Three solutions against climate change, simply explained

How to tackle climate change? This is perhaps one of the most pressing questions of our generation. With German support, the World Food Programme (WFP) is already implementing three innovative answers.

Lukas Eichelter
Apr 17, 2019 · 9 min read
Chad: Thanks to new dams and irrigation systems, smallholder farmers can grow tomatoes and beans despite the drought. Photo: WFP/Alexis Masciarelli

Climate change = hunger

Sea levels are rising. While deserts grow, arable land is shrinking. There is too much or too little rain. Floods, storms and droughts destroy land, livestock, food stocks and harvests. For smallholder farmers, this is particularly disastrous. People lose their livelihoods or even lives. Women and children suffer the most. Climate change is one of the biggest causes of hunger.

  • 95 million acutely malnourished people live under extreme climatic conditions. That is 76 percent of all people who experience acute levels of malnutrition.
  • If global temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius, the number of people pushed into hunger could reach an estimated 189 million. At 4 degrees Celsius this number could even jump to 1.8 billion.

Climate change = solvable

Scientific research has proven that climate change is largely driven by human activity. But the science also agrees: we have the power to put this right.

Droughts are driving millions of people out of their homes worldwide. In this camp for internally displaced people in Somalia, families are dependent on food aid. Photo: WFP/Georgina Goodwin

1. Proactive instead of reactive: forecast-based financing

Humanitarian aid is no exception: the earlier a risk is responded to, the better and more efficient the response is. Climate disaster preparedness is highly effective and impactful. One calculation clearly illustrates that: every US Dollar invested in disaster prevention and risk management — for example in early warning systems, better weather forecasts and protective infrastructure such as dams — saves up to four US Dollars in humanitarian aid after a disaster.

Ethiopia: After disasters such as floods, WFP often has difficulty reaching people in need. Photos: WFP/Abdikadr Farah and WFP/Abdihakin Abdirisak
A pilot project in 14 flood-prone districts in Nepal has confirmed the effectiveness of forecast-based financing.

2. Better insured: ARC Replica

What helps in the event of damage? Insurance, if covered. So-called macro-insurances operate with the same basic principle, but on a much larger scale. The brilliant thing is that instead of individuals insuring themselves, states and now humanitarian organizations such as WFP can insure people in need against climate risks, such as droughts. This is precisely the idea behind ARC Replica. But lets start from the beginning:

Niger: Drones can be used to observe vegetation decline. Photo: WFP/Laura Lacanale
Mauritania: Irregular rainfall threatens the livelihoods of rural families. Photo: WFP/Adrien Rebours

3. Prevention instead of treatment: R4 Rural Resilience Initiative

The R4 Rural Resilience Initiative — or R4 — reverses the idea of ARC by directly providing climate risk insurance to smallholder farmers. In contrast to the macro insurance ARC Replica, R4 is a so-called micro-insurance because it is individuals that take out insurances instead of states or humanitarian organizations. Through an innovative approach, even poor smallholder farmers who cannot afford the insurance can acquire a policy in return for their labour and eventually escape poverty. How does this work?

Malawi: R4 participant Cathreen Thomas packs the corn she was able to harvest thanks to the newly-built irrigation canals. Photo: WFP/Badre Bahaji
Malawi: Cathreen Thomas dug swales to collect rainwater and in return received an insurance policy. Photo: WFP/Badre Bahaji

Find out more about WFP’s work on climate here.

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme

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