Lilongwe. Projections tell us that warmer conditions associated with more frequent hot days are likely over most of the interior of southern Africa in the future. A decrease in rainfall is projected over southern Zambia and Zimbabwe, while an increase in rainfall is projected over northern Mozambique and Tanzania. Thus, there is urgent need for mitigation action at the global level and for community-based adaption at local levels. CARE International is appealing to adaptation and agriculture actors to seek food and nutrition security outcomes in their plans given that southern Africa is among the poorest regions in the world, with nearly 45% of the population living on less than 1 US$ per day.

“Most small-scale food producers in the region depend on the natural environment for their livelihoods. It is essential that decisions and investments in adaptation in agriculture address the needs of these producers. The fact that women farmers face additional barriers to production, such as denial of access to land, information, and credit, makes them even more vulnerable to climate risk. We need agriculture and climate investments to consider the different vulnerabilities that women face,”  

Michelle Carter, CARE’s Regional Director for southern Africa

“The urgent need for investment in climate change adaptation at the community level is now obvious. Both women and men farmers need information and advisory services that will help them make better decisions in the face of uncertainty. And women farmers in particular also need access to credit and viable markets. Governments, development partners, private sector and civil society must think more about inclusive markets.”

Jacob Nyirongo of the Farmers Union of Malawi agrees

On the occasion of the global Community-Based Adaptation conference (CBA12) in Malawi, CARE is presenting findings and proposing solutions from a recent review of its agriculture portfolio in southern Africa. Key recommendations from the review include:

  1. De-risk agriculture for small-scale producers, especially women, through savings-led financial inclusion. Given their proven role in improving food and nutrition security, Village Savings and Loans (VSLA) group creation should be accelerated. Joint efforts by governments and the private sector to identify and scale sustainable VSLA models will allow farmers to spread risk. VSLAs increase opportunities for new investment in production from credit products and provide a cushion against climate-related and other shocks.
  2. Seek nutrition outcomes from adaptation actions in agriculture. Adaptation in agriculture for food-insecure communities must consider dietary diversity. Nutrition-sensitive action should always be taken in agriculture projects and development actors should ensure adaptation and resilience leads to progressive reductions in malnutrition.
  3. Use farmer field and business schools as social learning platforms to scale out climate resilient practices. Adaptive capacity strengthening in agriculture requires farmer-led learning. The use of farmer field and business schools can be cost effective and, when linked to savings and loans associations can stimulate aggregation, local entrepreneurship and market engagement.
  4. Gender equality and women’s empowerment should be essential aims of adaptation in agriculture programming. Analysing social norms when designing adaptation initiatives in agriculture programs is fundamental to ensure responsiveness to the differential impacts of climate change. Facilitation of equal access to agriculture and climate information for all small-scale farmers should be an important goal.