Showing posts with label Pacific. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pacific. Show all posts

Saturday, February 20, 2016

ICTs improving family farming

ICTs are helping millions of smallholder family farmers in developing countries gain better access to information, tools and technology that can transform their livelihoods. Indeed, ICTs help family farmers sell and market their produce, boost their ability to cope with dwindling access to water, land and soil nutrients, and deal with the extreme climate events, pests and diseases that affect their crops. If more of these ICT solutions are tailored to the needs of smallholder family farmers and put within their reach – especially the women farmers who form the bulk of this group – then their agriculture can rapidly move from being a subsistence activity to a successful and sustainable business.

Accessing markets through cooperation

Agriculture is becoming more market oriented globally. Individual family farmers, however, are finding it increasingly difficult to participate in markets – not only in national and international markets, but even in local ones. Smallholder farmers have small amounts of farm produce to market but often do not have access to systems of communication, finance and transport. If they could somehow aggregate their produce and collectively synchronise their production and marketing systems, then they would be able to enter these markets more easily as a collective.  
ICTs can help smallholder farmers improve their production systems so they can fetch better prices, avoid gluts and have the critical mass to grow market-led crops. Conventionally, this is done by cooperatives and farmer organisations, which bring together farmers. These organisations help reduce weaknesses in the value chain. In most developing countries, however, these organisations are weak and often face constraints in planning and monitoring production systems and setting up logistics for an efficient marketing system.  

Some cooperatives have tried to overcome these constraints by even taking control of the land of participating farmers. This approach, however, diminishes the opportunity for family farmers to participate in the decision-making processes that impact their livelihoods, and so ultimately this approach has failed.    

ICTs now provide the potential to overcome these constraints. They can help smallholder family farmers coordinate their planning and monitoring of production and marketing systems by virtually aggregating data, without cooperatives having to take over the land or do the decision making for their farms. Access to credit, financial and insurance services for smallholder family farmers has been a major constraint to improving their farming and incomes. With the increasing availability of mobile phones and the internet, smallholder farmers can now access financial services much more easily.  
ICTs also allow family farmers to see their farm processes from many different viewpoints, and this enables them to make more sound economic and environmental decisions. At the same time, access to ICTs and information increases their technological literacy. A farmers’ organisation that uses ICTs can now support individual farmers by suggesting what crops they should grow, and where, when and how to market them with these ICT-run systems. These systems can also help farmers organise and plan inputs for their farms. Connectivity also gives smallholders easy access to knowledge-based services that help farmers to solve farming problems.  

Precision technology and land rights

Cloud-based data, application services and the wide availability of smartphones and ‘phablets’ have made precision technology – such as mapping systems with high resolution and three-dimensional maps – more widely available to these farmers. Once the privilege of large farms, smallholders can now use these tools too to measure soil moisture and nutrients, for example, or environmental carbon dioxide.  

The sensors used to make these measurements can be linked to GPS systems and incorporated into sensor networks that can help farmers monitor the well-being of their crops at a micro level. The use of drones and digital cameras are enabling farmers to use very low-cost remote sensing to monitor their crops. With close monitoring, farmers can use water and soil nutrients more effectively and sustainably. This, in turn, improves the resilience of their farming system.  

Many smallholder farmers have difficulty securing their rights to land and other resources. Many family farms have tenancy agreements. But they keep poor records of allotment, ownership and tenancy. Cadastral surveys containing maps and records can now be made, managed and publicly accessed more easily at a lower cost using geographical information systems in the public domain. As a result, farmers can obtain the proper records for their farms and use them to get mortgages, bank loans and compensation. When records become available in the public domain, farmers’ rights to land and other resources such as water become more secure.

A new paradigm for farming

Like society in general, ICTs are ushering in a new paradigm for farming and agriculture. The flow and use of information and knowledge in this paradigm resembles that of a network and therefore calls for new forms of collaboration and partnership.  

ICTs have huge potential to provide knowledge-based services to farmers and others earning their livelihoods in activities related to agriculture, such as agri-businesses, agro-industries and financial services. In the near future, these services will be provided largely by micro, small and medium enterprises to farmers in villages and entrepreneurs who operate in local, national and even international markets. Governments and the public sector in most countries are now the major generators, managers and disseminators of organised data and information related to agriculture.  

