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    By Betty Mwakelemu Tole

    Uganda's Minister of Agriculture,
    Hon Tress Bucyanayandi tours the
    IFADAfrica/KMP stall.
    The IFADAfrica Knowledge Management Network and the Rural Finance Knowledge Management Partnership (KMP) have together with IFAD ESA participated in the International Symposium and Exhibition on Agricultural Development currently in progress at Serena Hotel, Kampala.  IFADAfrica/KMP is show-casing how it works with IFAD-supported projects to integrate knowledge management and learning for better results.    

    IFADAfrica/KMP have taken part in the symposium cluster sessions since 5 October 2013. The parallel cluster sessions have been organized around three topics: Production, Productivity and Market Access; Knowledge Systems and Business Development; and Human Capital, Natural Resources and Policies.

    I attended the cluster session on Human Capital, Natural Resources and Policies, where Dr. Ajayi Oluyede, a key discussant, made comments based on Jean Mbonigaba’s presentation on Policies, Institutional Framework and International Development Interventions.  Dr. Oluyede highlighted five main points from the presentation:

    • Defining the real issue of concern in relation to policies, noting that Africa was not short of policies and strategies, but lacked in implementation;

    • Focus on evidence based policy making, which requires good data. In communicating data to policy makers, he proposes the need to outline how it relates to national development, present the various policy scenarios or implications, and the linkages;

    •  The value of policy stakeholder consultation – he posed some questions such as what are the concerns of the stakeholders, what issues bother them in agriculture? To illustrate this point, he quoted an African saying “You can not shave a man’s head in his absence”;

    • The need to develop case studies of success; and

    • Come up with policies that embody the future of agriculture - what is the future of agriculture in the East African Community (EAC) given the advent of oil? What lessons can be drawn from similar experiences in West and Central Africa?
    An illustration of the four scenarios
    Ali Hersi, Regional Director, Society for International Development in East Africa, shared a presentation on Scenarios. Scenarios are useful in bringing key actors together to explore future uncertainty, and to re-think and re-organize current structures for more robust policies and strategies. He presented four socio-economic scenarios developed with policy makers, private sector, CSOs, academia and media under the Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security program based on two key drivers of change (regional integration, and mode of governance) that are highly relevant for the future of food security, environments and livelihoods in the region.

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    Producing video stories for IFAD, I have visited many projects in different countries and I have heard some astounding stories of how life has changed for people after project interventions. But in India, I heard one of the most powerful and moving stories that I have come across – a story about liberation from slavery.

    There are twelve hundred fishermen who live in Aruacottuthurai village on the Tamil Nadu coast. They say that for most of their lives, they have lived as slaves. Every one of them was in debt to moneylenders – a debt most had inherited from their fathers. In an intricately corrupt system, the moneylenders, the local traders and village leaders were all in cahoots, ensuring that it was impossible for the fishermen to ever pay back what they owed. I spent my time with fisherman Bharathi Dasan. He inherited a debt of  50,000 rupees (about $800) from his father. Like all the fishermen here, each day he would spend a minimum of 12 hours at sea and, when he returned to shore, he had to hand over his entire catch to the moneylenders. The traders conspiring with them would set the price far below market value. Bharathi was not allowed to trade with anyone else or pay off the entire loan when he had a bumper catch.  “We shed tears,” he told me.  Even though I was going out to sea every day, I didn’t have a happy and peaceful life because on the shore I didn’t get a good price for my fish and I couldn’t feed my family. If it kept going like this what would happen to our village and our people? We were very sad to think of our future in this village.”

    In 2004, this situation was compounded by the tsunami which destroyed the fishermen’s boats and nets and halved their catch. Bharathi’s wife Durga Lakshmi described their endless cycle of debt to me: “We didn’t have money for our expenses. So we borrowed more money with interest. Our child fell sick so we had to take her to the hospital. We didn’t have money so we had to borrow it. This is suffering.”

    Meanwhile, after the tsunami, the IFAD-funded Post-Tsunami Sustainable Livelihoods Programme for the Coastal Communities of Tamil Nadu (PTSLP) was set up. As the Project Director, Vikram Kapur, explained: “We realised there are enough projects to look after the rehabilitation of the affected people but since the tsunami and other natural calamities are actually endemic to coastal communities it would be better if we could come out with a strategy that would give them sustainable livelihoods and ensure that they are able to withstand such kinds of shocks.” Therefore, ending this crippling cycle of debt became a priority for the project.

    Working with the NGO South Indian Federation of Fishermen’s Societies, the project encourages fishermen to form Fish Marketing Societies (FMS) and it provides the FMS with the initial capital to pay off the entirety of their members’ debts to the moneylenders, which the fishermen then slowly pay back. Three years ago, Bharathi joined one of these Societies, which has now appointed its own auctioneers. Every day I saw at least fifty merchants bidding for the daily catch. When I was there, Bharathi had a bumper catch and was delighted with the price he received for it. He was also happy to pay over a certain percentage of this money to his FMS to pay off what he owed on his debt, to pay insurance and the Society management fees. Since selling his catch through the FMS, his income has gone up by 30 per cent. He has bought a second boat and now has four crewmen working for him. He’s been able to build an extension to his home and he sends his three children to private school. “I was liberated from the slavery life. I feel very happy. I now have peace of mind,” he told me.

    I was really struck by the power of the group and how, by working collectively, they could resolve a situation that they could never have tackled as individuals. One of the project staff likened it to moving a big boulder. When you try to do it on your own, it doesn’t budge and you’re likely to hurt yourself. When you push it as a group, the boulder can be moved wherever you wish.  

    “Previously we were like slaves,” the President of the FMS, Murugaiyan Manivannan told me. “Now we have freedom in selling and we are getting a good price for our hard work. It is only possible due to our unity.”

    The fishermen in this village are now free, but hundreds more fishermen along this coast are still in the clutches of the money-lenders. The project has already helped set up 37 Societies so far and 13 more are planned over the next two years. 

