Climatic catastrophes, Droughts and Indigenous Resilience
Playing with the nature since last two centuries is now appearing in the calamities of climate change. The normal cycles of drought due to El Niño is now changing very adversely. (El Niño brings widespread drought (i.e., precipitation deficit) to the tropics. Stronger or more frequent El Niño events in the future and/or their intersection with local changes in the mean climate toward a future with reduced precipitation would exacerbate drought risk in highly vulnerable tropical areas). Many vulnerable societies to climate change are now suffering. Drought in the horn of Africa is the latest news, pushing million of people to the hell of hunger and malnutrition. The famines in Africa are concurrent in the continent because of climate change, one of the worst affected continents. Unfortunately, the response to such calamities is always faulty and for time being. If the world put as much effort into long-term programs to build resilience in communities, as it is now doing to feed the hungry, this famine would never have happened in horn of Africa.
The climate change scenario is happening, is no more a fashion of discussions. Climatic change is appearing with its consequences, i.e. droughts and floods like in Africa and Asia respectively. Once again floods are hitting human settlements and agriculture field in South Asia, especially Pakistan. The question is food security in sustainable manner. Food aids and emergency help cannot work long. Short term policies and introduction of high yielding varieties of plants and animals cannot work sustainably. These all efforts are short term. The main question is how to strengthen local communities to produce resilience and adapt to climate change. Produce food items from their own resources (well adapted livestock and plant species) in the climate change context.
The first mistake started with the introduction of high yielding exotic varieties, which need very high inputs, ultimately result in environmental dilemma. Fruit farming in North and central highlands of Balochistan is the best example of the environmental degradation and water shortage as consequence of green revolution. While in fruit farming practices, ground water was lifted with electric power and now there is shortage of even drinking water. Also, high inputs in the form of pesticides and fertilizer resulted in many environmental consequences and loss of precious flora and fauna (biodiversity) and change in agroecosystems.
The fourth report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) published in 2007 projects that the global temperature of the planet’s atmosphere will likely have increased 1.1 to 6.4 C by the end of this century. The impact studies on biodiversity have shown significant changes in ecosystem and species distributions, principally due to increasing temperatures and altered precipitation regimes. The climate change will more intensify and threat to biodiversity and food chain will be more deepen. The scientists are agreeing that the loss to biodiversity minimizes the opportunities of food production. Another report, published very recently on world media, revealed that the flora and fauna migrate towards the pole and the polar diversity is going to disappear. The situation is changing very quickly, it is the time to rethink on the policies relates to local resources and communities to cope with the climate change calamities. The priority should go to more affected societies more focus to help.
Endogenous development and adaptability
Endogenous development is development from within the communities. Such development is sustainable and resilient to climate change. Endogenous development is also of importance in developed countries with the high-input agriculture. Small scale production system (SSPS) is an endogenous way of food production. Small scale production system (SSPS), both of livestock and agriculture is one of the best tools of local communities to resist climate change. Local communities with their knowledge and resources can better coup with the situation of droughts. Patoralism is another tool of resilience, the local community practice in Africa and Asia. Adaptation to climate change with the help of highly adapted livestock breeds and agriculture varieties is one of the best options; the vulnerable societies have had in hand. Adaptation to climate change is not a new phenomenon. Throughout human history, societies have adapted to climate variability alternating settlements, agricultural patterns, and other sectors of their economies and lifestyles. Adaptation in human history has been mostly successful.
Climate change with all its calamities is striking vulnerable communities very badly. Unfortunately, African and Asian continents are more prone to such calamities. The concurrent droughts and floods in Africa and Asia are the well-known examples of the situation. Indigenous/local resources and knowledge can be the best tool to cope with the climate change scenario, as local varieties are highly adapted to the local conditions. Local genetic resources produce in a very low input system of production and sometimes even need zero inputs. Applying high input unsustainable production system (factory, high mechanized, monoculture, energy based) cannot be helpful. Also, gene control budge (like Monsanto in Africa), land grabbing, political backing for cross breeding of indigenous livestock breeds and regional conflicts are even worsening the situation.
Indigenous livestock breeds, especially camel, can play a better and crucial role in such circumstances. Camel is one of the most important of them, survived the affected families to shift to other places to resist drought. Local livestock breeds consume many times lesser quantity of water compare to the exotic livestock breeds and are more resistant to local diseases and pests. The best way to combat climate change, droughts, desertification etc is to promote endogenous development and to make the local communities resilient to the situation. The priority of the international aid should go to the most affected communities due to climate change. The main focus should give on the resilience not just food aid, so that the world can live with harmony and peace.