A boy tends cattle in Ethiopia. A new initiative supported by the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) research program of the CGIAR will boost smallholder farmers’ resilience to drought in the Horn of Africa. (Photo credit: ILRI/Gerard)
A new initiative to help pastoralists and smallholder farmers cope with the twin pressures of drought and climate change was launched recently at the Nairobi, Kenya, headquarters of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
The initiative, ‘Climate change adaptation and mitigation for communities in dryland regions,’ is conducted by a group of development partners that include the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) research program of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Vétérinaires San Frontières, Solidarites and Action Aid among others. The initiative will work towards securing the agro-pastoral livelihoods of poor livestock keepers in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
The meeting, held on 22 March 2011, brought together donor representatives, regional research and development partners, national research and extension representatives and non-governmental agencies engaged in promoting dryland agriculture. The meeting aimed to create awareness of the challenges facing the drylands and to share information about existing technological and institutional innovations that can address some of their most pressing challenges.
The drylands and other marginal environments of eastern Africa have high population growth and climate variability and few livelihood options other than livestock keeping. Such marginal lands around the world, however, produce about 20% of the world’s food, have rich cultural and social diversity and are inhabited by people whose traditional ways of coping with climate change can be harnessed for improved small-scale agriculture and livelihoods.
The new regional drylands initiative will help increase crop and livestock productivity in the three countries as well as add value to supply chain processes and help build supportive institutional frameworks for enhancing food production and marketing.
The initiative hopes to boost food security and livelihoods by increasing the resilience of vulnerable livestock keepers and is expected to reach about 1.3 million people at a cost of USD15 million in its first phase, which starts this year and will go on until 2013.
‘As a key partner in the project,’ said James Kinyangi, a regional program leader of CCAFS, who is based at ILRI, ‘CCAFS will apply lessons from successful past CGIAR research to intensify agricultural production in marginal environments. This should help eastern Africa’s dryland communities to develop greater resilience to climate change.’
The drylands initiative follows a workshop on dryland farming practices held in 2008 to map strategies for improving farming in eastern Africa’s drylands and identify high-priority crops for adaptation.
For more information about the regional drylands initiative visit: http://typo3.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/drought/docs/Dryland%20Flyer_final.pdf
To find out more about CCAFS visit: http://www.ccafs.cgiar.org/