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    Uganda's Minister of Agriculture,
    Hon. Tress Bucynanyandi
    speaks at the closure of the symposium
    The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries in Uganda was at hand to close the three day symposium on 7 November 2013. The lessons learnt over the past fifty years, and recommendations of the symposium were drafted, agreed upon by the participants and adopted for submission to the EAC secretariat. According to the representative of the EAC Secretariat, Mr. Moses Marwa,  the recommendations will be discussed by the Sectoral Council, which will then submit them for policy decision to the Council of Ministers. Implementation however, will be the responsibility of each member state.
    The recommendations were structured according to the different themes discussed during the symposium, and here are some of them in brief.
    Enhanced competitiveness in production, productivity and market access

    • Develop and/or strengthen institutional frameworks both public and private, for building economies of scale and scope
    • Use the EAC common market to facilitate local manufacturing of fertilizers, machinery and other modern agricultural technologies/inputs
    • Expand strategic investment in the development of capacity and skills; and promote professionalism of all actors along the value chain
    • Utilize the EAC common market as an instrument for making the sector more effective in wealth creation
    Turning agricultural knowledge into business

    • Invest in development of demand-driven, integrated technologies and management practices benchmarked on international best practices, to make agricultural enterprises more competitive
    • Develop new curricula and/or revise existing ones (at least every five years), including learning from indigenous knowledge and experiences of stakeholders
    • Reduce the risk in agricultural financing by building human capacity of financial institutions, scaling up SACCO-type financial institutions that operate within a regulatory framework, and investing in other innovative financing mechanisms
    Policies and strategies to turn EAC’s comparative advantage in human capital and natural resources into competitive advantage in Global Markets

    • Build strong leadership at all levels so that the EAC and its Partner states can take full charge in the thinking, planning, implementing and funding; as well as monitoring and evaluation and accountability for agricultural policy and programmes focused at growth and competitiveness in agriculture
    • Increase the quality of analysis to drive policy formulation, planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation
    • Enhance the capacity of communities to fully understand their rights in the context of the development of the agriculture sector so as to demand accountable leadership and more effective governance systems at all levels.
    • Use the proceeds from oil and gas sector in investment and development of economic sectors such as agriculture, rather than consumptive expenditure
    Enhancing business and employment for Youth in Agriculture
    • More engagement of the social and mass media avenues to drive and create the “coolness” required for creating a “pull” for youth into agriculture (what others have called ‘making agriculture sexy’)
    • Creation of a “Kilimo East African Youth Forum” to champion regional issues for Youth in Agriculture and also showcase more success stories on a more regular basis
    • Increase the involvement of youth in the running of affairs targeting them including but not limited to projects and leadership within the agriculture sector.
    I believe that these recommendations are one of the many steps towards bringing poor rural farmers out of poverty, especially if they are implemented.

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  • 11/11/13--07:18: Cell of change
  • Written by Sanjib Kumar Chaudhary, SNV, Nepal

    Mobile technology has greatly aided farmers in India; Nepal should emulate such practices.

    The hills of Almora in Uttarakhand of neighbouring India resemble the landscape in Nepal. The culture and way of life of the people are similar too. However, farmers there are a little more fortunate than Nepali farmers. They can obtain information on market prices, weather conditions, agricultural policy news, and tips on farming cycles via short message service (SMS) from Reuters Market Light (RML). The RML service is delivered in the form of a simple SMS that fits into the daily workflow of the farmer in his/her preferred language. Information can be obtained on 450 crop varieties in eight different languages.

    Mobile power 

    A woman hidden behind a veil narrated to me her experience with mobile technology. She had laid out the whole lot of crop to be dried out in the sun. It was a sunny day and there was no sign of rain in the horizon. Then she received an SMS from RML. Being illiterate, she ran to her daughter who read it out. The SMS predicted rain.

    All at once, she collected her crop and stored it in a safe place. It rained just after that but her crop was safe. A lean farmer standing next to her shared a similar experience. He was ready to spray pesticide on his standing crop of vegetables. But he changed his mind after receiving an SMS notifying him of a light shower. It saved both time and money.

    Such is the power of information. And it is a blessing when it comes to a mobile set worth a few thousand rupees and in your preferred language. In Uttarakhand, the RML services are free of charge, sponsored by the Department of Telecommunication and the German development agency, GIZ. In other parts of India, RML services can be availed of through a paid subscription. This service is being used by over 1.2 million farmers in 50,000 villages across 17 states of India. Even the information can be personalised based on the type of crop, region of the crop, region of the country and local language. This enables farmers to make informed decisions, reduce waste and maximise their profits.

    Farmers are well informed about the prices of their produce in two nearby markets. It helps them sell their products at a fair price to buyers. The service also has a provision of flashing the name and mobile number of a farmer or a trader who wants to sell or buy the commodities. The seller and buyer can then negotiate with each other for an agreeable price.

    Likewise, RML flashes the name and contact number of successful farmers periodically. The farmers end up receiving thousands of calls from fellow farmers asking them about their success mantra.

    The farmers can also enquire about diseases and pests affecting their crops with experts and specialists through a toll-free number provided by RML. They simply need to dial the number and record their problems with the call centre employees. The problems are then discussed with experts and the caller gets a reply-call with prescribed solutions.

    With the ever-growing use of mobile phones, farmers in Nepal are also discovering ways to make their life easier. Now they can enquire about the price of their produce at major markets and negotiate prices with middlemen, avoid unnecessary travel to fetch agricultural inputs (especially if it is not available in the market) and seal deals with buyers. Farmers in Surkhet and Dailekh in the Mid-West development region can find out the price of vegetables and fruits through an SMS service provided by the Agro Enterprise Centre. Likewise, by calling a toll-free number, they can find out the prices of vegetables and fruits through voicemail. This service was piloted by Practical Action.

