Can Community-Based Adaptation Actions Address the Food Crisis in the Horn of Africa?

I was delighted to read a new paper: Using Small-Scale Adaptation Actions to Address the Food Crisis in the Horn of Africa.

In the paper, authors Richard Munang (Policy Advisor, Climate Change Adaptation & Development, UNEP, Kenya) and Johnson Nkem argue that current intensive crop production cannot meet the challenges of the new millennium. They feel that small-scale actions by small holder farmers developed through a democratic process can provide a mechanism to find sustainable solutions to the problem of food security by putting small holders at the center of action.

These small holder farmers will need to practice conservation agriculture, soil conservation and practice alternating the growing of cereals with soil enriching legumes (corn one—year beans the next).

They feel that small-scale approaches can be quickly implemented with local capacity, have a short turnover, and stimulate spontaneous self uptake.

They want to see a democratization of both actions and solutions by letting citizens decide which new policies and technical innovations are needed, when, where, and under what conditions. They feel that this will lead to a community’s ownership of their adaptation/development policies, strategies and actions.


This paper is based upon a study of 1,200 Ugandan farmers who grew corn/maize using three simple small-scale approaches.
1. Exploiting seasonal rainfall distribution to improve and stabilize crop yield.
2. Using conservation agriculture as an adaptation technology.
3. Integrating nutrient management into maize production by alternating a maize crop with beans which fix nitrogen in the soil.

This paper succinctly encapsulates the philosophy by which we present in our online field courses.

The vast majority of our student’s projects relate to children’s health, issues surrounding water, and food security and agriculture. We take the approach in the courses of surveying the community first in order to gain a better understanding of their knowledge of both the problem and of potential solutions.

Students then research additional evidence-based interventions that may also work to solve the problems community members have identified—and return to the community to get their feedback on these additional solutions. This way, scientific knowledge and indigenous knowledge are brought together within the project. This develops project ownership within the community—and community ownership leads to long-term sustainability of the program.

Download this new paper here:
http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/3/9/1510/pdf

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