Community nursery offers means for economic empowerment of women farmers

By SUGANDHA MUNSHI | Specialist on Gender Issues | IRRI


Source: IRRI 2017

Women-focused intervention plays a pivotal role in IRRI’s work with farmers. With the climate changing, innovation that results in better management practices for farmers is essential. This becomes more crucial, though, when it comes to smallholder marginal women farmers in rice production.

Under the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) project, a focused intervention has been taking place in Bihar, India, under four themes: identity, knowledge bank, leadership, and economic benefits.

At Muzzafarpur District in Bihar, Kisan Sakhi’, or a group of women farmers, is the identity with which hundreds of women farmers associate themselves.

Community nursery women/

At the grassroots level, in the districts of the Muzzafarpur block, we found the women in agriculture to be smallholder and marginal farmers. Working with a women’s self-help group as well as with individual farmers, we observed a shift in their perception, attitude, and behavior, in varying degrees.

Majorly at the grassroots of India, a woman is generally recognized as the wife of a certain farmer rather than as a farmer herself. In a society deeply entrenched in social and structural barriers that decide the role of a woman in defined often ‘watertight’ compartments, women like Sumitra Devi, Guddi Devi, and other members of the farmer self-help group we worked with have planted the seeds of a paradigm shift in grassroots agriculture in India.

A community nursery set up by Sumitra and Guddi with other women farmers from the villages in Bandra created an environment where smallholder women farmers are slowly but continually moving ahead toward becoming progressive farmers. The opportunity to sell seedlings to fellow farmers in the village also upsets in a positive way a domain traditionally run by males.

Kisan Sakhiwith her rice nursery./IRRI

“Having learned techniques for developing a good-quality nursery, I have been able to contribute to the income of my household. Being a woman able to do that makes me feel good, “said Sumitra. “In 2015, after learning and applying community nursery management practices, I made a profit of Rs 4,000 from selling healthy seedlings. It was a new initiative for me at a small scale and, in 2016, I plan to do this again in a more organized way.”

She added that she has reached this level from a point where her knowledge and awareness about community nursery farming was nil. She acknowledged CSISA for the training and knowledge that helped her become an informed farmer.

Sumitra’s case is an example of the benefits that participatory extension and research impart for women farmers, providing them opportunities for exposure to improved practices, thus increasing their confidence and opening up for them, in Sumitra’s words, “a new world to explore.”

It is important to note that it is not easy for women like Sumitra to become part of such initiatives in which she has to learn, make decisions on, and practice new technology. But with her increased knowledge on better-bet agricultural practices came development of her self-esteem and confidence—something foreign to her experience, until now.

Development of the community nursery and practices learned in nursery management reduced drudgery in her work, and improved nursery management increased opportunities for her to generate income.

Teaching a woman nursery management increases the chances of learned better practices getting passed on to the next generation. The skills they learn not only add value to their ‘knowledge bank’ in agriculture but also increase the scope for income generation, as in the case of Sumitra.

Guddi, for her part, describes how her own situation went for better: “When our group developed the community nursery in the village, my plot became the most talked about in the area. Hundreds of fellow villagers came and saw it, and many of them were surprised to see how it had shaped up! I received many praises, which made me feel happy and confident.”

For a smallholder woman farmer like Guddi, the task seemed more challenging, as she had to fight for a chance for exposure to such capacity building programs. Being part of the self-help group and of the Jyoti Mahila Samkhya federation helped her greatly in making decisions.

Woman exploring the opportunity for income generation through nursery management and quality nursery had been unheard of in the area.

Development of the nursery by the women farmers also had the effect of spreading awareness among farmers on the importance of having such a nursery, and managing it properly, said Pankaj Kumar, CSISA scientist.

Sunita Devi, a member of the federation, acknowledged how the community nursery has enabled women farmers to start new enterprises at the village level. “Women-focused intervention in agriculture is increasing their ‘knowledge bank’ and capacity, with on-field training. It is a new beginning for women farmers, learning new techniques and being able to explore an added source of income through the community nursery.”