    Mobile innovations 

    While we are being hit hard by loadshedding, farmers in India have found a unique method to deal with power cuts. With the help of a device designed by Vijay Bhaskar Reddy Dinnepu, founder of Vinfinet Technologies, they can direct their irrigation pump motors to switch on and off whenever they choose.

    Through the device, the motor can also call back the farmer if there is voltage fluctuation or a power cut. The device connects to farmers’ mobiles through an interactive voice response system (IVRS).

    With the provision of krishi meter (electrometers measuring subsidised electricity for agriculture), Nepali farmers can now irrigate their crops even during the dry season at cheaper prices. A device similar to that of Vinfinet Technologies could help them cope with regular power cuts and they can avoid staying on their fields for the whole day and night—in the cold and heat—waiting for power to resume.

    The brains that developed the popular Android application ‘Taxi Meter’ which calculates the price of the distance travelled in a taxi and prevents travellers from being fleeced by taxi drivers must not leave behind farmers and agriculture in the ‘mobile revolution’.

    Ever growing mobile users 

    Cellphones, which are a necessity these days, is ubiquitous even in the remotest corners of the country. People living below the poverty line, above the line and the ultra-rich, all have access to mobiles and the telecom network. What aid workers could not do in decades has been accomplished in years by mobile operators. While the thought of building toilets in every household seems to be a dream, Nepalis from all walks of life hold mobiles in their hands. The private telecom service provider, Ncell, boasts of having reached the mark of 10 million subscribers while state-owned Nepal Telecom has similar claims (including Namaste, CDMA and 3G subscribers).

    Like RML in India, across the developing world, mobile services in agriculture have focussed on sharing and obtaining information. The programmes developed so far provide farmers access to research and best practices, weather information and market prices via SMS, IVR or call centres. With the rise in population and intense competition in agriculture, it is of vital importance for farmers to increase their production and raise incomes. This is possible only if they have access to right information at the right time through mobile technology.

    Recently, in an Information Communication Technology workshop held in Rajbiraj, one of the presenters asked the participants about the best way to reach people who do not have access to the internet. Three hands quickly rose in unison. The answer was the mobile phone in their hands. With millions of farmers with mobiles handy, what we need now is the right technology, like RML. It could be a ‘game changer’ for Nepali agriculture.

    Article originally appeared:

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    At the opening plenary session of the UNFCCC COP19 at the National Stadium in Warsaw this morning, the buzz generated by another high-profile climate conference was palpable among delegates, observers and the press.

    The cameras were flashing as the incoming COP19 president, Polish Environment Minister Marcin Korolec, took the stage and pledged to spare no effort to find a consensus on climate change.    

    He was followed by UNFCCC secretary general Christiana Figueres, and IPCC Chairperson Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, who both delivered exacting speeches that framed the problem we collectively face and urged negotiators to make progress over the next two weeks by committing to strong measures that would limit global warming to 2°C above preindustrial levels.

    Many of those who travelled to Warsaw are high on confidence because of a large body of scientific evidence coming from diverse quarters such as the IPCC, United Nations agencies, think tanks and universities that all demonstrate the magnitude of climate change as a threat to human populations.

    However, there is also a peripheral skepticism that the UNFCCC process is slow moving, and perhaps lacking sufficient weight to influence policy makers and governments.

    In a moment of impressive oratory, Christiana Figueres articulated the opportunity of this COP when she rightly stated that political will and public support worldwide favor action now. This inconvertible truth, more than anything else, is encouraging for positive outcomes in the coming days, and in 2015 when an ambitious international climate agreement is being sought.

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    More than 20,000 people – delegates, observers and press - poured into Warsaw’s National Stadium yesterday to attend the opening session of the UNFCCC COP19.

    While the main focus was on the opening plenary session, there was still plenty of action on the fringes as delegates from 190 countries set up their stands.

    IFAD asked a selection for the inside track on the messages they want to get across at COP19 and what outcomes they expect from the event.

    • ICRAF – We’re trying to get across at COP the importance of agriculture and the contribution of trees to mitigating and reducing vulnerability to climate change in developing countries. We would like to see agriculture and trees…incorporated into any future movement in the climate change agreements.  Nevertheless, I’m not sure this COP will have any positive outcomes; I suspect that next year there will be much greater motivation.

          Paul Stapleton (right)

    • GGCA - The Global Gender and Climate Alliance is a non profit alliance of UN civil society organizations, with the same goal as any other organization present here: finding a solution to climate change. The only difference is that the GGCA would like to incorporate the gender responsive voice within this solution and see more gender equality taking part in the COP conference and decisions.

          Abbey Long (left)

    • OI - OXFAM International concentrates on three main areas such as field missions, adaptation financing and energy. We are here to make sure that, even though we know COP is trying to push more private finance, we get enough public money for our financing and we want at least half of it to go to adaptation instead of mitigation. We are also trying to understand what the commitments are for the next 7 years, because the situation right now is very unclear.

          (Al Kinley Campaigner & Sara Johnson)

    • PACJA - The Panafrican Climate Justice Alliance wants to get the following points across at COP: 1. keep Africa safe, 2. ensure poverty eradication and food security, 3. share the atmosphere fairly, 4. industrialized countries to cut excessive consumption and pollution, 5. protect and compensate affected communities, 6. polluter pays not the poor, 7. transfer the tools to adapt and develop. This is our voice and these are our demands!

                (Robert Muthani)

    It is still early to say what the results of the nineteenth Conference of Parties will be, or to even describe the general mood among the participants. What we can say with certainty, is that the atmosphere is stimulating and everyone has something to say.

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  • 11/12/13--08:58: UNFCCC COP19: Day Two
  • On day two of the UNFCCC Warsaw COP19, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) held a working group to discuss issues related to agriculture. Presentations from the IPCC and FAO explained the impacts of climate change on agricultural production in all regions of the world.

    It was noted that heat extremes, droughts and declining precipitation trends are likely to hit small farmers especially hard, since they depend on rain-fed agriculture and pastoral systems for their survival.

