Adoption and adaption of new agricultural innovations is key to improve the productivity and sustainability of farming, in addition to supporting farmers in adapting to the many challenges associated with climate change. In Tanzania, model village approaches are currently being applied to roll out climate-smart agriculture (CSA), an approach that unites the agendas of climate change, development and agriculture.

Programmes that follow a village model approach, place emphasis for CSA to be implemented at the local-level. The obligation to operationalise CSA innovation is therefore placed on rural households and resource managers, who are often ill-equipped and poorly resourced. There are concerns that the socially disaggregated outcomes of such programmes remain unclear, particularly as project reporting often focuses on quantifiable indicators, such as ‘uptake of new technologies’, rather than a clear understanding of the broader implications for livelihoods and wellbeing. This means that there is an insufficient understanding of how livelihoods are impacted, who is rendered vulnerable and how, and whether positive outcomes of programmes are indeed sustainable. Thus, there are concerns on CSA’s continued viability and that its implementation may instead risk exacerbating inequalities amongst rural communities.

As part of AFRICAP research, we are critically examine the trajectories of CSA innovation and associated livelihood outcomes of farmers in the Usambara Mountains, a biodiversity hotspot in Tanzania and the eastern most ranges of the Eastern Arc Mountains. The two CSA programmes are:

  • The European Union’s Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA+) funded ‘Integrated Approaches for Climate Change Adaptation in the East Usambara Mountains’, 2015-2019 programme led by ONGAWA and Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) in partnership with Muheza District Council. This programme has been implemented in eight villages in the East Usambara Mountains, Muheza District, Tanga.
  • The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) implementation of Climate-Smart Villages (CSVs). This programme has been implemented in seven villages in the West Usambara Mountains, Lushoto District, Tanga.

Locations of villages participating in the EU-GCCA+ and CGIAR-CCAFS programmes

In the East Usambaras, the EU-funded GCCA+  programme aims to strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change, alongside increasing and diversifying rural incomes. The programme adopts an integrated approach with a range of activities, that include improving access to services (water, sanitation and energy), community-based natural resource management, CSA, development of market-driven forest-based business initiatives (including the establishment of village savings and loans groups), increasing capacities of schools, increasing capacities at District, Ward and Village level and improving village-level governance. Example CSA activities include educating farmers on soil and water management practices, improved seed varieties (for maize, beans and spice crops), improved agronomic practices (e.g. crop spacing and planting dates) and agroforestry. Associated Leeds PhD student Marta Gaworek-Michalczenia is also working with the EU-GCCA+ initiative alongside AFRICAP, examining how the multidimensional and integrated nature of the programme impacts the adaptive capacity and wellbeing of participating communities.

The CGIAR led CCAFS programme places significant emphasis on designing context-relevant interventions. In the West Usambaras, the programme activities primarily focus on ‘weather-smart’ activities (e.g. forecasts and climate information), providing inputs of improved seed varieties (notably for maize, potatoes and beans); carbon/nutrient practices (including agroforestry, soil and water management practices), promoting ‘improved’ agronomic practices (e.g. chemical inputs, crop spacing, planting dates) and institutional and market activities (e.g. providing access to market information, gender equitable approaches and off-farm risk management in the form of village savings and loans groups).

Research Assistants Abduel Kajiru and Elineema Baraka piloting the data collection in Muheza

In June-July 2019, I embarked on 6 weeks of fieldwork. With two research assistants, Mr Abduel Kajiru and Mr Elineema Baraka, I split my time between Muheza and Lushoto Districts. Fieldwork in Lushoto was supported by Dr John Recha, an AFRICAP collaborator from the CGIAR-CCAFS Program and Mr George Sayulla, an Agricultural Officer with the Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI). In Muheza, fieldwork was supported by Mr Sylvester Mziray, an Agricultural and Environmental Officer with Muheza District Council. We met with District Authorities and Village Leaders across the study sites, to introduce and update relevant stakeholders on research plans and wider AFRICAP activities. We also spent time piloting and polishing the research methods, alongside conducting rigorous training for data collection. Data collection is now ongoing, and is expected to be completed by September 2019.

From left to right: Dr John Recha, Elineema Baraka, Sylvester Mzyray, Abduel Kajiru, Dr Harriet Smith and George Sayulla at Lushoto District Council.

Having set the pace for the Tanzanian fieldwork season, I have been swiftly followed by Research Fellows Drs Hemant Tripathi, Samuel Eze and Joseph Galani. Hemant and Samuel are currently scoping and training for research into the agro-ecological impacts of climate-smart agriculture. In collaboration with ESRF, Joseph has started the training and data collection for the AFRICAP household vulnerability survey.

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