Community Based Adaptation

Community Based Adaptation in Africa


Large parts of Africa are already affected by extreme climatic events such as droughts and floods resulting from the highly variable climate. This process is expected to become worse as be consequence of long-term changes in the climatic systems. Whenever they occur, these extreme events negatively impact livelihoods, especially those of the poor. Local economies also get negative due the population’s high and direct dependence on natural resources. For instance, over ninety percent of agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa is rain fed. Indeed, Africa has been identified as one of the continent’s most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

It is now widely accepted that climate change is a development and environmental challenge. Climate change poses additional problems to degraded environments, high levels of poverty, food insecurity and HIV/AIDS already affecting large parts of Africa. Unless this situation is addressed, many vulnerable populations could find their situations worsening, and many countries may not make any progress towards achieving the Millennium Developmen6t Goals (MDGs). There is also a risk that the gains made in development thus far may be lost, as climate related disasters because damage and result in myriad losses.

Implementing relevant, effective, and timely climate change adaptation is particularly important for African countries, as it would decrease human suffering, improve livelihoods, human and environmental health, as well as socio-economic development.

In response to these challenges and issues, the African Centre for Technology Studies, in partnership with colleagues in Europe and South Asia are undertaking an action research, testing tools for community adaptation, knowledge generation and capacity building project on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change in Africa (CBAA) project. This three year project is being implemented with selected vulnerable communities in Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Community Based Adaptation in Domboshava, Zimbabawe

Climate change has been noted to have far reaching implications across all sectors of the economy in both rural and urban areas by exacerbating already existing risks (Madison, 2007 and Molden, 2006). In Zimbabwe most small holder farmers are vulnerable to the predicted climate change as they are mostly located in low rainfall and infertile areas. They depend on rain fed agriculture which, by its very nature and contemporary climate regimes in their locales is too risky (Madison, 2007). Issues of food insecurity and poverty are therefore common and are likely to remain so within the current socio-economic conditions (Drimie, 2003). Domboshava communal area is one such area even though its general location is region 2b. There are pockets in Domboshava that have been noted to be red spots (FEWSNET) in terms of livelihoods security. Domboshava has traditionally been a supplier of horticultural products to the country’s capital city - Harare. Any fall in production in Domboshava is likely to impact negatively on Harare’s horticultural price regimes and consequently adversely affect the urban poor livelihoods which depend on them. It is therefore imperative to assess farmer potential to adapt to climate change to improve small holder farmers’ livelihoods and their role as suppliers of agricultural produce for Harare.

Study area and methodology

Domboshava is located within Goromonzi district which is found in longitude 17°S and latitude 31°E in Mashonaland east province’s to the north-eastern part of Harare as shown on map 1 below. Its climate is characteristic of agro-ecological region 2b which receives good rains averaging between 650-800mm but is subject to frequent droughts, dry summer spells and short rainy seasons (AGRITEX). Most of the rains are normally received between October and March. However some of the areas in this district have been noted as having relatively dry conditions as compared to the rest of region. The soils are pity sand with a few patches of red clay soils (Lister 1987). The population stands approximately at 12 million people from the 2002 census. The selected villages and households as shown on the map were picked by communities using their own vulnerability indicators. Through a participatory meeting with all village heads in Munyawiri five villages were considered the most vulnerable. The villages became the focus of the intended intervention and baseline survey.

The Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change Project started in February 2008 saw a number of lined up activities being implemented. The main objective of the project was to design the best adaptation strategies that communities could use in the face of the ever-changing climatic conditions in Munyawiri ward of Goromonzi district. This design is premised on a methodology called Local Options for Communities to Adapt and Technologies to Enhance Capacity (LOCATE). This methodology has among other intellectual aspects, a strong research component that leads to the determination of climate change hotspots. 

Climate change has been weakening the livelihoods of poor people in Munyawiri by eroding their livelihood assets. People in this community are vulnerable to loss of physical capital such as livestock through droughts. This has resulted in malnutrition and increased disease outbreaks. Production in agriculture has plummeted in recent years thus leaving community members with less of the assets they need to withstand the adverse impacts of the phenomenon.

Indeed, throughout history, societies in Munyawiri have remarkably coped with both climate variability and change through altering agricultural patterns and other facets of their economies and lifestyles. Although this has worked over the years, more capacity is still needed to counter current threats posed by the ever changing climate in the area.

Summary of Activities

Through the consultative meetings held between ZERO and the Munyawiri communities, it was resolved that a combined conservation agriculture demonstration centre and four deep wells with installed rope and washer technology be established. The demonstration centre and the four deep wells were established and reinforced in Savanhu and Mukote villages where the interventions have been implemented. In Chaonza, the communities worked on deepening their water sources.  In addition, a pass-on –the Gift project was initiated in Chaonza Village. This initiative saw 30 goats being distributed to 130 families. The first 28 beneficiaries will pass on the first born kids to the next 28 families who will in turn pass on to the next groups. The other 2 goats are males for breeding and communities will host these as and when there is need.

CBAA International Project team

Under the leadership of the African Centre for Technologies Studies (ACTS), the CBAA project is being implemented by several organizations in Eastern and Southern Africa, with technical support from the international Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and the Bangladesh centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS).



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