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Strengthening evidence-based climate change adaptation policies

27 July 2012, AfriCAN Climate

The objective of the SECCAP project is to enhance the capacity of policy analysts and scientists in the fields of agriculture, climate and socio-economics to collectively build a strong base of evidence on cropping systems to inform adaptation policies and investment decisions.

In Southern and Eastern Africa, 70% of rural residents rely on rain-fed agriculture for survival. Climate change is expected to result in increased extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, multiplying threats to food security and livelihoods. Crop yields in Southern Africa are already low, especially for staples - 35% less than global averages. To adequately respond, evidence-based policies and programs, rooted in local realities and priorities are needed. The SECCAP project addresses a host of knowledge gaps associated with these issues, including the following.

  1. Food security gaps: By providing a comparative analysis of adaptation strategies, SECCAP specifically prioritizes crop production, anchoring the project on agriculture and food security.
  2. Climate modeling gaps: GCMs are the most advanced tools available for simulating the response of global climate systems to greenhouse gas concentrations. However, the information presented is averaged for areas 100 km and greater. Downscaling is a method by which local (10 to 100 km) climate information can be obtained.
  3. Crop-production modeling gaps: There is a lack of local crop projections, and missing information on the resulting impact for social and economic sectors. Available data is not harmonized, and cannot readily inform decision makers.
  4. Gaps in relevant cost-benefit analysis: There has been a lack of cost-benefit analysis applied to local adaptation strategies: NAPAs for Lesotho and Malawi propose a number of agricultural adaptations; however, no analysis was conducted to determine the feasibility or justify the options.
  5. Livelihood strategy understanding: Adaptation initiatives remain top-down and technology driven; they are not informed by local realities. This approach is inappropriate for the complex, diversified smallholder and pastoral systems of Africa.
  6. Gaps in options for policy response: SECCAP builds policy dialogue platforms that provide for open and transparent, two-way exchanges to capture the voices of all stakeholders.
  7. Gaps in NAPA development: A consistent weakness of NAPAs is that they have not been informed by local evidence, especially the vulnerabilities faced by rural households.
  8. Alignment with CAADP: The COMESA CAADP Compact calls for the adoption of a holistic approach for enhanced food system productivity, and prioritizes locally relevant crops. SECCAP addresses this need.

The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) has developed SECCAP, a research oriented and knowledge sharing initiative. The SECCAP framework aims to integrate the following:

  1. Downscaled climate models – high-resolution climate-projections derived from General Circulation Models (GCMs);
  2. Crop production simulations (using DSSAT) – especially for priority staple crops;
  3. Cost-benefit tool (IMPACT) – to rank projects and choose the best option;
  4. Livelihood vulnerability analysis – based on the Household Vulnerability Index (HVI), a tool for assessing the five livelihood assets: human, financial, natural, physical, and social.

Information generated from this integrated effort will yield evidence-based options for climate change adaptation policy and practices in agriculture. This is being accomplished in three focal districts: Malawi, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Data from the modeling and assessment tools yields various adaptation options firmly rooted in local contexts. Policy briefs generated from the findings, are shared with policy makers through different platforms including local, national and regional policy dialogues, meetings of parliamentary committees on agriculture, the FANRPAN annual policy dialogue, and more. This is expected to stimulate interest, and generate demand for policy-relevant research that addresses the challenges faced by vulnerable communities. The specific project outputs are:

  1. Strengthened local scientific, expertise and contextual knowledge;
  2. Strengthened partnership and networking on adaptation research among different institutions, including local and international universities and research centres;
  3. Methodology for assessing adaptation investment options using integrated models;
  4. Cropping adaptation options ranked on the basis of feasibility;
  5. Evidence-based African positions on adaptation are visible and amplified;
  6. Household vulnerability assessments for cropping adaptation;
  7. Strengthened multi-stakeholder/trans-disciplinary national and regional policy dialogue platforms; and
  8. NAPAS developed/revised on the basis of evidence produced.

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