With the experiences of these women farmers, in the kharif season of 2016, other members of the self-help group in the area are now ready to take the lead to develop the community nursery further and generate income through its sale of seedlings.

Women farmers are on the lookout for opportunities as well as better-quality seeds and training on better management practices. They are keen on exploring new opportunities for generating income, such as through community nursery as described above, and perhaps even become entrepreneurs someday. It is a difficult task, but it has begun, and in the grassroots of Bihar, India, CSISA plays catalyst in this noble goal with partner organizations and farmer groups.

The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) promotes durable change at scale in South Asia’s cereal-based cropping systems. Operating in rural ‘innovation hubs’ in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, CSISA works to increase the adoption of various resource-conserving and climate-resilient technologies, and improve farmers’ access to market information and enterprise development. CSISA supports women farmers by improving their access and exposure to modern and improved technological innovations, knowledge, and entrepreneurial skills. By continuing to work in synergy with regional and national efforts, collaborating with myriad public, civil society, and private-sector partners, CSISA aims to benefit more than 8 million farmers by the end of 2020.

Article Disclaimer

This article originally appeared on IRRI and was retrieved on 02/06/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at

Ethiopian farmers made a desert bloom again


Georgina Smith / CIAT

Ethiopia is in the middle of the worst drought in 50 years. It’s the sort of shock to the system we are likely to see more of with climate change. But Ethiopia is also home to a successful experiment to make the land more resilient to drought. If we are going to adapt to our changing world, it’s experiments like these that will show us the way.

In the steep fields of Ethiopia’s highlands, when rain falls on the parched, overworked land it runs downhill, carrying soil with it. Farmers commonly lose 130 tons of soil per hectare a year, comparable to the worst erosion documented on U.S. farms in recent history. Then, because the water has all rushed downhill, instead of seeping underground, wells go dry. Without water, crops wither, and that exposes bare soil to further erosion.

This cycle turned a watershed in Tigray, Ethiopia, into a near desert, prompting the government to consider moving the farmers. Instead, they decided to try to rescue the land. And they succeeded. Instead of leaving their homes, the farmers are staying put. As one local official put it, what was once a desert is now a forest.

Inspired by this success, farmers are trying the same thing in Adisghe County, Ethiopia. With the help of an international project called Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation (Africa RISING) and the Ethiopian Bureau of Agriculture, they began building dams, terraces, and recharge ponds. They planted trees on hilltops and planted cover crops on degraded areas.

CIAT researcher Tesfaye Tesfamichael demonstrating the installation of check dams to prevent soil loss on the slopes.
CIAT researcher Tesfaye Tesfamichael demonstrating the installation of check dams to prevent soil loss on the slopes.
Georgina Smith / CIAT

All of these methods had the same goal: Slow down the water. So, for instance, the farmers built check dams across gullies to stop the headlong flow, catch the eroding earth, and create a pool that would percolate into the ground.

The results were astounding, as you can see in this video (shot by Henry Tenenbaum and produced by Georgina Smith at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture).

Thanks to increased water reliability, agricultural training, and precise use of fertilizer (synthetic and manure) farmers have doubled their production since the project started.

This wasn’t easy. Lulseged Desta, a soil scientist and landscape ecologist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture working with Africa RISING, told me that farmers must set aside up to two months a year for building dams and planting trees. What’s the value of all that work? When organizers calculated how much it would have cost if they had hired laborers to do all that work, it added up to $2,200 for one project of about four square miles. That’s a lot of money in Ethiopia, but it’s certainly less than the cost of resettling families.

Community member shows how returning leafy matter to the soil improves soil health
Community member shows how returning leafy matter to the soil improves soil health
Georgina Smith / CIAT

This project was never meant as a silver bullet to solve the drought. The lowlands are still suffering. But it is part of the larger solution: This sort of transformation, writ large, can cushion climate crises. It helps to have these farmers at home producing food rather than facing migration. And, Desta said, these kinds of soil restoration efforts are now spreading around the country.

