Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rural Africans are observing clear trends in local climate across a range of environments from humid to semi-arid.

Africa Science News Service: They are already adapting to climate change with or without external support. This information is contained in a paper written by Sonja Vermuelen and Duncan Macqueen of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Everhart Nangoma (EU), Krystel Dossou, Organisation des Femmes pour la gestion de l’Energie, de l’Environnement et la promotion du Développement Intégré (OFEDI-Benin) and Dominic Walubengo (Forest Action Network-Kenya).

They say that for communities dependent on natural resources, adaptation involves a mix of technical solutions (such as different crops or planting patterns) and institutional solutions (such as new means of sharing information).

Local adaptations include responses to specific trends (such as fishing with finer-meshed nets), but also building of capacity and resilience say through savings groups and diversified agriculture to cope with future uncertainties. Supporting local initiatives and institutions may be the most effective way to support climate change adaptation.

Climate change is often seen as a global problem demanding global solutions. But for poor people hit hard by the impacts, climate change is a not a boardroom abstraction, but day-to-day reality. Faced with local shifts in weather patterns and natural resources, they are forced to find ways of coping that are locally relevant.

This kind of experience, gained at the grassroots, boosts resilience as no top-down initiative can. Three case studies from rural communities in Benin, Kenya and Malawi show how it is done…..

Rain forest around Mt. Kenya. This Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons image is from the user Chris 73 and is freely available at under the creative commons cc-by-sa 2.5 license.

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