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  • Controversial report on financing energy access from the UNSE4ALL

    Simon Trace

    May 20th, 2015

    I’m writing this blog while sitting in the very impressive surrounds of the UN General Assembly Hall in New York on the 3rd day of this year’s UN Sustainable Energy for All (UNSE4ALL) annual forum. It’s great to see so many people gathered in one place to discuss the goals of universal access to energy, a doubling of the amount of renewable energy in the global energy mix and a doubling of the rate of improvement in energy efficiency. Although there is a long way to go, the UNSE4ALL initiative has genuinely accelerated interest in these issues in the last couple of years and has galvanised investment and developed really innovative ways of transparently tracking progress against these goals through what’s known as the Global Tracking Framework.

    energy enablesPractical Action has lent its full support to UNSE4ALL and continues to believe ensuring its success will be a critical contribution to both fighting poverty and achieving a sustainable future for everyone on the planet. But sitting here today, listening to a debate on how we find the necessary finance to achieve the goals, something worries me about the assumptions behind some of the calculations for funding needs for universal energy access. In 2011 the International Energy Agency (IEA) annual World Energy Outlook produced a detailed analysis of the funding needs to achieve universal access by 2030. Critical to that analysis were the assumptions about how far extensions to central electricity grids would be the answer to providing energy for those who do not have it at the moment and how much off grid solutions (such as solar powered lights, solar home systems, independent mini grids powered by renewable energy or diesel generators etc) would play a part. The IEA analysis concluded that total investment in energy access would need to range between around $30 billion a year over the period 2010 to 2015 to around $55 billion a year over the period 2026 to 2030. During that period the proportion of that investment that would need to be made in off grid technologies would need to rise from around 25% at the start to over 50% by the end. That is a really important conclusion as it says that we need a transformation of the energy sector with a huge emphasis on building capacity for an investment in off grid solutions such as solar power, micro hydro electricity, biogas etc. That is very different from where we are today, with the vast amount of investment just going into the grid.

    So why am I worried? Because, the UNSE4ALL’s Finance Committee has just published a report that contradicts this analysis (without providing any information on why different assumptions were used to the IEA). According to this new report off grid technology will only need to account for 15% of total annual investment (as opposed to the IES’s estimate of between 25% and 50%). Why does this matter? Because it takes the pressure off governments and the development banks to redirect finance to where it’s needed – to deliver off grid solutions for those who have no access to electricity now. It’s effectively a green light for business as usual – more money is needed yes, but just for the traditional energy sector. It’s a huge disappointment to see UNSE4ALL publishing a report that so dramatically contradicts the IEA’s earlier analysis without either recognising that contradiction or explaining the rationale behind it.




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  • Relief supplies arrive in Dhading, Nepal

    Amanda Ross

    May 15th, 2015

    Following the earthquake on 25th April, Practical Action’s Nepal team  has been working hard to help some of the devastated communities in Gorkha and Dhading.

    Distributing relief in DhadingWe’re focusing on:

    • Water treatment (to reduce deaths by disease, especially in infants)
    • Emergency shelters (for homes, and public facilities e.g. toilets)
    • Energy generation (lighting and heating, including for medical centres)
    • Solar communication technology (for mobile phone charging)

    Please help us deliver this help by donating to our appeal.


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  • People prioritise community infrastructure


    May 11th, 2015

    Together with the Rapid Assessment Team of Practical Action, I recently visited Salyantar VDC of Dhading District, which is one among the most affected districts from the recent earthquake. As I transected into the villages, I recalled my memories back from 2008, during which I was directly involved in supporting biogas plants, constructing a high-school building and development of drinking water system through a project funded by the German Government. There were many known faces that had lost their loved ones and their property. I wanted to go closer to them, talk and ask the kind of support they expect from organisations like us in this difficult situation. Somehow, I felt that many of them wanted to smile back and thank as we were with our team to distribute relief items for them.


