Bridging Distances with Technology at the Climate Change, Land and Gender Workshop

At the East and Southern Africa Division’s knowledge management forum on climate change, land and gender taking place in Nairobi, IFAD staff  back at Rome headquarters were able to “plug in” through video conferencing. Workshop participants in Nairobi and those that made presentations from Rome were gratified by the work of the IT team that makes it possible to bridge the physical distances between them.
While the regional team in Nairobi has already been able to participate actively through audio-visual channels in meetings at headquarters, the seamlessness of the virtual connection was really felt at this workshop.
Two presentations were shared from the Environment and Climate Division in this way. Elwyn Grainger-Jones, the Director of ECD shared the IFAD’s climate change agenda.  He told the group of 30 participants from around the East Africa region that while IFAD has contributed to the policy dialogue at global level, there is need to do this at the country level to ensure the needs of smallholder farmers are catered for. Smallholder farmers are the central part of climate change issues, Grainger-Jones said, and IFAD is in a good position to be part of the global climate response. Institutionally, IFAD is integrating climate change in its programme cycles through the Adaptation for SmallholderAgriculture Programme (ASAP).
Elwyn Grainger-Jones "plugs-in" from Rome to Nairobi
 ©IFAD/Ann Turinayo
 “ASAP has given us an opportunity to define ourselves around this issue,” Grainger-Jones said. The other virtual presentation by Gernot Laganda, Climate Change Adaptation Specialist, highlighted the need to integrate ASAP in project design rather than try to add it onto already designed projects. Additionally, it is time to go beyond flowering documents with words such as climate resilience and climate adaptation, he said, and instead include “what they really mean and what can be done about them in working with smallholders.”

It was hardly noticeable that Grainger-Jones or Laganda were more than 5000 kilometres far from Nairobi during the question and answer session. It felt like everyone was in the same room.   

As IFAD continues to plan and make more concrete its field presence through country and regional offices beyond ESA, ensuring that there is a link through available technologies will be as crucial as what Laganda mentioned about integrating climate change into programme and project designs.