affected badly by drought and floods. It’s important to look towards Israel to learn about water irrigation and management, clean energy and food security technologies,” Twagirumukiza said.
Msabimama added that “by being here, I hope to have the advantage of agricultural techniques that I can take back with me. At the conference, we are able to connect with different people and investors who can help Rwanda win the battle against climate change.”
All the way from Swaziland, Victoria said her focus was on women empowerment and helping women, who in many households are responsible for planting and harvesting, navigate the difficulties of climate change.
“I hope to take what I am learning here back to Swaziland and apply it there – there are techniques here that can help women.
“Many women also sell plastics like cups, plates and plastic cutlery to make a living – with these items being unhealthy for the environment [and being used less and banned in some countries], I want to find ways to help women find a new income using sustainable materials and techniques,” she said.
Among the many topics discussed, funding and accessibility on the ground in Africa were the two key points highlighted for the over 100 delegates who gathered at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the issues of climate change facing Africa and the rest of the world.
Keynote speaker Patricia Espinosa, executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change warned the world was not on track to stop rising temperatures caused by greenhouse gases and global warming. If the world carries on as it is now, “global warming will have caused world temperatures to be three degrees higher by 2100.”
She emphasized that “if we don’t close the gap to stop the two degree change in temperature by 2030, then change will be impossible,” adding that the world has heated up already 1.5 degrees.
Asked by one of the participants from Rwanda, why Africa has been adversely affected by climate change, Espinosa said that situations and conditions differ in regions around the world.
“Africa has a high degree of over-exploitation of resources – we never took care of our resources there…but there is good news, we do have solutions like reforestation,” she added.