    Food items supported by Practical Action in Salyantar VDC

    A gentleman in his early 50s, named Babu Krishna Shrestha, came closer to me and said “What really hurts of all are the schools and health facilities that have been destroyed. It will take years to construct our schools, and unless this happens, our children will not forget the earthquake and this devastation”. Further discussing with him, I found that he lost his wife in this disaster who was also the Principal of Salyantar Higher Secondary School. I was greatly shocked – he was the husband of the woman I worked with eight years back to construct this school. I still remember her hard work and dedication during the entire period of construction. She greatly believed that the drop-out rates could be reduced provided an attractive school environment including infrastructures. She was strong with her arguments that poor infrastructures lead to poor student behaviour and conduct in the classroom, affects teaching learning environment, and weakens the health of children. She is no more, but I strongly feel that her arguments are highly valid. Our assessment team observed this together with many other schools in Salyantar VDC that have either been completely destroyed or require immediate renovation.


    Inner view of Salyantar Higher Secondary School

    Assessing further, we found that the only Primary Health Care Centre (PHC) of Salyantar VDC is also damaged. The buildings have bigger cracks making the patients vulnerable. Emergency patients are being treated in tents while other regular patients are attended through an emergency desk just outside the PHC. As mentioned by the Health Assistant Mr. Shambhu Poudel, there were 6 delivery cases in 15 days after the earthquake. The pregnant women were kept outside until the final labor, taken inside the building for delivery and shifted outside again after the delivery. Just imagine, how risky is it for both the mother and her baby inside such building? Equal is the risk of infection to both of them after delivery.

    Having the situation of community infrastructures observed, I no longer felt it necessary to ask people about their expectations. It is clear that people have more sentiments towards the community structures like schools, health posts and drinking water services. Of course, they want their children to have quality education and health care when in need. Practical Action is committed towards promoting small, light and economically feasible infrastructures/technologies in post-disaster situation and help people rise from this disaster.


    Beds for patients in Salyantar Primary Health Care Centre


    Please join us and be part of this support. Visit us at

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  • When generosity is the only attribute!

    Bhuwan Adhikari

    May 7th, 2015

    In the aftermath of Nepal’s mega earthquake and amidst incessant aftershocks, the Practical Action team here in Nepal are working hard to offer whatever in personal and professional capacities they can. All of us – as many as 82 professionals have all been affected in some way by the disaster’s destruction and have been doing all we can in such unprecedented nearly worst case scenario.

    6 May 2015At this time everybody’s goal is same but we are doing different things in different settings. After all, in a situation where whole state is screaming for rescue and relief, we are as if indifferent by virtue of our ability to bounce back from sorrows and trauma. We are working hard to reach the needy victims, form alliances with other organisations, sympathise and empathise with people’s feelings and contribute physically, mentally and financially.

    Our leadership so much engrossed in the emergency situation here, reaching out to people in the fullest capacity, and reminding me of my days in a human rights organisation when human rights violations and ethnic violence were rampant and urgent response was a high priority. To my surprise when everyone around me is so generous how can I seat just ideal? My seniors were coordinating resources and facilitating various channels to reach out to community. Our colleagues Buddhi Kumal is deployed in the forefront. My colleagues including Swarnima, Prabin G, Sachin and Milan were around ground zero zone for offering relief and rescue. Our DRR team is working at full throttle at ground level whilst all of us are being involved in various works that complement the undertakings of our experts.

    It is said that giving is always satisfying but when you have limited things to offer, generosity counts highly. The organisation itself has been urging all its teammates, donors and partners to express solidarity and to contribute in whatever capacity, so that needy people get sigh of relief and respite. Further to this, there are various stories of contribution in personal and professional capacities by our colleagues, domestic and universal coordination and appeals from relevant desk is all time high. This first-hand experience of generosity not only inspires but is catalytic in making the team more motivated to offer support and help. To be honest I was not as generous as I am right now.

    When leaders who better understand the organisation’s capacity and its strategic relevance are working 24/7, there is no need of other motivation and incentive. The sense of encouragement, the smell of generosity and cooperation is everywhere regardless of aims and themes. Standing tall as a rescue and relief providing entity needs much resource and expertise and our priority areas of reconstruction, rebuilding and resilience are waiting for more resources to pour in. However, we may be in short supply of resources but we are not in short supply of vision, value and vigour. The generosity with our sleeves rolled up for the relief work has made us a frontline organisation that focuses on immediate technological needs in regard to shelter, water supply and energy.

    I urge you all to be a part of our relief work. Please show your generosity by supporting our work.

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  • How many more deaths will it take before Disaster Risk Reduction is adequately financed?