Climate change hits poorest places the hardest. One reason is that they simply can’t afford a lot of common-sense environmental protections. This Ethiopian test case shows us that, with a little investment and a lot of hard work, the most vulnerable places can become dramatically more resilient.

Correction: The original story conflated facts from Tigray and Adisghe. Farmers in Abraha wa Atsbeha, Tigray, nearly abandoned the land as a result of desert-like conditions, while in Adisghe the fields were severely degraded but not desertified. The writer’s water ration has been cut in half as punishment.

Article Disclaimer

This article originally appeared on Grist and was retrieved on 02/06/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at

Poor countries spending climate cash on rich world consultants

By Mantoe Phakathi in Manzini | Published on 02/11/2017 | 11:42 AM |

Even as they plan to demand more cash at UN talks in Bonn this week, poor countries lack the ability to initiate and implement climate projects, according to a senior African diplomat.

Maguga Dam, Swaziland
In Swaziland’s latest drought, the Maguga Dam fell to just 20% capacity, leaving farmers without water for animals and crops (Photo: Deposit Photos)


That means money is being sent back to rich countries through consultancy fees.

Slightly more than $10 billion has been pledged to the Green Climate Fund(GCF), an institution that distributes funds from rich countries to developing countries to help them cope with climate change. But the fund has struggled to get project proposals from developing countries and has rejected others that have reached its board.

In an interview with Climate Home News, former chair of the African climate negotiation group Emmanuel Dlamini blamed this on developing countries’ limited ability to prepare applications and carry out the work once they have received the funding.

“Developing countries still hire consultants from developed countries, who often don’t even understand the context, to write proposals and implement adaptation projects,” Dlamini said, ahead of climate talks to be held in Bonn, Germany, starting Monday.

Report: Drought sours future of Swaziland’s sugar growers

Dlamini made an example of a $3 million GCF-funded project aimed at making drought-threatened rural industries in Swaziland more resilient to climate change, which he said had been delayed by lack of skilled people in the country.

“We need to hire a consultant to help in the implementation of the project and the process is delaying the project,” he said, adding: “A lot of developing countries have a similar experience.”

Dlamini, who is also Swaziland’s climate change focal point, said this demonstrates some of the major challenges facing developing countries, apart from funding, which need to be acknowledged.

“Most developing countries don’t even have the capacity to develop their own technology to help them move towards low-carbon development and create jobs in the process,” he said.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries agreed to mobilise $100bn a year by 2020 to build resilience against climate impacts in developing countries. Because of their historic carbon emissions resulting to climate change, which is disproportionately impacting the global south, northern countries have accepted responsibility for this climate finance.

Demands for further money to be disbursed are set to increase at the talks in Bonn. Especially after US president Donald Trump ruled out making any further contributions to the GCF – even though the US still has not delivered $2bn of its $3bn pledge.

Chair of the least developed countries negotiating group Gebru Jember Endalew told Climate Home News that the conference needed to be one of “finance and support”.

“The LDCs will certainly be calling for greater finance and making sure this issue is heard loud and clear in the negotiating room,” said Endalew.

Dlamini said developing countries were right to make these demands, but more needed to be done so they could stand on their own feet.

Report: Sick of waiting, poor countries prepare to fight climate change alone

In an attempt to address this problem, in July the GCF released $9m to help developing countries build their ability to write proposals and implement projects. Among the beneficiaries were Rwanda, Mauritania, Egypt, Ghana, Jordan, Maldives, Nepal, Tonga and the secretariat of the Pacific community, an organisation governed by 26 Islands and Developing States.

International policy and development advisor at Climate Action Network (CAN), Lucile Dufour, agreed it was crucial to support the most vulnerable countries to develop projects that will help them to build resilient societies and benefit marginalised communities.

