Africa is the continent most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, despite accounting for only 2–3 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions (source: UNFCCC). Climate change is bringing increased droughts and flooding, the spread of waterborne diseases, biodiversity loss, and decreases in food production.
Hundreds of millions of people are being impacted, since up to 70 percent of the total African population depends on agriculture, with 95 percent of this food production relying on rainfall. Increasingly erratic rainfalls are threatening agricultural livelihoods and creating widespread food insecurity. The Global Harvest Initiative has warned that, by 2050, the African continent may only be able to fulfill 13% of its total food needs if the current rate of change persists.
In addition, the capacity for adaptation to climate change is low, with poverty equating to reduced choice at the individual level while governance generally fails to prioritize and act on climate change. Sustainable solutions are required among rural populations.
The Africa Climate Action Initiative (ACAI) seeks to enable communities across the continent to mitigate and adapt to climate change through the combination and application of impactful technologies. Our model focuses on solar-powered irrigation combined with free educational resources. Solar energy is a low-cost, clean and durable way to access water year-round for people and crops, while drip irrigation improves yields while conserving water. The use of regenerative agricultural practices on farms restores soil health and improves the water cycle. Such off-grid systems, being developed by leading companies such as SunCulture, give rural populations the tools to become environmental stewards and manage projects that are effectively carbon sinks while improving community health and food security.
Each solar hub can support free educational resources that seek to increase rural access to education and support entrepreneurship, especially for women and girls. We are leveraging the tremendous advancements that have taken place towards universal education, and this will be made possible through partnerships with organizations such as Rumie Initiative and One Billion. Research has shown that educating girls is one of the best investments to combat climate change.
The ACAI is planned to be implemented by a network of people and organizations across the African continent. The following initial set of organizations have joined this initiative:
- Pan African Centre for Climate (PACC) Policy – Ghana
- The Rainmaker Enterprise – South Sudan
- Neloshan – Kenya
As this initiative generates results and more funds are raised for its administration, more organizations will be invited to join this initiative.
The ACAI is currently being convened by the Climate Solutions Advancement Network (ClimateSAN), which is a project of Canada-based Think Renewables Group. ClimateSAN is inviting the Canada Africa Partnership (CAP) Network to help implement this initiative. The CAP Network is a Canadian registered charity that facilitates partnerships between Canadian and African communities, providing capacity-building and resources to advance local community development efforts.
Thus in Canada, the ACAI comprises a network that leverages grant funding and blended finance to support the implementation and scale-up of the best available solar-powered irrigation systems in Africa. The ACAI supports African partners with accessing funding and developing climate-smart projects.