    Colin McQuistan

    May 6th, 2015

    The extent of the horrific devastation in Nepal caused by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake is being increasingly realised. At least 7,566 have died[1], and it is reported that over 8 million have been affected. Further, the long term impacts on communities’ livelihoods, children’s education, and health and psychological wellbeing are unimaginable.  Earthquakes are an everyday risk in the region, as are floods, landslides and many other hazards. Scientists have warned of a ‘big one’ for decades and some have even predicted the exact epicentre location as that experienced this week[2]. It was never a case of if, but when.

    Nepal EQ map










    But what was even more certain was that when it came, buildings would fall, people would die, and livelihoods would be lost. The losses in Nepal were not only caused by the earthquake; they were caused by bad development. The lack of provision of safe construction for a burgeoning population, the failure to separate housing from risk location, lax enforcement of building codes, and the widespread poverty restricting household’s ability to protect themselves. These are all lessons we must learn and implement in the future to avoid a similar catastrophe when the next earthquake strikes. Development must not ignore disaster risk reduction (DRR) this requires a shift from responding to disasters to managing risk.

    Many groups are contributing to this learning and rebuilding process. The National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) holds workshops in Nepal to build the capacities of members of the community, local governments, and NGOs to build more safely. Practical Action works with rural and urban communities across the country to create locally appropriate flood warning systems and in Pokhara has worked with local partners to explore a multi-hazard approach to risk reduction. Oxfam implements community based DRR approaches across the country, strengthening local capacities to prepare for crises.  All these agencies are working with the government to strengthen risk reduction concepts in national laws.

    Nepal EQ 001 Nepal EQ 002





    Update 4 May: Practical Action teams are now in the remote villages in Ghorka. We have been able to source the vital supplies in Nepal, with only tents coming from India. Protecting local markets is a vital part of supporting local recovery #M4DRR.

    We are beginning to see this resilience building in an ad hoc manner in some communities in Nepal, and this reflects the state of affairs globally. But it needs to happen everywhere; it needs to be systematic. This requires additional, predictable and sustained funding for disaster risk reduction. But will the terrible toll in Nepal finally prompt lasting change? Is it enough to hit home about the need to reduce vulnerability and improve preparedness?  Do we now have the impetus to build back better – recovering in a way that builds resilience to future disasters? And is it enough to persuade donors and governments to fund this resilience building?

    States are currently negotiating an international agreement on the future financing of development[3]. Led by the United Nations, the agreement will lay out principles and targets to guide domestic and international public and private funding for sustainable development. The devastation in Nepal more than ever highlights the need for a specific funding target within this agreement on disaster risk reduction. After all, disasters are a development issue; disasters are exacerbated by bad development, and can reverse decades of progress in seconds. Sustained and predictable funding can help to mainstream risk assessments in local development planning and policies, builders could be trained in hazard construction, hospitals and medical staff could receive disaster preparedness capacity building, and disaster prevention could be integrated into school curriculums.

    It is sad that it often takes catastrophes to catalyse these changes. Some of the most significant achievements in international, national and local disaster policies occurred in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Let’s hope the international community can learn from the devastation in Nepal and raise international commitments to finance resilient development, so that these human tragedies and economic losses can be largely avoided in the future.


    [2] Bollinger, L., S.N. Sapkota, P. Tapponnier, Y. Klinger, M. Rizza, J. Van der Woerd, D.R. Tiwari, R. Pandey, A. Bitri, S. Bes de Berc (2014) Estimating the return times of great Himalayan earthquakes in Eastern Nepal: evidence from the Patu and Bardibas strands of the Main Frontal Thrust, Jour. Geophys. Res., DOI: 10.1002/2014JB010970



    NB: An earlier version of this blog by Lucy Pearson and the BOND DRR Working Group appeared on the BOND website

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  • Climate Smart Agriculture: making adaptation work for smallholder farmers

    Jodi Sugden

    April 27th, 2015


    The 9th Community Based Adaptation Conference  (CBA9) will take place in Kenya from the 24th to the 30th April. Practical Action is a co-sponsor of this event, and is sending speakers from Nepal, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, the UK and Sudan. On Tuesday 28th April, Chris Henderson will be participating in a session on ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’.


