Communties in the Sahel adapt to climate change

In the unpredictable environment of the Sahel, Malian and Senegalese communities are facing increasingly critical challenges due to recurring climate extremes—including droughts and flooding. The impact that this has had on crops and livestock affects food production and security, not only for farmers and herders, but also for the wider population. Food security and economic growth in the region highly depend on adapting to and building resilience against climate change.

This past July, a village in the Kaffrine region of Senegal flooded over the course of three days of rain. Two-thirds of the population was affected. Homes and stocks of grain and millet were destroyed. To make matters worse, the flooding hit the village during the lean season—a time when farmers and villagers rely on their grain stock to feed their families and livestock until the next harvest.

Local leaders were aware of the likelihood of flooding during the rainy season so they built cereal banks to store and protect grain with Climate Adaptation Funds (CAFs). Aby Drame, a country engagement leader for the Building Resilience to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) project, spoke with the leader of the Decentralizing Climate Funds (DCF) project in Kaffrine who said that after the flooding, “The cereal banks construction project met the high demand in the area [for millet].”

International climate finance is becoming increasingly available to assist developing countries in mitigating the impact of climate change. However, international funding for climate adaptation is currently primarily channeled to national authorities, and communities have very little control over how this money is used.

As a part of its Decentralizing Climate Funds (DCF) project, the Near East Foundation and its partners—IIED and IED Afrique—are piloting an initiative to help local governments in Mali and Senegal access and manage climate adaptation funds so that they can finance community-prioritized, public good investments to build resilience to climate change. The project teams are establishing adaptation committees within local government institutions to better coordinate decisions on which investments should be funded and where. This process will test the evidence that local control can and does work while encouraging national policymakers to take local adaptation strategies into account when formulating development policy. 

                             

Decentralizing Climate Funds in Mali and Senegal from Near East Foundation on Vimeo.

Through this community-driven participatory process, 3 million GBP will be allocated toward project proposals for investments. Once submitted, the proposed investment is vetted for feasibility and to ensure that they reflect the development priorities established by the local communes. Investments include projects to develop cereal banks, upgrade market gardens to help women improve their garden yields, update wells and water points, and reforestation efforts. So far, through the DCF project, 47 investments in Mali and 22 in Senegal have been approved and are underway.

In recent months, the NEF-led DCF project team signed a cooperative agreement with the National Agency of Territorial Communities (ANICT) in Mali. Through this agreement, the DCF project will support ANICT as it completes the  accreditation process needed to draw down on financing available through the UN’s Green Climate Fund. The accreditation provides an opportunity to develop the capacities of national-level authorities in Mali in how they manage issues related to climate change at the local level.

To initiate the accreditation process and bring awareness about climate adaption funds and how to access them, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Decentralization in Mali held a high-level launch event on October 4th.

There, Ms. Keita Aida M’Bo, Minister of the Environment, Sanitation, and Sustainability in Mali, said that “the fund offers a great opportunity for poor and vulnerable countries to cope with the new global challenges of climate change.”

Next month, NEF-Mali’s Country Director, Yacouba Dème, will attend the COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco—a two-day event that brings business, government, finance, and civil society actors together to generate innovation and action in stewarding the emergence of the green economy. There, NEF and its partners will have the opportunity to take part in the global conversation surrounding climate change, and more specifically, attest to the importance of empowering local communities to adapt and build resilience to its adverse effects.

For more information about this project and NEF’s work in Mali, click here.

 

Surviving the Lean Season in the Unpredictable Sahel

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Youwarou, Mali—Each July, the rainy season causes the banks of the Niger River to overflow, flooding the small Malian village of Youwarou. Over the next few months, grasses grow, fish become plentiful, and fishermen temporarily migrate to the village to take advantage of the river’s bounty.

As the regions of Mopti and Timbuktu are prone to extremes, these advantageous conditions do not last long. When the dry season hits—lasting up to 6 to 7 months of the year—the landscape becomes arid, fish are few and far between, and those tied to the fishing economy quickly burn through their savings and grain stocks.

Over the past five years, communities in these regions have faced recurring shocks—a pastoral crisis, drought, a coup d’état, and subsequent violent occupation. This instability has resulted in decreased food security, livelihoods, and coping strategies, all resulting in a weak local economy.

NEF works in Mali to develop both immediate and sustainable solutions to combat these issues. One approach is to provide farmers and vulnerable individuals with seed and food vouchers that can be exchanged for millet at local markets. The seed vouchers prevent consumption of seeds during the lean season, while the food vouchers allow individuals to free up their financial resources to rebuild their livelihoods rather than spending their savings to buy food in times of scarcity.

