For the 4th Brussels Briefing, Rachel Berger from Practical Action gave a rich insight into the development and implementation of climate change adaptation strategies. She presented experiences of the work of Practical Action with low-input technologies in agricultural projects.
Technologies are a combination of tools, skills, and knowledge. Successful adaptation to climate change must be rooted in local culture, values and knowledge. Thus, participatory development must always identify technologies which are appropriate to the local context and people’s assets. This is why technologies are not necessarily transferable across countries and continents. She argued there is no“one size fits all for adaptation.”
These are the starting points for Practical Action’s work in developing countries. Two examples of locally adapted technologies adapted to the changing environment illustrate this approach.
To meet the need for water-saving technologies in semi-arid Zimbabwe, Practical Action helped construct underground tanks to trap rain water. In Kenya, droughts have become more frequent and longer-duration, so Practical Action helped communities increase the availability of locally adapted maize seed as well as more drought resistant crops like millet and sorghum.
Complaining that “most resources currently go to large-scale, high cost technologies that will not work for 70% of poor people and their agricultural systems,” she advocated the wider promotion of locally adapted technologies instead of spending resources on high technology research such as GMOs.
“For successful rural agriculture in the face of climate change, the challenge is to channel funds to the grass roots on a large scale and into relevant, appropriate and sustainable technologies.”
Summary of presentation (doc format)
See more from the 13 February briefing