Strengthening alliances for scaling up climate change adaptation in Guatemala

© L. Sarruf (CCAFS)
CSV farmer from Olopa in Guatemala implements a sustainable agriculture practice on her farm.
The second edition of the training course "Climate-Smart Villages Approach" strengthened the capacities of rural development professionals in the Dry Corridor to adapt to climate change.

Guatemala is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change in Latin America. In the "Dry Corridor" region, the reduction of rainfall during the summer (Canícula) coincides with the lowest agricultural production, and in recent years this stage has started earlier, resulting in a longer drought period of greater intensity.

In 2020 and 2021, in addition to the health and socioeconomic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, these extreme events have had significant impacts on food production and sources of employment, particularly affecting small-scale farming families.

Scaling up approaches to climate change adaptation

With the purpose of scaling up approaches and practices for climate change adaptation in agriculture and strengthening the technical capacity of human resources in the Dry Corridor of Guatemala for the implementation of Climate-Smart Villages (CSV), a partnership was created between the Centro Universitario de Oriente (CUNORI) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The aim of this partnership has been the development of the "Climate-Smart Villages Approach" training course.

The second version of the course builds on the first version by covering the crisis caused by COVID-19 and incorporating a greater emphasis on the CSV approach in the work of local institutions, by reviewing institutional projects and encouraging the participation of extensionists and field technicians.

The first and second modules, which were well attended, were focused on the dissemination of techniques and practices for adaptation to climate change. Attendees showed a specific interest in water and soil management practices and technologies, and resource-based agroclimatic information management practices.

In the third and fourth modules, collaboration opportunities for climate change adaptation in the Trifinio region (covering parts of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) were studied, and proposals for successful small-scale interventions to be scaled up through new forms of collaboration, communication methodologies and financing agreement were visualized and designed.

Proposals for scaling CSVs

Finally, opportunities for strategic alliances with organizations such as CUNORI and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Guatemala (MAGA) were explored. These broader strategic alliances are important since these organizations, due to the advantage of their presence throughout the country, are able to disseminate successful practices and knowledge across territories in an efficient and low-cost manner. This is key for practices that require a lot of management capacity and quality across territories, like the management of the region's water reservoir. 

At the end of the seminar, the participants reviewed an agricultural project or initiative that they were implementing in their organization in light of their new insights from the seminar. This helped to identify issues, actors and potential strategies to integrate the CSV approach into their project, focussing on the respective activities, products, and basic resources required to achieve the implementation of the approach in their organizations.

This was followed by a detailed analysis that helped to clarify the desired changes, actions, contributions, and sacrifices of each actor, and allowed for an estimation of the resources needed and available for each organization involved to implement a CSV in one of its projects.

Some examples of implementation of the CSV approach in existing projects discussed were:

  • CSV agricultural and livestock practices in small farming areas; taking advantage of local knowledge and seeds.

  • Drip irrigation, with benefits of capitalization of production, increased production, and savings in time and water.

  • Promotion of a climate information system for timely readjustment of agricultural calendars.


The pandemic context proposed different challenges in the development of the course; from the adjustment of the work calendar and the increasing commitments of the organizations during the pandemic to the adjustment of strategies to encourage participation and interaction in the challenging transition to the virtual learning modality.

This pushed us to think about new teaching techniques that require shorter sessions, as well as the use of non-formal digital tools (such as WhatsApp or Telegram) for the follow-up of activities. This experience showed us how virtual training can be a good alternative for the dissemination of practical knowledge on climate change adaptation and for capacity building in climate resilience; not only in the context of the pandemic but also for future scenarios with increasingly scarce resources.

Claudia Bouroncle is an independent consultant for the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. José R. García is a professor at CUNORI-USAC. Víctor Sandoval is a collaborator at CUNORI-USAC. Ronnie Vernooy is a researcher at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. This text was edited by Helen Fraga, Communications Intern at CCAFS Latin America.