“However, to build this capacity, developing countries need support from the richer countries,” she said, adding: “The lack of capacity [in developing countries] cannot be an excuse for not providing sufficient funds.”

Dufour questioned why “scarce resources” were being used to pay experts from rich countries when they were meant for mitigation and adaptation projects in the developing world.

“This is why we need to first build capacity so that [developing] countries can access climate finance and decide on how best to use it,” said Dufour.

Bonn COP23 climate talks

When? 6-17 November, 2017

Where? Bonn, Germany

What? A meeting of 197 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, where the implementation of the Paris climate agreement will be the major point of negotiations.

Not just Donald Trump news! Climate Home will be taking its biggest ever team to the talks.

How to keep up? Sign up to Climate Home’s newsletterFacebook and Twitter feeds for the most in-depth, dedicated reporting from this critical meeting.

She added that it is also important that decisions were taken by beneficiary countries rather than by donors or multilateral development banks or funds from the developed world.

Rich countries currently prescribe projects to be implemented in developing countries, according to the Pan African Climate Justice Agenda executive director Mithika Mwenda, all the while gobbling up the very money they purport to provide.

“We have witnessed situations where consultants come to helpless African countries to ‘help’, only to develop and impose policies or projects whose contexts are completely away from local realities,” said Mwenda. “The result of this is that these remain just documents, as they lack ownership from the people themselves.”

But he disputed Dlamini’s claim that developing countries, including those from Africa, lack skills to initiate and implement projects, calling it a fallacy advanced by rich countries to delay and eventually justify failure to deliver on the 2020 target of $100bn per year.

Article Disclaimer

This article originally appeared on Climate Home News and was retrieved on 02/06/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at


Understanding well-being in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh

By Kate Bevitt



Exploitative working conditions in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh are undermining the well-being of workers, while at the same time potentially contributing to the positive well-being of those who employ them. This is the finding of new research by WorldFish and partners that sheds an important light on the largely ‘invisible’ dried fish sector in Bangladesh, and enhances the concept of well-being in small-scale fisheries research.

Dried fish in Bangladesh

Dried fish is an important food in the diet in Bangladesh. It accounts for the fourth largest share of fish consumed and is the most accessible type of fish for consumers across all income levels. In some regions, dried fish is the most frequently eaten type of fish, and its consumption is particularly important for poor consumers.

Yet despite its importance, the dried fish sector in Bangladesh has largely been overlooked in fisheries research.

Mostly, research has focused on fishers and the benefits generated by small-scale fisheries, such as their contribution to food, employment and gross domestic product, as well as the meanings and social connections they provide to the people engaged in them.

This has created an assumption that small-scale fisheries have a positive impact on the well-being—linked to material, subjective and relational values—of all actors involved, including those in processing and marketing.

But the new research, undertaken at three major processing sites in Bangladesh, finds this is not the case for dried fish workers.

Exploitative practices

Most workers engaged in fish drying are employed by fish drying operators. Typically, workers are hired under unfavorable working conditions. This is exacerbated by the geographic and social conditions in fish drying locations, and the fact that most dried fish workers are poor and unskilled with no alternate job opportunities.

In Naziratek, close to Cox’s Bazar, for example, the settlement of a large group of fishing households displaced by natural disasters coincided with an influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. These groups competed with members of poor households in the fishing community for work, which in turn lowered wages.

In another example, fish drying operators on Dublar Char island often hire temporary workers on very low wages and under slave-like conditions because the island’s remoteness in the Sundarbans puts it almost beyond the reach of state governance.

Compounding these problems in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh is the common practice of in-kind payments or a cash piece rate. For instance, in Daspara village, northern Bangladesh, most of the women workers’ income is in the form of fish gut, a by-product of processing, which is boiled at home for around one hour to produce fish oil that can be sold for an income. In other places, workers sometimes receive a share of the catch as payment, which has clear disadvantages when catches are small.

Dried fish in Bangladesh. Photo by Finn Thilsted, 2012.

