Climate Change Brings Africa Opportunities
   2011-09-26 21:41:26      Web Editor: Liu

Kenyan scientist Richard Odingo gives a lecture at a focused discussion on "Climate Change in Africa---Challenges and Opportunities" held at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing Monday afternoon, September 26, 2011. [Photo: Fei]

Tens of millions of lives throughout eastern Africa have been plagued by drought-induced famines in recent times, but one Kenyan Scientist - Richard Odingo, of the University of Nairobi, believes that the drought may also bring opportunities.

Also a Chairman of Kenya's National Climate Change Activities Coordination Committee, Mr Odingo elaborated on his point of view in an exclusive interview with CRI before a focused discussion held in Beijing Monday afternoon.

"If you can bring in, for example, climate change adaptation, which works and which our people are happy with, which improves their welfare and which is sustainable---that is an opportunity. It's a question of ideas; how best to do adaptation. Climate changes is there, we cannot stop it. But we know it's coming; it's taking a slow movement, so there is time to adapt. There is always a need for what we call a "red cross approach, "first aid". But in the long term, you really need to get to the root of the problem and solve the problem rather than hope that every time when people cry out, you go with first aid, you go with ambulances. That is what I call an opportunity".

The drought, the worst of the last 60 years, has created a severe humanitarian crisis in countries in the Horn of Africa. From Somalia to Ethiopia to Kenya, starving men, women and children are scrambling to find food and water as the crisis worsens. Among those worst affected are Somalis, who are fleeing their country in droves for the refugee camps in Kenya, which were filled to capacity years ago.

Shortly after they realized the scale of the problem, a group of donor countries pledged millions of dollars of aid to the affected countries. China announced that it will provide a total of 90 million yuan, which is equivalent of 14 million U.S. dollars, worth of emergency food assistance to countries in the Horn of Africa.

Odingo said they are very grateful for the Chinese government's assistance, but he added that aid isn't a long-term solution.

"I think I'm going to use a Chinese proverb. If you give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but will be hungry in the following days. If you teach him to fish, he'll be happy for the rest of his life. So it's very good that the Chinese government gave great aid to Africa. But I think it'll be more important if China came and worked with Africa to make them learn how to overcome drought. Now you've sent a lot of food in the country, and famine is no longer a problem. The drought is still there, but your money in the drought was away. One-time money is not enough and the Chinese government should see it's not a question of money, but a question of ways of doing things."

The Kenyan scientist will work in International Ecosystem Management Partnership in Beijing from September 15 to October 15 to promote the pragmatic cooperation between China and Africa.

"By sitting down and discussing how best to do things, not how much money to give," Odingo said he would push forward Africa's cooperation with China.

The discussion, themed challenges and opportunities brought about by climate change in Africa, aims to explore the chances of Sino-Africa cooperation in climate change and adaptation.

With the participation of a number of scientists and young researchers, the International Ecosystem Management Partnership organized the event.

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