The members of the Ankole Coffee Producers Cooperative Union (ACPCU), located in the Bushenyi District in South West Uganda, are determined to tackle the problem of climate change before the business they established in 1998 is in serious trouble.
“Although we had good rains this year, drought is a big problem in this area, and if the coffee tree does not get sufficient moisture the young beans fall off too early. Disease, pests, coffee wilt and coffee berry disease have also become a big problem for us”, says John Nuwagaba, ACPCU’s General Manager.
In addition to climate change, Uganda’s population growth has also had a large impact on the farmers of the ACPCU. Over the past three years the number of people living in the country has doubled to nearly 33 million. The spike has increased the threat of encroachment on important wetlands in the region that act as water purification systems, biodiversity safeguards and provide natural flood control.
“Out of every ten traditional sources of water we had in this part of Uganda, four have permanently dried up because of drought. Farmers who belong to our cooperative are not allowed to encroach on remaining wetlands to increase the size of their coffee gardens. Instead we teach them about better farming techniques that improve a crop’s yield, such as building trenches and mulching to trap moisture”, says John.
ACPCU’s farmers’ continue to work with FairTrade to diversify these techniques, focused on improving the quality of their crops and addressing ideas for wetland protection. 67 year-old farmer Ngambe Ehab, who has been growing coffee in Mitoana in the Bushenyi district for the past 53 years, feels he has learned a lot from the process.
“At the moment I am losing half my coffee tree garden each year to coffee wilt, which is 2000 trees. I replace them every year at a cost of 500 Ugandan shillings each to buy and transport, which is expensive. I am very concerned about the rate my plants die each year”, says Ngambe.
To try and mitigate the effects of climate change, Ngambe has introduced a wide variety of practices he has learned. In addition to mulching and digging trenches, one of his most successful innovations is planting large trees in his coffee gardens to provide shade and reduce carbon dioxide.
When asked if he has considered diversifying his crops to include more than coffee, the father of 18 children explains how he has seen the broad affects of climate change on agriculture as a whole in the region. He now recognizes there are no longer any safe bets when it comes to choosing a crop from which to make a guaranteed living.
Although being informed about climate change has left ACPU farmers worried about their future, it has also prompted them to embark on larger-scale projects designed to protect the environment.
“The next project will involve tree planting, teaching farmers more about how to further improve their farming methods, and restore their environment if it has been affected by flooding or drought. A big part of the project will focus on protecting our wetlands, which are under threat from people”, says John.
For more information about the Ankole Coffee Producers’ story visit: http://www.fairclimatedeal.net/...
Ephrème Hategeka Bwisha works tirelessly to mobilize his community and its local authorities to restore the forests of Congo which have been impacted by war and climate change. Born in 1965, Ephrème studies economics at university. When he completed his studies, he settled in Idjwi near Bukavu, eastern DR Congo.
Ephrème had a vision of building a local community-based organization that could focus on restoring the area's destroyed ecosystems, exploring food security and solutions for health issues. Following the large-scale deforestation caused by the Rwandan refugee crisis between 1994 and 1996, Ephrème founded Voluntariat Action Mobility (VAM). Last year, VAM adopted climate change as a priority.
“We can not put everything on the back of Rwandan refugees, we must recognize that it is also a significant responsibility of Congolese to deal with what has happened to our environment”, says Ephrème.
Despite many challenges to its success, VAM has become a force in the community. Factors such as low levels of environmental awareness and little understanding of the impacts of climate change by the people and local government, as well as inadequate human and financial resources did not stop VAM from moving forward to restore the local ecosystem near Idjwi. Many would say Ephrème's group has pioneered a vibrant local and international advocacy movement, mobilizing authorities and communities in the face of climate change to safeguard and restore the forests in eastern Congo. Since 1999, VAM has planted an average of 9,000 seedlings per year, an activity that culminates annually with the Global Days of Action organized by 350.org.
“We collect seeds of native trees in May and conserve them for germination until August. Other seeds such as Eucalyptus, Grivelia, Acacia and Cedrela are purchased from Nyabihu, near Gisenyi in Rwanda. During the Global Work Party in 2010, we planted 8,000 seedlings, and 6,000 plants were planted for Moving Planet - the worldwide climate solutions rally - on September 24, 2011”, says Ephrème.
Ephrème notes that collecting these species is hard and expensive work, but the impact of VAM’s activities on communities is clear.
“What makes us happy is that local people are asking us where to find the seeds to duplicate the model. Sometimes, the trees planted on the roads are stolen, not as an act of destruction but to be transplanted within households”, explains Ephrème, before pointing out that the administrative authority is increasingly becoming more sensitive to this issue.
“Today if you want to cut a tree even in your property, you need permission from the Inspector of the environment. This is a result of VAM’s advocacy”, says Ephrème.
For more information about Ephrème’s story visit: front-to-protect-congo-forests/
Emile Jean lives in Tsiandriona Nord, a small village belonging to the rural community of Itampolo in the south of Madagascar. He is 54 years old and lives with his wife and eleven kids - six boys and five girls - in a house with three rooms. Emile Jean is part of the Mahafaly tribe and the Temitongia clan.
