For the last 15 years, discussions and debates on the debilitating effects of climate change have become increasingly intense.
The stress has been on securing emission reductions by industrialised nations which are the biggest polluters, as it is incumbent on them to show leadership by taking tangible steps to honour the commitments made under the Kyoto Protocol, which came into effect in February 2005. Because the focus has been primarily on mitigating the effects of greenhouse gases, comparatively little attention or human and financial resources have been given to dealing with vulnerability and adaptation strategies. Mitigation and adaptation are, however, increasingly being treated as equally important with many new initiatives aimed at combating climate change approaching the issue from a sustainable development point of view, which would, wherever possible, seek to combine the two.
This case study looks at one example of how adaptation and mitigation can be usefully combined in a way which enhances incomes and diversifies livelihoods of the poor while also securing benefits for biodiversity, gender equality and carbon sequestration. The case study describes how a pilot farm in Niayes, Senegal, launched in the 1970s, has evolved over time to address significant variations in climate change. The farm had to adapt to the production conditions formed by successive droughts and a drying climate (with isohyets drifting southwards); this entailed selecting irrigatable crops, planting dense perennial haies (edges) to act as windbreakers and tracing the passageways and perimeter of plots. These windbreakers fight wind and hydric erosion and provide fuelwood for cooking. This vegetation generated a microclimate conducive to increased production of fruit and vegetables, thereby paving the way for enhanced export income. The innovations and adaptation practises tried in Sébikotane, Senegal consisted of developing an original and integrated way of managing the environment for the benefit of modern, efficient agriculture. This case study recounts that success story and explains how it could be replicated elsewhere in the Sahel and farther afield.
The case study is structured to provide background information on Senegal’s history, climate and socio-economic conditions in section 2. The institutional and policy processes relevant to climate change are set out in section 3. The core of the case study describing the agricultural innovations in Sébikotane is set out in section 4. The last two sections set out lessons for key actors, directions for future research and the key conclusions.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 36.4 (2005) Adaptation and Mitigation Through “Produced Environments”: The Case for Agriculture Intensification in Senegal