Canada and the United Kingdom join forces to tackle climate change in Africa and Asia

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 6, 2014 /CNW/ - Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) have announced today the selection of four multi-partner research initiatives aimed at tackling the impacts of climate change in Africa and Asia. Funded under the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) program, a seven-year, $70 million research initiative, this work takes a fresh approach to understanding climate change and adaptation in some of the most vulnerable regions of Africa and Asia.

Organized around four multi-regional consortia, CARIAA will focus on three global "hot spots," namely semi-arid regions in Africa and South and Central Asia; deltas in Africa and South Asia; and the Himalayan River Basins, with a view to contributing to effective policies and action on the ground. The program straddles countries, regions, and sectors, using the hot spot itself as a lens for research. In Africa, CARIAA will address two hotspots: semi-arid regions in East, West, and Southern Africa and the Volta and Nile river Deltas.

"The research will produce practical advice for policymakers and local decision-makers. It will help business leaders, economic ministries, and regional economic communities develop policies and investment strategies that reduce poverty while strengthening adaptation," said IDRC President, Jean Lebel. "It will also shed light, for example, on how firms can respond to new market opportunities and threats created by climate change and other key drivers in semi-arid lands, and how governments can support them in adapting to climate change impacts on their production and value chains."

"CARIAA's focus on developing a robust evidence base for what works and what doesn't in assisting some of the most vulnerable communities in the world to build resilience to extreme weather events and adapt to climate change is very welcome," said Virinder Sharma, Climate Change Advisor, DFID Kenya.  "I am particularly encouraged to see that the programme aims to work at all levels, and plans to engage stakeholders from local to national, regional and international levels from the outset. Particularly significant is the focus of this programme on bridging research to policy and practice. This process of collaborative development will be important in ensuring the evidence is useful to the relevant decision makers"

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report that will be released this March projects that the world's dry regions will become even drier due to global warming. These already harsh environments will face higher temperatures and shrinking water sources,  putting further stress on those who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, such as in farming, fishing, or forestry.

By mid-century, average summer temperatures across large portions of Africa could exceed the hottest temperatures on record, leading to water shortages and crop failures. The length of the growing season may decline by up to 20 percent across parts of the West African Sahel, Southern Africa, and Eastern Africa, the report adds.

Climate change is also expected to affect coastal regions such as the Nile Delta, which is highly vulnerable to seal level rise and soil salinization, leading to the potential displacement of around 1.3 million people by 2050. Similar impacts are projected in major deltas in India and Bangladesh, where more than 100 million people may be affected.

The stress of these climatic changes is compounded by development pressures in areas that are already fragile. Kenya's Rift Valley, for example, is experiencing erratic rains, with alternating droughts and floods affecting people, livestock, rangelands, wildlife, and infrastructure. Unplanned land-use changes and unstable patterns of land tenure are adding to these climate stresses. Farmers and pastoralists with little access to capital are most at risk. But the changes underway will affect both urban and rural people. If high-end projections for climate change come to pass, by the second half of this century entire livelihoods systems may need to be transformed in these semi-arid lands.

More information, including the list of institutions selected as part of the four consortia, is available at: CARIAA.  Backgrounder available upon request.

Join in the conversation through Twitter #CARIAA and Facebook.

About IDRC
A key part of Canada's foreign policy efforts, IDRC supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development. At IDRC, tackling climate change through research is one of our key activities. Read more about our climate change work.

About DFID
The UK's Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK government's fight against world poverty.

SOURCE International Development Research Centre

For further information:

Media contact: 

Gloria Lihemo | Kenya | +254 727 903 983 | glihemo@idrc.ca |@IDRC_ROSSA

Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé | Canada | +1 613 696-2343 | ibourgeault-tasse@idrc.ca | @IDRC_CRDI