Kadidia Gabe, a 41-year-old wife and mother of three, lives and works as a fish vendor in the city of Youwarou. Like so many others in the region, Kadidia depends on the timely arrival of the rains to sustain her livelihood and feed her family.

Last year the rainy season was delayed leaving Kadidia to worry as her  fish supply, grain stock, and savings quickly depleted. NEF provided her family with a voucher to receive millet to carry them through the lean season.

With the vouchers, Kadidia and her husband were able to redirect income they would have spent on millet to fund day trips to neighboring towns where Kadidia could purchase smoked fish to sell back home in fish-scarce Youwarou. Each basket of fish she sold at the market netted 35,000 FCFA (58 USD) in profits to be saved and spent on necessities for her household.

“Thanks to NEF’s support, I was able to carry my family through the lean season. Thank you to those who made this possible,” said Kadidia.

Kadidia Gaba bon alimentaire restauration des moyens subsistence copy_edited for Q2  DSC03361_edited

Another woman, Djengui Kassambara from Korientze, is the sole breadwinner for her disabled husband and two small children. To support her family, Djengui relied on selling her hand-made clay jars, cans, and other storage containers as her only source of income. 

Each winter, when water is most plentiful and the climate is cooler, the demand for Djengui’s clay vessels drop, leaving her desperate for a sustainable income to meet the needs of her family. 

In June, NEF provided Djengui with a voucher for two large sacs of grain—enough to cover her family’s food needs for months. This simple provision gave Djengui the peace of mind to make it through the winter and a means to redirect her income to invest in other income-generating activities, enabling her to restore her family’s livelihood.

Now food secure with a small investment at her disposal, Djengui can rest easy knowing her family will weather the upcoming year.

Last year, seed protection vouchers were distributed to 6,450 individuals across 216 villages, and food vouchers have been distributed to 3,080 people to support livelihood restoration.

NEF is also developing long-term sustainable solutions to these recurring shocks by working with the local community to develop natural resource management strategies and climate-smart techniques—making the lean season less threatening. NEF has already trained 2,691 individuals in improved natural resource management practices, specifically in techniques for assisted natural regeneration and soil and water conservation.

To read more about NEF’s work in Mali, click here.

 

BRACED: Decentralizing Climate Funds (DCF) in Mali and Senegal

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The Decentralizing Climate Funds (DCF) project supports local communities in Mali and Senegal to identify and invest in adaptation strategies that can best ensure their resilience against climate change.

NEF and its partners are working with local, regional, and national governments to develop the financial and planning systems that will ensure that climate funds reach local communities and support investment in locally prioritized resilience projects.

Over three years, NEF will work with local governments to establish 6 Climate Adaptation Funds (CAF) of £500,000 (about 445 million CFA Francs) each. The CAFs will finance community-prioritized, public good investments that build resilience to climate change. Communities will identify and prioritize adaptation strategies through inclusive and participatory processes.

Building resilience and adaptation to climate extremes and disasters (BRACED)

DCF is an action-research and advocacy project supporting communities in Senegal and Mali to become more resilient to climate change. It is part of the UK-government funded program, Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED). The Near East Foundation leads the project with partners Innovation, Environnement et Développement en Afrique (IED Afrique) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

Project Vision

More effective climate adaptation planning and finance by local governments in Mali and Senegal will improve communities’ resilience to climate change.

The Need

Climate change is exacerbating already challenging environmental conditions in Sahelian communities, which overwhelmingly depend upon agriculture and natural resources to sustain their livelihoods. Women, girls, and other vulnerable and marginalized populations – who often lack a sufficient voice in decisions that affect their wellbeing – are at heightened risk of falling deeper into poverty as temperatures rise and rainfall grows more variable across the region.

International climate finance is increasingly available to assist developing countries in mitigating the impacts of climate change. Presently, climate adaptation funds in Mali and Senegal are channeled directly to national authorities or to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), despite the fact that it is local governments that have primary authority over natural resources management and adaptation. National funds are drawn down slowly and may be invested in strategies that do align with local priorities.

The status quo is problematic for two reasons. First, this approach fails to recognize and leverage strategies that communities have developed to manage risks associated with environmental variability – a norm in the Sahelian regions of Mali and Senegal. And, investments in strategies that do not align with local priorities may undermine existing resilience strategies.

The project will institutionalize change within existing government systems – marking a significant departure from existing systems and empowering governments to sustain adaptation planning and finance mechanisms beyond the life of this project.

