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By Vivienne Likhanga

“Communities must be part and parcel of natural resources management (NRM) for it to succeed” Mr. Paul Njuguna, Land and Environment Coordinator.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in partnership with Procasur Africa, CARE  (relief agency) in Kenya and the Cgiar Research Program on Climate Change & Food Security (CCAFS), organized a learning route titled “Natural Resource Management and Climate Change Adaptation best practices: The Experience in Kenya,” that took place between the 7th and the 13th of July 2014. Seventeen participants from various IFAD-supported projects, implementing partners and civil society organizations in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Lesotho and Kenya all met together on an 8-day journey across the districts and rural communities of Kenya.

A Learning Route is an experience that transforms its participants, leading them to become agents of change in their own organizations. It is a capacity-building procedure with a proven track record of successfully combining local knowledge and experiences. The Learning Route is based on the idea that successful solutions to existing problems are already present within rural areas, and that those solutions might be adapted and spread to other contexts. This journey gets participants to understand these changes through peer learning, discussing directly with rural communities who are the promoters of the identified best practices and successful innovations.

Everyone was excited to hit the road on the learning route bus and visit these three cases:
1.       Upper Tana Natural Resources Management Project (UTaNRMP): The IFAD project addresses the key link between poverty and natural resources degradation from an Integrated Participatory Approach involving local communities. The project intervention focuses on livelihood improvement activities, which result in better management of the environment.
2.       The Cgiar Research Program on Climate Change & Food Security (CCAFS), and Dryland Agriculture in Wote, Makueni County:  This project has dedicated learning sites aimed at understanding the interactions, synergies and trade-offs between climate change and agriculture in ASAL areas. The intervention is based on an integrated approach and shows how community resilience to climate change is greatly increased through localizing weather information and disseminating this in a timely manner to farmers so that they can make informed decisions on what to plant and when.
3.       The Community of Balich and the Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP), developed by CARE Kenya in the Garissa region: Through a community-based adaptation process, ALP has been working in partnership with the local communities in Garissa since 2011 to support the development and implementation of their own responses to climate change and adaptation strategies.

After visiting the field, participants of the Learning Route worked on how to take home the lessons learned during the training. Top on the list was the need for the involvement of local communities in climate change adaptation strategies. This would help to alleviate poverty and improve livelihoods through new income generation activities.

Ms. Beth Mburu, a PHD Researcher on Climate Change Adaptation and food Security indirectly working with smallholders farmers previously engaged with IFAD said; “The learning route was very rich! My main take home lesson is on Community empowerment. We have to engage the community in the development and implementation of climate change adaptation solutions, so that when the project lifetime ends there’s an element that will keep the project together. Sharing information at local levels in a manner that is understandable in the local context in a timely manner is important for decision making. Linking community members who are influential in the community also leads to success in the uptake of projects. At the same time, other partners must come on board too to ensure the success and sustainability of climate smart strategies.” (For more on her interview, we invite you to please watch this short 4 minute video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biNj3e3ofSY)

During the learning route the participants developed their ideas into a concrete Action Plan, which will outline how they intend to bring new products, services or processes into their projects and organizations. The best three Action Plans will be prized with a starting capital of USD 2,500.

For more details on the learning route training and additional reading on the specifics of the Learning Route, we invite you to visit our website at the following link: http://africa.procasur.org/en/learning-routes/upcoming-learning-routes/113-113.

Other Useful links:

1.       Presentations (on SlideShare application)

·         Please click here for another blog on the learning route

2.       YouTube Videos:

For further information, please contact:

Ariel Halpern: ahalpern@procasur.org, phone: +56-02-3416367
ValentinaSauve:  vsauve@procasur.org, phone: +254 (0) 706046742
Vivienne Likhanga: vlikhanga@procasur.org, phone: +254(020) 2716036