Governments are also responsible for agricultural development, research, innovation and extension. New forms of collaboration and partnerships are now needed between the public and private sectors to adapt to changing circumstances in the agricultural sector – changes in which governments and the public sector provide data and information, while the private sector provides the knowledge services.  
Much of the data in the future will be generated and shared by communities. For farming and agriculture, this will occur through agricultural communities that contribute to agricultural commodity chains in terms of input, farming, processing, marketing and consumption. Fields and farms, and all the related processes, will generate huge sets of data – ‘big’ data that will need to be processed instantaneously.  

Individual farmers are being given the ability to create and manage sophisticated information and knowledge thanks to low-cost connectivity, massive computing power accessible through cloud computing with shareable tools, applications and intelligently linked content and data. This ‘democratisation’ of science will draw farmers into agricultural research, innovation and development processes. This could transform the entire structure of agricultural research and innovation systems, especially for smallholder family farmers, whose specific needs seem to have been ignored by current technological innovations.  

There are now a large number of ICTs within reach of family farmers that would help them to improve their farming practices. Technological trends indicate that many more innovations are in the making as well. However, their availability is still too widely dispersed. Individual technologies and tools are not integrated yet in ways that would help smallholder family farmers improve their farming practices.  

For example, there are applications that enable farmers to do online banking but which are not linked to farmers’ needs, such as credits through mortgages and crop insurance. To make ICTs even more widely available, institutions, their policies, the governance of information flows and the way they organise their work all need to undergo major transformation.  

This new paradigm calls for new policies, and new regulatory mechanisms and laws. Old institutions need to be revamped; new institutions and organisations need to be established; and government work processes need to be restructured. The main concern of governments should be to provide not only data and information but also the infrastructure and investment that promote new capacities and the integration of information systems and services.

Source: ICTUpdate

Monday, October 5, 2015

Social media revolutionising rural communities in the Pacific - Pacific Beat - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Social-media has been called many things -- and now it's being described as a 'life-changing' experience for people living in rural parts of the Pacific.

Increasingly, social media, and the internet in general, is being used to drive agricultural development - with some dramatic impacts.

Speakers: Michael Hailu, director of Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA); Giacomo Rambaldi, Sr Programme Coordinator, ICTs (CTA, Web2forDev) and Faumuina Felolini Tafunai, Media Specialist (WIBDI).

by Catherine Graue
Source: Pacific Beat | Duration: 5min 42sec

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Economic and Social Impact of ICT in the Pacific published

Nuku’alofa, 17 June 2015 - A new report has highlighted the impacts of improved access to telecommunications infrastructure and services now being seen across the South Pacific and potential for greater information communications technology (ICT)-enabled development across the region. Click on View more news below to read the full media release, and access the report.
Economic and Social Impact of ICT in the Pacific, launched today in the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa as part of a meeting of Pacific region ICT ministers, examines the economic and social impact of the rapid rise in internet bandwidth, mobile phone usage and telecommunications market liberalisation that has been underway throughout the Pacific Islands region in the past decade. The report includes case studies of the impacts in Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, plus a comparative analysis of lessons learned in recent years, and identifies key opportunities for investment and support for the future.

Launched by Tongan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Responsible for Information Communications Technology, the Honourable Siaosi Sovaleni, the report’s research was commissioned by the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF), which is financed by the Asian Development Bank, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade,  and whose membership also includes the European Investment Bank, European Union, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the World Bank Group.

This past decade has seen an extraordinary increase in access to mobile phone services in the region, including to some of the Pacific’s most remote areas and islands, as significantly improved market conditions have encouraged investment by the private sector and existing operators.
“Here in Tonga, where we landed a submarine cable financed by the Asian Development Bank and World Bank in August 2013, we have seen greatly improved access to high-speed Internet (particularly mobile) and falling prices,” said Deputy Prime Minister Sovaleni.

“Yet this report is not just about the technologies themselves; it’s about the impact they are having on our communities and economies, enabling us to leapfrog over more traditional, outdated and expensive systems of the past, and transform our lives.”

The High Commissioner for Australia, Brett Aldam, said Australia was pleased to be co-financing the ICT study through its support for the PRIF, because “Australia recognised the critical need to modernise communications in the Pacific in order to generate increased economic growth and social development.”

