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Technologies for Adapting to Climate Change: Water Resources and Agriculture. Anthony Nyong, University of Jos NIGERIA. UNFCCC Seminar on the Development and Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technologies for Adaptation to Climate Change 14 – 16 June 2005, Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago.

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Technologies for adapting to climate change water resources and agriculture

Technologies for Adapting to Climate Change:Water Resources and Agriculture

Anthony Nyong, University of Jos


UNFCCC Seminar on the Development and Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technologies for Adaptation to Climate Change

14 – 16 June 2005, Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago

Outline of presentation
Outline of Presentation

  • Introduction

    • Brief presentation on Vulnerability and Adaptation with regards to Africa

    • Why Africa?

      • Most LDCs are in Africa

      • Most vulnerable region

      • Limited capacity to adapt to climate change

      • Dependence on Agriculture and natural systems

  • Vulnerability of Africa’s agriculture and water resources to Climate Change.

  • Technologies for adapting to climate change in agric and water resources

    • The two are inter-related as water is a major factor in agriculture

  • Adoption of such technologies in West African Sahel

    • Who uses and who does not?

    • Why?

  • The lessons learned

    • Transfer of technology for adaptation is not one way. There is a synergy as people also adapt to the technology.

Introduction and background
Introduction and Background

  • Vulnerability to Climate Change

    • Why are we so concerned about climate change?

      • The IPCC TAR identifies Africa as the most vulnerable region because of its dependence on the ecosystem, rain-fed agriculture and low adaptive capacity.

    • What are we vulnerable to?

      • Designing any adaptation strategy requires that we first of all know what it is we are vulnerable to.

      • Vulnerability is not only a climate affair but an interaction with non-climate factors that produce vulnerability

        • Exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity

      • Adaptation should address these concerns.

Unfccc and adaptation
UNFCCC and Adaptation

  • Article 4.5 of refers to promoting, facilitating and financing transfer of “environmentally sound technologies and know-how” to enable developing countries to implement provisions of the Convention. These technologies include adaptation technologies as well as the technologies for reducing GHG emissions.

  • Adaptation activities are considered in three stages:

    • Stage I Adaptation: “Planning, which includes studies of possible impacts of climate change, to identify particularly vulnerable countries or regions and policy options for adaptation and appropriate capacity building”;

    • Stage II Adaptation: “Measures, including further capacity building, which may be taken to prepare for adaptation . . . .”

    • Stage III Adaptation: “Measures to facilitate adequate adaptation, including insurance, and other adaptation measures . . .”

Adaptation to climate change agriculture
Adaptation to Climate Change: Agriculture

  • Two Spheres of Adaptation: Farm level and Systemic Level.

    • Farm Level:

      • Adjustments in planting and harvesting dates

      • Planting of new crop varieties and species

      • Changes in farming practices – tillage, use of topography

      • Application of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides

      • Use of irrigation – timing and dose

      • Use of farm equipment – tractors, harvesters, etc

      • Improved food storage systems

      • Herd management – splitting, switching, diversification

      • Migration

    • Systemic Level:

      • Transportation

      • Finance

      • National farm policies

      • International agricultural policies and agreements

      • Food Aid

Adaptation to climate change water resources
Adaptation to Climate Change: Water Resources

  • In Africa, the impacts of changes in climate on water resources are minor compared to the problems being faced already with the present climate variability.

  • Coping for present day climate variability’ already takes us a long way down the road towards adapting for climate change.

  • Essence of adapting in the water sector is to be able to live in equilibrium with projected water scarcities.

  • Scarcity is influenced by factors at global level (climate change), regional level (land-use change), river basin level (water resource management) and household level (access to water).

  • Adaptation strategies in the water include

    • Water exploitation methods

    • Water storage methods +rain harvesting

    • Water management and planning

Reasons for adoption non adoption
Reasons for Adoption/Non-Adoption

  • Access

  • Non-yield variables for crop technologies

  • Understanding of technology

  • Adaptive capacity

    • Individual/community

    • Institutional

  • Uncertainties and risk aversion

Rainwater harvesting
Rainwater Harvesting

  • Broadly defined as the method of concentrating, diverting, collecting, storing, and utilizing and managing runoff for productive use.

  • One of the approaches to integrated land and water management, which could contribute to recovery of agricultural production in dry area as well as provide water for sustainable development.

  • Runoff is collected mainly from roof-tops, ground catchments as well as ephemeral streams (flood water harvesting), and road/footpath drainage.

  • Different structures are used for storage - tanks, reservoirs, dams, water pans, etc.

Types of rain water harvesting systems
Types of rain water harvesting systems

  • In-situ water conservation

  • Run-off harvesting

    • Storage rain water harvesting system

    • Direct run-off harvesting system

  • Largely based on traditional systems that could be improved upon

Benefits of rwh system
Benefits of RWH System

  • Reduces erosion and water pollution

  • Reduces damaging effects of floods

  • Improves agricultural production

  • Reduces conflict

  • Improves water availability

Improved crop varieties
Improved Crop Varieties

  • Several varieties of maize, groundnut, cowpeas and sorghum were identified.

  • Traditional (local) varieties still formed the bulk of the crops grown.

    • The late maturing, low-seed yielding local variety of cowpea most preferred because of ability to yield abundant fodder in addition to seed.

    • Serious insect pest problems have limited adoption of improved high seed-producing cowpea.

    • Non-yield factors such as market value, acceptability and cooking quality affect the adoption of improved maize varieties

Lessons to be learned
Lessons to be learned

  • Local knowledge

  • Cultural norms vs Engineering feats

  • Participation and partnership

  • Disparity between what beneficiaries want and what is provided for them

Mal adaptation

  • Migration and conflicts

  • Agricultural intensification and attendant problems on the Fadama farms.

  • Dependence on food aid.

  • Dams

    • Salinization

    • Lake Chad?


  • A major underutilized resource in adaptation resides in the knowledge and initiative of the local peoples themselves. If multilateral initiatives are to actually produce results on the ground, they must be palatable and appropriate to the peoples’ cultures, which have embodied adaptations to the rigors of climate variability and change.

  • There is a near absence of appropriate indigenous research, design, and development (RD&D) capabilities. Implying that the African countries have to depend on imported (high-cost) technology and its supplier for troubleshooting and upgrading needs.

  • One lesson of the past has been that development efforts have relied too much on prescriptions applied without sufficient understanding and sensitivity to the local communities.