Smallholder DSS No 1 - Community Climate Change Adaptation Process

Download PDF
A smallholder farmer level decision support system
for climate resilient farming practices improves
community level resilience to climate change. No1:
Community climate change adaptation process
design
Submitted by Erna Kruger (Director Mahlathini Development Foundation - MDF)
Ph: 0828732289, Email: info@mahlathini.orgWeb: www.mahlathini.org
Partners: Erna Kruger, Mazwi Dlamini, Samukelisiwe Mkhize, Temakholo Mathebula, Phumzile
Ngcobo, Betty Maimela, Sylvester Selala and Lulama Magenuka (MDF)
Palesa Motaung, Nonkanyiso Zondi, Sandile Madlala, Khetiwe Mthethwa, Andries Maponya,
Nozipho Zwane, Lungelo Buthelezi, and Zoli Gwala (students and interns)
Mr Lawrence Sisitka (Research Associate- Environmental Learning Research Centre- Rhodes
University)
Mr Nqe Dlamini (StratAct)
Mr Chris Stimie (Rural Integrated Engineering)
Mr Jon Mc Cosh, Ms Brigid Letty (Institute of Natural Resources)
Mr Hendrik Smith (CA coordinator for GrainSA)
Ms Sharon Pollard (AWARD)
Ms Lindelwa Ndaba (Lima RDF)
Ms Catherine van den Hoof (formerly of WITS Climate Facility, now the United Nations World
Food Programme)
Summary
The more extreme weather patterns with increased heat, decreased precipitation and more extreme rainfall
events; increase of natural hazards such as floods, droughts, hailstorms and high winds thatcharacterise climate
change place additional pressure on smallholder farming systemsand has already led to severelosses in crop
and vegetable production and mortality in livestock.A significant proportion of smallholders haveabandoned
agricultural activities andthis number is still on the increase. Smallholders are generally not well prepared for
these more extreme weather conditions and experience highlevels of increased vulnerability as a consequence.
It is becoming clear thatclimate change will have drastic consequences for low-income and otherwise
disadvantaged communities. Despite their vulnerability, these communities will have to make the most climate
adaptations. It is possible for individual smallholders to manage their agricultural and natural resources better
and in a manner that could substantially reduce their riskand vulnerability generally and more specifically to
climate change. Through a combination of best bet options in agro-ecology, water and soil conservation, water
harvesting, conservation agriculture and rangeland management a measurable impact on livelihoods and
increased productivity can be made.
Processes such as collaborative, participatory research thatincludes scientists and farmers, strengthening of
communication systems for anticipating and responding to climaterisks, and increased flexibility in livelihood
options, which serve to strengthen coping strategies in agriculture for near-term risks from climate variability,
provide potential pathways for strengthening adaptive capacities for climate change.
Mahlathini Development Foundation and our partners and collaborators (Universities, NGOs, CSI initiatives,
District and Local Municipalities and Government Departments), have been working within the socio-
ecological and social learning space to assist smallholder farmers in KZN, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape to
improve their resilience and adaptive capacity to climate change by designing and testing a participatory
smallholder level decision support system for implementing climate resilient agricultural practices.
Within this process smallholder farmers explore and analyse their understanding of climate change and the
impacts of these changes on their livelihoods and agricultural systems. They explore adaptive strategies and
measures (local and external), prioritize appropriate practices for individual and group experimentation and
implementation, assess the impact of these new practices and processes on their livelihoods and re-plan their
actions and interventions on a cyclical basis.
This allows them to make incremental changes over time in soil and water management practices, cropping
and livestock management and natural resources management, within the limits of their own resources, vision
and motivation. This provides a viable model for CCA implementation and financing at smallholder level.
Recent participatory impact assessments have shown remarkable improvements in resilience in the space of
just one to two years of focussed local action.
Introduction
A current Water Research Commission adaptive research process entitled “Collaborative knowledge creation
and mediation strategies for the dissemination of Water and Soil Conservation practices and Climate Smart
Agriculture in smallholder farming systemsis exploring best practice options for climate resilient agriculture
for smallholders and evaluating the impact of implementation of a range of these practices on the resilience of
agriculture based livelihoods. Alongside this, a decision support methodology and system has been designed to
assist smallholdersand the facilitators who support them to make informed and appropriate decisions about
choices of a ‘basket of options’ for implementation at a local level.
