October 27, 2015 —DURHAM, NC — UCH’s Climate Change Adaptation and ICT (CHAI) project has won the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2015 Momentum for Change’s Lighthouse Activities Award, which recognizes innovative and transformative solutions addressing climate change and wider economic, social and environmental challenges. The award will be conferred during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, November 30–December 10.
The CHAI project used information and communication technology (ICT) tools to provide climate adaptation information to more than 100,000 farmers in local languages in three intervention districts in Uganda, for the purpose of increasing the agricultural productivity of communities vulnerable to climate change. The project provided seasonal weather forecasts and agricultural information localized to the sub-county level; weekly livestock and crop market information to help farmers decide what, when, where and how much to sell; guidance on low-cost rainwater harvesting techniques; information on mechanisms to cope with droughts and floods; and termite-control measures.
The project, which engaged local and national stakeholders, delivered information through such communication channels as interactive FM radio (broadcasts that allow farmers to ask questions or make comments through voice mail and text messaging, with responses later aired live during radio talk shows), text messaging, email and community loudspeakers. Meetings with agriculture extension agents helped to reach an even broader audience.
“The use of ICTs alone for the generation and dissemination of adaptation information cannot minimize the impacts of climate change and variability,” said Berhane Gebru, Director of Programs for TechLab at FHI 360. “The innovative value of this project lies in its holistic approach. The project generated information on adaptation, disseminated location-specific information using multiple communication channels, supported farmers so they could take action in response to the information they received and improved institutional processes. Importantly, the project continuously incorporated user feedback.”
Studies conducted by the CHAI project showed that access to adaptation information improved by up to 48 percent in the intervention districts (Nakasongola, Sembabule and Soroti) compared to the control district (Rakai), while the effectiveness of adaptation actions that were based on information received through the project increased by up to 33 percent in the intervention areas compared to the control district. The studies also showed that the use of timely and locally relevant adaptation information reduced crop loss and damage by 50 percent to 65 percent in the intervention districts compared to the control district.
The CHAI project is co-implemented by Uganda Chartered HealthNet in partnership with the Uganda Ministry of Water and Environment (Climate Change Department, National Meteorological Authority, and Wetlands Management) and Makerere University (Zoology Department and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences) through funding from the International Development Research Centre.