A key factor enabling these exploitative practices is the ‘subordinate’ positions of workers in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh, which are often linked to their gender or ethnicity.

In Daspara, women make up the majority of dried fish workers, partly due to a sense of communal identity and the obligation this entails. But this burden of self-exploitation does not extend to male fish drying workers, who are paid in cash and earn twice the daily wage of their female counterparts.

As for Rohingya workers, they are seen as ‘outsiders’ who make trouble and contaminate the local culture, meaning they are often ill-treated and more vulnerable to harassment from their ‘local’ managers.

Well-being in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh

Together, these labor arrangements provide distinct benefits to fishers and fish drying operators/producers, by ensuring the existence of a constantly available but highly flexible supply of low-cost labor. This can be used on demand to catch, transport and process the widely fluctuating volumes of fish landed.

In addition, these practices enable producers to minimize cash outlays and transfer the risks of fishing in Bangladesh, such as the variability of fish catches, to fish drying workers.

Workers in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh. Photo by Finn Thilsted, 2013.

Yet despite the exploitative nature of these practices, their impact on workers’ well-being and identity varies.

For poor and vulnerable women who voluntarily work in the fish drying sector, they find the experience to be mostly positive because it provides them with vital income and greater autonomy.

But for the Rohingya workers, who engage in this sector out of an urgent need for money, the exploitative practices have a negative impact on their well-being. This is also the case for the dhulabanga—landless, unemployed and homeless young men and adolescents—who only engage in the sector under the threat of physical violence.

Overall, the research shows that well-being can have a dark side for many workers in the dried fish sector, and at the same time can benefit other actors in the value chain. This calls for researchers to focus their attention on workers, not only on fishers, to better assess the well-being of all actors engaged in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh and beyond.

Kate Bevitt

Kate Bevitt

Kate Bevitt is a communications professional with over 10 years’ experience working for not-for-profit, government and research organizations. Kate was the Writer / Editor for WorldFish from 2015 to 2017. Before this, she spent two years in Timor-Leste as the Communication Advisor for the Seeds of Life agricultural research project. Kate holds an MBA in Marketing and a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism and Public Relations) from the University of Newcastle, Australia.


Article Disclaimer

This article originally appeared on The World Fish Center and was retrieved on 02/01/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at





Climate change affecting stability across West Africa and Sahel: UN security council

By  | Published on 31/01/2018 | 8:29 AM

In a statement, the council president expanded concerns over the links between climate and violence in Africa to two regions that cover 26 countries

French soldiers talk to locals in southern Mali. Since 2014, the French have led Operation Barkhane, a military effort to fight terror in the Sahel (Photo: TM1972/Wikipedia)

The UN Security Council has identified climate change as a driver of conflict across West Africa and the Sahel, in a statement published on Tuesday.

It expands on a 2017 resolution linking the dramatic shrinking of Lake Chad to the rise of Boko Haram and other armed groups in the region.

Water scarcity and desertification pit farming, pastoralist and fishing communities against each other for dwindling resources, analysts warn. As traditional livelihoods become harder to sustain, some people are seeking violent solutions.

The statement noted “the adverse effects of climate change and ecological changes among other factors on the stability of West Africa and the Sahel”, two regions that together span 26 countries. The security council, the UN’s most powerful body, “emphasises the need for adequate risk assessments and risk management strategies”.

Janani Vivekananda, climate change and security expert at consultancy Adelphi, described it as “a significant and positive step”.

She told Climate Home News: “Now, Lake Chad can’t be seen as the standalone example of climate security recognized by the UNSC. This points to an emerging coherence in how the UNSC recognizes the root causes of threats to peace and security.”

That needs to feed into humanitarian and peacebuilding action on the ground, she added. “There could be much stronger efforts to ensure all funds and programmes implemented are both conflict-sensitive and climate-sensitive”

Creeping desertification and worsening droughts are placing strain on natural resources and communities that depend on them across the Sahel. As well as Boko Haram, the security council statement condemned attacks by Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), which operates in the area.

