Drawing together Africa's lessons on adaptation and development

16 June 2010

Men with goats crossing river, Joto Africa, photo by ALIN16 June 2011 - Esther Lungahi (ALIN)

The threat of climate change is significant in Africa where the frequency and intensity of severe weather events will severely affect the poor. Access to relevant quality information and knowledge on adaptation is therefore imperative for people to understand the ever-changing climate and what they can do about it. Joto Afrika offers grassroots communities possible solutions for combating the effects of climate change by sharing the findings of African research on climate change and adaptation.

Sharing African research on climate change

Research into climate change adaptation from national level projects to community-based initiatives is being carried out across Africa by researchers, civil society and multilateral organisations. However, it is a challenge to access the findings of these initiatives, as they are not always fully shared or made available. Another problem faced is that the findings are usually presented in technical language, which is not easily understood by non-specialists. Finally, there is also a gap in knowledge sharing between Anglophone and Francophone Africa.

Joto Afrika is a series of printed briefings and online resources which aims to bridge these information gaps by drawing together and summarising lessons and experience on adaptation and development in sub-Saharan Africa. We want to enhance the communication between communities, researchers, and policymakers in Africa. We produce the briefings in both English and French to overcome language barriers and increase the impact of this knowledge sharing.

Having worked on similar publications over the past few years, I have found that when people have better access to non-technical information relating to climate change, they make better informed decisions about how to cope with climate change impacts. Based on the feedback that we have received to-date, our subscribers have found each issue relevant to either their work, research or for their communities. Many others are using the briefings as a training tool to pass information on climate change adaptation. There is great demand for the Joto Afrika issues - currently hard copies reach more than 8,000 organisations and individuals in sub-Saharan Africa and there is need for more. The issues are also freely available online.

Capacity building between ALIN and IDS

Since 2008, a strong partnership has existed between the ALIN and IDS Knowledge Services based on Peer to Peer learning. The partnership led to the production of Joto Afrika series together with Africa Adapt.

During the pilot phase of the issue, ALIN and IDS Knowledge Services organised two secondments (one in Kenya, one in the UK) to share editorial practices and provide training in editorial and writing skills. This approach to capacity development has continued. During my secondment to IDS in June 2009, I got the opportunity to work from IDS while building my capacity on research issues and knowledge management. My secondment saw the production of issue 1 on food security.

During that trip, I was able to interact with many people in different forums in the UK and got the opportunity to participate in a meeting at DFID on the Joto Afrika series. The programme has been very successful and we are now working with the Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins, a global World AgroForestry Centre programme to produce issue 4 on Forestry and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), which will be available in July.

Newly published issue on disaster risk

In May, Joto Afrika published its briefing on disaster risk and climate change adaptation. The issue features disaster risk management approaches with a climate change perspective. It highlights the effects of related disasters in the region, features some best management practice implemented and offers recommendation on various issues. It also includes links to available videos and useful information resources.

Image credit: ALIN, Kenya