Africa / Agriculture / Asia / Burkina Faso / Caribbean / CCAFS / CGIAR / Climate Change / Food Security / ILRI / Latin America / Mali / Niger / South Africa

Climate change threatens ability of the poorest people to feed themselves

Number of malnourished children per sq km

Number of malnourished children per square km, from the advance copy of ‘Mapping Hotspots of Climate Change and Food Insecurity in the Global Tropics,’ by ILRI scientists Polly Ericksen et al., published on 3 June 2011 (map credit: ILRI/CCAFS).

The BBC reports on a new study saying that some areas in the tropics face famine because of failing food production. The Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) program of the CGIAR predicts large parts of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will be worst affected.

Its report, led by scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), points out that hundreds of millions of people in these regions are already experiencing a food crisis.

‘”We are starting to see much more clearly where the effects of climate change on agriculture could intensify hunger and poverty,” said Patti Kristjanson, an agricultural economist with the CCAFS initiative that produced the report. . . .

‘Focusing their search on the tropics, the researchers identified regions where populations are chronically malnourished and highly dependent on local food supplies.

‘Then, basing their analysis on the climate data amassed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the team predicted which of these food-insecure regions are likely to experience the greatest shifts in temperature and precipitation over the next 40 years.

‘By overlaying the maps, the team was able to pinpoint which hungry regions of the tropics would suffer most.

‘With many areas in Africa predicted to become drier, countries such as South Africa which predominately farm maize have the option to shift to more drought resistant crops.

‘But for countries such as Niger, in western Africa, which already supports itself on very drought resistant crop varieties, like sorghum and millet, there is little room for manoeuvre, explains Bruce Campbell, the director of CCAFS.

‘”West Africa really stands out as problematic. Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali. They are already dependent on sorghum and millet.

‘”In many places in Africa you are really going to need [a] revolution in farming systems,” he says. . . .’

Read the whole article at BBC: Climate to wreak havoc on food supply, predicts report, 3 June 2011.

Read about this news as reported on the Guardian‘s Poverty Matters Blog.

Read the whole report: Mapping hotspots of climate change and food insecurity in the global tropics, by Polly Ericksen, Philip Thornton, An Notenbaert, L Cramer, Peter Jones and Mario Herrero 2011. CCAFS Report no. 5 (advance copy). CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Copenhagen, Denmark. Also available online at: www.ccafs.cgiar.org.

Click here for the CCAFS online media room with more materials, including versions of the news release in English, Spanish, French and Chinese.

All the maps will be made available online later this year; for more information on the maps, please contact ILRI’s Polly Ericksen at p.ericksen [at] cgiar.org or CCAFS’ Vanessa Meadu at ccafs.comms [at] gmail.com.

Note: This study was led by scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). CCAFS is a strategic partnership of the CGIAR and the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP). CCAFS brings together the world’s best researchers in agricultural science, development research, climate science and Earth System science, to identify and address the most important interactions, synergies and tradeoffs between climate change, agriculture and food security. The CGIAR’s Lead Centre for the program is the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia. For more information, visit www.ccafs.cgiar.org.

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