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Rainfall Decline Affecting Agriculture In Congo Basin 

By Leocadia Bongben

Agriculture in the Congo Basin is being hampered by decrease in rainfall. This is the result of findings by the International Forestry Research Centre’s pilot project on Congo Basin Forest and Climate Change Adaptation, abbreviated CoFCCA. According to CoFCCA, the drop in rainfall is remarkable, with radical changes noticed in the three pilot zones: Cameroon, Congo and Central African Republic.

A CoFCCA official, Martial Gapia, explained that the situation affects agriculture in the zone given that the agricultural calendar is upset. "During the rainy season, there are pockets of dryness and rainfall during the dry season," Gapia stated. The farmers are at loss as to weather to plant or wait, and there is no meteorological guidance to indicate to them when to plant, he stated further.

Besides agriculture, the drop in rainfall equally affects hydrology level, especially in areas where deforestation has been accentuated leading to disappearance of streams and water sources. Gapia maintained that an adaptation solution would be to plant trees around water sources and streams. 

As an adaptation measure, Ngana Felix, a geographer and Director of Academic  Affairs at the University of Bangui, said CoFFCA helped the population to plant improved variety of banana, which is resistant to the harsh climate. He hinted on the need to develop agriculture with a variety of crops that are resistant to harsh climatic conditions.

Ngana stressed on the need for collective mobilisation of all the countries to look for suitable solutions to adapt to climate change. He said the population remains vulnerable to the negative impact of climate change and have no means adapt. It was within this context that experts identified vulnerabilities in the area of water, energy, food security and health in the Congo Basin.

Denis Sonwa, CoFFCA Project Coordinator, said the international community has the tendency to think that the Congo basin is a stock of carbon or a reservoir of biodiversity that has to be protected. But, results indicate that there is climate variability that affects the well being of the population of this zone. In the same vein, climate projections indicate that in Central Africa there is no uniform climate, as different areas get limited water while other parts would get more. 

Evaluating the impact of the CoFFCA project, Sonwa said it built capacities on forest and adaptation to climate change in the sectors of energy, water and health and food security.
The project’s greatest challenges were issues of adaptation and climate change, considering they were relatively new and had to be explained to the population. An information sharing workshop in Douala marked the end of the CoFFCA project.

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