Like most people in this region of Madagascar, including his father and grandfather, Emile Jean is a farmer and cattle-breeder. He owns a few Zebu, but mainly lives off the maize and vegetables he grows, half of which is sold, half of which goes to providing food for his family of thirteen. Growing enough food has become one of Emile Jean’s biggest challenges in the face of climate change.
“When my grandfather was young, they didn’t have more than one or two bad years in 20 years. When my father was young, they had a bad year every 7 years. Now, it’s every two years. We even risk having the second bad year in a row. We are very worried”, says Emile Jean.
Emile Jean has noticed the shifts in the weather for years. The amount of rainfall has dramatically decreased, distribution has changed, storms have become less frequent and more intense and temperatures have risen each year in the area.
These shifts have resulted in a longer dry period of nearly 7 to 8 months and a shorter rainy season of only two months. This makes it difficult for farmers like Emile to plant and live off their crops all year round or to afford the rising prices of staples like cassava, rice, oil and sugar.
“For some years now, we have been losing a part of our manioc yield because the rain comes too late. We also have more insects these days”, says Emile Jean.
Villagers in the area believe that changes in climate, as with many other natural things, occur because God and spirits living in the forests are angry.
“We sacrificed a zebu to ask God for his protection during these difficult times”, says Emile Jean. “In exchange we promised to protect nature and the forest. It was like a contract and God helped us through difficult times.”
Farmers like Emile Jean, have also found other ways to adapt to the changes in climate such as reducing the amount of crops they plant that require a high volume of water, like maize, opting for drought-resistant strains. Emile Jean now also waits for the rainy season to plant - to avoid losing his seeds.
“We used to plant in the dry season also. This helped to overcome the lack of food between the rainy seasons. Now this is not possible any more, we just lose seeds if we do it. It used to rain a lot in January. Now there is no rain at all in this month”, said Emile Jean.
Through WWF, Emile Jean has been introduced to other agriculture techniques such as drip irrigation, market gardening, and crop rotation. The organization also distributed rain gauges to communities across the Mahafaly Plateau, including Emile Jean's village. This allowed farmers to collect rainfall data themselves, and taught them how to interpret the data in order to use the information to help determine which crops to plant and when for the upcoming season.
These innovations are what Emile Jean hopes will ensure his 11 children will not only make it through school, but use their education to move beyond a dependency on the land and the direct impacts of climate change. “I hope that they all become intellectuals, someone important”, says Emile Jean.
For more information about Emile’s story visit: http://www.wwf.mg/...
This story from Africa is one in a series that feature real life examples of how climate change has impacted people’s lives across the continent, and the innovations and solutions they have embraced in order to survive. Produced by GCCA partners, Amplify Africa is one of several efforts to increase public information and awareness about the urgency of the Climate Talks, a project which aims to personalize the "Conference of the Parties" through channels like the People's COP (Conference of the Parties or the African COP.
Amplify Africa, a GCCA project, spotlights activities by the organizations partners at work on the ground in Africa.
Stay tuned for further stories.
BUILDING RESILIENCE THROUGH INNOVATION IN GHANA
Anabig Ayaab is a 50 year old farmer from Tariganga, Garu-Tempane District, in the dry Savannah Zone of the Upper East Region of Ghana. Also a wife and mother of seven, Anabig has been struggling with how shifting weather patterns have been affecting her ability to feed her family and make a living.
Three years ago, Anabig was among a group of women who took part in the Village Savings and Loans Project implemented by CARE International in Northern Ghana. The project aims to build capacity and further empower women like Anabig, and communities like Tariganga, to diversify their farming systems and make good choices as they adapt to the impacts of climate change.
As with most of the families in Tariganga, Anabig depends almost entirely on the land for producing food and generating income through crop farming, dry season gardening, animal rearing, and petty trade. But the growing frequency of severe drought continues to destroy crops, reduce the availability of water, increase disease in animals and spread hunger and poverty across the region.
For Anabig’s family the lack of food during the dry season has become a yearly inevitability. “In recent years, farming has become more difficult. The soils are less fertile, seeds have become more expensive to acquire and the rains come late and leave early”, says Anabig. After taking part in the savings and loan project, Anabig put her new knowledge of farming practices to work. Making compost instead of buying inorganic fertilizer, recognizing that deforestation hurts her environment and understanding how best to invest in her farm, Anabig has seen an important increase in her crop yields.
“I was able to acquire improved seeds of maize from the seed growers by taking a loan from my savings group. I bought enough seeds, which I shared with my husband. The results are very exciting. On my own, I harvested 5 bags of maize from my 2.5 acres of farmland, compared to 2 bags the previous years. My husband harvested 9 bags from his farm as compared to 5 bags in previous years. We used the improved seeds combined with use of farm residue as organic fertilizer and this has brought a lot of excitement to my family. There is now peace, unity and love in my family. My husband now respects me and I feel happy to be among my fellow women in the community”, says Anabig.
The increased yields have enabled Anabig and her husband to insure their family under Ghana’s national health insurance scheme, and to provide her children with all the supplies they need for school. Anabig’s openness to learning new skills and diversifying her family’s farming systems is an important example of adaptive success in the face of the serious impacts of climate change. Building on what she has experienced, Anabig hopes to learn more about how to design and apply community-based adaptation strategies, increase the resilience of her livelihood choices and reduce the risk of disaster throughout her community.