    Agriculture is fundamental to climate change adaptation in developing countries:

    • 50% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector – in the Least Developed Countries, it is 72%
    • Agriculture is dependent on biodiversity and other natural resources, and is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events
    • One billion people continue to suffer from food insecurity – this is expected to rise by 15-40% by 2050 as a result of climate change
    • In developing countries, women are usually responsible for collecting fuel and water, and are often dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods – they will bear the greatest burdens of climate change, and have the potential to contribute to adaptation


    Technology choice is key in agricultural systems, and is never neutral. Which technologies are utilized in particular contexts will have social, economic and ecological impacts.

    ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ is a broad term with relevance to all actors in the agricultural sector, from large-scale commercial farmers in the US to market vendors in Bangladesh. As such, it is being used to define diverse agricultural technologies and approaches, some of which are unsustainable and do not contribute to long-term food security or adaptive capacity.

    If Climate Smart Agriculture is to be useful for smallholder farmers in developing countries, it must embody the principles of Technology Justice:


    • It must be inclusive

    Existing production and market systems should be modified to be facilitate equitable access for smallholders to the technologies they need to reduce vulnerability and risk, capitalise on opportunities, and improve their livelihoods, resilience and well-being.

    Agro-ecology is a powerful tool for the inclusion of resource poor or otherwise marginalized farmer groups. It is knowledge-intensive rather than capital-intensive, minimizing financial outlay and the risks associated with taking loans to cover costs. By making production less expensive, agroecological approaches increase access to market systems for smallholder farmers, and in particular, women.


    Treadle pump agriculture technology women farmers

    Farmers in Nepal use a treadle pump to water their crops. Credit: Peter Crawford


    • It must support pro-poor innovation

    Agricultural innovation in response to climate change must move beyond vulnerability reduction; policies and interventions must be designed to increase the dynamic ability of communities to respond to unpredictable climate change.

    Key to appropriate innovation is user-centred design; the most effective technologies are developed in conjunction with those who will use them. Both women and men must be fully involved in the design and management of technologies and the institutions that affect their use. Knowledge and capacity-building for adaptation to climate change should integrate both scientific knowledge and the experiential, context-specific knowledge of end users.

    Investment in pro-poor innovation should focus on identifying alignment between private sector interests and development objectives for mutually beneficial relationships.


    • It must be sustainable

    High external input, fossil fuel-based monoculture production systems are unsustainable. Agro-ecological systems generate less greenhouse gas emissions, and the diversification of crops increases the resilience of smallholder farmers to extreme weather events and climate change.


    Biodiversity agriculture resilience adaptation

    Indigenous farmers in Bolivia display just a few of the 256 varieties of potato that can survive the harsh growing conditions of the high Andes. Credit: Ana Castañeda


    In many cases, agro-ecological production systems produce greater yields than high external input systems, particularly in unfavourable environments (e.g. here, here  and here). However, agroecology is fundamentally about optimizing production for the maximum sustainable yield. The natural resource base should nto be an after thought once the maximum yield has been attained; it is fundamental to continued food production.


    For further information on Practical Action’s participation at CBA9, see here


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  • Why take a livelihood-centred approach to disaster risk reduction?

    Reginald Sithole

    April 24th, 2015

    ‘’If we can make people’s livelihoods stronger and more sustainable, disasters will affect them less” (Practical Action, 2011)

    Cattle dying as a result of drought in GwandaZimbabwe is prone to a number of natural hazards including droughts, storms and floods. Climate change is increasing the severity and unpredictability of these events, and the impacts are worsened by unsustainable human practices, including overgrazing, deforestation, veldt fires and poor land management. This is further compounded by pests, diseases, epidemics (especially HIV/AIDS) and economic pressures. These natural and man-made hazards affect people’s livelihood activities, and lead to hunger, extreme hardship, and loss of life.

