ITL Climate Monitoring Action Project, Nicaragua
The ITL CLIMA (Climate Monitoring Action) project focuses on equipping families in Nicaragua to address the increasing degradation of their agricultural livelihoods, which risk being wiped out by increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. It focuses on training families to gather locally sourced climate information, sharing and interpreting that information and utilising it to develop targeted agricultural adaptation strategies.
This month represents one year since the project inception. The last year has certainly had its challenges, not least the impact of two of the biggest hurricanes Nicaragua had experienced in a decade within a week of each other towards the end of 2020, coupled with the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these challenges, demonstrating their persistence and commitment, the local partners and communities are determined to continue delivery. Below we share some updates on activities, overall progress and the stories of some of those who have been involved in the project.
We have established further local climate stations including this one located in La Perla, which is currently recording data on precipitation, temperature, relative humidity and dewpoint. The information gathered from these stations is critical to ensuring that climate information is specific to individual community needs.
Workshops were held in four communities during the reporting period to strengthen the network of climate observers (ROCC). These workshops addressed basic concepts around climate, linking climate with crop production and current, historic and future weather conditions. 121 people were trained in total, of which 58% were men and 42% were women. By championing women as climate observers, the project ensures voices that are often lost in the climate change debate are brought to the forefront, and provides a chance for women to take leadership positions in the community and to act as role models.
Focus group discussions were conducted with producers in local communities to gather input and ideas into a shared vision of what a resilient family should look like. The Climate Resilient Family Model (CRFM) is a novel approach adopted through this project which engages the entire family in climate awareness, mitigation and adaptation. This a departure from current approaches which tend to focus exclusively on the individual producer. This could include helping families make a whole host of decisions such as whether to plant rice or not, whether to use fertiliser on crops, or even whether to send their children to school or not, depending on how the water level rises in local rivers.
Having reached the 1-year milestone, a mid-point review was held with input from project communities, partners and the Christian Aid Nicaragua team, to understand impacts so far and how the project can be adapted as it moves into year 2 to deliver greater change.
When discussing the main effects of the project to date, communities spoke of enhanced knowledge and how this had enabled them to understand when to sow and harvest crops. Indeed whilst a number of families were badly affected by the impact of the hurricanes, nonetheless some producers expressed that already through implementation of the techniques they had learnt they had managed to avoid crop losses particular in regard to staple grains and vegetables. They also spoke about their enhanced knowledge in tracking rainfall patterns and how they feel more empowered to interpret the data.
Areas for improvement included enhancing the process for sharing information, the need for additional technical support and the need to engage young people more effectively in climate monitoring process to full realise the promise of Climate Resilient Family model. These will be priority focuses for the year ahead.
CLIMA Case Study
María Yamilet Méndez Méndez and her niece Nahomi live in the community of La Perla, municipality of Jinotega. María is 40 years old and has been a farmer for 8 years. She reflected about how useful she has found the climate information she receives.
“For me, climatic information is very important to making good decisions managing the coffee plantation. For example, with the storm that was just here, I’d been thinking of fumigating the coffee, but didn't do it, because when one sprays the leaves and it rains, the product is washed away and the expense is wasted. It’s also very useful because this way we realize at what moment a storm is forming, where it's going to pass and where it's raining the hardest. It is also useful for protection, if you plan to go out to places where you have to cross a river you don't do it anymore; you postpone this trip."