A meeting of climate security experts in the Hague, December 2017, identifiedthe Lake Chad basin and Sahelian country Mali as two priority areas for action.

Lake Chad remains one of the starkest examples of how climate change impacts can create fertile conditions for terrorism and organised crime. The lake’s area has reduced by 90% in four decades, due to reduced rainfall and growth in water demand as the basin’s population boomed to 17 million.

Report: Boko Haram terrorists thriving on climate crisis

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a community advocate from Chad, told the World Economic Forum last week that the rainy season used to last six months and is now only two or three.

“Everybody knows that [a lack of] rain is impacting crops and crops is food security,” she said. “The consequence is conflict between communities… Boko Haram is the famous one. How about the local and regional conflict between farmers, fishermen and pastoralists for resources? People are dying.”


The Sahel is a region defined by its low rainfall, running through parts of 14 different countries across the southern edge of the Sahara desert (Map: T L Miles)

Water supplies are becoming more erratic, agreed Mohammed Bila, who monitors water levels for the Lake Chad Basin Commission. Two or three years of normal rainfall are typically followed by a year or two of drought.

“What we have seen is that any time there is a reduction of the size of the lake, the number of conflicts increases between the different user groups,” he told Climate Home News.

“The most recent conflicts, the Boko Haram, could be attributed to a long period of deprivation. Over 25 years, the livelihood groups don’t have stability… all the children born within this period, they grow up with deprivation, they haven’t seen anything good. These are the ones who are easily misdirected to these violent conflicts.”

Increasingly, these conflicts cross borders, he added. The Lake Chad basin straddles four countries: Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Solutions range from community-level adaptations to heavy engineering. In the first category are efforts to use water more efficiently and create jobs that are less reliant on water. In the second, an ambitious proposal to divert water from the Ubangi River along a 2,400km canal into Lake Chad, raising the water level an estimated one metre.

Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari is hosting a meeting in Abuja 26-28 February on restoring Lake Chad’s ecosystem and creating sustainable livelihoods.

Article Disclaimer: This article originally appeared on Climate Home News and was retrieved on 01/31/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at


Libya burns dirty oil for electricity as Islamic State disrupts gas plans

By Richard Nield | Published on 03/01/2018 | 9:31 AM

Amid conflict since Muammar Gaddafi was deposed in 2011, gas pipelines have been shelved, leaving two new power plants reliant on burning crude

Port city Tobruk is some 400km from the nearest gas pipeline (Pic: Flickr/DYKT Mohigan)

Libya is turning to crude oil to solve electricity shortages, as the threat from Islamic State holds back gas infrastructure development.

Two new plants at Ubari in the southwest and Tobruk in the northeast are primarily designed to run on gas. But in the absence of pipelines to deliver the fuel, both will instead burn oil, emitting roughly double the greenhouse gases.

In the instability since former leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011, the imperative to address frequent power blackouts is taking priority over environmental protection.

“It’s more a strategy of necessity than a deliberate approach to burn oil for power,” Richard Mallinson, analyst at London-based Energy Aspects told Climate Home News. “In a more stable environment they’d aim to have everything connected up when it came on stream. But they have an urgent need for power.”

The 640MW power plant at Ubari is expected to be commissioned in the coming weeks. Gas fields in the southwest are connected by pipeline to an export terminal in Mellitah, but the pipeline stops about 300km short of Ubari.

The 650MW Tobruk plant has a similar problem. Libya’s main gas pipeline runs along the Mediterranean coast between the capital Tripoli and Libya’s second city, Benghazi, but it stops about 400km short of Tobruk.

Libya bucks the global trend away from oil-fired power generation, which in most parts of the world is used as a last resort. Even oil-rich nations see more value in exporting the product than squandering it in inefficient power plants.

“Oil is gradually being phased out,” said Mallinson. “Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq have all had a lot of oil-fired generation, but they are trying to displace it with gas so they can sell their oil.”