    Practical Action has been working with stakeholders at the national, provincial, district and ward levels, implementing a Livelihood-Centred Disaster Risk Reduction (LCDRR) approach, to strengthen and diversify livelihoods, enhance community preparedness, and build capacity to cope with hazards effectively. This has involved:

    • The creation of trained and active disaster management committees (DMCs) at ward, district and provincial levels
    • The development, implementation and annual-review of community-based risk reduction and preparedness plans, supported by local and central government
    • The development of early warning systems, now in use
    • Communities trained in disaster risk reduction
    • Linkages created with other stakeholders
    • Knowledge and awareness campaigns conducted on risks and risk reduction strategies
    • Identification and implementation of diversified livelihoods

    LCDRR stakeholder workshop meeting

    Major outcomes from the project

    a) Uptake of the LCDRR approach by other stakeholders

    • LCDRR approach incorporated in Zimbabwe’s draft national disaster policy
    • Zimbabwe’s National Civil Protection Unit is working to establish and build the capacity of ward-level disaster management committees throughout the country
    • Other NGOs – the International Organisation of Migration, World Vision, and Oxfam, among others – have adopted the LCDRR approach

    b) Enhanced organisational change

    • Community-level disaster risk monitoring and evaluation structures
    • Ward and district level disaster management structures with clearly defined roles
    • Integration of LCDRR into the broader development process

    c) Increased local innovation for building resilience

    • Pest management using local resources and ethno-veterinary practices
    • Increased uptake of food security and diversification options
    • Increased options for veldt fire control and management
    • Increased community-based awareness and sensitization initiatives

    d) Empowerment of women

    • More women involved in local LCDRR initiatives – increased knowledge and skills for leadership in the community
    • Women elected to take decision-making positions in local development structures as a result of proven competency with DRR work

    Monitoring and Evaluation

     LCDRR stakeholder workshop meeting

    Disaster Management Committees (DMCs) formed the cornerstone of project implementation, monitoring and evaluation. At the village level, DMCs were composed of community members; at district, provincial and national levels, they were composed of NGO staff, government and private sector representatives. A number of participatory tools were used for data collection and analysis at all levels.

    On-going challenges

    Planning and implementation of LCDRR activities has been effectively decentralised, but funding is still very centralised. This means that communities are still limited in what they can achieve.

    Key Messages for CBA9

    • The development of risk reduction plans at community level should be linked to district and provincial planning processes for better coordination, monitoring and evaluation
    • Plans must be realistic and implementable to avoid frustration of communities
    • Local leadership and development structures must be fully involved in planning and implementation
    • Involving all relevant stakeholders – communities, NGOs, and government in monitoring and evaluation – gives more comprehensive evaluation of project impacts, and better enable further development
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  • Using weather information to adapt to a changing climate

    Henry Muchedzi

    April 23rd, 2015

    The challenge

    Weather extremes caused by climate change are a major threat to food production in Southern Africa. The ‘Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation in Zimbabwe’s Extension Systems’ project provided over 8,000 smallholder farmers with innovative climate information services that allowed them to anticipate and adapt to rapidly changing climatic conditions.

    Farmers plot rainfall for trends ZimbabweThe project mobilized the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) and the Department of Agriculture, Technical and Extension Services (AGRITEX) to develop and distribute tailor-made forecasts that helped farmers prepare a cushion against the effects of climate change on food production. The project achieved positive impact through collaboration with different stakeholders, including DMS, AGRITEX, and the farmers themselves. The approach is potentially sustainable given it is embedded in current extension activities, and is relatively low cost.

    Improving access to climate and weather information for enhanced adaptive capacity

    maize under conservation agriculture intercropped with beans Practical Action has supported farmers in the three Zimbabwean provinces of Masvingo, Midlands, and Matebeleland South understand the relevance of climate information and weather forecasts. This understanding has proven a useful entry point for the introduction of conservation agriculture practices. It has helped farmers prepare for and protect against extreme weather events that erode their livelihoods, and assists them to make informed decisions about farming practices to take better advantage of productivity-enhancing technologies.

    Key messages for CBA9

    •  National governments should support free access to analysed historical data and current weather information for small holder farmers, for better decision making. This should include investment in the establishment of local meteorological stations to enhance the availability of localised weather information
    •  Greater collaboration between private sector actors, government and smallholder farmers will be necessary for effective dissemination of climate and market information
    •  Through public and private extension services, smallholder farmers should be made aware of the effects of climate change, and should be engaged in finding solutions to this challenge. Where appropriate, this would include the adoption of technologies which contribute to their climate change resilience
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  • Coffee farmers adapt to climate change

    Roberto Montero

    April 23rd, 2015

    Los productores de café a adaptarse al cambio climático

    (English translation below)

