Creating climate resilience with social entrepreneurship
By Charlie Chilufya SJ, JENA
Climate change represents a number of the greatest environmental, social, and economic threats facing the planet today, significantly impacting the livelihoods of the poor in developing African countries. Increasing temperatures and shifting rain patterns across Africa reduce access to food, impacting regions and farming systems in varying ways. Predicted changes to rainfall indicate that southern Africa will become drier, and eastern and western Africa will see more intense rain and increased risk of floods.
It is projected that 250 million Africans (c. 25% of the African population) could face water shortages in 2020 if nothing is done. Further projections for sub-Saharan Africa suggest drops in cereal crop production ranging from 2% for sorghum to 35 percent for wheat by 2050. Food production systems are more vulnerable to climate change because of Africa’s extensive reliance on rain-fed crop production. Between 2017 and 2019, Africa experienced acute food insecurity due to crop destruction from the fall of armyworms, strong droughts, and increased resource-based conflict in places including Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan.
The water crisis in South Africa and near-famine conditions in Somalia demonstrates the disruptive impacts of climate change. African countries are among the most vulnerable to climate change, yet the least able to adapt as they lack the technical, financial and institutional capacity to identify the best ways to build resilience. Various approaches (e.g. improved seeds, agroforestry, climate-smart agriculture, diversifying food production) have been tested with the aim of reducing vulnerability to climate change. While these help communities build resilience, they fall short on helping households achieve sustainable income and food security.
There is a need for a paradigm shift regarding approaches to adaptation and resilience through social entrepreneurship (SE) which cushions communities from climate-related shocks. Social Entrepreneurship is a powerful approach, it combines environmental approaches with entrepreneurial ones to contribute to sustainable social-economic development. This is the approach that the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa (JENA) has taken. JENA’s work in areas experiencing climate disruption represents a compelling example of how applying social entrepreneurship principle and action through collaborative partnerships can help local institutions in high-risk regions better respond to the stresses of climate change.
JENA and its affiliates are studying ways of helping local poor farmers build resilience to meet this pressing challenge. They work with local partners to understand what climate resilience strategies work there and how they can be shared with other regions. In all JENA actions, the ultimate goal is to enable people to unlock their potential, defeat poverty, take care of our Common Home, and manage their own lives.
Through Jesuit Social Centres operating in a wide range of regions around Africa we: Mobilize marginalised communities enabling them to eradicate injustices and all forms of deprivation they face; Undertake research that enhances understanding of poverty, injustice, conflict and peace practices and leads to innovative policies and programmes; Conduct training geared towards capacity building for individuals, organizations, and communities in development, justice and peace work; Network with others to add depth and breadth to our understanding and activism; and build global initiatives for development, justice, peace, sustainability, and regeneration.
Republished from Jesuit Missions