Sanjivi Rajasingham, Director of the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF), said the report would help Pacific governments, telecoms operators, regulators and the private sector to identify opportunities for investment in technology-enabled services. This includes a list of 10 specific ‘intervention points’, which include the further strengthening of international connectivity through submarine cables, new pricing structures and competition, to the use of e-government and applications designed to boost tourism and exports, small industries, and innovative job creation.
“As the Pacific has gained access to significantly improved technology, better access, far cheaper mobile phones, calls, text and data, the pace of change in the Pacific has been extraordinary,” said Natasha Beschorner, Senior ICT Policy Specialist at The World Bank and Lead Coordinator of the PRIF ICT Sector Working Group, who introduced the report’s key findings.

“The changes have been widespread across sectors including agriculture, fisheries, tourism, education, health and financial services. “Importantly, this reportshows the opportunities that are now possible in the Pacific, and makes recommendations for governments, policy-makers and the private sector to answer the question, ‘Where to next?’

Changes already seen in the Pacific, which have been highlighted in the Economic and Social Impact of ICT in the Pacific report, include:

  • Mobile coverage across Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu has jumped from less than half of the population in 2005 to 93% of the population in 2014.
  • The cost of mobile calls declined by one third between 2005 and 2014.
  • The percentage of cell phones in Pacific households rose from 49% in 2007 to 93% in 2014.
  • International internet bandwidth jumped over 1500% between 2007 and 2014, rising from less than 100 Megabits per second to over 1 Gigabits per second (excluding Fiji, which was already connected to a submarine cable in 2000).

Recommendations for governments, policy-makers and development partners for the coming years that are in the report include:

  • Strengthening of government and regulatory agencies to ensure that access to communications technology remains competitive, fairly-priced and accessible to all.
  • Development of basic digital literacy amongst the general public.
  • Putting the Pacific online: Support for increased communications technology use by governments to deliver services directly to citizens and business.
  • Support for applications such as online health, education, trade facilitation services
  • Investments in information communications technology skills – including government-industry partnerships – to build employment opportunities that are now possible with the increased availability of affordable broadband internet.

Follow this link to download the Economic and Social Impact of ICT in the Pacific report

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Transformative Power of Social Media in Agriculture: Inspiring Stories

The advent of social media has revolutionised the way people communicate worldwide. But in a growing number of developing countries, these tools are being put to increasingly good effect to drive agricultural and rural development, often with dramatic results. A new publication from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) documents the transformative power of these innovative technologies. Based on 18 case studies drawn from across African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries , Embracing Web 2.0 and Social Media: A life-changing pathway for agricultural development actors provides testimonies on how Web 2.0 and social media are contributing to better engagement of stakeholders in policy dialogue and advocacy, marketing and the provision of information services.

This booklet documents a wide range of practical applications for Web 2.0 and social media in ACP settings. Some farmers have found that Facebook can be an excellent marketing channel to promote their products. Extension agents are discovering that social media is a highly effective way of communicating with the people they serve. Agricultural organisations are using a range of social media tools to mount advocacy campaigns aimed at influencing policy-makers. Researchers are using online collaboration tools to work on joint publications, while more and more young people are using new ICT skills to blog about important rural development issues. Others are seizing opportunities to develop innovative online services and launch their own companies as agripreneurs.

“Social media has become part of everyday life for most people in the developed world. But it has created a life-changing experience for many people in rural areas who have come to use it,” said CTA Director Michael Hailu.

All the stories featured in the booklet revolve around people who have benefited from a CTA-led campaign to make Web 2.0 and social media tools more accessible to agriculture and rural development actors in ACP countries.

The figures speak volumes: more than 4,000 individuals trained, 176 face-to-face training events – known as Web 2.0 and social media learning opportunities (LOs) – held in 44 ACP countries. In 2013, the Web 2.0 and social media LOs carried off the prestigious World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Project Prize in the e-Agriculture category.

Impact assessment studies conducted by CTA have revealed that its Web 2.0 and social media capacity-building activities have led to greater inclusion and empowerment for participants, often with far-reaching repercussions for themselves and the people with whom they interact. Adoption rates are high, with young women emerging as the most likely players to adopt social media, following a training course.

In Uganda, local NGOs are using ICTs to support producers, processors and other actors in agricultural value chains. Agronomists from Madagascar are using Web 2.0 and social media to develop knowledge about apiculture. In Central Africa, a farmers’ network institutionalised social media and improved its operational effectiveness. In Samoa, a Facebook and Twitter marketing campaign is producing impressive results for women weavers of ceremonial mats. And in the Caribbean, bloggers and social media reporters are helping other young people to plan a future in farming.

“Many people have told us that the training sessions have not only changed their working behaviour, but their whole lives,” said Giacomo Rambaldi, Senior Programme Coordinator at CTA.