    La novena Conferencia de Adaptación Basada en la Comunidad (CBA9) se llevará a cabo del 26 al 30 de abril de 2015. En Perú, Soluciones Prácticas ha estado trabajando con las comunidades productoras de café para apoyar sus procesos de adaptación.

    treesEn la amazonía Peruana,  el ecosistema tropical forestal lluvioso o selva alta aloja a más de medio millón de familias vinculadas a pequeñas fincas productoras de café. Ellos viven y trabajan en condiciones de fragilidad y cada vez mayores signos y efectos del cambio climático con sequías o frecuencias y picos de intensidad de lluvias y enfermedades como la roya haciendo que, a nivel del país, en toda la franja tropical lluviosa se pierda más del 40% de la producción de café.

    En efecto, el cambio climático ya está presente en la vida de las comunidades de nuestra selva alta o llamados bosques de neblina. Por ello, Soluciones Practicas el año 2012-2013 hizo una investigación  de escenarios de Cambio Climático en la Región San Martín. Determinó que el año 2050 la temperatura se incrementará entre 1.0-1.2 oC y, como consecuencia de ello, las áreas de producción de café seguirá subiendo a zonas más altas de las montañas. Lo que implica más agricultura migratoria, quema, deforestación y desequilibrios hidrológicos y de servicios ambientales de estos bosques, si no se proponen medidas de adaptación y otras apropiadas para la gestión del territorio.

    farmComo una propuesta para adaptación a estos cambios climáticos, el 2013 Soluciones Practicas ha impulsado con más fuerza un proyecto con enfoque agroecológico que venía desarrollando en años previos. Este esta basado en un trabajo desde los saberes locales y la adaptación de tecnologías sencillas con participación de productores organizados en comités o comunidades, promotores agroforestales líderes formados, técnicos del proyecto y  del gobierno local. Ellos han implementado fincas cafetaleras con 8 tecnologías integradas y sinérgicas que comprende el modelo agroecológico-agroforestal multiestrato.

    Las ventajas de este modelo de adaptación basada en comunidades se ven reflejadas en tangibles beneficios económicos, ambientales y sociales. Incremento de la productividad e ingresos de los productores en más del 100%, alta calidad de taza del café,  reforestación de áreas degradadas y aguas limpias además de mejora en el empleo y autoempleo familiar consiguiendo bosques productivos y sostenibles en las comunidades tropicales. No menor interés es el despertado mediante un proceso de diálogo y vinculación con actores del mercado usando el Participatory Market Systems Development’, con lo cual,  se ha logrado más interés de compra y mejores precios del café por las empresas.

    grainEstas ventajas, con los respectivos documentos e informes de las evidencias son discutidos y difundidos en los diferentes eventos y escenarios del desarrollo, la propuesta tiene una buena acogida y es motivo de visita de productores, gobiernos de otras regiones, empresas privadas, cooperación, etc. Todo ello,  trabajado en la perspectiva de su replicación y niveles de escalamiento del modelo agroecológico.

    Más información sobre Soluciones Prácticas en CBA9

    Coffee farmers adapt to climate change

    The 9th Conference on Community Based Adaptation (CBA9) will take place from 26th to 30th April 2015. In Peru, Soluciones Practicas (Practical Action Latin America) has been working with coffee communities to support their adaptation processes.

    In the Peruvian Amazon, the rain forest or tropical high forest ecosystem is home to over half a million families linked to small coffee farms. They live and work in conditions of fragility and increasing signs and effects of climate change, with droughts, intense rainfall, and diseases such as rust, so that at the country level, the wet tropical belt experiences a 40% loss of coffee production.

    Indeed, climate change is already present in the life of the communities in our high or ‘cloud forest’ areas. Therefore, from 2012 to 2013, Soluciones Practicas conducted an investigation of climate change scenarios in the San Martin region. It found that by 2050, the temperature will increase by 1.0-1.2 oC and as a result, areas of coffee production will continue to shift to higher mountain areas. This implies more shifting cultivation, burning, deforestation, and loss of the hydrological and environmental services these forests provide, if adaptation measures are not proposed and other appropriate land management techniques are not implemented.

