Researchers support district experts and farmers in Climate Risk Profiling

28 July 2019

The agriculture sector in Ug anda is largely rain fed; this includes Nwoya District located within the Acholi sub-region, Northern Ug anda. Drought and floods, exacerbated by climate change, present significant and increasing risks to agricultural production in the district, which according to the five-year district development plan employs 98 percent of the population.

Researchers support district experts and farmers in Climate Risk Profiling
Group discussion during the climate risk profiling workshop. Photo credit: John Francis Okiror

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) funds the Policy Action for Climate Change Adaptation (PACCA) project, which has mapped the climate risks of Nwoya District, as part of the situation analysis for the three-year second phase of the project. PACCA is a collaborative effort implemented by IITA, the  International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Utrecht University, and local partners in Ug anda and Ethiopia.

The PACCA project team in collaboration with Nwoya District Local Government (NDLG) organized a stakeholder feedback and validation workshop at the District Council Hall from 11 to 13 June 2019. Among other things, the workshop was intended to give feedback and validate findings of the study that mapped gender-differentiated climate risks and vulnerabilities, as well as initiatives in the district (both government and non-government) undertaken to address climate risk and food and nutrition insecurity.

While officiating during the workshop opening, the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, Ben Okong said, “Climate change has affected us in terms of food production and household income. Once production is affected, food and nutrition security as well as income are also affected.”

IITA researcher Patricia Bamanyaki, gave feedback to workshop participants, who included researchers, district experts, and farmer representatives from Got Apwoyo and Alero sub-counties. She explained that the climate hazards observed during the ten-year period preceding the study included: Prolonged dry spells, which majorly occurred in 2015 and 2016, resulting in huge crop failure, especially of maize, beans, and groundnut; and flooding in Alero, Purongo, and Anaka sub-counties, which submerged gardens and cut off roads. Strange weeds, uncommon in the past, have also emerged and incidences of crop pests, such as the fall armyworm, and diseases like foot and mouth in livestock have increased.

She highlighted some of the strategies employed by farmers to cope with climate change impacts. They include reduction in the amount of seed planted to minimize losses and diversification to the charcoal trade. Additionally, some households planted vegetables near streams and riverbanks to cope with prolonged dry spells. Other coping strategies were formation of groups by youth to collectively purchase seed at better prices, and a reduction in number of meals consumed by households.

Following the validation and discussion of findings, the three-day workshop guided farmers and district experts through the process of prioritizing four value chain commodities. The cassava, bean, chicken, and goat value chain commodities were not just the primary focus of the district but also addressed climate risk, food and nutrition security as well as gender concerns. They were prioritized based on indicators such as importance to district plans and budgets, climate resilience and stability, women and youth involvement, and important source of micronutrients.

They illustrated climate vulnerability and risk to workshop participants by contrasting district experts and farmers’ perceptions with historic and future projected changes in climate. Perceptions of climate change included: delayed onset of rains, unreliable and variable rains, reduced and/or increased amounts of rainfall, and high temperatures during the hot season, and much lower temperatures during the cold season.

While presenting a summary of historical climate changes since 1981, Perez Muchunguzi, a visiting scientist with IITA, explained that both the first and second seasons have registered less annual rainfall. The moderate increase in mean temperature has intensified extremes such as moisture stress and heat stress. Not only has too little rain led to crop failure and livestock loss but too much rain resulted in flooding and erosion in some parts of the district, which consists of a low l andscape with an altitude ranging between 1,000 and 1,200 meters above sea level. Such historical changes in climate underpin the importance of rain for agricultural production in the district.

A detailed schematic tool, replete with activities, climate hazards, and consequences, as well as ongoing and potential adaption options along the value chain (i.e., input supply, on-farm production, postharvest, and output markets), helped drive the climate risk and vulnerability message home for the workshop participants, who mainly spoke in the local Acholi language

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