The official launch of the CTA publication will be held on 26 November 2015 during the International Day of Vrije University (VU) in Amsterdam.

The booklet is available for order in print form or for free download from the CTA publications catalogue

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Building Capacity in using social media for agricultural development in Cook Islands

Rarotonga, Cook Islands, 14 April, 2015 – From 13 to 17 April 2015 the Cook Islands Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is hosting a Web 2.0 and social media learning opportunity workshop and training. The event held at the MoA’s headquarters in Arorangi, is jointly supported by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), and the European-Union-funded Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP) (part of the Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Project). The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is the implementing agency for the European Union funded PAPP project.

Participants in the course posing together
with the Minister of Agriculture, Kiriau Turepu
Participants were drawn from government agencies, including ministries of the environment, agriculture, education and internal affairs, the police and the Seabed Minerals Authority, from the private sector and from civil-society and non-governmental organisations, including the Red Cross, the National Youth Council, national women’s group, and two youth organisations Rotaract, and organics. All were keen to learn how to make best use of online social media tools to generate and share information to achieve both personal development and organisational goals.

The Hon Minister of Agriculture, Kiriau Turepu, delivered the keynote address to more than 25 local participants. He acknowledged the partnership of CTA, SPC and the European Union for offering the opportunity to the Cook Islands to build capacity in information and communication technologies and social media.

“I am particularly pleased for the Ministry of Agriculture to take the lead in promoting social media to generate, manage and disseminate information in this ever-more-connected world we live in. The internet offers tools we can harness for the development of our people. The outer islands may have produce to sell and using the internet they can connect to consumers and markets in Rarotonga. We will be able to share and show new innovative ideas such as growing dragon fruits for example – I can show a friend in Penrhyn steps on growing these fruits using social media.

“As the first of this kind of workshop to be held here in the Cook Islands, we are expecting this group of participants to learn, and make use of the knowledge so that our people are better informed, more articulated in the affairs of development as far as agriculture is concerned.

“Today the speed with which information travels in our work places and the changing technologies that we have at our disposal is extraordinary and important to all of us. Whether it is Facebook, blogging, Twitter, photos you share, these are all extensions of individuals and their personalities. They help portray interests, views and help show people who they are. They offer a platform for you and I to be ourselves, to be creative, to be who we want to be and most importantly, have an audience for all to debate critical innovative ideas that are good and can grow for the future.”

Mr Emil Adams, PPPP Information Communication Management Officer, thanked Permanent Secretary, Dr Matairangi Purea, and MoA Director of Policy, Planning, Mr Patrick Arioka, for the planning and coordination that went into organising the workshop. The good turnout of local participants is testimony of the planning, interest and enthusiasm of stakeholders to release their officers to attend the Web2.0 and social media training.

“Social media tools allow continuous dialogue between groups of individuals to take place on the internet. This online dialogue contributes to a knowledge society where individuals continuously pull information as well contribute content, further enriching knowledge and available to other users. People are empowered when they freely express their opinions on social media, and attain a level of gratification when they get information they want when they want it,” said Mr Adams.

“Accessing the internet allows a farmer in a remote village to directly interact and feedback on government policies affecting rural livelihoods, tweet a photo of a pest outbreak back to researchers for identification and management, or post on Facebook photos of a rural development training.”
Workshop facilitator, Ms Anju Mangal, offered words of warning about the potential of social media, noting that, while it can open up a whole new horizon of possibilities that can improve lives, it can also destroy lives and upset social norms if used wrongly by unscrupulous individuals.

Ms Mangal said that online cyber security is of major concern to individuals and to organisations that want to protect their integrity. Social media policies supported by national infrastructure need to be robust to guide the use of these tools to achieve national goals. Above all, measures are needed to prevent compromising the integrity of government machinery.

In the Cook Islands broadband connection is available to more than 95% of the population, with mobile coverage reaching more than 99% of the population. On Rarotonga only, third-generation (3G) services are available to 11,000 plus mobile connections.

Agriculture currently contributes only 3.8% to GDP, but Mr Arioka expressed his confidence that this can be increased through the use of online tools supported by an enabling policy environment. The Ministry is currently developing a new Strategic Plan to help agriculture services support income streams, food consumption and self sufficiency. Healthy soils, healthy food will underpin the strength of the new Strategic Plan.

