While echoing the demands of African leaders for countries to swiftly scale-up investment for climate adaptation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has offered to invest $1.4 billion to assist smallholder farmers face the immediate and long-term implications of climate change.
At the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman made the news (COP27). More than two billion people depend on smallholder farms for food and income, but less than 2% of global climate money is allocated to helping these farms adapt to climate change, according to Suzman, who added that this is a food and economic catastrophe without precedent for many countries.
He observed that as climate threats intensify and further endanger food security by lowering smallholder farmers’ yields and resilience, food and economic crises will last longer and become more severe.
He stated: “The effects of climate change have already been devastating, and every moment the world delays action, more people suffer, and the solutions become more complex and costly. Our commitment will help smallholder farmers adapt today and build resilience for the future. It is essential for this climate summit to produce bold commitments that address immediate and long-term needs. Leaders must listen to the voices of African farmers and governments to understand their priorities and respond with urgency.
“The foundation’s commitment will fund immediate action and long-term initiatives over four years to help smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia build resilience and food security. Funding will focus on spurring African-led innovation to build a pipeline of climate-smart agriculture projects, new applications of digital technologies, climate-smart innovations for smallholder livestock farming, and support for women smallholder farmers to capitalize on their untapped potential.”
Melinda French Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The backbone of the food systems in rural Africa is women, but they have never had equal access to the resources required to realize their full potential or increase their resilience to looming climate threats. Women’s crucial contribution to their economies is too significant to be ignored as the climate crisis worsens.
Women smallholder farmers could make more money in a day than they do now in a month with the right financing and marketing assistance, ultimately changing these local food systems and opening the door to a healthier, more sustainable, and more prosperous future for families and communities across the continent.
The foundation is intensifying its continuing relationship with the International Fund for Agricultural Development to better the livelihoods of rural women in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (IFAD).
The objective is to scale up programs that promote innovations at the intersection of gender and climate adaptation, support initiatives that empower women farmers, and improve climate finance so that rural women have better access to the climate-smart tools they need to strengthen food systems.