How the Project Works

The process of decentralization in both Mali and Senegal, which is still ongoing, provides a structure of local government that can be built upon to ensure that decision-making and access to climate funds is in the hands of those most directly affected by climate change and best able to identify strategies for building local resilience.

The project will help catalyze decentralized control over climate funds through the development of project climate adaptation funds and inclusive planning processes. It will test the evidence that local control can and does work and will encourage national policymakers to take local adaptation strategies into account and invest in the development of their local governments’ institutional, technological and financial capacity.

Local climate adaptation funds. Local governments will be given discretionary authority over a devolved Climate Adaptation Fund (CAF) with an initial value of £500,000 (445 million FCFA) per fund. The CAFs will finance community-prioritized, public good investments that help improve communities to be more resilient to climate change. The funds will be managed in a transparent, accountable, and cost-effective manner. They will also be consistent with public finance policy, complementary to local governments’ existing budgets and capable of drawing down and managing climate finance from national climate funds and other sources of climate finance.

Community-prioritized investments. CAF investments will be prioritized through inclusive community consultations and will be informed by local resilience assessments. Committees for adaptation planning will be set up at the local district level (Communes); they will be -inclusive and ensure differentiated representation of vulnerable individuals. The committees will adopt a systemic (as opposed to a sector-based) approach.

The project will also ensure that people have greater access to – and capacity to use – climate information that will improve planning and responses to climate extremes. Following the prioritization of investments by the committees, local government will implement locally-approved resilience projects through a public procurement process that builds the capacity of local governments, civil society organizations and the private sector to manage construction and operation of public good investments.

Evidence and learning. To assess how climate change adaptation and development investments can strengthen local people’s resilience to climate extremes (differentiated by gender, age, wealth), the project will establish and institutionalize information systems and monitoring frameworks, including the Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) methodology. Lessons drawn from the implementation of this project will be gathered, published and widely disseminated in international and national networks and made available online.

Engagement with policymakers. To ensure that the evidence from this project can be used effectively by policymakers, the project will build relationships with relevant national and international institutions and decision-makers to share findings from the project. Policymakers will also be involved in a national-level advisory committee in each country to provide input to the project on an ongoing basis. Lessons will also be shared between stakeholders in the two countries as the activities are implanted. The project will seek follow-on funding for these local funds from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other development partners.

Project Location

Project activities are implemented in three Cercles in the Mopti Region in Mali (Koro, Douentza, and Mopti) and in four Départements in the Kaffrine Region of Senegal (Koungheul, Kaffrine, Birkilane and Maleme Hodar).

NEF Strengthens Resilience to Climate Change in Mali & Senegal

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SYRACUSE, New York – The Near East Foundation (NEF) and its partners are expanding efforts to build resilience to climate change among local populations in Mali and Senegal. With the Dakar-based Innovation, Environnement, Développement – Afrique (IED Afrique) and the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), NEF is implementing an innovative approach that supports local governments and communities to access funds and invest in adaptive strategies that build their resilience to climate change.

The project, which started in January, will work with communities in Mali’s Mopti Region and Senegal’s Kaffrine Region. The project is part of a larger program funded by the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID), Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED).

The NEF Decentralizing Climate Funds project will help catalyze local control over climate investments through the development of project climate adaptation funds and inclusive planning processes. During the project’s first year, the teams are working with local communities, local goverments, and national partners to build the institutional infrastructure to support inclusive, transparent, and accountable planning and investments. In years two and three, local communities will identify and implement projects that they themselves have identified as most critical to improving their adaptive capacity and resilience.

Climate change is exacerbating already challenging environmental conditions in our target communities, which overwhelmingly depend upon agriculture and natural resources to sustain their livelihoods. Women, girls, and other vulnerable and marginalized populations – who often lack a sufficient voice in decisions that affect their wellbeing – are at greatest risk of falling deeper into poverty as temperatures rise and rainfall grows more variable across the region.

International climate finance is increasingly available to assist developing countries in mitigating the impacts of climate change. Though local governments in Mali and Senegal hold primary authority over natural resources management and adaptation, climate adaptation funds are presently channeled directly to national authorities or non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This approach fails to recognize and leverage strategies that communities have developed to manage risks associated with environmental variability – a norm in the Sahelian regions of Mali and Senegal.

The ongoing process of decentralization provides a structure of local governance that can be built upon to ensure that both decision-making authority and access to finance sits with those who are directly affected and best able to identify strategies for building local resilience. The Decentralizing Climate Funds project will test the evidence that local control can and does work, encourage national policymakers to take local adaptation strategies into account, and encourage national and regional investments in developing local governments’ institutional, technological and financial capacity. By institutionalizing change within existing government systems, the project marks a significant departure from the status quo by empowering governments to sustain adaptation planning and finance mechanisms beyond the life of this project.

