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Responding to the research needs on climate change and agriculture in East Africa

CCAFS East Africa is trying to respond to the research needs and priorities on climate change, agriculture and food security in the area in various, innovative ways. Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)
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Aug 1, 2012

by

Cecilia

Regions

By Maren Radeny, Tabitha Muchaba and James Kinyangi 

In order to understand the regional research needs and priorities and to develop strategic partnership for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) research at national and regional scales, CCAFS East Africa Program has been actively engaging partners at national and regional levels.

As part of the engagement process, three national consultative workshops on priorities for agricultural adaptation and mitigation research were held in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda in 2011.

At the regional level, two workshops were held: a farmer consultation workshop in partnership with Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) that discussed the linkages between climate change and agriculture, farmer participation in research priority setting, scaling up knowledge generation and dissemination, and enhancing resiliency and adaptive capacity; and a workshop on improving regional climate information and food system coordination in order to consult key stakeholders from the region on regional agricultural and food security contingency planning processes, current and potential use of climate-related information, and means of improving planning and coordination in East Africa. Furthermore, the program held several national consultative meetings with key decision makers to promote policy dialogue in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. Also, a series of focus group discussions were held with local community service organizations, NGOs and representatives of local governments at the CCAFS sites, to create awareness of opportunities through CCAFS for partnerships that respond to climate related risks.

A major outome of the consultative meetings is a synthesis of the regional research needs and priorities, including opportunities for pilot participatory research activities at CCAFS sites in East Africa ( Research needs and priorities in East Africa).

In order to respond to the need to develop projects that address the challenges and gaps synthesized from the research needs, CCAFS East Africa convened a regional science workshop. The aim of the workshop was to build networks among CGIAR and national level scientists to develop thematic research activities that support climate risk management, adaptation and mitigation options in East Africa. The workshop, which was held from June 26-28 in Arusha, Tanzania, brought together more than 50 participants from national, regional and international organizations working in agricultural research and extension, food security, early warning systems, development practitioners in East Africa.

At the end of the workshop, four thematic research groups were formed. The research groups will be collaborating and working at the CCAFS sites in East Africa. The research areas developed integrate climate risk management, adaptation, mitigation and linking knowledge to action. These include:

  • Mapping risks and opportunities for targeting appropriate crop and livestock adaptation strategies in East Africa. The project will identify linkages between biophysical, environmental and socio-economic nature of risks and opportunities brought by climate change in major farming systems and agro-ecological zones that are vulnerable to climate in East Africa for targeting adaptation interventions and technologies to appropriate biophysical and socioeconomic environments. The study sites will include the existing CCAFS sites in the region.
  • Use of climate scenarios, spatial and temporal analogues in designing adaptation strategies in agriculture. The objective is to build the capacity of smallholder farmers, researchers and development partners in using the climate analogues tool to design adaptation strategies and to provide feedback on the efficacy of the analogues tool. The study will be carried out in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania over three years. In each country, four sites will be selected representing different land use and farming systems.
  • Quantification of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to inform mitigation interventions in East African cropping systems. The objective of the project is to build capacity for researchers in East Africa to measure GHG emissions from agricultural activities and to identify best-bet mitigation options. It will use CCAFS sampling frames and the Land Degradation Surveillance Framework (LDSF) developed by ICRAF at few selected sites. In addition, the study will make use of existing household data to select farm types and within those, agricultural practices to identify promising mitigation options.
  • Assessment of land management strategies for crop-livestock intensification for climate change mitigation.  The aim of the project is to develop and promote sustainable land management strategies that increase resilience, reduce vulnerability, increase land productivity and increase carbon sequestration. The study will be carried out in CCAFS sites in Kenya and Uganda taking into account agro-ecological zoning, soil types and climate data. In addition, controlled experiments will be carried out by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and Makerere University.
  • Reducing risk and capitalizing on opportunities created by variable climate through use of improved downscaled seasonal climate forecast. The project will promote use of Seasonal Climate Forecasts (SCF) in planning and managing smallholder farms to reduce risks and capitalize on opportunities created by climate variability in East Africa. The project will be carried out in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In each country, four sites will be selected taking into account the close proximity to synoptic rainfall stations with historic weather or climate data and proven community vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change.
  • Agriculture-climate knowledge interface for policy and action. The objective of the project is to promote through a Regional Learning Partnership (RLP), innovative mechanisms for linking agriculture, climate change science and knowledge to effective formulation and implementation of policy and action at regional, national and sub-national levels in East Africa.

In terms of the next steps, the working groups will refine the concept notes developed during the workshop. The project concepts will be evaluated taking into account potential for synergy across and within CCAFS research themes, regionality in terms of outputs and implementation, direct contribution to livelihoods, feasibility and innovativeness. Workshop participants identified champions to lead the working groups and to coordinate inputs from the participating institutions, including their roles and responsibilities. The workshop created an opportunity for building long-term research partnerships, especially between scientists from CGIAR and National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES).

View more pictures from the workshop on our flickr page.


This blog post was written by Maren Radeny, Science Officer East Africa, James Kinyangi, Regional Program Leader East Africa and Tabitha Muchaba, CCAFS East Africa. To get more updates on our research work in East Africa, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @Cgiarclimate.