For centuries, Kashaasha, a village in Bufundi, Rubanda district in Western Uganda, has lived on substance farming.
As smallholder farmers, the people of Kashaasha like millions of other smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa, are vulnerable and have lived and remain in poverty. They lack security of tenure and rights to resources, and rely unswervingly on climate-sensitive natural resources for their livelihoods. The conditions that have trapped them in abject poverty.
"We have 11 children, we depend on the two small pieces of land which no longer yield enough food for our children, water is also a problem because we use a shallow well which we share with community animals, this dirty water makes us remain sickly throughout the year," says Deogratious Nsabimana, one of the residents.
Fortunately, Jaconious Musingwire, the area focal person for National Environment Authority (NEMA) Western Uganda says this situation can be reversed especially by managing climate risks through adopting climate smart agricultural practices like organic manure use, rain water harvesting, use of improved seeds and use of terraces to manage soil erosion.
In the fight against rural poverty through climate change mitigation and adaptation, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is working with Uganda’s Ministry of Local Government on the Project for Restoration of Livelihoods in the Northern Region (PRELNOR) with the aim of increasing sustainable production, productivity and climate resilience of smallholder farmers and providing increased and profitable access to domestic and export markets.
Steve Twomlow, IFAD’s regional climate and environment specialist for East and Southern Africa says that PRELNOR reaches out to and benefits 140,000 rural households, including young people and is being implemented in the seven districts of the Acholi sub-region together with adjoining Adjumani District.
To ensure that farmers engage in better organized marketing and benefit from higher prices and reduced post-harvest losses, the project will scale up the innovative market access projects supported by IFAD in Niger and the farmers' organizations market approach in Tanzania. He adds.
In similar efforts which need to be replicated throughout Uganda and the entire continent if rural poverty is to become history, Amath Pathe Sene, IFAD’s regional climate and environment specialist for West and Central Africa says that in Niger through the development programme in the Maradi, Tahoua and Zinder regions ‘we have sustainably managed and rehabilitated 5,498 Ha of degraded pastoral land through the use of the half-moon technique’.
The half-moon is a technique of digging a half-moon like shape in the ground so that it traps water that is used to nourish crops.
To dig a half-moon structure you follow the following steps:
- Find the direction water will flow when it rains.
- Draw a four-meter line. Create a curved line connecting the two ends of the line. The curved side must be downhill from the straight side.
- Dig 15 to 30 centimeters deep in the soil inside the half moon.
- Pile the soil on the edge of the arc to a height of 5 to 10 cm. For extra support, put rocks on the curved edge.
- Put a pile of organic manure inside the half moon.
- Mix the manure into the soil.
- Plant seeds in the half moon after it rains.
In most of the countries in West Africa, the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) - funded projects have contributed to increased gender-sensitive climate-resilient agricultural practices and technologies.
Using the gender-sensitive climate-resilient practices Amath Pathe Sene says that in Niger, for example, the project has produced an equitable, women and gender empowerment strategy while in the Gambia, the project has had a strong focus on gender with the National Women Farmer's Association (NaWFa).
Mali has supported the development of 20 market gardens which benefited 1,600 women and 38 markets are being established
The biodigestor programme (nicknamed PAPAM Mali) has invested in the construction and the distribution of 62 beehives, building of 488 biodigestors (215 fixed; 48 flexible) for 7,890 people (51% women and 80 % youth).
This biodigestor programme has reduced cooking time by 50% and improved (safer & healthier) cooking conditions; used the digestat as a fertilizer (replacing chemical fertilizer & increasing productivity) and reduced the dependence and pressure on forest resources.
Uganda has been labeled by the International Climate Risk Report as one of the most unprepared and most vulnerable countries in the world, although it has put in place a Climate Smart Agriculture programme 2015 – 2025, more action than rhetoric is needed to implement it so as to eradicate rural poverty.