Silvopasture, land reclamation or agroforestry ?


Photo credit: Dream Lodge Permaculture

Silvopasture and land reclamation

Climate change increases risks of droughts, floods and health problems

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Teun Voeten/Panos


Climate change increases risks in slums

“Residents of Nairobi’s informal settlements live in unsafe, overcrowded and often unsanitary housing, and lack access to basic services.” Eric Odada, African Collaborative Centre for Earth System Science (ACCESS)

Speed read

  • In Nairobi, 60 per cent of residents live in informal settlements
  • Climate change increases risks of droughts, floods and health problems
  • Experts say partnerships with officials, residents and donors could solve issues


The impacts of climate change pose a serious challenge to human well-being, economies and livelihoods, particularly in informal settlements in Sub-Saharan Africa, a workshop has heard.

Informal settlements are the fastest growing segment in Africa’s rapid urbanisation, with more than 60 per cent of the Nairobi population living in informal settlements, said Griffin Songole, the director of the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company Ltd in Kenya.

Songole spoke during the Climate Resilience in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements workshop organised in Kenya last month (10 December) by the Kenya-based non-governmental organisation Maji na Ufanisi (Water and Development) in partnership with the African Collaborative Centre for Earth System Science (ACCESS) and the University of Nairobi’s Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation (ICCA).

An informal settlement occurs when people create housing in an urban location without approval from officials, and has the potential to result in slums.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Integrated research initiatives to combat land degradation

Photo credit: CGIAR

Demonstration site in Rasht Valley, Tajikistan. Photo credit: Aziz Nurbekov


2015 in Review: Combating land degradation and climate change in Central Asia

Submitted by Sherzod Shoasilov on January 26, 2016

Year 2015 saw the implementation of several integrated research initiatives to combat land degradation, mitigate the effect of climate change and improve soils in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Declared as the “International Year of Soils” by the 68th UN General Assembly, the year 2015 marked a series of multidisciplinary research achievements to combat land degradation, mitigate the effect of climate change and improve soils in Central Asia and the Caucasus. The following provides an overview of the collaborative research initiatives and outcomes – nested in the integrated systems approach – by the scientists of the CGIAR Regional Program for Sustainable Agricultural Development in Central Asia and the Caucasus (CAC), donors and partner national research institutions, whose work contributes to the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems.  Most of this work aims at developing the national research capacities for sustainable productivity increases in agriculture through development, adoption, and transfer of improved knowledge and technologies.

Actions to combat land degradation

Land degradation is a key challenge in Central Asia. To address this challenge, the three-year Knowledge Management Project of the Central Asian Countries Initiative for Land Management (CACILM) continued to be implemented in 2015 to streamline the use, creation and dissemination of knowledge on sustainable land management in five countries, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), acting as the CACILM coordinating center of convened an annual meeting of partners in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 17-18 March, followed by its Steering Committee meeting in Istanbul, Turkey on 24 June. During these two events, scientists and partners reviewed achievements and constraints, and agreed on a plan of activities for the upcoming year 2016. To date, the project has collected and described in standard format more than 100 SLM approaches and technologies applicable to the four main agro-ecosystems found in Central Asia, relating to rainfed and irrigated agriculture, as well as mountains and rangelands.

Read the full article: CGIAR

Scalable technologies and innovative approaches

Photo credit: Africa Rising

Farmer Richard Zimba standing in front of a rotational cowpea plot, which offers leaves for relish, groundcover to suppress weeds, soil fertility improvement and grain at harvest


Getting technologies out to farmers using innovative approaches: the Africa RISING – SIMLEZA project


In Zambia, The SIMLEZA-Africa RISING Research and Development project tested a range of improved technologies such as conservation agriculture (CA), soybean agronomy, improved and stress-tolerant germplasm, maize-legume systems, inoculum and improved utilization of legume products with farmers.

Farmer Agness Phiri has had first experience with herbicides forweed control and highlighted great labour savings for weeding for women and children when applying such products Photo credit: Christian Thierfelder/CIMMYT

Farmer Agness Phiri has had her first experience with use of herbicides for weed control. She highlighted great labour savings for for women and children who usually carry out weeding activities in the farms in Zambia

To help scale-out these technologies, the project revived “mother-baby” trials, a participatory methodology pioneered by CIMMYT over a decade ago to test stress- tolerant maize in Africa and subsequently adapted for diverse agronomic practices. The approach has now been adopted by researchers worldwide. Comprising field experiments grown in farming communities, mother-baby trials feature a centrally-located “mother trial” set up with researchers’ support, supplemented by “baby trials” composed of subsets of the mother-trial treatments that are appealing to farmers. The babies are grown, managed and evaluated by interested farmers, who host them and may talk to fellow farmers, researchers and other visitors about the results.

