Building bridges between climate change adaptation practitioners

By Marie Chanoine, Ilaria Firmian and Brian Thomson

Last week in Kigali IFAD organised the first South-South exchange among five projects that receive co-financing from the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP).
The objective of the workshop was to bring together project practitioners for mutual learning, capacity building and collaborative efforts. Participants included project implementation unit members from PASP (Rwanda), PRELNOR (Uganda), PROSUL (Mozambique), WAMPP (Lesotho) and CALIP (Bangladesh).

On the first day each project presented its own objectives, activities and achievements so far, then we went more in depth on the topic of climate information, which is something that all the projects have in common. A recent study on PASP intermediate results on climate information was presented by Dr Denis Rugege who highlighted how farmers understand the critical need for climate information. Rugege emphasized the importance of building feedback systems that contribute to improving and tailoring the message to farmer’s needs. This also encourages a higher quantity and quality in terms of their participation.

The second day focused on the delivery of a capacity building training on messaging techniques, as well as on group work on four topics selected on the basis of participants’ demands. The topics were: (i) addressing gender and nutrition as cross cutting issues in adaptation projects; (ii) best practices in natural resource management planning; (iii) challenges and opportunities in working with different types of partners; and (iv) piloting climate-smart technologies and bringing them to scale.

On the third day, the Rwanda team organised a field visit to the KOREMU cooperative, a maize and beans farmer cooperative, located in the Eastern Province's Ngoma District. The cooperative was created in 2011 with 90 members, cultivating under 40ha only. Presently, thanks to PASP support that covers training and coaching and climate information dissemination as well as financial support for investing in climate-smart facilities, technologies and equipment, the cooperative has grown considerably with 350 members cultivating almost 600 ha.

On the final day the discussion focused on the development of Knowledge Management and Communication plans at project level. All the projects had identified a number of common challenges in terms of generation and dissemination of lessons from project experience including weak communication systems within the project, product development, accessing media and broadcasting, linking knowledge to policy dialogue process, etc. and our team from IFAD proposed actions and support to overcome them. The tried and tested ‘Climate Games’ were also used in the workshop to stimulate reflection and foster interactions.

The project practioners were coming from countries affected by diverse climate change effects (e.g. drought, dry spells, floods, flash floods, water stress, etc.) and intervening in various value chains. Hence, the workshop was a distinctive opportunity to exchange on challenges and adaptation strategies and practices adopted in both Asia and Africa. Although project challenges were peculiar to each country as per the social, economic, political and environmental and climate contexts, the workshop participants were delighted to share practical solutions and technical approaches pertinent to most cases.

This was the first step to build a network of IFAD’s ASAP implementers for future collaborations and experience sharing – listening to their say we can say it was successful!