    As a proposal for adaptation to this climate change, Soluciones Practicas has promoted an agroecological approach that has been developed over several years. This is based on local knowledge and adaptation of simple technologies, involving producers organized in committees or communities, agroforestry promoters, trained leaders, project technicians and local government. They have implemented coffee farms with 8 integrated and synergistic technologies, which together comprise a multilayer agro-agroforestry model.

    coffeeThe advantages of this model of community-based adaptation are reflected in tangible economic, environmental and social benefits. Productivity and income of farmers has increased by more than 100%; coffee quality is higher; degraded areas have been reforested, and water quality has improved. Employment and self-employment prospects have improved, and communities are using the forest in a productive and sustainable way. No less interesting is the process of dialogue between market players which has been facilitated using a Participatory Market Systems Development approach, leading to better access to coffee export markets.

    Reports documenting evidence generated by this project have been discussed and disseminated at various different events. The project has been well received, stimulating visits from producers, governments in other regions, private companies, and cooperatives. This model therefore offers an excellent starting point for taking agro-ecological adaptation to scale.

    More information about Practical Action at CBA9

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  • The 9th Community-Based Adaptation Conference: ensuring adaptation works for smallholder farmers

    Jodi Sugden

    April 17th, 2015

    The 9th Community-Based Adaptation conference (CBA9) will take place in Nairobi, Kenya from 24-30 April, 2015. Organized by the International Institute of Environment and Development, and co-sponsored by Practical Action, the conference will bring together development practitioners to discuss current challenges and opportunities facing community-based adaptation to climate change.

    The challenge of climate change adaptation

    Climate change will exacerbate the global challenges we face: delivery of basic services, providing enough food for a growing and urbanizing population, and responding to increasing natural disasters. The impacts of climate change will be difficult to predict; however, it is clear they will be unequally distributed. The poor and the marginalized, particularly women and girls, will bear the greatest burdens.

    Women smallholder farmers community-based adaptation

    Women and girls are often more dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, and will bear the greatest burdens from climate change. Credit: Samuel Rendon/ Manuel Seoane

    It is vital that adaptation funding is targeted to benefit those who will find it hardest to respond. Adaptation must move beyond vulnerability reduction to building long-term adaptive capacity, empowering communities to make livelihood decisions in the face of unpredictable climate change.

    To take adaptation to scale, we must re-vision the role of the private sector. Development practitioners must facilitate equitable market access for those living in poverty, and inclusive, pro-poor technological innovation that benefits both smallholders and private investors.

    Technology choices affect communities’ adaptive capacity

    Technology choices made by farmers, planners, policy makers, research and the private sector to enable or promote agricultural adaptation to climate change are not neutral. Choices between different technologies and systems of governing these technologies have consequences for access (inclusivity), sustainable use (choices available for future generations), and resilience.

    As a sector, agriculture is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events and climatic change, and in developing countries it employs over 50% of the population. Therefore, agricultural technology choices will have a huge impact on food security and economic development. If agricultural adaptation is to be beneficial for smallholder farmers in developing countries, technology choices must improve adaptive capacity and maintain the natural resource base upon which livelihoods depend.

    Key messages for CBA9

    • All actors – government, civil society, private sector – must recognise that technology choices are not neutral and have consequences for adaptive capacity, inclusivity, and sustainability
    • Communities must be re-engaged in analysis, planning and innovation in response to climate change
    • If community-based adaptation is to be effective, it must utilise both indigenous knowledge and experience and climate information and forecasts, with acknowledgement of what we do not know about the future
    • The gendered impacts of climate change and the additional burdens it will place on women and girls must be placed centre stage
    • We need to re-vision private sector involvement in community-based adaptation to take it to scale – this will require access to markets for products and inputs, and mutually beneficial relationships
    Market Bangladesh private sector community-based adaptation

    Taking community-based adaptation to scale will require access to markets for products and services. Credit: Mehrab ul Goni

    Practical Action at CBA9

    Practical Action will be sending representatives from Bangladesh, Nepal, Peru, the UK, Sudan and Zimbabwe to CBA9, who will present  a selection of Practical Action’s community-based adaptation projects from around the world (posters here, under ‘Key Publications‘). They will also facilitate several interactive learning sessions on a range of key issues, including the use of climatic information, the role of the private sector, and Climate Smart Agriculture.

    Find Practical Action at CBA9 here, and remember to follow us on Twitter! #cba9 @Jodi_Sugden @Chris_P_Hen @ColinMcQuistan

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