Archive for April, 2015


Thursday, April 30th, 2015 by

As far as I remember I have not used the word “helplessness” in my writings or in my conversation. I used to find such words helpless to make my expression more effective and impressive. Now things have turned around, in-fact it’s upside down. Now everything that I myself, my family, friends and my “state” are feeling is helplessness. It took me more than three decades of reluctance not to use this word. But in last five days after the mega earthquake that have jolted everything including my psyche and emotions, I find this word so meaningful and appropriate.

Escaping the two minutes long shakes and living in tent for four consecutive nights with my child and wife, with neighbours with whom I had never spoken and limited supply of water, without phone, internet and power connection, was utter helplessness. To add to the woes were the looming uncertainty of the next aftershock, utter silence and havoc all over with big planes and choppers flying above our heads, and terrifying news of near complete destruction. I was doing nothing except controlling my fear.

Within few hours of nature’s mega punch there were other equally threatening blows from underneath. The fear was not diminishing, in fact the uncertainty induced helplessness was all over my heart and mind. I needed to calm myself down and provide some encouragement to my family, but still I was helpless. I could not do so. Gradually the news of casualties started to pour in from different sources. We also heard of rampant collapse of cities and villages. I had chance to speak to my sibling and parents. Then only I realised that I was lucky enough to survive. Being so helpless does not matter much, what matters is survival and I don’t care whether I was a helpless living being at that time.

Not so long back, I received a training on Lifeline Communications offered by BBC Media Action here in Kathmandu. The training revolved around the aftermath scenario of a mega earthquake in Kathmandu and being a development practitioner making the communications among various stakeholders including victims more effective. So many techniques and tricks of taking the things into control by virtue of communications were taught. But in the aftermath of such monstrous disaster I was helpless to use even a single line of learning. I was so helpless.

People queuing up for free lunch offered by Marwari Sewa Samiti

People queuing up for free lunch offered by Marwari Sewa Samiti

On the third day, I pulled myself together and denied the request of my spouse to confine myself to the poorly hung tent. I took out my scooter and cruised through deserted roads of Kathmandu city. I thought that I will be capturing some photographs of devastation with my mobile phone camera. But as I went, I was rather discouraged to do so seeing the suffering. Later I stopped by down-town Tundikhel, were people were queuing up. I was just curious what was going on. Nearing the scene, I found that one of the charitable organisations was offering free lunch. I looked at the lunch; it seemed to me unhygienic and also not so mouth-watering. But unknowingly I was in queue to quench my hunger. I had the food, again realising that I was so helpless. But I also realised that there were some people who were being helpful. They had not lost everything and were not as helpless as me.

Practical Action has launched an earthquake appeal to help the survivors. Please help our work in Nepal today and donate now.

Guest post: Energy engagement series — April 2015 RECAP

Thursday, April 30th, 2015 by

The following is a guest post from Lily Ordano, an Associate with the Energy Program and the World Resources Institute (WRI). Practical Action is working in conjunction with WRI to produce a monthly Energy Engagement Series in Washington, DC, which focuses on energy access issues around the world.

Lily Odarno from WRI

Lily Odarno from WRI

The anchor-tenant approach in mini-grid development is considered a promising method for promoting the financial viability of mini-grids in expanding energy access. The approach focuses on securing a ‘reliable load’ for energy service companies to provide electricity to populations without access. In rural communities with very limited demand anchor loads, like cell phone towers, may provide the scale of demand needed to make mini-grid operations financially viable for energy service companies.

In this month’s Energy Engagement Series, we discussed the challenges and opportunities that come with this approach in the latest edition of the Energy Engagement Series – a monthly, salon-style discussion focused on energy access issues hosted by the World Resources Institute and Practical Action. This month’s event featured panelist Clare Boland, Associate Director and VP for Innovation and Strategy for the Rockefeller Foundation, who shared the Foundation’s experience implementing this method in India. Experts from both policy and practice arenas also gathered to share ideas and experiences in this growing area of mini-grid development.

The key takeaway from the event is that much remains to be learned about the anchor-tenant approach and there is an obvious need for knowledge sharing amongst actors implementing this method in mini-grid development.

Here are some more outcomes from the discussion:

