Climate change poses great risks to the well-being of communities by increasing the frequency and intensity of severe weather events such as droughts, floods and landslides. FHI 360 is working in Uganda’s “cattle corridor,” a region prone to prolonged and severe droughts that lead to low water flows and diminishing groundwater levels, to minimize the negative impact of climate change. In the cattle corridor, inadequate water for agriculture, animal husbandry and other domestic uses is the primary cause of reduced productivity, which can breed sociopolitical conflict among communities.
The Climate Change Adaptation and ICT (CHAI) project uses mobile and wireless technology to strengthen the capacity of individuals, communities and institutions in the cattle corridor to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
A partnership between FHI 360, Uganda Chartered HealthNet, the Ministry of Water and Environment, Makerere University and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), CHAI developed a climate information system comprising a set of information and communications technology (ICT) tools for the collection, analysis and dissemination of adaptation information. The system includes mobile phone-based tools for gathering weekly crop and livestock market information from 46 local market outlets, daily weather data from 22 sub-county weather stations, and information dissemination mechanisms via interactive radio, mobile phones and community meetings with local authorities. The system links households to community support organizations that provide resources to apply acquired information into action. More than 120,000 farmers now receive adaptation information, including seasonal weather forecasts and agricultural advisories localized to 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 drought and flood coping mechanisms; and termite control measures.
Rigorous studies involving 640 households, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and field observations showed that the timely delivery of localized climate information through the project reduced crop loss and damage by 40 percent to 65 percent.
The CHAI project won the prestigious UNFCCC Momentum for Change award as one of 16 global game-changing climate action initiatives and was honored at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015.
The project will conduct rigorous research in 2016–2017 on the longer-term benefits of ICT-mediated adaptation in improving the resilience of farming communities. The research will determine the technical, financial and institutional requirements needed to roll out the system to other settings.