Climate change

Coping with increased temperature, uncertain rainfall, droughts or flooding, how can rural communities adapt to meet the challenges of a changing climate?

 
 
 
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Pius Sawa

Pius Sawa

Cattle and feed to cope with drought

In Kenya’s Rift Valley, the Nasukuta Livestock Improvement Centre works to introduce more productive livestock breeds to local farmers and also acts as a training demonstration centre. To maintain feed supplies during dry spells, the centre plants pasture grasses, such as Boma Rhodes, and fences off certain areas so that the grass can be cut and baled, rather than grazed directly. Rainwater harvesting provides water for the animals throughout the year. A newly built abattoir processes thousands of animals each day, and is helping farmers become more commercial in their approach to livestock farming.

published: August 2013

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Drought-resistant groundnuts

Unexpected changes in the weather, including sudden dry spells, are a major problem for groundnut farmers in semi-arid parts of Uganda. The Serere-based National Semi Arid Resources Research Institute has supported farmers by developing drought resistant varieties of groundnut, some of which mature in less than 100 days. According to groundnut breeder Dr Moses Biruma, with good management, varieties such as Serenut 5 can yield up to 3.6 tons per hectare. The new varieties have now been adopted on a large scale, helping many groundnut farmers to maintain their production despite adverse weather conditions.

published: August 2013

Charlie Pye-Smith

Charlie Pye-Smith

Planting trees to fight drought

In parts of Malawi, the agricultural extension services and district authorities are supporting reforestation efforts by rural communities, by supplying polythene tubes and advice for the cultivation of tree saplings. In the village of Nkhukwa, about 10 km from Lilongwe, the villagers are attempting a massive reforestation effort, to restore their eroded soils and replenish their lost water supplies. Villager Wonderful Chalera also urges people to grow crops such as groundnuts, as an alternative to tobacco, which requires large amounts of wood for curing or building drying barns.

published: August 2013

Collins Odhiambo/ActionAid

Collins Odhiambo/ActionAid

Livestock restocking in response to drought

When serious drought occurs in dry areas such as northern Kenya, many animals, such as cows, goats and camels, may die. For livestock keepers, this puts their own lives at risk as they may have no other sources of income or food. Several NGOs are attempting to support these communities by replacing lost animals, a process known as restocking. This has become even more important in recent years, as drought periods have become more frequent and more intense, as a result of climate change. Winnie Onyimbo hears from a livestock farmer who has benefitted from a restocking, and from two technical advisers who have helped to organise restocking programmes in the area.

published: August 2013

www.newnaturefoundation.org

www.newnaturefoundation.org

Multiple benefits from fuel-saving stoves

In Mbarara, in south western Uganda, the introduction of fuel-saving stoves is having a wide range of benefits. The stoves are being introduced through primary schools, as part of an ‘eco schools’ project run by the CECOD NGO. The stoves use less than half the firewood than normal three-stone stoves, helping to reduce rates of deforestation. They also burn much cleaner, so those responsible for cooking don’t suffer from eye irritations or from inhaling smoke. By reducing the amount of firewood families need, they also reduce the time spent collecting wood, and therefore the risks that women and girls can be exposed to when collecting firewood.

published: August 2013

Pius Sawa

Pius Sawa

Storing feed for year-round milk production

Moses Amai, a smallholder dairy farmer from Kenya, has increased his year-round milk production by storing grass and crop residues for use as feed during the dry months. Instead of burning crop residues like maize and bean stalks, he stores them in his barn, which can hold up to 100 tonnes of feed. Another farmer, Jennifer Kilach, grinds green maize stalks, Napier grass and desmodium, to make a nutritious cattle feed for the dry season. With good availability of drinking water for their cattle, both farmers are managing to cope with more frequent periods of drought associated with climate change.

published: September 2012

FAO/Riccardo Gangale

FAO/Riccardo Gangale

Cassava - surviving in the face of climate change

Cassava has been described as a survivor crop, capable of withstanding long periods of dry weather. In the context of climate change in Africa, this makes cassava a valuable insurance crop, a source of food and income when other crops fail. At the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), crop breeders are developing new varieties of cassava which are even more tolerant to long periods of drought. East African director for IITA, Dr Victor Manyong, explains to Wambi Michael about the importance of cassava in the context of climate change, and why new varieties of the crop are only likely to be adopted by farmers if they can find markets for their crop surpluses.

published: September 2012

Matthew Muspratt/Waste Enterprisers

Matthew Muspratt/Waste Enterprisers

Unleashing the energy in waste

At the Dompoase landfill site, a renewable energy project is processing human toilet waste into biodiesel and solid fuel pellets. The biodiesel can be used to power engines and generators, while the fuel pellets can be burned in industrial kilns and boilers, as well as solid fuel power plants for electricity generation. A second income generating project is using organic waste to make compost, a valuable resource for crop farmers. Both these projects, as well as reducing the quantity of waste and creating wealth, are also good for the environment, reducing the output of harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

published: August 2012

FAO/Steve Terrill

FAO/Steve Terrill

Bee-keeping for income and forest protection

In Katoba, to the east of the Zambian capital Lusaka, felling of trees for charcoal making provides the only available source of income for many households. To address the problem, the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre is supporting the adoption of bee keeping as an alternative source of income. Donald Zulu explains the double benefits of bee keeping, both for income generation and environmental protection. We also hear from Japhet Seulu of Community Markets for Conservation, about a pricing system for crop production which is helping to reduce slash-and-burn agriculture, another major cause of deforestation in the area. And lead farmer, Peter Chabola, explains why he prefers keeping bees to making charcoal, as a means to raise his family.

published: August 2012

Noah Phiri/CABI

Noah Phiri/CABI

Coffee leaf rust - spreading to highland areas

Coffee leaf rust, caused by a fungus, is a damaging disease in coffee farms around the world which can reduce harvests by 40 per cent or more. Until recently, the disease was not commonly found in highland areas, as it favours a warmer climate. However, with rising temperatures as a result of global warming, coffee growers in highland areas of countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, are increasingly finding their crop attacked by the disease, with a significant impact on both the quantity and quality of their yields. In response, the research organisation CABI is working with national coffee institutions to identify varieties of coffee that are resistant to the disease, and train farmers in other methods of protecting their crops.

published: July 2012

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