Fund promotes African adaptation to climate change

African farmers need to share information to adapt to climate change Copyright: Flickr/jon gos

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[NAIROBI] Africa’s most marginalised communities will be able to share their experiences of adapting to climate change thanks to a new fund that seeks to promote knowledge sharing across the continent.

AfricaAdapt, a network set up in May to aid the flow of information between stakeholders, launched a Knowledge Sharing Innovation Fund last month (16 June), offering grants of up to US$10,000 to projects testing new ways of sharing knowledge, such as theatre performances and radio broadcasts.

The network, funded by the UK Department for International Development and Canada’s International Development Research Centre, is a collaboration between the UK-based Institute of Development Studies and three African research organisations: Environment and Development in the Third World, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), and the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre.

"Our expectation for AfricaAdapt is that communities in Africa who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change will be able to draw on information shared within the network — both scientific research and indigenous knowledge — and use it to cope with or become more resilient to climate-change impacts," says Jacqueline Nnam, knowledge-sharing officer at FARA.

Blane Harvey, AfricaAdapt’s UK-based knowledge-sharing officer, told SciDev.Net that although AfricaAdapt has an active French and English web portal containing a wealth of information on adaptation projects, Africa’s most isolated communities find the portal difficult to access, either because they don’t have the Internet or they speak different languages.

The online portal is not intended to be a centre point for local communities to access information, he says, but rather an archive that can be accessed by the research community and policymakers.

In contrast, the Knowledge Sharing Innovation Fund will be used to develop non-web-based resources for local communities, although the information will also be accessible via the portal.

Abebe Tadege from ICPAC says he thinks that AfricaAdapt is the first pan-African network with the potential to overcome linguistic and geographical divides. "We will work with community-based radio [stations] and seek opportunities to collaborate with journalists across the region," he said.

The first round of submissions to the fund can be made until 1 August.

Musonda Mumba, project officer for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Climate Change Adaptation Unit in Africa, welcomes AfricaAdapt and commends its local focus.

But she notes that there is still no "one-stop shop" for climate adaptation information and information is spread among several networks. To avoid duplication, she would like to see a portal that points stakeholders to what information is available and helps to disseminate it.

Mumba hopes that UNEP’s Global Climate Change Adaptation Network, which will be formally launched in Copenhagen in December, will fill that gap.