Stalled gas plan

Libya’s government didn’t plan things this way. In 2007, they drew up a gas strategy that included extending the domestic gas supply network.

But most of those infrastructure projects are on hold, developers deterred by the threat from Islamic State (IS) militants. Fuel supply to existing facilities is inconsistent.

Meanwhile consumer demand is rising. The state-run General Electricity Company of Libya (Gecol) imposes rolling scheduled blackouts in an attempt to prevent the network going down completely.

Often there are unscheduled blackouts too, due to parts of the country refusing to shut down when scheduled or to attacks on power infrastructure by disgruntled local groups or political factions.

Report: Photos reveal Iraq oil fires burning behind ISIS retreat

On 12 January 2017, the Zawiya power plant in the northwest was forced to switch to diesel generation when protesters shut down gas supplies to the facility.

The subsequent fall in output caused 12-hour power outages in Tripoli and a three-day blackout across the south of the country. Had gas supplies been cut for any longer, the results would have been a “total blackout,” said Gecol at the time.

Gecol’s efforts to encourage more moderate consumption and coordinated load shedding failed to prevent further unplanned outages throughout the year. There were blackouts across the country in late June and July as summer power demand peaked. Parts of the south were without electricity for up to a week at a time.

Power production is not the only aspect of environmental protection that is suffering from the vacuum of authority at the heart of Libyan politics. Environment policy on both a national and local level is essentially non-existent.

“There’s uncollected waste in Benghazi and Tripoli, the sewerage system has collapsed, and I suspect there’s no regulation of fishing,” said Geoff Porter, head of US-based North Africa Risk Consulting. “The environmental degradation we’re seeing in Libya is a direct consequence of the complete collapse of the state.”

Poor outlook

State authority in Libya is divided several times over. The parliament in Tobruk has for almost two years refused to endorse the cabinet nominated by the internationally recognised executive in Tripoli that was formed following the Libyan Peace Agreement in December 2015.

The previous internationally recognised government, formed in 2014 and based in the eastern town of Baida, continues to exert authority over certain parts of the country. Factions from its predecessor in Tripoli also reject the 2015 peace deal.

All this is made considerably more difficult by the fragmentation of military capacity between hundreds of militias. The Libyan National Army is national only in name and is not recognised by the Tripoli government, but its leader Khalifa Haftar is keen to fashion a key role for himself in any political settlement.

Haftar’s forces have enjoyed some success in forcing IS militants from the town of Derna in the northeast and more recently from Benghazi. Militias from Tripoli and Misrata, backed by US air power and French and British military expertise, have meanwhile forced IS from its base in the town of Sirte.

But IS cells continue to threaten the security of key infrastructure and the safety of workers, particularly those from overseas. This makes it extremely difficult to rehabilitate existing infrastructure, let alone build new facilities.

The Ubari power plant was due to come on stream in November. But project partners Enka Teknik and Siemens withdrew their staff from the plant in November after three Turkish workers and a South African, all Siemens employees, were kidnapped outside Ubari airport.

In September, UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salamé published an action plan to heal political divisions and restore functional government. It is a tall order.

Article Disclaimer: This article originally appeared on Climate Home News and was retrieved on 01/26/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at

America’s pledge is about more than pollution

By Karl Mathiesen in Bonn | Published on 13/11/2017 | 10:49 AM |

US mayors and governors want to show the world they stand by US commitments, but to their African counterparts solidarity means cash.

“We can’t get [climate finance],” says Célestine Ketcha Courtès, mayor of Bangangté in Cameroon (Photo: UN Climate Change)
The presence of US cities and states at UN climate talks in Bonn has been big, brash and supercharged with billionaire cash.

In a bouncy castle-like dome on Saturday night, mayors, governors and activists repeated their mantra – “we are still in”. Branded America’s Pledge, the sideshow is an attempt to convince the world that the US will stand by its commitments to the Paris climate deal.

