Adapting to a Changing Environment

CRADES (Comitï de Rïflexion et d?Actions pour le Dïveloppement et Environnement de la Sambirano)

Entry Overview

General Info
Email :
Organization Address: 
BP 124, 203
Population Impacted: 
2,280 inhabitants (3 villages)

200 ha of rice paddies

Major Occupations: 
Farming (rice, cocoa, vanilla, coffee); cattle rearing (mainly zebus)
Local resources the community depends on, and for what purpose: 
Humid forest: for water, wood, medicinal plants, food (honey, tubers, bush meat)
Local threats to resources: 
slash and burn agriculture
Climate Hazards: 
change of rainfall patterns (longer dry season), high intensity and frequency of cyclones
Level of exposure to these hazards: 
high according to current and future climate scenarios
Level of sensitivity: 
high because community livelihoods are not diversified and depend mostly on natural resources
Level of adaptive capacity: 
low adaptation capacity and thus weak social resilience. Local communities don?t have the financial and technical capacities to diversify their income generating activities and be less dependent on forest resources.
Describe Your Solution: 

Considering the time and funds available, stakeholders decided to restore the irrigation system of rice paddies in Antseva, Antsahavary and Antanambaonamboangisay villages. This will help the villagers grow rice and get water to the rice paddies even if the rains are late. Rice is a staple food in Madagascar and most rural families grow rice for their own consumption. Also, since water can become scarce, proper irrigation systems can improve water management in these villages. This reduces dependence on rainfalls and the risk of losing essential annual harvests.

Ecological Costs: 
Loss of primary forest: fauna and vegetation cover
Ecological Benefit: 
Maintain forest ecosystem integrity to continue to provide goods and services
Economic Indicators used to measure benefit: 

- surface area of new cleared forest area

Community/Social Cost: 
- Community volunteer time for transporting building materials to the sites - Time spent serving in the water management committee
Community/Social Benefit: 
- Community management of forests - Better ownership of adaptation projects
Community/Social Indicators used to measure benefit: 
- number of farmers clearing up new forest areas - number of repairs done by the locals
Economic Cost: 

- Cost of building materials and workers - Cost of technical support : community organization and building

Economic Benefit: 

Food security

Ecological Indicators used to measure benefit: 

- annual harvest per ha - number of beneficiaries

What were/are the challenges your community faced in implementing this solution?: 

The main challenge was accessibility of the villages: villagers and workers had to walk for several hours to a whole day climbing and descending mountains to carry the building materials from the most accessible village to their villages. The solution to be implemented was identified in a participatory way with the villagers to make sure that it will match their needs and to get their support and ownership. They knew that the project?s role was to help but they will have tasks to undertake too. Though the irrigation system is simple and should be easy to maintain, there is always a risk of heavy rains causing land sliding and important damages. The water management committee?s financial and technical capacities to solve such problems are still low.

Describe the community-based process used to develop the solution including tools and processes used: 

Prior to implementing adaptation measures, vulnerability assessments were undertaken in the target villages. The assessments looked into the natural system (humid forest and fauna) and into the human system (local communities). The vulnerability was a function of three parameters: exposition, sensitivity and adaptation capacity. The adaptation measures were defined based on the vulnerability assessments results and prioritized with different local stakeholders from the Upper Ramena area: local authorities (Commune and Fokontany), regional authorities, village elders, villagers representatives, governmental services (forest, water, agriculture), local NGOs etc. The adaptation activities were implemented by CRADES in collaboration with the local population during six months from September 2012 until February 2013. The funds were from the MacArthur Foundation to support WWF project on climate change adaptation in Diana Region (northern Madagascar). A community-based organization per village is insuring the irrigation system management: checking on repairs to be undertaken and mobilizing the beneficiaries.

Climate hazard of concern: 
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the ecosystem affected?: 

When the local people?s livelihoods are insured and they get enough food from their land, they will not clear up new forest areas. Indeed, forest soil is good and fertile but will turn sterile after 3 to 4 years. The irrigation systems reduce human pressure on the forests and enhance the forest ecosystem natural resilience to extreme climate events. A cleared forest is more exposed to droughts or erosion from heavy rains due to scarce vegetation cover.

How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the ecosystem affected?: 

When the forest is not fragmented due to slash and burn agriculture practice, it will continue to provide goods and ecological services to the local population. With the irrigation system, farmers can grow rice all year long with sedentary agriculture. They don?t have to clear up new forest areas. The forest integrity is kept making it less sensitive to extreme climate events.

How has your solution increased the capacity of the ecosystem to adapt to potential climate changes?: 

Farmers have been experiencing longer dry seasons during the last 10 years. Due to unreliable water supply to their fields, they cope by clearing up forest areas, grow rice for 3 ? 4 years then move to other areas. This practice is a big threat to the forests and reduces the natural capacity of the ecosystem to adapt to climate changes. Permanently providing water to rice paddies helps the farmers sustain their livelihoods and protect the forest from external threats.

How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the communities affected?: 


How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the communities affected?: 

Change of rainfall patterns and longer dry season affect the communities as their farming traditional techniques rely on the availability of water from rainfalls.

How has your solution increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to potential climate changes?: 

The solution which consists in restoring the farmers? irrigation systems allow the supplying of water to the rice paddies from permanent waterfalls. This increased the capacity of the communities to adapt to climate change impacts as they are less dependent to the rain and can grow rice all year long.

Can this solution be replicated elsewhere?: 

Yes, it can be replicated to other villages within Upper Ramena area (7 other villages) and other villages in Madagascar facing similar problems. No, due to insufficient funding, this could not be replicated elsewhere yet. We plan to work in a fourth village this year.

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