    This means that climate change will place the most stress on those with the least capacity to adapt, thereby exploiting inequalities within developing countries.

    Alexandre Meybeck of FAO raised the demographic dilemma: food production must increase by an estimated 60 per cent by 2050 to meet demand from a growing population, while climate change is imperilling farming systems everywhere.

    The working group discussed practices for more efficient resource use in agriculture, making it possible to grow food even in conditions of scarcity. Agroforestry methods are being used across landscapes to supply firewood, maintain fertile soils and improve local climate conditions. It is a relevant approach at the local level, and contributes to global efforts to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases.

    These types of measures are so important because climate models clearly tell us that the choices we make now matter for the type of world we will have by the end of this century.

    Country delegates also took to the panel to share their experiences adapting to climates in transition. These came from countries in different regions facing disparate climate risks. In the Gambia they are using early warning systems to alert farmers to sudden floods and droughts, while in Bangladesh new strains of saline resistant crops are being cultivated to contend with sea level rise.

    It’s clear that developing countries require new resources to implement the practices that will support resilient and sustainable farming. Research and development, rural extension and capacity building are all areas in need of finance to serve small farmers better. 

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    With the focus firmly on climate change Warsaw City Hall is doing its bit to encourage climate and environmental awareness in the city. Today more than 10,000 trees were planted by a group of highly motivated people, who strongly care about the environment and the effects that climate change is having on it.


    “We are planning to plant as many trees as there are delegates present at the UNFCCC COP19, so we should be planting around 10,000 trees today,” said Marcin Wroblewski from the Infrastructure Department of Warsaw City Hall.

    The purpose of this initiative is to offset the carbon footprint of the delegates travelling from all over the world to participate in the climate summit, and together with many other events organized by Warsaw City Hall, its aim is to stimulate climate and environmental awareness among citizens.

    Taking part in the tree planting today were many environmental Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), together with school and university students, as well as diplomatic representatives. Delegates participating in the COP were also invited to join.

    “Just like any other climate effort we do, we want it to be done jointly” said Marcin Wroblewski.

    This is only one of the actions being performed by Warsaw City Hall during the COP. They have many other events in store for the following weeks such as the Climate Picnic, the Tree Day and Warsaw Recycling Day. All initiatives have been ongoing since 2007.

    Many other special one-off events are also taking place this week in Warsaw:  the Green exhibition at the Palace of Culture and Science, where modern and pro-environmental technologies and solutions are on display; also the Warsaw Dialogue meeting which  brings together city mayors of local governments and NGOs.

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    By Edward Grainger-Jones, Director of Environment and Climate Division at IFAD

    Smallholder farmers are largely voiceless in the national and global debates happening this year around development policy-making - from climate change to the post-2015 agenda, the year the Millennium Development Goals expire.

    Yet rural women and men are central to the twin challenges of climate change and food insecurity. While they make up the largest share of the hungry in developing countries, they also feed 2 billion people.

    The world’s 500 million smallholder farms are on the frontline of climate change - directly relying on nature for their livelihoods and inhabiting some of the most vulnerable and marginal landscapes, such as hillsides, deserts and floodplains. In sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia, rural families farm about 80 percent of agricultural land.

    So while we know that climate change is creating major risks for smallholder farming, the real question is how to make their voices loud enough to push policy and decision-makers to act.

    Decent numbers a start

    A huge opportunity runs right across all spheres of developed and developing economies: recognising systemic risks and the benefits of managing them. It’s so big that many don’t even see it, until things like the 2008 financial crisis happen.

    The experience of IFAD is that numbers rather than anecdotes grab the attention of policymakers and investors. This is why a central goal of IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) - is to get better data on why and how smallholder farms are where increased investment of public spending - and in particular climate finance - should be channeled.

    Putting numbers on the many direct and indirect benefits of investing climate funding in smallholder climate adaptation gives hard evidence of the potential power of farming families in developing countries.

    In addition, it allows us to better measure the impact of increased investment and improved policies on food security, economic growth, rural-urban migration, the speed of land degradation, malnutrition, conflict and biodiversity conservation.

    Report shows benefits

    IFAD released a new report as an initial contribution to putting a value on all this: The Adaptation Advantage: The Economic Benefits of Preparing Small-Scale Farmers for Climate Change.

    The report explores case studies such as in Bangladesh, where the introduction of flood prevention methods in villages in the Haor Basin is expected to protect homes and infrastructure from an estimated $2,000 in damages per community each year.

    In Turkey, IFAD has worked with smallholders in the Murat River Watershed zone, where the introduction of slope stabilisation methods helps communities escape the brunt of floods and landslides. This produces a cost-saving in the range of $19.6 million for the area covered by the project.

    Better numbers are essential ammunition in the complex political economy of smallholder development and climate change.

    Our hope is that putting a value on both the impacts of climate change for smallholder farmers and the benefits of minimising these will at least nudge the global climate and post-2015 development debates – together with the resulting climate and other finance - in their direction.

    On November 13 13:00-14:00 GMT (14:00-15:00 CET/08:00-09:00 EST), IFAD and Thomson Reuters Foundation will host a live debate to explore the economic benefits of climate change adaptation projects on the ground, as well as how UN climate talks can deliver results for small farmers (#adaptingpays).

    Originally posted on Thomson Reuters Foundation website

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    Unpacking the concept of climate-smart agriculture was the topic of a side event today at COP19 in Warsaw, jointly held by the Rome-based United Nations agencies the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

    Climate-smart agriculture is an aggregate of three main pillars: sustainably increasing production, enabling adaptation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions said the panelists.

    Transferring climate-smart into praxis is a priority of these organizations, given that the IPCC estimates that agriculture (including land use change and deforestation) accounts for between 20 and 30 per cent of global emissions.

    “Climate change is a cross cutting issue,” said Wendy Mann of FAO, therefore implementation of climate friendly technologies and practices depends upon cooperation across departments to benefit from the full strength and commitment of government.