House music, champagne and confidence – paid for by Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and others – flowed in equally neurotic proportion.

Sunday morning, 9am, back to reality. Climate Home News is drinking black coffee with Solly Msimanga, the mayor of Tshwane – the municipal region that contains the South Africa’s administrative capital Pretoria.

Msimanga is standing on the lip of one of the great demographic shifts happening on earth, the urbanisation of Africa.

From 3 million today, Tshwane will double in size by the middle of the century, he predicts, although no-one really knows. Every year, 10,000 new families move into the city, many migrating from Zimbabwe or Mozambique.

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This population shift is happening across the continent. Africa’s cities are expected to triple in size by 2050, sending energy demand and pollution soaring.

“There is a danger and an opportunity in how we plan going forward,” says Msimanga. “The more developed countries are dealing with monsters built years ago.” But he says Africa’s mayors could leapfrog those problems, if they heed the warnings.

That means reinventing the wheel. Many old modes of urbanisation are defunct and much of the knowledge of how to green a city is tied up in the giant retrofitting process only just beginning in the cobbled alleyways of Europe and suburbs of the US.

“It’s not going to be an easy task, it’s not going to be a cheap task,” says Msimanga.

Climate finance, which the rich world has acknowledged it owes to the poor for causing climate change, isn’t simply a justice issue. It’s also preventative.

By the end of this century, if all Africans have the carbon footprint of South Africans (who currently have the highest emissions on the continent) it would add 1C to the global temperature. How Africa’s cities grow will make a huge difference to all of us.

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Yet under Donald Trump, the US has said it will renege on $2bn it has promised to the Green Climate Fund – the UN’s major conduit for climate funding. That money is the glue that holds the Paris deal together, yet it features little in the fine words offered by the US dissenters in Bonn. The mayors and governors are preoccupied with how much they can do to cut their own emissions without federal help.

In Jakarta, already a megacity, there is little public appetite for attempts to cut down on carbon emissions, says its deputy governor for spatial planning and environment Oswar Mudzin Mungkasa, especially if they pose a threat to the economy.

Every day, 3 million commuters grind in and out of the city. The resulting air pollution is tangible and has spurred the government to spend money on mass public transport.

Industrial pollution sources, like coal power, have been moved out of the city into surrounding countryside. But not shut down. It would be impossible for the city to talk seriously about spending public funds on cleaner alternatives, says Mungkasa.

“It’s difficult for us to reduce carbon pollution because it is something new. Because we are talking about people who are looking for a job,” he says.

Célestine Ketcha Courtès, the mayor of the small city of Bangangté in Cameroon and president of the Network for Locally Elected Women of Africa, says access to climate finance is essential as cities like her own prepare for the boom.

“But we can’t get it. Mayors, cities, they can’t get it,” she says.

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There are problems with the structure of the Green Climate Fund in getting money to the cities and institutions that need it and know best how to use it.

But there is also just $10bn pledged to the fund, which falls to $8bn with the US reneging.

The Centre for American Progress reports that each $1bn given to the GCF could prevent almost half a billion tonnes of carbon pollution each year and also help 55 million people be better prepared to face the impacts of climate change.

The need to address this side of America’s pledge to Paris is being discussed. In Massachusetts the legislature is working through legislation that will add a voluntary donation to the GCF’s sister fund, the Adaptation Fund, to resident’s income tax forms. The city of Seattle has passed a resolution to uphold its portion of the bargain.

And there was a conversation in the alternative US pavilion on Saturday, says Dan Zarilli, the mastermind of New York’s plan to go carbon neutral by 2050.

“It’s really hard for local or state officials to make those direct contributions, but there may be some kind of crowdsourcing there may be some other philanthropy that can fill some of that gap. Probably nowhere near to a $2bn federal void that’s just been left. But there is at least some conversation happening,” he said.

Climate Home News’ reporting at Cop23 is supported in part by the European Climate Foundation.

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