  1. The anchor tenant and consistent demand: Mobile phone towers have been seen as attractive candidates for this approach primarily because they represent consistent demand.  The amount of power needed by a cell phone tower is predetermined and comes with no seasonal variations. An anchor tenant such as an agro industry, on the other hand, is associated with a great deal of uncertainty owing to the seasonal nature of agriculture. This makes the agro-industry an unattractive anchor tenant to some participants.
  1. The anchor load approach comes with much operational complexity. Satisfying the needs of an anchor customer could be challenging given the anchor tenant’s demand for quality and consistent power. For mobile phone towers, down times below 99.5% could mean a potential loss of market for entrepreneurs. Energy service companies must have the capacity to provide anchor tenants with the highest quality services required to ensure their continued patronage.
  1. Experiences with the anchor tenant approach indicate that anchor tenants are often disinterested in providing electricity to communities without access beyond CSR commitments (in India, for example, companies are required to invest in CSR-corporate social responsibility). The major driver for mobile phone tower operators who buy into this idea is high diesel costs. The need to have an assured alternative supply of electricity at a reasonable cost is the major determinant of an anchor tenant’s decision to participate in this approach. That an energy source is from renewables or satisfies community energy needs does not in itself serve as sufficient reason for an anchor customer to buy into the approach.
  1. In this discussion there was a general recognition of the critical role that community engagement plays in ensuring the sustainability of mini-grids over time. Willingness to pay for electricity services is critical and community engagement is necessary for obtaining the needed willingness to pay information.
  1. Even though the anchor tenant approach is seen as a promising approach with the potential of ensuring the financial viability of mini-grids, it is itself laced with some uncertainties. Questions remain about the impact of potential changes in demand resulting for instance, from the adoption of more efficient technologies by the anchor tenant. How well positioned are energy service companies to meet the necessary potential growth in demand as household and productive use loads in local communities grow?
  1. Balancing anchor tenant needs and the needs of the energy poor. Even though some participants saw the anchor tenant approach as key to providing the critical demand that ensures the financial viability of energy service companies it’s important to keep in mind that the approach runs the risk of prioritizing anchor customer needs over community energy needs. To this end, we discussed how anchor loads could be linked to other development efforts. For example, a computer center providing social/educational benefits could serve as an anchor load. In this case, the anchor load itself may provide direct development benefits for the recipient communities.
  1. Discussions on energy access should ensure a sustained focus on energy efficiency as a critical input for driving down the overall potential demand that will have to be met. The role of super-efficient appliances in driving down demand especially in energy constrained areas with significant energy access challenges needs further exploration.

So, what do you think? Are anchor tenants the key to supplying energy to the world? Or is it one of many tools in a toolkit that we need to consider as we try to expand energy access? Let us know in the comments below, or, better yet join us for our next event!


The Energy Engagement Series is a monthly event in Washington DC hosted by WRI and Practical Action. We are very excited for next month’s event on May 12, which will focus on the nexus of agriculture and energy. Practical Action’s own Aaron Leopold will be one of our featured speakers for the event. If you’d like to sign up to join us, click here.

Nepal Earthquake – help rise from the devastation

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 by

Nepal is very special place for me. I have visited many times and it always feels like home. Nepal has been kind to me. It has given me friendships, taught me how to live in the moment, showed me how to love with every ounce of my being and taught me the importance of inner peace. I owe a lot to Nepal.

I woke up on Saturday morning to the catastrophic news of one of the worst earthquakes to hit the country in 80 years. I panicked seeing the pictures, unable to take in the devastation.


My last visit to Nepal was just a few months ago. I travelled to a village called Ghachok in the district of Gorkha. It was a trip I will never forget. I was visiting Practical Action’s indoor air pollution work, a fantastic project helping families remove deadly smoke from their homes with a simple smoke hood. The project was saving lives.

Ghachok is a remote hillside village of a few hundred people. I stayed with a family for the trip. They welcomed me into their home. I spent a lot of the trip with the community; the majority of time with the children. We had drawing competitions, played pass the parcel, musical bumps and danced. I loved every minute. My most precious memory was walking with the children to school. It was a reasonably difficult walk for me, the children giggled when I needed to stop for a bit. Two beautiful little girls called Maya and Somika wouldn’t let go of my hands the whole time.

IMG_9942The epicentre of Saturday’s earthquake was in Gorkha and I have since learnt that 90% of the homes in the area have been destroyed.  Practical Action haven’t been able to contact communities we work with yet, so we don’t know if the families in Ghachok are alive or dead; if they survived the initial earthquake, the relentless aftershocks or if they were lucky enough to survive if they have access to food or water.

I haven’t been able to think of anything else but my friends, colleagues and the families I met in Ghachok for the last four days. I have cried and prayed for them.

Practical Action staff are on their way to Gorkha, desperately trying to reach them, to understand what we can do to help.

You can help us reach communities devastated by the earthquake by donating now.

Thank you.


Nepal earthquake: “another agonising night”

Monday, April 27th, 2015 by

The day was 25 April 2015. It was the second day of Association for International NGOs Futsal (modified form of 5-a-side football) Tournament. Practical Action was through to the second round unbeaten and was playing for the knockout round against Handicap International. The game was getting really competitive.

The futsal court in Kathmandu, Nepal, where we were when the earthquake struck.

The futsal court in Kathmandu, Nepal, where we were when the earthquake struck.

