Climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies for the African livestock sector

The production of animal-source foods is becoming increasingly difficult due to the impact of climate change on the livestock sector in Africa. Though, Livestock make a crucial contribution to food security in Africa. Three papers by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ, ILRI and World Bank analyze, how Africas future livestock sector can look like.

Adaptation pioneers Kidane and Wilta demonstrating their innovative feed supplements in Ethiopia, © Photo by Apollo Habtamu ILRI

By Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

GIZ is a globally active provider of international cooperation for sustainable development. It has more than 50 years of experience in a wide range of fields.

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By International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works for better lives through livestock in developing countries. ILRI is co-hosted by Kenya and Ethiopia and has 14 offices across Asia and Africa. The institute is a CGIAR research centre, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. CGIAR science is dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services.

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Livestock are an important supplier of animal protein in Africa and make a crucial contribution to food security. However, the production of animal-source foods is becoming increasingly difficult due to the impact of climate change on the livestock sector. Drought, heat and flooding are affecting livestock productivity, and in some regions, farmers are already being forced to abandon livestock keeping. At the same time, a large proportion of the continent's greenhouse gas emissions come from the livestock sector.

 

The Programme for Climate-Smart Livestock Systems (PCSL) has supported key stakeholders to find solutions to meet the increasing demand for animal-source foods while promoting climate-resilient and low-carbon development of the livestock sector. Within this framework, climate-smart practices and measures, based on the three pillars of climate-smart agriculture – productivity increase, adaptation to the negative impacts of climate change and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, were identified and further developed. Together, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), ILRI and the World Bank have summarised the most important learning experiences and recommendations for action in three articles.

 

The first article addresses climate-smart practices and measures that can be implemented in mixed livestock systems.

 

Particular attention was given to practices that contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the largest emission sources - digestive processes of ruminants and manure. Many of the practices under consideration have the potential to simultaneously contribute to adaptation to climate change.

 

Climate-smart practices and measures have been identified particularly in the areas of feeding, herd and health management, breeding, and manure management. Through extensive research the effects of the practices were scientifically validated, and an important database has been created which can be used to support monitoring of greenhouse gases and the tracking of adaptation needs.

 

The second article focuses on pastoralists and extensive livestock systems. Over time, pastoralists have developed many strategies to adapt to the adverse environmental conditions in the regions where they live and work. Climate change and economic and social changes force them to find new adaptation strategies more and more often.

 

They introduce new breeds and management methods, divide and relocate their herds, or change feeding practices.

 

Some pastoralists are particularly successful at making a living in the face of a rapidly changing world. PCSL has identified some of these "adaptation champions" at various research locations in East Africa and supported them in scientifically validating the effectiveness of their adaptation strategies and in passing on the knowledge to other pastoralists in order to anchor their strategies on a broad scale.

 

The third article deals with the measurement of greenhouse gas emissions and the tracking of adaptation needs in the African livestock sector. The project has made a decisive contribution to improving the data base and methods for measuring greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation needs. African experts now have access to data that takes the local conditions of different livestock systems (a so-called Tier-2 approach) into account. Before, they had to rely on generic data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for estimating greenhouse gas emissions (Tier 1 approach), which has often led to an overestimation.

 

The new data and methods will enable African countries to report their needs for implementing adaptation strategies more accurately as well as progress made towards achieving emission reduction targets under the Paris Agreement.

 

The PCSL was funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the World Bank between 2018 and 2022 in various African countries. Please click here to view the articles.

 

For further information please contact Gesine Hänsel, Advisor at GIZ (gesine.haensel@giz.de) or Todd Crane, Principal Scientist for Climate Change Adaptation at ILRI (t.crane@cgiar.org).

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