Climate Change


Participants of Lessons and success stories from a pilot project on climate change adaptation interventions in Kabe watershed workshop (Credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet)

Participants of Lessons and success stories from a pilot project on climate change adaptation interventions in Kabe watershed workshop (Credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet)

The project ‘Enhancing communities’ adaptive capacity to climate change in drought-prone hotspots of the Blue Nile Basin in Ethiopia‘ hosted a final workshop on 11 and 12 February 2013 in Addis Ababa. The project, which was launched in late November 2011, had about one year to “develop a learning site to help enhance the adaptive capacities of local communities to climate-change induced water scarcity” and to “provide evidence to governments to consider climate change and ecosystems in land use planning and natural resource management”. The site chosen was the Kabe watershed around Wollo.

The end of project workshop discussed lessons from the project and identified success stories that could be scaled up to similar areas. Over the two days, the 4o or so participants actively engaged with three major areas of the project:

  • Watershed exploration (socio economic circumstances, community perceptions on climate change in the watershed, climate scenarios);
  • Climate change adaptation interventions (crop and home garden interventions, livestock interventions, water/soil & water conservation and agro-forestry interventions);
  • Cross-cutting issues (watershed mapping, capacity building, collective action).

On the second day, they identified what interventions could be scaled up, how they could be scaled up (building on the approaches tried out in the project) and what a next phase of this project might look like.

Throughout the workshop, the digital stories that were developed as part of this project were shown to illustration some of the project’s findings.

The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) which funded this project is interested in a more ambitious second phase of this project. Some of the lessons learned through the project and summarized in the workshop will hopefully see other useful applications soon.

Read meeting minutes

See some presentations from this meeting

Discover photos from the event

The topic working group on ‘spatial analysis and modelling’ (SAM) from the Challenge Program for Water and Food (CPWF) has agreed on a partnership between the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Cornell University and Texas A&M University on a product dealing with global climate reanalysis data.

This partnership and announced its intentions at the recent Soil and Water Technology (SWAT) 2012 conference. The product (available at this address: http://tamu-cornell.drfuka.org/) will be hosted by Texas A&M University for now.

As an upcoming paper highlights, “Obtaining representative or near real-time meteorological data to force watershed models can be difficult and time consuming. Land based stations are often too far from the point of interest to adequately represent the weather, and many have  gaps in the data series.” The Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) global meteorological data set has the advantage of using precipitation and temperature data, which generally provide better predictions of watershed discharge than land based stations at distances greater than 10 km from the watershed center.

This data set is useful for the SAM team for hydrological modeling, in the absence of gauge data. However, the data can also be used for any other application. It requires MET parameters – a lot of other parameters were not included (see full details at: http://rda.ucar.edu/pub/cfsr.html). Daniel Fuka, PhD student from Cornell University is leading this work.

Maksenit (Amhara) community members playing an adapted version of the ‘Happy Strategies’ Game Capturing GIS data in Debre Tabor (Credits: Catherine Pfeifer / ILRI)

Maksenit (Amhara) community members playing an adapted version of the ‘Happy Strategies’ Game (photo credit: ILRI/Catherine Pfeifer)

One of the sub-projects of the Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) – ‘Targeting and scaling out of rainwater management systems’ – aims to map which rainwater management strategies work where, targeting specific strategies and scaling them.

We understand rainwater management strategies, to be a combination of rainwater management practices that increases water infiltration in the up-slope of a landscape, increases soil and water conservation in the mid-slope and increases water productivity in the low slope. Rainwater management practices are very broad and include, beyond rainwater harvesting, a whole range of practices affecting crops, livestock and trees.

The maps generated by the project are based on biophysical suitability criteria and socio-economic constraints identified in literature and through stakeholder consultation. Having generated the maps of likely areas where a strategy might be adopted successfully, the project team is ground-truthing the analysis by assessing adoption rates of rainwater management strategies in different locations.

A multi-scale approach is required to carry out this assessment.

Working closely with national partners, at farm scale, the team interviewed 600 farmers in 7 different watersheds of the Ethiopian Blue Nile – the current NBDC watersheds, namely Diga, Fogera and Jeldu as well as four new sites selected with NBDC partners:

  • In the Oromia region, Gorosole watershed (near Ambo) and Leku watershed (near Shambu);
  • In the Amhara region, Maksenit watershed (near Gondar) and Zefie watershed (near Debre Tabor).

The sampling of the farmers covers high-, mid -and low slopes in each landscape and represents female-headed households proportionally.

At landscape scale, the team ran focus group discussions in the four new watersheds and asked key community informants to imagine the best possible rainwater management strategy for their watershed, using an adapted form of the happy strategies game to understand which practice fits where and how it may need to be combined.

Capturing GIS data in Debre Tabor (photo credit: ILRI/Catherine Pfeifer)

Factors limiting adoption – which are beyond farmers’ influence – are identified in the process. They result in a set of interventions needed to enable the adoption of the strategy.

The 600 farm household surveys have been collected and are all geo-referenced at farmstead  – all in close collaboration with partners. Data entry will begin soon and the team plans a ‘writeshop’ to run the first analysis of the data with partners – to develop partners’ capacity to work with statistics and write analysis reports.

Find more detailed descriptions of the watersheds and how data has been collected on the blog of one of the NBDC researchers involved in the project.

Recent research sponsored by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food concludes that higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns will bring uncertainty and change to river basins in Africa. These changes could significantly alter water flows, presenting a new barrier to nascent efforts to better manage water for food production and to resolve potential cross-border water conflicts.

“Climate change introduces a new element of uncertainty precisely when governments and donors are starting to have more open discussions about sharing water resources and to consider long-term investments in boosting food production,” said Alain Vidal, director of the CPWF.

According to the authors, climate change could also introduce uncertainties into the water politics of the Nile Basin, with the CPWF analysis showing that higher temperatures—a rise by 2050 of two to five degrees Celsius—have the potential to increase water evaporation to the point that it would reduce the water balance of the upper Blue Nile Basin.

The findings are discussed further at the 3rd International Forum on Water and Food.