CTA, in partnership with SPC, has embarked on a series of regional Web2.0 and social media learning opportunity workshops to strengthen national capacity in the use of social media for agricultural development and climate-change adaptation. National workshops have been completed in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu. A second national workshop for the Cook Islands is planned for September 2015.

Here is a link to follow for more information on forthcoming training events.

Follow Web2forDev on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo and join the community on DGroups and LinkedIn

Friday, November 8, 2013

Year 2025 of the @gricultural Revolution

Albert Einstein is quoted having said: “I never think of the future - it comes soon enough.” How true he was!

There is no doubt that the transformative power of ICTs makes us live in exponential times !

Let’s give it a try, and jump to year 2025 of the @gricultural revolution.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Adapting to risk: Communities use GIS and GPS to assess climate risks in the Cook Islands

A local NGO tested an innovative participatory mapping approach to help communities in the Cook Islands assess climate risks. The resulting maps highlighted vulnerable areas, allowing the communities to develop strategies to adapt to climate change.

Extreme weather events, such as tropical cyclones, long periods of drought, sea level rise and higher temperatures, lead to loss of soil fertility and land degradation, reducing food security in farming communities. The Cook Islands, like many small islands, are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. They comprise small land masses surrounded by ocean, and are located in a region prone to natural disasters.

With limited long-term meteorological data available, it is difficult to make accurate predictions on how climate change will affect the Cook Islands. However, there is consensus that the region is likely to experience more frequent extreme weather events, including floods, droughts, periods of extreme heat, an increase in cyclone intensity, increased climate variability and rise in sea levels.
Observations by Pacific Island communities indicate that predicted climate change effects are being experienced, and are causing considerable social, economic and environmental pressures. The ability of the communities to adapt to a changing climate is generally low, due to lack of information and awareness of the potential effects of changing weather patterns. Traditional natural resource management practices, however, still practiced in some parts of the Cook Islands, provide important tools for resilience in the face of environmental change.

In response to growing concerns about the possible effects of changing weather patterns, a local NGO, Te Rito Enua (TRE), tested the use of participatory GIS to assess climate vulnerability and adaptation planning in the Cook Islands. Together with the country’s government and with the support of the Asian Development Bank, TRE worked with four communities on the islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
Both islands face similar problems of water shortages, deforestation and soil erosion as a result of climate change. Their terrain, however, is quite different. Rarotonga, the most populous island in the country, is mountainous, steep and heavily forested. Aitutaki is mainly atoll and lagoon, and so is flatter with some steeper land on the remains of the submerged volcano around which the atoll formed.

The project began in 2010, and lasted 10 months. In that time, TER worked with the communities to develop the practical tools and skills necessary to produce their own specific climate risk analysis. The organisation gave training courses in participatory mapping, with components in vulnerability and risk assessment, climate models, GPS and GIS, and map interpretation.

Participants, mostly volunteers, came from a cross-section of the community demography, ranging from school-aged youth to elders, including community leaders, resource users and professional resource managers. As a result of the training, all participants had a basic knowledge of the methods to be employed in the project, which they used to collect data from the field, and record assets that could be included later on maps.

This data, which participants within their own frame of reference, helped them identify issues that could affect the vulnerability of individual households and their wider community. They looked at facilities such as energy provision, water supply, sanitation services, port facilities and even civil defence. Important risks associated with climate change were identified through the assessment and mapping processes that were neither considered nor evident during national-level vulnerability assessments. One example is the waste management facilities situated near the pilot communities. Runoff from these landfill sites at times of heavy rain can adversely affect the adjoining aquatic ecosystems. The communities rely heavily on these vulnerable coastal resources for their livelihoods, and so future waste management solutions need to include these considerations at the early planning stages.

Additionally, the mapping information showed that disaster response shelters are often placed in areas vulnerable to sea-level rise and storm surge inundation. Also, some households could experience a shortage of water as the climate changes, which will mean enhanced water conservation measures, such as developing programmes for better rainwater harvesting. Rarotonga in particular is dependent upon surface water supplies for domestic consumption and has suffered periodic water shortages in recent years as sources have dried up. Another significant factor revealed by the project was the extent of invasive plant species in the environment. Observers had noticed that the watersheds of both Rarotonga and Aitutaki were infested with Cardiospermum grandiflorum (balloon vine), Merremia peltata (kurima), and Mikania micrantha (mile-a-minute weed). Rising levels of carbon dioxide create conditions that promote the growth of such invasive plants, and because their spread is facilitated by cyclones, it appears likely that they will continue to thrive as the climate changes, with – as yet – unknown implications for biodiversity and for water security. Available evidence shows that the species are having a devastating impact on the native vegetation and natural watershed systems. The implications for water supply in this already water-stressed country are not clear, but are a cause for concern.