    Similarly, climate-smart approaches identify possible synergies with primary sectors (agriculture, livestock, forestry and fisheries) and other sectors (energy, water, waste) to reach a critical mass in rural areas.

    “When looking to get the most impact out of climate finance, it’s best to integrate climate risk analysis early in project planning,” said IFAD’s Gernot Laganda. “Experience with the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) also tells us that grant financing allows small farmers to adopt more sustainable production, which otherwise would be considered too risky.”

    Small farmers can abandon even the best-laid adaptation plans, if local political and social conditions are barriers to change. This was the case with one FAO project in Zambia, where low uptake of conservation agriculture was attributed to insecure land tenure.

    The panel also presented successful activities, such as a tree coppicing initiative by World Vision Australia that has changed how thousands of farmers in West Africa manage their land, thereby helping to rehabilitate the landscape.

    These types of interventions show that pragmatic solutions are the ones most suitable to dealing with the unpredictability of climate change; and that the concept of climate-smart agriculture is firmly rooted in practice.  

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    “Monitoring the Change” was the title of the Europan Space Agency’s (ESA) side event at COP19 in Warsaw.

    Taking part in the event were Dr Carolin Richter from the Global Climate Observing System; Dr Mark Doherty from ESA; Prof Andrew Shepherd  from the University of Leeds; Dr Nick Rayner from the UK Met Office Hadley Centre and Dr Ben Poulter from the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE).

    The ESA, together with the other research partners, explained how satellites help to monitor and understand global change by taking examples from the cryosphere, ocean and land. The discussion focused on how systematic long-term satellite data provides a unique global record of climate change, enabling us to successfully understand and manage what is arguably the greatest environmental challenge of the twenty-first century.

    ESA underlined that while the global coverage that satellites provide does already give us vital information about the climate system, this data is often limited by a lack of homogeneity and continuity and is not always adequately preserved over long periods of time, making it hard to put together a reliable long term record.

    Over the last decade, the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), in support of the UNFCCC, has put together a set of requirements for satellite data to meet the needs of the climate change community.

    To respond to the need for climate-quality satellite data ESA has set up a new programme, called the ESA Climate Change Initiative, which will run until 2016.  This €75m programme will provide stable, long-term satellite-based data products for climate modellers and researchers.

    It will bring together European expertise covering the full range of scientific, technical and development specialisations available within the European earth observation community, and will establish lasting and transparent access to its results.  

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    The climate change negotiations have reached the half way point here in Poland. Thousands of delegates are now bracing themselves for week two when more than a hundred ministers and senior government officials will head in to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP19 at the National Stadium in Warsaw.

    Wendy Mann, is Senior Policy Advisor at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.


    We asked her how the agricultural community here at COP19 felt after week one of negotaitions?

    WM I think that on the part of some, there is a certain frustration at the slow pace at which the issue is moving. However, at the in-sessional agriculture workshop on Tuesday there was an excellent, substantive and concrete discussion mainly on adaptation. Many of the countries that attended did prepare very well and are willing to discuss these substantive issues. Basically, I think there is some tension between formally moving forward and informally discussing the issues around agriculture. That’s where we are now.

    What is best we can hope for from these negotiations?

    WM We are not going to get much out of Warsaw. There will be a procedural decision to continue to discuss the agriculture issue based on the report of the in-sessional workshop and the submissions made already on the first day even prior to the wokshop. G77 indicated that in accordance with the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), 38 these discussions will be held at SBSTA 40 in May/June 2014, so right now we have no contact group and no substantive decision on the agricultural issue.

    What for you would the most we could aspire to by Paris 2015?  

    WM It would be helpful to move beyong these informal workshop type discussions to a programme where we could have similar discussions except we should structure it and pintpoint issues in a better way. If we had this type of work programme we could look at the options out there, and their cost and benefits for different geographic regions at different stages of development. Countries could then have on the table the particulars and options available. These need to be tailored. There’s no one size fits all and no silver bullet. This would be very helpful to countries trying to urgently embark on adapataion of their agricultual sector, particularly given the extreme events that are alreay effecting their agricultur  sectors and food security,

    How in the end do we get the money moving towards smallholder farmers to help them cope with climate change?

    WM  The whole financing deal, not just the agricultural part, is still being discussed. The Global Climate Fund (GCF), which looks to be the major financing mechanism at the table, has moved forward quite rapidly in defining procedures and operating methods. But there’s been little discussion in the agricultural  community on how we can ensure the GCF will reward useful action in agriculture.

    Agriculture was largely excluded from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), we don’t want that again. We need the agricultural community to get its mind around financing to help countries and reward both adaptation and mitigation together. As the GCF is new we have a chance to make sure they do this.

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    Among those representing youth at COP19 is the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM). This is an independent, worldwide, non-profit and non-partisan organization which aims to inspire its 40 million members to make a difference by promoting unity and understanding to help create a better world. Their work includes from simple community action to large-scale projects, such as helping street gangs in El Salvador reduce violence, planting millions of trees all over Africa and working in local communities in conflict areas such as Kashmir, Israel, Palestine, Rwanda, Burundi and Northern Ireland.

    “We have a few programmes we would like to promote here at the COP, such as the Messengers of Peace Initiative, which aims to inspire the millions of Scouts who are doing amazing things in their local communities to tell the world about it,” said Joern Becker, from the German Scout Association (DPSG).

    Launched by the World Scout Committee in 2011 the Messengers of Peace Initiativeis a global action network created to empower young people to be leaders of positive change in their community through service. Any Scout project that brings a positive change in a community, whether it addresses health, environment, social problems, safety or conflict, is considered a Messengers of Peace project.

    “Youth is not underrepresented at COP, but the decision-makers are definitely not young,” adds Becker. “However, what young people can do is work in their home countries to make sure they influence their respective governments in taking the necessary steps towards a positive future.”

    ”Every little positive outcome from this event will give us the motivation to continue pursuing our mission and work even harder at getting our message out across the world.