Moving beyond trials to farmers’ fields

In 2014/2015, the SIMLEZA-Africa RISING project team identified scalable technologies in its project portfolio and encouraged farmers to choose those that could be practiced on their own farms using the mother baby trial approach. The menu of practices included crop rotations, intercropping, herbicide use and improved drought-tolerant maize varieties. Interest was high amongst farmers, 807 of whom volunteered to grow “baby trials”. Some farmers even extended their plots beyond the designated areas in the excitement of trying something new.

Read the full article: Africa Rising

Phenomenal GGW achievements in Nigeria


Photo credit Google:

Growing vegetables on a patch of cleared forest, Nigeria. The forest will be allowed to regenerate. (Source: M. Edwards/Still Pictures)

Desertification: GGW Trains 5000 Farmers In Forestry, Natural Regeneration

As part of efforts to mitigate desertification, the National Great Green Wall Agency of Nigeria has trained over 5000 farmers in the north, in forestry and natural regeneration.

The Minister of State for Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Jibril, who stated this yesterday, at the Regional Technical Workshop on Restoration, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in Abuja, said the GGW programme pay particular attention to local community participation and ownership which he said are central to planning, implementation and management of the projects.

According to him, over 500 unemployed youths have also been trained and engaged as forest guards in communities where the GGW projects are ongoing.

The minister further stated that aside tree planting, the programme has also helped improved the well-being and livelihood of inhabitants of these communities with the provision of some amenities like wind powered boreholes, skill acquisition centres, shelterbelt and others.

“Since 2013 when the GGW programme implementation commenced in Nigeria, numerous initiatives have been implemented and these have started impacting positively on the affected communities in the drylands of the country.

“We have been able to accomplish, among others, within this short period of time the following: establishment of 415km shelterbelt; 135ha community woodlot; 235ha community orchard; and 138ha community vegetable garden.


Read the story: Leadership

More money needed for food aid


Photo credit: UN News Centre

Failed sorghum crop, as the current El Niño pattern, being the strongest ever recorded, has caused severe drought in Ethiopia. Photo: UNOCHA Ethiopia/Lemma Tamiru

As food emergency intensifies in drought-hit Ethiopia, UN appeals for more resources

Despite the well-coordinated response already under way to offset the impacts of an El Niño-induced drought in Ethiopia, the United Nations humanitarian wing has warned that the scale of the developing emergency exceeds resources and that more funding is urgently needed to ensure food distribution and child protection amid ongoing malnutrition and water shortages.

“Resources currently in-hand do not guarantee a full relief food basket for beneficiaries,” said the latest weekly update on Ethiopia compiled by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

It also added that “without additional resources, the food sector projects a full pipeline break in a couple of months.”

$1.2 billion is needed for food relief to10.2 million people. However, the current appeal is only funded by one third.

Given the lead times necessary for the procurement of relief items, the Government and its international partners have called for early action to this slow onset natural disaster.

Fragmentation of delivery is of critical priority as it has negative implications for nutrition and health, and the beneficiaries have to travel more than twice to the food distribution point within short period.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is helping deliver food to 2 million people and has started using the humanitarian supplies from the Port of Berbera in Somaliland.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

How thirsty trees pull water to their canopies

Photo credit: Science Daily

Water can be pulled up to as much as 45 feet — well above the barometric limit — overturning the theory proposed by seventeenth century Italian physicist and mathematician Evangelista Torricelli which has stood for the last 400 years.
Credit: © shsphotography / Fotolia

Breakthrough discovery reveals how thirsty trees pull water to their canopies

Source: University of Leicester

Summary: A scientific mystery about how trees pull water from the ground to their top branches has been solved by an international team of scientists. The researchers have discovered that water can in fact be held in a vacuum for almost indefinite periods of time and even under significant tension without forming bubbles or breaking apart, which helps to explain how trees siphon water to their highest points.