Dr Richard Munang: “With EBAFOSA,everyone can be engaged in Africa”
Currently the Africa Regional Climate Change Programme Coordinator of the UN Environment, Dr Richard Munang helps drive countries to implement the Paris Agreement and helping young people finding opportunities in green jobs. Presentation.
By Houmi Ahamed-Mikidache
Dr Richard Munang is the Africa Regional Climate Change Programme Coordinator of the UN Environment for 8 years. He holds a PhD in Environmental Change and Policy from the University of Nottingham, in the United Kingdom. He also holds an Executive Certificate in Climate Change and Energy Policy Making from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, in the United States of America. In 2016, he received the prestigious African Environmental Hero award conferred by the International Environmental Roundtable for Africa for his leadership on environmental policies across the continent.
“My main role is to help drive UNEP strategies on climate change in Africa, mostly in helping countries to implement the Paris Agreement, from the perspective of seeing climate action as social economic opportunity to address aspect on food security, create jobs and other opportunities as well as offsetting carbon and contributing to the resilience of ecosystem,”Dr Munang said recently. He is indeed coordinating the implementation of diverse projects in key economic sectors especially in agriculture, and in energy.
From 2009 to 2012, he worked on coordinating a program called “climate change adaptation and development in Africa”. This project involved 11 countries. Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Benin, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda were part of this project. “We have learned that there is no absence of action across the continent, but what has been the problem is that these actions are often isolated and not be brought together,” he explained. Dr. Munang launched the first Africa Adaptation Gap Report which has helped to galvanize a coherent continental strategic climate policy position.
Change the attitudes with EBAFOSA
He is currently working on showing examples of adaptation projects in Africa, through the framework Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security in Africa Assembly: EBAFOSA. In 2015, indeed, the UN environment in collaboration with the African Union Commission and other partners created EBAFOSA. Today, Dr Munang mentors African youth: he gives them knowledge to solve Africa’s environmental and development challenges. He is working with 44 countries.
“With EBAFOSA,everyone can be engaged in Africa: it is also an opportunity for young people, to develop mobile application in the agriculture value chain for instance,” he explained.
For Dr Munang, Combining Agriculture with Information Communication Technology (ICT) is the key for Africa Sustainable Development. After years of advocacy on adaptation to climate change in Africa, he thinks that institutions of higher learning needs to start tailoring courses in the agricultural sector and climate change as well as sustainable agricultural industrialization, but also in clean energy.
For him, agriculture has been shown as a social issue rather than a business. “It is in fact about off farm opportunities which involve processing, transport, linkages to market,” he noticed. But to his view, young people should be integrated in a mutual partnership with industrial leaders in such a way that they can be able to receive mentorship and enhance their technical business skills. “An inclusive framework is needed to bring them together and build a network for entrepreneurs in the entire agricultural value chain,” he advised. With EBAFOSA, the UN Environment is trying to establish partnerships with relevant individuals and stakeholders said Mr Munang. To him, the youth can connect farmers to market and can help farmers to assess input through information communication technology. And it’s already happening in countries such as Kenya and The Democratic Republic of Congo.
Bridge “silos” with mobile applications
By integrating private Sectors and also Non Governmental Organizations, Mr Munang wants to bridge “silos” between all stakeholders. “In The Democratic Republic of Congo ( DRC), there are young people who are buying Cassava, using mobile application and processing this cassava: they are making up to 4000 US dollars in a week and they earn 16 000 US dollars per month which means that they earn 196 000 US dollars in a year, that is a lot of money,” he explained. These young people are utilizing the information communication to sell the raw materials in DRC.
In this country, the demand for cassava flower is high, Mr Munang recalled. The meal is often based on cassava in DRC but the farmers find difficulties to sell their products. “ Because of the farmers difficulties to have access to market and sell cassava, a group of young people in DRC have come together and have created a mobile application to be able to look at where are the farmers: they buy the cassava and they are using clean energy to process it into flour through the industry process and then they distribute it through ICT ,” Mr Munang indicated.
The DRC mobile application initiative is not well known : it does not have a website. But in eastern Africa, in Kenya, people are using a well known innovative mobile application: Edensys . “It is focus on bringing all the people in one place to know who is dealing with the solar power irrigation or who can be able to provide the private bank to farmers, through the mobile application found by a group of young people.” For Dr Munang, this initiative is essential and has to be spread. “These young people are training volunteers who can be able to also help to train farmers to use clean energy for solar irrigation and as the same time, market the product,” he said.
Climate Action: goal 13
With climate action, goal 13 of the 17 sustainable development goals, Mr Munang succeeds to help young people create jobs by utilizing information communication technology. And he is confident for the near future, especially with the incomes generated from green bound or carbon market. “ The revenu generated from green bound or carbon market should be targeted towards sectors that can attract the youth in the agricultural sector and energy: there should be a special fund from these revenues for youth with entrepreneurial ideas, in the energy sector or in the agricultural sector and that fund will support them to expand their ideas,” he advocated .