The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has long recognized climate change as a critical issue that needs urgent attention. “The effects and frequency of climate change are increasing in density, causing disruptions in the economy and agriculture is not an exception,” said Mr Duncan Samikwa, SADC Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Directorate (FANR) Secretariat representative. He said this during his opening remarks at the Adaptation to Climate Change in Rural areas in southern Africa (ACCRA) Round Table meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 5-6 March 2020.
He further added that SADC is delighted to have partnered with GIZ and other member states to address the effects of climate change.
The meeting objective was to learn from the ACCRA implementing partners highlights, achievements, and challenges as well as for the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development in southern Africa (CCARDESA) and SADC to share their strategies and how they are addressing climate change in agriculture. Potential collaboration opportunities between international cooperation partners and SADC implementing partners was on the top list of the meeting ‘s objective, including the stimulation of exchange and collaboration between partners.
The ACCRA Program Manager Ms Hanna Sabass intimated that climate change is severely impacting the SADC region where most people depend on agriculture. She mentioned how ACCRA was working with SADC member states to support farmers and pastoralists use more resilient practices to the effects of climate change. GIZ has realized that member states have also prioritized climate change, and there is a willingness to address its impact but the blocker they encounter is lack of funding.
The Round Table heard successes from ACCRA implementing partners including Departments of Extension and Research in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Wheat and Maize Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), the Herding for Health programme (H4H) implemented by Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), Conservation International (CI) and the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC), among others, and the Lesotho-based Rural Self-Help Development Association. H4H shared how they have successfully trained 12 herders to become professional eco rangers (8 male and 2 female). They also piloted a shorter version of the course in Mozambique where they trained 40 eco rangers.
RSDA demonstrated their achievements in climate-proofing the sorghum value chain in Botswana and Lesotho. CIMMYT shared how, among other accomplishments, women in communities have been empowered through conservation agriculture which has seen their livelihoods improved compared to their past lives.
CCARDESA also shared the huge strides its projects (ACCRA, APPSA, & CAADP XP4) are making, thereby achieving its research, development and knowledge brokerage mandate in the region.
The meeting also learned from Malawi, Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe how they have scaled out climate-smart agriculture practices including crop post-harvest loss assessments.
The meeting cited some strengths of the CCARDESA information, communication and knowledge management system from a climate-smart agriculture perspective, including valuable ideas for future improvement. Climate risk vulnerability assessments were shared, followed by implementation plans.
A new project under ACCRA, the SADC Climate Risk Analysis and Resilient Development Pathways was presented, and alignment opportunities to the ongoing process in SADC and at CCARDESA discussed. The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) are the implementers of this program.
On a lighter note, delegates had an evening function during which they all installed the CCARDESA mobile learning mobile app on climate-smart agriculture (CSA) on their phones allowing them to sample the quizzes and CSA technical briefs.
The meeting attracted participants from representatives from the SADC FANR, (CCARDESA; virtually), Ministries of Agriculture / Lands in pilot project countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe), CIMMYT, the Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), PPF, CI, SAWC, RSDA, CCAFS, SADC/GIZ ACCRA, SADC/GIZ Trans-boundary Use and Protection of Natural Resources (TUPNR) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).