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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)


Bringing seasonal forecasts to the farmer: participatory climate smart villages for Green Growth in Ethiopia


PI: Belay Simane (simaneb@yahoo.com; belay.simane@aau.edu.et), Addis Ababa University
U.S. Partner: Benjamin Zaitchik, Johns Hopkins University

Project Overview:

Climate change adaptation is a high priority for Ethiopia and other climate-vulnerable countries. At the farm and village level, however, long-term planning for climate change means very little. Subsistence agriculture communities survive on a year-to-year basis, and the productivity of the coming season’s crops is typically too important and is often too uncertain to allow for adaptation planning on the decades-long time horizon of climate change projections. In this context, improved use of seasonal forecasts offers a climate resilience building strategy that pays dividends under current conditions and is likely to become even more essential as patterns of climate variability shift in coming years. The use of seasonal forecasts is also flexible and adaptable to context in a way that few adaptation strategies are. A specific cropping technology or seed variety may not work across agroecosystems, but improved approaches to interpreting and acting on seasonal climate forecasts can contribute to resilience in a wide range of settings.

The guiding principle for this project is that seasonal forecasts generated at the agroecosystem level, developed collaboratively with farmers, will advance understanding of the adaptation process and contribute to climate resilience in subsistence-based communities. The proposed work would leverage and expand a climate smart village (CSV) network that has proven to be an effective mechanism to engage farmers in generating climate resilience solutions. The CSVs will inform application of forecasts through participatory forecast interpretation and communication. They will also provide a platform for linking forecasts to culturally and ecologically appropriate actions to make use of forecast information. Meanwhile, the project focus on best-available seasonal forecasts will add a dimension of capabilities to CSVs that is currently absent.
 

Summary of Recent Events

A multi-disciplinary group has conducted a comprehensive baseline survey of the 14 CSVs to capture the current socio-economic situation, resource availability, average production, income and risk management approaches. The report is underway and will be ready during the next quarter.

Addis Ababa University in collaboration with Debre Markos Uiversity and Regional Environmental Agency organized the national PEER project launching workshop in Debre Markos. Participants included farmers & Development Agents, researchers, extension workers, representatives of zonal and regional policy makers, University leaders and local administrators and other partners and stakeholders. The 2-day workshop keynote address was delivered on the relevance of community based development and the lessons so far from the Choke project by Professor Shibru Tedla. During the launching workshop a critical mass of partners (120) together with the community members shared basic principles and approaches of Climate Smart Villages, identified challenges and opportunities and agreed on activities related to the CSVs.

This launching workshop provided a valuable platform to 1) create awareness for policy makers and the stakeholders about the PEER funded project, 2) get feedback on the activities and approaches of the project; 3) Establish partnerships in the areas of Climate Change and Resilience building at community levels; and 4) define the activities and stakeholders responsibilities in the implementations of the PEER project. It has also created a space for PEER project to promote synergies with other programs and opportunities for replication and scaling up of CSA approaches and practices.

During the workshop it was also agreed that the enabling environment for CSV should be a rights-based approach with active, free, and meaningful participation of the local communities and the local administration. Local communities have the right to influence adaptation plans, local bylaws and practices at all levels. External interventions should only facilitate timely, transparent information about climate change, and support through training and mentoring. Local communities also take leadership roles local managements, while nurturing and enhancing traditional knowledge.

13 Climate smart villages have been established using community based Innovation Platform models (CIP). In their previous work they have tested and proved that a “Community-based Innovation Platforms (CIPs)” approach to establish a climate smart village as an organizing framework towards building resilience at community level.

During the workshop, the experts group packaged a Portfolio of climate-smart agriculture practices and technologies that can contribute to reaching the objectives of climate-smart agriculture that already exist and well tested.They increase the carbon content of the soils and above ground biomass and enhance productivity and resilience. However, it was agreed upon that increased investments are needed to build the institutional capacity to support their adoption. Investments will also be needed to address gaps in knowledge and technology to support uptake at the local level. Many of these climate-smart agricultural practices can be integrated into a single farming system and will provide multiple benefits that can improve livelihoods and incomes. In this project, the PI reports that they will package ecosystem based “climate-smart” technologies in a participatory approach following adaptive management which deliver multiple benefits – specifically, food security and development benefits together with climate change adaptation and mitigation co-benefits.

The following three activities are planned during the coming 3 months:
1. Data Analysis and construction of result tables, and preparing a final report listing the priority technologies is ongoing and will be finalized during the next quarter.
2. Prioritizing and packaging of interventions: We will use a Multi-criteria analysis (MCA) method to prioritize adaptation options for the different agroecosystems. The decision will be based on five alternatives as well as 15 different economic, social and environmental criteria. Prioritization of CSA technologies for the different CSVs will be made during the first year using a multi-criteria decision making approach. First experts will package the technologies which will be proceeded by stakeholders’ workshop that will identify evaluation criteria and weights for the different criteria.
3. Capacity Building: The project will organize cross-site visits of farmers to analog sites and to other areas practicing climate smart agriculture (Farmer-to-farmer learning). The PI and his team will train the community members regarding transitioning towards green economy at village level.


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