Climate change is a complex global issue affecting all aspects of life and finding adaptive solutions can seem overwhelming. Integrating climate change adaptation into everyday life does not need to be so challenging. The key to mitigating the worst effects is the integration of climate adaptation measures into local development and planning objectives.
Within the space of community development and climate adaptation, the agricultural sector is the most important one to focus on. In Tanzania, the “Building Capacity for Resilient Food Security Project,” funded by USAID, has collaborated with government officials and international organizations to integrate climate resilient agricultural practices, also referred to as “climate-smart agriculture” (CSA) practices, into local development plans. The development plans are designed to be locally relevant and contextually specific to the various environments and climates of the country; for example an agricultural plan for the Kilimanjaro region would be much different than that for the Island of Zanzibar. o promote CSA integration, the project piloted a “training of trainers” curriculum originally developed by EcoAgriculture Partners, the University of California-Davis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Climate Hubs, and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, with in-country implementation support from the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The training curriculum, titled “Landscape CSA Action Planning,” trains local government officials and agricultural extension agents to help communities strategize locally specific climate resilient projects. The ‘landscape approach’ of the curriculum encourages trainers and farmers to consider the effects of climate change on a community-scale and propose collective interventions that reach beyond the individual farm-level to community-level solutions and resiliency.
In March 2019, 60 participants across Tanzania and Zanzibar took part in the first training of trainers. The participants were agricultural extension agents and local government officials. The training motivated participants to hone their knowledge, skills, and abilities to support the various leadership roles they assume in CSA action planning for their communities. Activities were organized around phases of the planning cycle to stimulate collaboration. Throughout the training, participants discovered ways to tailor the curriculum to their own contexts and worked in teams to draft an action plan for their various jurisdictions.
In January 2020, just before the pandemic halted international travel and face-to-face meetings, the EcoAgriculture Partners and IITA teams brought together half of the original participants to conduct a lessons-learned workshop.
Five key elements emerged from participants’ reflections:
- Participants felt more strongly connected to and supported by peers who shared their interest in expanding CSA practice;
- Participants felt empowered to strengthen CSA extension training with farmers in ways that met community-level needs, and some even succeeded in acquiring additional budgetary support for expanding CSA trainings;
- Participants stressed the value of mobilizing diverse stakeholders and forming partnerships to initiate CSA planning in areas with high vulnerability to climate change;
- Participants identified new opportunities to link with existing projects that are closely allied with CSA thinking and practice; and
- Participants highlighted the importance of having an enabling government policy environment.
The collaborative reflection process also revealed factors that inhibit successful action plan development and implementation. The participants noted that there persisted a limited awareness of the value of CSA across farming communities and government agencies alike. They called for the expansion of the training to maximize impact, and specifically requested follow-up training on fund-raising, monitoring and evaluation, and additional CSA practices. Many of these topics have now been included as modules in the original curriculum, which has since been formally adapted into a “Master Trainer” format. EcoAgriculture Partners and IITA are tentatively planning to implement the new format later in 2021 over a five-day training period with 60 new participants recruited from different regions and localities.