Equipping Glengoffe to tackle climate change

glenstoryWhen you think of a successful community project, what are the key elements that come to mind?

To answer the question we thought it would be relevant to highlight a project that in our minds is a success. This is the Community-Based Adaptation (CBA) project “Glengoffe climate change adaptation” in the community of Glengoffe, Jamaica. Glengoffe consists of fourteen small communities with an approximate population of 5000.

 

It is becoming increasingly evident that small communities are most likely to be severely affected by the impacts of climate change. Yet, most often, they are the least equipped to cope and adapt. That’s why CBA projects work to strengthen the resiliency of communities addressing the impacts of climate change.

 

The CBA initiative is a five-year United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) global initiative funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) within the Small Grants Programme (SGP). It works in over 10 countries. Within CBA projects, UNDP partners with the United Nations Volunteers programme and GEF-SGP to mobilize communities, recognize the efforts of local volunteers and ensure everyone in the community gets to participate in the projects. In addition, CBA projects help build the capacity of partner non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations.

 

Before we discuss why we think the Glengoffe CBA project is a great example of a successful project, let’s get an idea of what the area is like. Jamaica, with its jaw dropping beauty, is threatened by a reduction in rainfall and increased annual temperatures. While rainfall becomes less frequent, there are more intense downpours, resulting in high frequency and magnitude of droughts and floods. Predictions also suggest an increase in the number of hot days and a decrease in the number of cool nights resulting in heat stress on crops, an increased need for irrigation, and increased outbreaks of diseases and pests. In addition, changing wind patterns and storm activity lead to topsoil being washed away and farmland being degraded. Under these circumstances, there are more frequent landslides which devastate rural infrastructure, ruin farmland and threaten people’s property and lives.

 

So what makes this project in Jamaica a success story?

 

Clear goals – This CBA project aimed to reduce the risks of landslides and flooding from heavy precipitation, as well as the adverse effects of extreme drought in Glengoffe’s areas. It was developed through a participatory process involving the different stakeholders of the community. The project bolstered the adaptive capacity of the Glengoffe communities and its ecosystems through three primary activities: 1) contouring of farming and terracing 2) reforestation, and 3) drought mitigation.

 

Funding – Obviously this element is absolutely essential to the running of any project. For this project, the CBA initiative contributed a significant portion as well as the other partners involved. The local community contributed USD $15,000 in kind. Essential to all CBA projects is contribution and participation of the community.

 

Committed people – In this case, a committed group of volunteers who provided training and other capacity building activities that empowered the community. In fact, before the CBA project, there were no volunteers engaged in climate adaptation activities. But the key is not to do the work and once done leave everything hanging. The success of the CBA project encourages farmers to continue with the activities, which increases environmental benefits and improves their livelihoods. Mr. Roosevelt Lawrence, a 70 year farmer is a great example of this. His concrete contribution to adaptation involved planting barriers to protect soil from erosion, reforestation efforts using fruit, spice, and forest trees, installation of a drip irrigation system for periods of drought and with assistance from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), employing dry farming techniques.

 

Strong partnerships – The project partnered with the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica and two state agencies, RADA and the Forestry Department within the Ministry of Agriculture provided expertise and co-financing. Other partners include the Development Commission, University of the West Indies Biotech Centre, the Social Development Commission, a Member of Parliament and the local communities themselves through the Glengoffe Community Development Committee (CDC). By partnering with the community and local and state authorities, results are sustainable.

 

Results the community can see – By managing the land and strategically reforesting certain sections with trees, the project helped farmers increase their yields while providing them with alternative source of income. For example the use of pineapple barriers, fruit trees in reforestation and the use of cabbage, potato, cucumber, pak choi as cover crop. These measures to date have generated income for the community to the value of approximately 750,000 JMD.

 They have improved their food security by 20-30% by being able to provide certain foods for themselves without having to buy from outside farmers e.g. sorrel and peas. They are able to supply up 75% of the demand for cabbage and by this year they will be able to meet 90% of the demand for pineapple and up to 80% of the demand for banana and plantain. As Ms. Angella Worges, member of the Glengoffe CDC put it, “there is no need to go to the shop as everything is now on the farm, I only go to buy rice”. She went on to say that there is now a “reduction in poverty in some households”, as a testimony to the benefit of the project on the community.

 

Community involvement – Most importantly, the community is more environmentally aware as the group has sensitized its members to the dangers and effects on the environment of slash and burn and bamboo burning. The farmers involved in the project (some 14 farmers) have significantly reduced the use of fertilizers on their farms as they use manure and they report that they “feel more confident in the quality of the food being produced” instead of the food produced using fertilizer.

 

Through the CBA project, volunteers have planted over 7,000 fruit and forest trees to assist with reforestation activities, livelihood and to reduce soil erosion. Training has been done with over 130 persons in leadership, record keeping, compost heaping, proper farming practices, terracing etc. Over 1800m of log barrier has been erected to reduce soil erosion.

 

Women play an integral role in project design and implementation. “The men usually thought we were good only for cooking in the kitchen, but now we are out there (in the field) with them with our hoe, showing them that we can do the work just like they can,” concluded Ms. Worges.

 

Beyond economic results, some valuable lessons were learned during the project. For example, farmers are more willing to adopt new practices when the benefits of the new techniques are proven to be effective. These and other lessons learned will be replicated in other CBA projects.

 

I think we can all agree that this CBA project has all the elements of a great project. Clear goals, initial funding that then becomes co-financing and self-generated community funding, the awesome work of committed volunteers and strategic partnerships and, most importantly, community involvement. All of which have led to some measurable results and valuable lessons learned.

 

Congratulations to the CBA Glengoffe project for being one of the winners the UNV ‘What You Know Inspires Contest’! They are heading to Rio+20 to showcase their best practices. 

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