Climate Change Mitigation Potential of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety-Net Program (PSNP)

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Food security programs designed to alleviate poverty, of which Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) is a model example, are contributing also to climate-change mitigation in Sub-Saharan Africa. PSNP’s climate-smart land management and ecosystem restoration interventions deliver climate-change mitigation principally by sequestering carbon in soils and biomass. This opens a new line of thinking and opportunity where food-security interventions that target underlying drivers of food insecurity—such as ecosystem and land degradation—become a vehicle for climate-change mitigation. Using a combination of geospatial modeling and biophysical approaches, we here show that the mean carbon benefit of all PSNP sites was 5.7 tonnes CO2e /ha /yr. On average, these carbon benefits were primarily due to increases in biomass (40% of total), in soil organic carbon (38%) and reduced livestock greenhouse gas emissions (22%). Extrapolating these results to the whole of PSNP’s 600,000 ha of already-established area enclosures would imply that a total carbon benefit in the order of 3.4 million t CO2e /yr has already been achieved by PSNP. This shows that food security safety net programs, despite not being initially intended to provide climate change mitigation, are nonetheless climate smart, achieving mitigation impacts comparable to the largest carbon projects currently implemented in the agriculture forestry and other land use sector globally.
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This work was supported by the PSNP Climate Smart Initiative. The PSNP is implemented by the Government of Ethiopia with support from the following development partners: Canadian International Development Agency, Irish Aid, European Commission, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, UK Department for International Development, United States Agency for International Development, World Food Program and World Bank.
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Food Security; Climate Change; Greenhouse Gas; Sustainable Land Management; Climate Smart
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