World Economy

Climate Change and Role of Communities

Climate Change and Role of CommunitiesClimate Change and Role of Communities

As concern mounts over food security, two community groups are on a drive to mobilize average people across Antigua and Barbuda to mitigate and adapt in the wake of global climate change, which is affecting local weather patterns and by extension, agricultural production.

“I want at least 10,000 people in Antigua and Barbuda to join with me in this process of trying to mitigate against the effects of climate change,” Dr. Evelyn Weekes told IPS.

 “I am choosing the area of agriculture because that is one of the areas that will be hardest hit by climate change and it’s one of the areas that contribute so much to climate change.

“I plan to mobilize at least 10,000 households in climate action that involves waste diversion, composting and diversified ecological farming,” said Weekes, who heads the Aquaponics, Aquaculture and Agro-Ecology Society of Antigua and Barbuda.

She said another goal of the project is “to help protect our biodiversity, our ecosystems and our food security” by using the ecosystem functions in gardening.

Food security is a growing concern, not just for Antigua and Barbuda but all Small Island Developing States (SIDS), as changing weather patterns affect agriculture.

Weekes said the projects being proposed for smallholder farmers in vulnerable areas would be co-funded by the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program (GEF SGP).

 “Don’t throw kitchen scraps in your garbage because where are they going to end up? They are going to end up in the landfill and will cause more methane to be released into the atmosphere,” she said.

Methane and carbon dioxide are produced as organic matter decomposes under anaerobic conditions (without oxygen), and higher amounts of organic matter, such as food scraps, and humid tropical conditions lead to greater gas production, particularly methane, at landfills.

As methane has a global warming potential 72 times greater than carbon dioxide, composting food scraps is an important mitigation activity. Compost can also help reconstitute degraded soil, thus boosting local agriculture.

  agriculture sector

Pamela Thomas, who heads the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN), said her organization recently received approval for climate smart agriculture projects funded by GEF.

“We are going to be harvesting water…and we are going to use solar energy pumps to pump that water to the greenhouse for irrigation.”

CaFAN represents farmers in all 15 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries. Initiated by farmer organizations across the Caribbean in 2002, it is mandated to speak on behalf of its membership and to develop programs and projects aimed at improving livelihoods; and to collaborate with all stakeholders in the agriculture sector to the strategic advantage of its farmers.

Thomas said she wants to see more farmers moving away from the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and begin to look towards organic agriculture.

Antigua and Barbuda led the Caribbean in 2013 as the biggest per capita food importer at $1,170, followed by Barbados at $1,126, the Bahamas at $1,106 and St. Lucia at $969.

Besides the budget expense, import dependency is a source of vulnerability because severe hurricanes can interrupt shipments. As such, agriculture is an important area of funding for the GEF SGP.

GEF Chief Executive Officer Dr. Naoko Ishii, who met with the Caribbean delegation during the United Nations Conference on Small Islands Developing States held in Apia, Samoa from Sep. 1-4, had high praise for the community groups in the region.

The GEF Caribbean Constituency comprises Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname.

Ishii was also “quite excited” about the participation of eight countries in the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, a large-scale project spurred on by the Nature Conservancy, which has invested $20 million in return for a commitment from Caribbean countries to support and manage new and existing protected areas.

Member countries must protect 20 percent of their marine and coastal habitats by 2020. The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint-Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda as well as Saint-Kitts and Nevis are already involved in the project.