The research process is broadly divided into three elements for purposes of clarity, although allthree elements
are tackled concurrently:
1. Community climate change adaptation process design
2. Climate resilient agricultural practices and
3. A decision support system.
In this article we focus on the design of the community level process.
Community climate change adaptation process design
This consistsbroadly of:
1. Situation and vulnerability assessments; baselines and farmer typologies
2. Climate Change dialogues; Exploration of climate change impacts, adaptive strategies and
prioritization of adaptive measures and
3. Participatory impact assessments: Resilience snapshots
NOTE: The vulnerability and participatory impact assessment methodologies will be discussed in two follow-up
articles
Climate change dialogues
A participatory methodology has been developed to allow groups of farmers to explore the impacts of climate
change, potential adaptive strategies and to prioritize local adaptation measures. Seven community level
workshops have been conducted across three provinces, involving around 250 participants. The table below
provides a summary of this community level analysis
Table 1: Summary of climate change impacts from community level workshops (2018)
Climate change impacts on livelihoods and farming
KZN
EC
Limpopo
Water
Less water in the landscape;
streams and springs dry up,
borehole run dry, soils dry out
quickly after rain
Less water in the landscape; streams
and springs dry up, borehole run dry,
soils dry out quickly after rain
Less water in the landscape; streams
and springs dry up, borehole run dry,
soils dry out quickly after rain
Dams dry up
Dams dry up
Dams dry up
Municipal water supply becoming
more unreliable
Municipal water supply becoming
more unreliable
Municipal water supply becoming
more unreliable;
Need to buy water for household use
now sometimes for more than 6
months of the year
RWH storage only enough for
household use.
Soil
More erosion
More erosion
More erosion
Soils becoming more compacted
and infertile
Soils becoming more compacted and
infertile
Soils becoming more compacted and
infertile
Soils too hot to sustain plant growth
Cropping
Timing for planting has changed-
later
Timing for planting has changed-
later
Can no longer plant dryland maize
All cropping now requires irrigation
even crops such as sweet potato
Drought tolerant crops such as
sorghum and millet grow- but severe
bird damage
Heat damage to crops
Heat damage to crops
Heat damage to crops
Reduced germination and growth
Reduced germination and growth
Reduced germination and growth
Seeding of legumes becoming
unreliable
Seeding of legumes becoming
unreliable
Seeding of legumes becoming
unreliable
Lower yields
Lower yields
Lower yields
Winter vegetables don’t do well -
stress induced bolting and lack of
growth
More pests and diseases
More pests and diseases
More pests and diseases
Loss of indigenous seed stocks
Loss of indigenous seed stocks
Livestock
Less grazing; not enough to see
cattle through winter
Less grazing; not enough to see cattle
through winter
Less grazing; not enough to see cattle
through winter
More disease in cattle and heat
stress symptoms
More disease in cattle and heat
stress symptoms
More disease in cattle and heat
stress symptoms
Fewer calves
Fewer calves
Fewer calves
More deaths
More deaths
More deaths
Natural
resources
Fewer trees; too much cutting for
firewood
Fewer trees; too much cutting for
firewood
Fewer trees; too much cutting for
firewood
Decrease in wild animals and
indigenous plants
Decrease in wild animals and
indigenous plants
Decrease in wild animals and
indigenous plants
Increased crop damage from wild
animals such as birds and
monkeys
Increased crop damage from wild
animals such as birds and monkeys
Increased crop damage from wild
animals such as birds and monkeys
Availability of indigenous
vegetables has decreased
No longer able to harvest any
resources due to scarcity
Increased population puts pressure
on resources
Social
More diseases
More diseases
More diseases
Increased poverty and hunger
Increased poverty and hunger
Increased poverty and hunger
Increased crime and reduced job
opportunities
Increased crime and reduced job
opportunities
Increased crime and reduced job
opportunities
Increased food prices
Increased conflict
Inability to survive
Although the impacts discussed were similar across the three provinces, the severity of these changes are a lot
more obvious in Limpopo.
