World “woefully unprepared” for climate impacts on food
Climate change could put back the fight against hunger by decades but our global food system is woefully unprepared to cope with the challenge, said Oxfam today. The warning comes as governments gather in Japan to agree a major new scientific report, which is expected to show that the impacts of climate change on food will be far more serious and will hit much sooner than previously thought.
Washington DC – infoZine – Oxfam’s briefing paper, ‘Hot and Hungry: How to stop climate change derailing the fight against hunger’ analyses ten key factors that will have an increasingly important influence on countries’ ability to feed their people in a warming world. Across all ten areas, Oxfam found serious gaps between what governments are doing and what they need to do to protect our food systems. The results also show that while many countries – both rich and poor – are unprepared for the impact of climate change on food security, it is the world’s poorest and most food insecure among them that are least prepared and most at risk.
The ten gaps, “failing” policy areas that will undermine the world’s ability to feed itself in a warming world, are:
International adaptation finance (score: <1/10): Rich countries promised to help poor countries adapt to a changing climate but have only provided around 2 per cent of the money poor countries need.
Crop irrigation (score: < 1/10): In California irrigation covers over 80 per cent of arable land. In Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, where farmers are confronting cyclical droughts, irrigation covers less than one per cent of arable land.
Crop insurance (score < 2/10): Just 1 per cent or less of farmers in poor countries such as Malawi have crop insurance compared to 91 per cent of farmers in the US – making it harder for them to survive when climate shocks destroy their harvests.
Agricultural research and development (R&D) (score: 2/10): Global seed diversity has declined by 75 per cent in the last 100 years, depriving farmers of crop varieties better suited to changing weather patterns. Poor countries spend a sixth of the amount that rich countries spend on agricultural R&D.
Social protection (score: 3/10): Just 20 per cent of people across the globe have access to adequate social protection schemes, such as free school meals or cash transfers, when food is unavailable or too expensive.
Weather forecasting (score: 3/10): Information from weather stations helps farmers avoid crop failure. In California, there is one station every 2,000 square km. In Chad there is only one station every 80,000 square km – roughly the size of Austria.
Gender discrimination (score: 5/10): Women make up 43 per cent of the agricultural workforce in developing countries but discrimination makes it hard for them to adapt. For example, women rarely own the land they farm so it’s hard to change their farming methods to deal with a changing climate.
Food stocks (score 5/10): World grain reserves are at historically low levels. If extreme or erratic weather wipes out harvests in key producing countries, food prices could skyrocket, triggering major food crises.
Agricultural investment (score: 7/10): Only four of the 20 African countries Oxfam looked at have delivered on their commitment to spend 10 per cent of their national budget on agriculture.
Humanitarian aid (score: 6/10): Climate change could mean more food crises but humanitarian aid is already failing to keep pace with demand – the difference between the amount of aid which is needed and the amount provided has tripled since 2001.
Oxfam’s analysis also highlights that a number of countries such as Ghana, Viet Nam and Malawi that are bucking the trend by taking action in areas such as social protection, crop irrigation and agricultural investment. This is helping them to outstrip countries such as Nigeria, Laos and Niger on food security, despite sharing similar levels of income and climate risk.
Source | InfoZine