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    For the first time agriculture and forestry came together in one conference, on the fringes of the main climate summit in Warsaw, at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF). We must think about forests and agriculture as two parts of one greater solution. We need to stop looking at these two areas in isolation and consider the economic, gender, cultural and political aspects they both share.

    Can we produce enough food for 9 billion people by 2050 without destroying the Earth’s forests and accelerating climate change? That was one of the main questions asked by participants at the GLF.

    Opening the discussion was Gernot Laganda from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

    “Climate change has two different types of impact on agricultural landscapes, direct and indirect,” said Laganda. “Land, food and the climate system are deeply interconnected and investing in smallholder adaptation is a multiple-win strategy and a good starting point.”

    Anthony Nyong from the African Development Bank (ADB) talked about the landscape approach to food security and adaptation to climate change in the Sahel region.  

    “Climate change, together with other factors, is putting extra pressure on the societies in the Sahel. Solutions call for an integrated approach from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Energy, who should start working together for a better coordination,”. Nyong said. “Drought is a big issue in the Sahel, but it’s not something that happens overnight, so we should be able to do something about it.” 

    The ADB is investing US$4 billion to help the Sahel reach its economic stability and become an agricultural developed region.

    Thomas Hofel from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) focused on the specific case of mountain development and stated that mountains are a main part of the issue as they represent 25% of the earth’s surface. H reported on FAO’s project linked to the earthquake of 8 October 2005 in Pakistan, entitled Building Back Better.

    “The watershed management committees allow for participatory planning and enable the communities to gain confidence and finally have a voice,” said Hofel. “Good resilience was created for the next flood in 2010 and the overall livelihood nutritional situation improved drastically.”

    “If we don’t operate at the landscape level, we won’t get out of the defective circle we are in,” said Richard Choularton from the World Food Programme (WFP). “Food insecure people are the most vulnerable but also the least able to participate in the solution planning process.”

    “We need good safety nets and platforms to help them, but we cannot proceed if not at the landscape level. Climate risk is a significant challenge for food security and an additional 10-20% of the world’s population could be at risk of hunger by 2050, if the situation doesn’t change.”

    “A good sustainable solution lies in good agricultural practices and it pays to invest in them,” said Ishmael Sunga from the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU). "It’s important to have policies that support the efforts of farmers and address climate issues looking at the farmers’ needs.”

    Climate change poses a great challenge to society and what makes it even more critical is that there is an inter-relation between climate change, food security and human security. After two days of discussions at the GLF a special message will be sent to the COP from the Global Landscapes community.

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    By Susan Beccio

    Members of the Sitawa Dairy Group in Bukembe, Bugoma County, Kenya. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio
    I just spent a week in Western Kenya visiting farmers who participate in IFAD-funded projects. Getting out of the office and out to the field is always a deeply moving experience for me. It is not just about the thrill of being in a new environment, trekking through the countryside and getting my boots dirty, while carrying a heavy camera bag. I think it is more about how real everything becomes. Our work in IFAD is about real people, and through IFAD-funded programmes and projects, we are doing what we can to provide farmers with real opportunities to improve the quality of their lives.

    Priscilla Wakhisi lights a gas stove that runs on the biogas that she brews up in her backyard in Chetambe, Bungoma County, Kenya. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio
    During visits to the Smallholder Dairy Commercialization Programme and the Smallholder Horticulture Marketing Programme, I was particularly impressed with the spirit of entrepreneurship and willingness to try new things that farmers showed me. It was contagious and exciting. There was not one magical thing that they needed to do or that needed to happen for them to benefit, but a series of steps both within and outside the realm of the projects. One thing led to another, and with each step they gained more confidence and continued to expand on their opportunities. As they talked of their experience, I could see the horizon opening up in front of them.

    Phoebe Chessi’ sells fresh milk, yogurt and mala or fermented milk to local customers at the cooperatively run milk bar in Ndalu, Bungoma County, Kenya. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio
    Through the projects, farmers were encouraged to form groups, pursue training and write business plans. They received both technical and business training, and they shared their knowledge with each other. They got organized. The project staff on the ground encouraged farmers to try new things – like planting a biogas digester in their backyard, collecting milk and opening a ‘milk bar’, making ketchup with less attractive tomatoes and building a cedar shed to collectively store and sell potatoes, in order to get a better market price between harvests.

    John Rimui  with his newly bottled tomato sauce or ketchup that he makes with a fruit pulper near Leshau, Nyandarua County, Kenya. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio 
    Whenever I asked the farmers how their lives had improved, the first thing they said was that they were able to send their children to school. Many also said they had or were planning to build a better house. One farmer proudly told me that he had put in an electrical line. While we talked, two girls in school uniform stood by his house, waiting for him to come over and recharge their mobile phone– for a small fee, of course.

    A member of the potato growers group in front of the group’s storage shed in the hills of Nyandarua North County, Kenya. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

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    Smallholder farmers all over the world make land use decisions that effect the configuration of landscapes. This has always been the case– but in the past state institutions have done a poor job of recognizing it.

    At the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) at the University of Warsaw this weekend, development practitioners met to discuss and help shape the climate and development agenda for forests and agriculture beyond 2015. 

    “Now we are embracing [a landscape] approach because for a long time the agriculture, forestry, conservation and energy sectors did not work together,” said Christine Padoch, a researcher with CIFOR.

    Smallholder landscape models are diverse, dynamic and complex. Presumably this is a good thing, but the truth is that even though we embrace each of these as concepts, we don’t always have the science or the policy that copes well with these types of systems.

    “Agriculture, pastures, trees and forests make up complex mosaics, which are difficult for us to understand and study. How do we get production figures for people who have a tremendous array of activities?” Padoch asked.

    For this reason, governments often criminalize landscape approaches, or establish prohibitive legislation such as designating crop production areas.