 

 

 

To learn more about this project, visit NEF’s BRACED: DCF Project Page

 

 

This project is funded by UK Aid from the UK Government, however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the UK Government.

World Refugee Day, June 20, 2015

Every year on June 20th we observe World Refugee Day and recognize the millions of men, women and children around the world who are living as refugees. 

Conflicts and persecution have forced 50 million people to flee their homes, disrupting lives and communities and, in some cases, challenging individuals’ ability to survive.

For the past 100 years, the Near East Foundation has stood as a resource to assist the world’s refugees as they seek safety, shelter and a path to a new life.

In 1915, our attention was on Armenian refugees. Today we are working with internally displaced people Jordon, Lebanon, Mali, Sudan, and the Palestinian Territories. 

Despite great challenges, there have been great victories for the individuals we have served.  And we believe there can be more.

So today, take a moment to learn about the lives of a few of those 50 million and lend your support.

“For a small amount of money, we can do a lot” –Faten, Iraqi refugee in Jordan & NEF program participant

NEF helps the internally displaced in Mali return home and start on the path to economic recovery

Poor Jordanians face increasing difficulties due to an influx of refugees & NEF is responding

NEF equipped Dalia, an Iraqi refugee, with the skills and training to develop her sewing business

Over 30 Tons of Food Produced in Recovering Mali Communities

Sevare, Mali (April 11, 2014) — In recent months, Malian farmers supported by the Near East Foundation were able to produce 33.7 tons of food, with an estimated value of 8,425,000 CFA – or nearly $18,000.

Most communities in northern Mali experienced a poor agricultural season and they are still struggling to recover from drought and political unrest. Despite this, NEF’s support in eight villages helped to ensure food security and income for hundreds of families.

NEF provided support to over 400 people – nearly 80% of them women – to develop and improve production through market gardens.  Farmers produced crops including shallot, tomatoes, lettuce, eggplants, peppers, carrots, and beets.

For vulnerable families in the region, the impact of these market gardens has been significant.

Balkissa Kassambara, from Dari in the rural commune of Diaptodji, estimates that her personal revenues from the sales of products have been nearly 150,000 CFA ($350).

“My revenues have allowed me to help us with daily expenses for food, healthcare, and the education of our children.  This has been so important, especially during a bad agricultural season,” Balkissa said.  “I want to express my deep appreciation and gratitude for the project and what it has done for my family.”

Through its work, NEF seeks to improve the capacity of villagers to meet food needs and increase their income for years to come.  NEF continued to work with communities to strengthen their ability to manage investments and improve the governance of farmers’ organizations (groups of women) to provide ongoing support.

In the coming months, NEF will continue to work with market garden farmers in the eight villages of Bagui, Korientzé, N’Gorodia, (rural commune of Korombana) Dari, Deri (rural commune of N’Diaptodji), Mounouwel, Kikara (rural commune of Gandamia), and Gafity (rural commune of Débéré).

Learn more about NEF’s work in Mali

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The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international NGO leading innovative social and economic development in the Middle East and Africa since 1915. For nearly 100 years, NEF has worked to empower citizens in disadvantaged, vulnerable communities. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to find grassroots solutions to their development challenges. NEF’s “knowledge, voice, and enterprise” approach is helping build more prosperous, inclusive communities throughout the region. To learn more visit www.neareast.org

Over 400 Families Increasing Their Food Security in Mali

                                      Families in Mali prepare to plant vegetables for the 2013 growing season.

Sevare, Mali (April 15, 2013) — The Near East Foundation (NEF) is helping 440 families in Mali increase their food production and their income.

Since the project launched in early 2013, NEF has distributed 1,775 kilograms of seeds to grow vegetables in eight villages in need: Bagui, Korientzé, N’Gorodia (rural commune of Korombana), Dari, Deri (rural commune of N’Diaptodji), Mounouwel, Kikara (rural commune of Gandamia), and Gafity (rural commune of Debere).

Families in these villages are working to rebuild their food supply as they recover from years of drought and a coup d’etat in 2012.

Their new crops will include shallots, potatoes, tomatoes, beets, cabbages, lettuce, and peppers. The families will eat a portion of the food they produce and sell the remainder to earn an income.

NEF’s team of experts in Mali provided a variety of support to village farmers during the planting season. This included practical advice on techniques for increasing production, such as the use of organic fertilizer, transplanting seedlings, efficient irrigation, and protecting crops against insects.