Practical solutions
After the data collection phase, the project team integrated the information into existing government GIS files to highlight areas where a changing climate could potentially affect the environment. The resulting map layers were combined with information from a climate model commonly used for planning in the region. The new data were shared with the government to be integrated into their GIS database and made accessible to the National Environment Service, and relevant ministries. Each community received a paper map, known as a ‘vulnerability atlas’, showing the information specific to their area. The project team also facilitated meetings to discuss the implications of the mapping and the surveying process, and to gauge community perceptions of climate change. These discussions identified the main risks and developed plans for priority actions. Each community set up a Climate Change and Disaster Committee to ensure the plans would be followed. In some instances, the communities identified traditional practices, including organic farming and resource management methods, as having considerable value as adaptation measures to reduce the greatest climate change risks. One example was the traditional ra'ui system of resource allocation, which two communities identified as a way to improve the resilience of vulnerable water resources. Communities in Aitutaki also suggested promoting traditional building practices and styles, which could help mitigate the effects of the anticipated increase in extreme heat events.
Some community participants were initially sceptical about the project, because they felt that the government had already mapped everything that was important. However, once they were able to re-envision maps, and given access to mapping tools, the communities became enthusiastic. As one of the senior participants of the Aitutaki planning process observed, ‘I've lived on the island most of my life, and have today seen things I’ve never noticed before.’

Being able to participate in the production of maps that were explicitly for and about them gradually led to discussions on their social and physical environment that went well beyond the more obvious dimensions of climate change and climate adaptation. The discussions touched on deeper social issues such as cultural erosion, loss of language, unsustainable resource use, invasive species and out-migration.
Planning for climate adaptation became a way of framing the broader suite of development issues. Because of this, the communities were able to take ownership of mapping their environment and the assets within it that are important to their identity and survival.

The project showed that a community-based participatory approach is a valuable tool for bringing the reality of climate change to bear at the local and household level. A process of discussing, debating, and problem solving produces more resilient communities that are more able to organise themselves and prepare for a changing climate.

Not only does participatory mapping provide communities with tangible evidence of the risks associated with climate change, but the community mapping process also highlights behavioural and development issues that affect the vulnerability of individual households and the community at large. There was a discernable sense of empowerment by participating communities in developing vulnerability maps and having them available. Without exception, all the pilot communities requested printed copies of the vulnerability atlases for display in public places to engender support for change and implementation of their proposed action plans.

Measures to build upon this project would include using the existing capacity as an emerging centre of excellence. The centre’s prime role would be to educate trainers to improve the ability of community mapping practitioners to convey techniques and best practices to other communities.

To overcome the bottleneck in trained personnel, and the high costs of using commercial products, the training of young and motivated community members in open source GIS products, such as Q-GIS, will make the adoption of this technology for community mapping possible. A regional facility to build capacity for community mapping and access to remote sensing analysis will go far towards helping Pacific island communities to adapt to climate change.

The project found that the participatory processes generated local knowledge unavailable to high-level planners. The process also generated a strong sense of ownership of the outcomes by communities, and increased the knowledge and awareness of participants about climate change risks and the implications for their families and communities. Finally, it increased the skills needed to develop more communities that are more resilient.

This approach allows adaptation strategies to be developed from the bottom-up – from the family through to the community, island and eventually the national level – at the same time as the national strategy is developed from the top down.

It should be noted, of course, that a community-based approach is no substitute for a technically rigorous national approach to climate change. Some important technical issues lie outside the competency of communities, and the scale can be too great; a patchwork of community approaches could potentially result in the geographic division of responsibilities that require a more unified approach. For example, ecosystem-based approaches require interventions at ecosystem scales.

However, it is also clear that the communities are not fully engaged on the realities of climate change. This is clearly an issue of environmental awareness and ownership. Climate change issues have so far been the 'government's role' in the eyes of many communities, largely due to government officials being the ones engaged in the climate debate and conducting climate change vulnerability and adaptation activities.
Linking the national efforts to local communities, therefore, is best demonstrated through the community-based approach of site-specific adaptation planning. Adaptation thus becomes everyone’s business.


John Waugh
Mona Matepi
George de Romilly

Reposted with permission from ICT Update