From these impact diagrams community members discuss adaptive measures and strategies; what they have
already tried and what they would like to try. Here the new ideas or innovations can then be introduced by
facilitators, as they are requested by the community members. The table below is illustrative and are the
adaptive measures suggested by the participants in Turkey village (Lower Oliphant’s’ Basin – Limpopo)
Table 2: An example of potential adaptive measures from the Turkey (Limpopo) climate change dialogue
process
Turkey CC workshop; December 2017
Description and linkages
Outcomes
Potential adaptive measure
Dams dry out, boreholes provide
less water, rivers dry out, less
rain
Reduced
production, hunger,
diseases, no jobs,
poverty, crime,
death
More boreholes, more dams, water
management, irrigation in evenings and
early morning, mulching, trench beds
(keep moisture in and soil cool)
Soils are hotter and drier,
drought, plants wilt, increased
pests
Save plant residues for animals, buy
fodder, control pests on animals
Deforestation, Fruit trees die,
livestock, wild animals die
Planting of trees after they have been
cut down; make use of paraffin stoves
and electricity, government involvement
in solving the problem,
Early fruiting, trees wilt
Poor crop health
Shade netting
Rivers dry out, municipal supply
only once per week. Boreholes
dry out
Lack of education
towards saving
water
NGOs and government to assist
Trench beds, mulching, save water in
dams, drip irrigation, irrigate in evening,
boreholes, greywater
Less grazing, seed shortage, trees
are removed, indigenous animals
are no longer there
Increased
vulnerability of the
people, forced to
move to urban
areas
Donations for/of seed
Rather use paraffin stoves than
firewood. Only chop down mature trees
to allow others to grow, planting trees,
government intervention
Taking care of indigenous plants
Plant fodder for livestock
Poor cultivation practices, soil
erosion, dry soils, sandy soils
Using crop residues and manure,
conservation agriculture, mixed
cropping
Less or no food, health problems,
no jobs
Burning of buses,
divorce, separation
of families, poverty,
crime
Getting access to health care, parents
must work
Setting up cooperatives for government
support, use animal drawn traction-
oxen and donkeys, improvise, make our
own tools, make use of hand hoes
A list of specific practices is summarised from these discussions and categorized into the five climate resilient
agriculture themes. An example is given below of this process conducted for a learning group from Ezibomvini
Village in Bergville, KZN.
The following table outlines the practices and their categories
Table 3: Suggested practices for farmers, categorised into the 5 primary themes.
Natural RM
Soil
Water
Crops
Livestock
Shade Cloth Tunnels
Bed design
Mulching
Natural pest and diseases
Rainwater harvesting
Trench bed
Composting
Conservation Agriculture
Fodder crops
Underground water tank
Mixed cropping
Conservation of wetlands and streams
Burying of disposable pampers
Reducing burning of grazing veld
Greywater use
Participants then prioritize these practices in order of
importance for implementation and change as a group.This
depends on local conditions such as drought, harsh weather
conditions and the like.The preference ranking for this
group was as follows:
1. Underground rainwater harvestingtanks
2. Shade cloth tunnels
3. Trench beds
4. Mulching
5. Natural pest and disease control
6. Mixed cropping(fields and gardens)
7. Compost
8. Fodder crops
9. Conserving wetlands and streams
Right: Sylvester and Temakholo from MDF, facilitating the
prioritization of practices
It is also possible here to do
a matrix ranking exercise
where you elucidate from
the groups their criteria for
prioritization of practices,
which is a very important
step in the community level
decision making process.
Right: A group level matrix
using community defined
criteria for prioritizing climate
smart/resilient agricultural
practices to be tried out
(Thabamhlophe village,
Estcourt, KZN, 2018)
This provides a broad action plan for implementation, which is developed further into an individual farmer
level experimentation plan. Participants choose from these prioritized practices which ones they will try out in
their own homesteads and devise a broad plan of how to intervene in the communal activities such as
conservation of wetlands. This process also provides a good agenda for securing external support from role
players in the development sector (government Departments, Municipalities, CSI and NGO funded projects).
In a follow-up article wewill explore all the CRA practices that have been implemented by the communities to
date and the impact of these on their livelihoods.