    However, a landscapes approach could help to reduce carbon emissions that come from cutting down trees for alternative land uses, managing the soils and crops of farms and keeping livestock. This could be achieved through better management and conservation of natural resources.

    Part of the problem is getting governments to take a wider view of landscapes, rather than having fragmented policies in the ministries of agriculture, environment or forestry.

    ‘We draw lines around these issues. From the ground up they are compartmentalized,” said Elwyn Grainger-Jones of IFAD.  “Fundamentally, what has to change are the governance structures to allow for more integration between forestry, agriculture and other land uses.”

    This means creating the right incentives for smallholder farmers to make investments in sustainable practices such as agroforestry and conservation agriculture. They not only need simple and affordable technologies, but access to agricultural extension services to troubleshoot when something isn’t working for them. When these supports are in place, scaling up can truly occur.

    Smallholder farmers naturally adopt landscape approaches. This is evidenced by the fact that there is at least 10 per cent tree cover on agricultural lands in East Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America.[1]

    Business actors were also represented at the forum. Bernard Giraud of Danone Group, a foods-products multinational, promoted a balanced portfolio of sourcing, with large and small-scale farms in the mix.

    “We understand that we have to protect the source of our food products. If we don’t then we jeopardize the future of our company,” he said.

    The ideas on display at the Global Landscapes Forum revealed that smallholder farmers have long been practicing heterogeneous production models and that more attention is being trained on reforming institutions, both public and private, to change how we view the parameters of landscapes.

    [1]Zomer RJ, Trabucco A, Coe R and Place F. 2009. Trees on Farm: Analysis of Global Extent and Geographical Patterns of Agroforestry. ICRAF Working Paper no. 89. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre.

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    “Money is not the only solution, we have knowledge” said Keith Alverson, Head of the Climate Change Adaptation and Terrestrial Ecosystems Branch of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),at the Global Adaptation Network (GAN) side event “Experiences on knowledge-sharing from Africa, Asia and Latin America”.

    Adaptation requires knowledge generation and sharing. This knowledge may exist for successful adaptation activities, but is often fragmented and not easily accessible. GAN is helping to build climate resilient communities in the most vulnerable areas filling these needs and gaps.
    Climate adaptation challenges are too complex for any one country to address on its own. It seems that even the collective efforts of different engaged organizations and research institutions in fighting climate change find it challenging to address its disrupting impacts. Adaptation requires capabilities and resources that can be obtained only from a broad combination of actors from the different multi-stakeholder action networks. Yesterday the Regional Networks under the GAN came together to share their experiences and lessons learnt on mobilizing knowledge and building capacity for adaptation, a cross-learning event between the different regions and regional networks.

    Discussions revolved around the main challenges and opportunities for mobilizing adaptation knowledge for supporting planning and implementation. Asia and Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN) has put the emphasis on the need to blend climate information in a comprehensible package tailored for the different stakeholders, while the Regional Gateway for Technology Transfer and Climate Change Action in Latin America and the Caribbean (REGATTA) highlighted the importance of the communities of practice and their efforts in integrating climate change into national developments plans. “It’s not just about generating info, but helping to prioritize climate impacts and developing sound vulnerability assessments,” said Bastian Louman from Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE)/REGATTA.

    “Knowledge sharing is the most crucial element of adaptation for agricultural farmers,” said Bruce Campbell, Director CGIAR Research Program for Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), “We need to sell the best practices and advocate for policy and regulatory changes linking scientists and communities.”

    Examples of such best practices with multiple benefits in Africa were given by Bubu Jallow, from The Gambia/Africa Adaptation Knowledge Network (AAKNet). He reported that the water supply project they developed in Togo allowed livestock owners to avoid migration during dry seasons and at the same time increased fishing activity, while in Mozambique the project building erosion prevention walls constructed by local communities are landscape walls with vegetation that are both preventing floods and malaria. He added that “if the country shows that it has already successful adaptation activities on the ground, it helps to attract climate finance from donors.”

    Keith Alverson concluded reminding us that adaptation is a long term phenomenon, it’s an ongoing process taking place over years, and this is the reason why adaptation networks are important to keep track of the knowledge generated and the related successes.

     “Knowledge generation should be a coproduction right from the beginning with thefarmers, it should be a bottom-up approach. We need to understand what exactly they want and what are the main problems and challenges directly from stakeholders,” Said Bruce Campbell.

    Based on CGIAR experience, knowledge generation and sharing, particularly with smallholder farmers, should be experiential and not virtual, “we have to work with people” but that also means big transaction costs to engage different stakeholders. How do we track successes?

    “There is a baseline for our climate smart villages, based on surveys and impacts studies, and we undertake very concrete measurements on climate info services such as number of farmers insured”. He concluded that “there are very intelligent and creative experiences happening on the ground, it’s crucial that agencies implementing those, share what works and what doesn’t work”.



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    The farther you are from the last disaster, the closer you are to the next one.”

    -Commissioner Naderev Sano

    The word resilient is often used in the lexicon of climate change. But nowhere will you find its use more fitting than when describing the resilient people of the Philippines.

    In the devastating wake of typhoon Haiyan, it is clear that the impacts of climate change are not years away, but happening right now. At a side event at COP19 in Warsaw, pioneering members of the Filipino Climate Change Commission were there to explain what their government is doing about this long-term problem.

    According to Lucille Sering, the Climate Change Act of 2009 was brought in after two major typhoons cost the archipelago state 2.4 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Now, they are in the process of implementing a policy framework with which to systematically address the growing threats to community life and the environment.

    Sering says that since bringing in the law, spending on disaster and climate change preparedness has increased 26 per cent, but is still short of the 2 per cent of GDP recommended by the Stern Review. Also, resources are weighted more heavily on post-disaster reconstruction, rather than adaptation measures that would proactively save lives and reduce damages.

    For Filipinos the growing frequency of intense storms makes taking action the only option. Typhoon Haiyan was the 25th typhoon to visit the country this year. Alarmingly, they are expecting two more before the end of the season.