With the coming rains, the seedlings will begin to mature into productive plants. The NEF Mali team will continue to provide ongoing technical support to the farmers through the rain and harvest season.

After the harvest, NEF will evaluate food production in the villages to see which methods were most beneficial in helping farmers increase their production, and which crops grow best in a given area. This analysis will help farmers continue to improve their food production – and feed more people – in the future.

Women benefit greatly from vegetable production supported by NEF. The gardening activities provide women with the opportunity to earn an income without leaving their village. There are few other ways for them to earn a living except to travel to cities, such as Mopti or Bamako, where they can work as laborers or in private homes.

Mali fields beginning to grow.

Mali fields beginning to grow.

Families at rest after working in the fields.

                                           Families at rest after working in the fields.

Learn more about NEF’s work in Mali

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The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa for almost 100 years. Founded in 1915, NEF has helped build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to implement grassroots solutions and build “knowledge, voice, and enterprise.” To learn more visit www.neareast.org.

Update on NEF Recovery Efforts in Northern Mali

Sevare, Mali (February 27, 2013) — The Near East Foundation (NEF) continues to operate in northern Mali despite the 2013 French military intervention and in the wake of the April 2012 coup d’etat and occupation by Toureg rebels and Al Qaeda-linked extremists.

Almost all of the communities where NEF works in the Mopti Region and the southern part of Timbuktu were affected by the coup and are now beginning the difficult process of recovery.

NEF’s current efforts in Mali are focused on building food security. Among these efforts, NEF is at work purchasing seeds and basic agricultural supplies for eight community gardens in the villages of Korientzé, M’Bessena, N’Gorodia, Dari, Deri, Kikara, and Mounouwel Gafity.

These villages are located in the Mopti Region – one of many areas that have little or no food production due to political instability and persistent drought.

As the planting season approaches in Mali, the NEF team will provide seeds and agricultural supplies, along with assistance to develop water resources, to help farmers produce such crops as potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, beets, cabbage, and lettuce to feed a multitude of families.

Learn more about NEF’s work in Mali

Support NEF’s recovery efforts in Mali

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The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa for almost 100 years. Founded in 1915, NEF has helped build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to implement grassroots solutions and build “knowledge, voice, and enterprise.” To learn more visit www.neareast.org.

NEF Partners with Canadian Government to Improve Food Security in Northern Mali

Syracuse, NY (January 14, 2013) — The Near East Foundation (NEF) has received a grant award from the Canada Mali Common Development Fund to improve agricultural resilience in northern Mali.

Through the award, valued at $440,000, NEF will partner with the governments of Canada and Mali to build food security in 95 villages in the Mopti region, where people are vulnerable to famine, climate change, ongoing conflict, and disputes over natural resources.

A variety of agricultural and economic development initiatives will be supported by the grant, which will focus on villages in the municipalities of Diaptodji and Korombana. Specific activities include: the rehabilitation of two village rice fields, the creation of three community market gardens with solar water pumps, the establishment of a water distribution system, and the distribution of fishing equipment to ten communities.

Work under the project will build on NEF’s longstanding efforts to improve conditions in the region. For nearly 30 years, NEF has worked in Mali to alleviate poverty and reduce conflict through initiatives in sustainable agriculture and improved resource management, including training farmers in technologies that conserve soil and water.

Recent NEF work in the region has resulted in an over 50% income increase among participants in a market garden program. Through another pilot project, 200 farmers who received training from NEF used their newly acquired knowledge to produce an estimated 90 tons of rice during a period of drought, while their neighbors produced little to no food.

For more information on NEF’s work in Mali, visithttp://www.neareast.org/wherewework/Mali.

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The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international NGO leading innovative social and economic development in the Middle East and Africa since 1915. For nearly 100 years, NEF has worked to empower citizens in disadvantaged, vulnerable communities. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to find grassroots solutions to their development challenges. Our “knowledge, voice, and enterprise” approach is helping build more prosperous, inclusive communities throughout the region. To learn more visit www.neareast.org.

New Water Resources Help Grow Food Crops in Mali

The Near East Foundation is honored to be one of an alliance of nearly 70 U.S.-based international relief and development charities supported by Global Impact.

NEF’s recent, successful efforts to improve food security and increase farmer income in Mali are featured on the Global Impact website (link to the article here).

Established in 1956, Global Impact provides organizations and donors with effective ways to give to causes, regions and crises throughout the world. Since its founding, Global Impact has generated more than $1.5 billion for people in need. To learn more visitwww.charity.org.