All of a sudden, I heard some noise and shouting. To be precise, it was 11:56am. I turned around to see what was going on but I just could not quite figure it out. Then I heard someone say “Earthquake”. That’s when I felt the tremor. For a second I didn’t know what to do, I just followed the crowd. The earth was shaking like anything. All I could hear was people shouting, screaming and crying. The only thing that came in my mind was “save your life”. I know there is a bit of selfishness in me (and everyone), but what else was I supposed to do than save my life first. I saw people running toward an open area just next to the futsal court, so I followed the bandwagon.

It was the most scariest shake I have ever felt; it went on for quite a while. After some time when the shake subsided, I could see the fear and panic in everyone’s eyes. Almost everyone were on their cell phones trying to reach their family members. I was in one corner along with some of my friends from other organisations scanning the whole scenario: chairs scattered everywhere, walls crumbled to pieces,  people shouting – it was an utter chaos. Then a second one came, then the third, fourth, fifth, sixth……and after some time we just lost track. As of now, we have felt more that 40 shakes and still we are not sure if it is over or there is still more to come.

This is the open space in Kathmandu, Nepal, where I am taking refuge with hundreds of my neighbours. following the earthquake.

This is the open space in Kathmandu, Nepal, where I am taking refuge with hundreds of my neighbours following the earthquake.

Today is the third night and still I am taking refuge in a nearby open space with hundreds of my neighbours. On the flip side, I am so amazed and grateful how one single disaster can bring everyone together. The people I share the shelter with are the ones I see quite often but don’t even bother to say “Hi” or “Hello” but now everything has changed. It has brought all of us together like a family; we share, food, water, tent, anything we could to help each other.

We just felt another shock!

While I write this blog, I pray for us as we go through yet another agonising night. #NepalQuake #Pray4Nepal

Practical Action has launched an earthquake appeal. Please help our work in Nepal today and donate now.

Helpless in the face of disaster

Monday, April 27th, 2015 by

For the first time in my life, I realized how helpless we are when there’s a natural disaster, especially an earthquake. In Nepal, hundreds of people have already been killed.  We don’t know how high the number will go.

I really feel very sorry for my Nepali friends; I simply can’t stand seeing the dead bodies lined up on the TV, so pathetic. Many buildings/temples have been crushed to dust, many of them are UNESCO heritage sites. This is also an irreparable loss of assets.

It was my son who shouted “it’s an earthquake.” Firstly, I thought he was making a practical joke as he often does, but soon all the family realized that it really was an earthquake. Living on the 8th floor of a building we had nothing to do but wait. However, at one point, when we found it is still shaking; we got out of the flat and trying to go down to the ground floor through stairways as someone was shouting not to use the lift. At one point, I found that I am somewhere in the middle of the stairways holding my mother-in-law’s hand. I was helping her to get down to the ground-floor, but as she is about 75 years of old and sick to move any more, she resigned to move further. In the meantime, the quake had stopped, and we all got back to home. In Bangladesh we do not have any big damage.

Visiting Nepal in happier times

Visiting Nepal in happier times

It is really tough to describe how I was feeling then. From then, I just have been trying to feel the fear and trauma that Nepalese have been coming across. So helpless we are, so small in front of such disaster. But, according to the TV reports, the Nepali government along with many agency and ordinary people started rescuing stranded people and supporting victims. India has already sent help, Pakistan announced help also and maybe Bangladesh will join with them.

The good news for us, at least is that no harm has been happened to our colleagues and friends in Nepal.

Climate Smart Agriculture: making adaptation work for smallholder farmers

Monday, April 27th, 2015 by


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


Nepal earthquake – should more have been done to prepare?

Saturday, April 25th, 2015 by

On my way back from visiting our projects in Zimbabwe and just arrived in Johannesburg airport. I landed to hear the devastating news of the Nepalese earthquake. Over 1,000 people dead and I suspect from what I know of Kathmandu, that the death toll will most certainly rise.

Thankfully we have been able to get news that all Practical Action staff are safe. People still very scared, feeling the aftershocks and trying desperately to find out about family and friends.  We are hearing that our staff and of course lots of others in Nepal all doing all they can help.

News is difficult to gather as everyone there is right at the heart of the disaster trying to do what they can.

What I can’t get out of my head is an article I read a couple of years ago almost predicting today’s devastation – imagining what would happen if a major earthquake were to hit Kathmandu – reading it again just now I noticed that the article was published on 26th April 2013… almost 2 years ago to the day, which sent a bit of a shiver down my spine.

In Nepal at the time it was easy to imagine how such a quake would impact on the old, closely woven streets and traditional buildings. What was almost impossible to contemplate was the impact of such an earthquake on the most vulnerable, those without any protection often living in cramped, inadequate housing.

Sitting here in an airport I feel completely unable to help. I also feel hugely saddened that while so many people knew this scale of earthquake was inevitable so little was done to help people prepare.

More news from the Practical Action team as and when we get it.


News update 26 April

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

Friday, April 24th, 2015 by

‘’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

Using weather information to adapt to a changing climate

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by

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

Coffee farmers adapt to climate change

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by

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