    Yet those on the panel were not resigned to the inevitability of climate change. Antonio La Viña told the story of the Camotos Islands that were affected similarly to Leyte, but managed to evacuate over 89,000 people and were spared massive casualties. This, La Viña said, was because of a community empowerment programme, whereby the community deposited capital in an emergency assistance fund and invested in sanitation and drainage infrastructure.

    The panelists were all well aware that disasters are at the intersection of natural and human factors. Conditions of poverty, poor housing, lack of information about disaster risk all play their part in the severity of its toll.    

    “We have to manage the unavoidable, and avoid the unmanageable,” said Naderev Sano, whose family is from Tacloban.

    It’s this awareness, this willingness to confront reality, this incredible resilience, that will best serve the Philippines as it rebuilds stronger than it was before.

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    As climate change brings new threats to health, such as the propagation of air and vector borne diseases, heat illness, and of course, from more intense disasters, human systems are challenged to respond to increased demand for heath services in conditions of greater strain.

    Yesterday evening at the side of COP19 in Warsaw, a rich discussion on food security, health and disaster risk reduction was had by a diverse panel of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Bangladesh’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

    In Bangladesh, Dr. Iqbal Kabir asserted that over 36 million people living in coastal belts are vulnerable to climate related disasters, and that the cost of climate change to the health sector is $2.8 billion each year.

    It is even more staggering to extrapolate the health impacts at the global level. Luna Abu-Swaireh of UNISDR projected 226 million people each year are affected by disasters.

    Elwyn Grainger-Jones of IFAD said that unless we build the climate resilience of smallholders we could leave many without enough food to survive. Up to 80 per cent of the population in developing countries are dependent on smallholder farms for the food they consume.

    There was consensus on the panel that the notion of resilience should contribute to designing health systems that do not break when confronted with emergencies. Indeed, the WHO considers a resilient heath system to be one that is capable of anticipating, coping with, recovering from and adapting to climate related shocks and stresses.

    But how to define resilience was a much larger proposition; and the panelists addressed different dimensions, depending on the mandate of his or her own organization. For instance, Dr. Braulio de Souza Dias of CBD spoke on the crucial need to maintain biological diversity, in particular genetic diversity, if we want to ensure our food systems have the capacity to adapt to climate change. “For centuries we have been simplifying agriculture, and this is breeding a more vulnerable world,” he said.

    More systematic knowledge of climate risks and vulnerabilities is key if health ministries and others at various governance levels can truly hope to fight the health impacts of climate change effectively. Presently, meteorological offices often have limited access to quality climate services that could offer a better picture of risk.

    Elena Manaenkova of WMO said more than 70 countries have only basic, or less than basic capabilities to provide climate services. This is something that the WMO is working on with national and subnational counterparts.

    Finally, the panelists recognized that the determinants of health are partially the result of policies in many other sectors. Therefore, vertical solutions made in health ministries cannot by themselves disentangle the interconnected problems of health and climate, which call for better collaboration in dealing with complexity.

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    “This is one of the most important climate discussions in Warsaw. Your successful financial innovations for adaptation and mitigation should inspire climate change finance. Do not keep this knowledge and practice in this room - share and inspire,” said Christiana Figueres, Chief Executive of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

    She was speaking at the Momentum for Change (MFC) event on Financing Climate-Friendly Investments at the UNFCCC’s COP19 in Warsaw, encouraging winners to share their success to help raise ambition and scale up the global commitment to act on climate change.

    There is a need to shift development onto a more sustainable pathway without affecting the economy. Governments can be helped to leverage private sector investments towards climate friendly development using strategically targeted public funds and policies. Each of us can play a role in turning practical ideas into action on the ground. It is exciting and inspiring to see what has already been done by different actors across various sectors and countries. These are already demonstrating concrete results, from carbon markets to Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

    The winning Lighthouse Activities for the MFC Finance Pillar 2013 are selected as shining examples of climate action across the globe, combining innovation and passion. The winners  showcased their projects and experiences promoting low-carbon growth and highly climate resilient communities through the use of innovative financing mechanisms.

    Experiences ranged from supporting low-carbon growth in China to financing sustainable housing in Mexico. Within the mandatory carbon markets framework, the Director General of China CDM Fund (CCDMF) explained how through investments they provide funds to enterprises, mobilize significant market capital, and achieve verified emission reduction effects with direct reduction of over 7 million tons of CO2 equivalent. CCDMF represent a good experience to help address the enormous climate financing gap and support ambitious climate actions in China. While from the voluntary carbon markets a successful project example was reported by Carbon Clear, that showcased their Low Smoke Stoves project in Sudan. The project has already 5,000 stoves in use in El Fasher. It has multiple benefits such as improved access to modern energy, reduced indoor air pollution, strengthened local delivery infrastructure and reduced regional deforestation.

    Another interesting example was the Sustainable Energy Finance (SEF) Program, a unique multi-benefits model in the Philippines leveraging private sector investment in sustainable energy projects, reducing greenhouse emissions, improving energy security and strengthening economic development.

    Looking at multi-regional programs specifically targeting agriculture systems and farmers, a great example came from Redava with its Rental Solar Farms System Project. This project does not impose big up-front investment costs and long term obligations to farmers to get solar panels, but allows farmers to rent them with a 35% cost savings compared to diesel power. A cost-effective, convenient and clean solution that means a decrease of diesel consumption, improved access to electricity and a reduction of emissions.

    Last but not least, IFAD’s  Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) was showcased as a unique example tacking climate adaptation and channeling climate finance to smallholder farmers in accessing the tools and technologies to build their resilience to climate change. Elwyn-Grainger Jones presented how ASAP empowers community-based organizations to make use of new climate risk management skills, information and technologies and combine them with tried and tested approaches to sustainable land and water management. He referred to the work ASAP in doing in Yemen, with improved weather station networks providing farmers with more reliable seasonal forecasts while mapping technologies help to better understand and monitor landscape use in a changing environment

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