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Country-specific challenges to improving effectiveness, scalability and sustainability of agricultural climate services in Africa

Climate services are playing an increasing role in efforts to build the resilience of African agriculture to a variable and changing climate. Efforts to improve the contribution of climate services to agriculture must contend with substantial differences in national agricultural climate services landscapes. Context-specific factors influence the effectiveness, scalability and sustainability of agricultural climate service, but in ways that are challenging to anticipate. In the context of six countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Zambia), this paper addresses the need to consider differing national contexts when developing strategies to make agricultural climate services in sub-Saharan Africa more effective, scalable and sustainable. Based on authors' collective firsthand knowledge and a review of information from secondary sources, we identify key strengths and weaknesses of climate services relative to agriculture sector needs in the focus countries; and assess factors that have contributed to those differences. Focus countries differ substantially in areas such as the degree of public support, alignment of services with agricultural needs, service delivery channels, degree of decentralization, and public—private-sector balance. These differences have been driven largely by differing national policies, delivery capacity and external actors, but not by responsiveness to agricultural sector demands. Building on the analyses of country differences and their drivers, we then discuss four key opportunities to further strengthen the contribution of climate services to agriculture: (a) leveraging farmer demand to drive scaling and sustainability; (b) exploiting digital innovation within a diverse delivery strategy; (c) balancing public and private sector comparative advantage; and (d) embedding climate services in agricultural extension. For each of these opportunities, we consider how different country contexts can impact the potential effectiveness, scalability and sustainability of services; and how efforts to strengthen those services can account for context-specific drivers to manage the tradeoffs among effectiveness, scalability and sustainability. 

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Gender empowerment and parity in East Africa: evidence from climate-smart agriculture in Ethiopia and Kenya

The aim of this study is to understand the role of climate-smart villages (CSVs) in promoting gender empowerment and equality in East Africa. This paper uses data collected from 280 and 305 randomly selected farm household heads in Doyogena (Ethiopia) and Nyando (Kenya), respectively. To analyse the data, the gender empowerment index for climate resilient agriculture (GEI-CRA) and the gender parity index (GPI) were constructed based on guidelines from the literature. In both Doyogena and Nyando, households in CSVs scored higher GEI. Comparing men and women in the CSVs, women were found to be more empowered compared to men and comparing between the two sites, household heads in Doyogena were more empowered than those in Nyando. Regarding gender parity index (GPI), in both sites, majority of the women in the empowered households in CSVs were either at equal status with men or even at higher status than men. These findings shed light on the potential of CSVs in enhancing gender empowerment and promoting gender equality. The positive contribution of CSVs may guide policymakers to scale up these practices with a better-targeted approach that recognize and adequately address the implementation of CSA practices so that men and women can equally benefit.

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Framework for Incorporating Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Elements in Climate Information Services (CIS)

We advance a gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) framework for incorporating climate information services (CIS), which is now becoming central due to the ongoing climate change and climate variability. We understand gender as a social construct of who women and men are supposed to be. Gender inequalities seem to be enduring such that, despite innovations in agricultural and climate information technologies, unequal gender power dynamics will still emerge. As far back as the 1960s, the gendered inequalities in accessing technologies could be identified. Such a historical analysis clearly shows that the different technological solutions are clearly embedded within the society in which they evolve in. The paper uses a literature review methodological approach whilst informing the implementation of an ongoing Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) Project. The findings reveal that unless women are intentionally included in designing and developing agricultural technologies, specifically climate information systems, there is a danger that women will be excluded from the benefits. Conway’s law clearly stipulates that technological innovations are not neutral as they are a projection of the values of their creators. It is, therefore, central to grasp the values of creators of different technological solutions and innovations. The key findings are built around the espoused conceptual framework, which has five indicators, namely: (1) gender targeting by intentional design, (2) collection of sex-disaggregated data, (3) conduct an analysis of the sex-disaggregated data, (4) dissemination of the technological options and (5) conduct continuous monitoring of gender and ongoing empowerment evaluation. The five indicator domains are further complemented by their respective assumptions. Our GESI recommendations are on the five selected indicator domains. These domains must be used within the three focal development areas: agricultural data hub, climate information services training, and flood and drought indicators, which are all being implemented in Zambia. Other AICCRA Project countries are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, and Senegal. This paper engages why CIS has not gained significant traction in Africa, as it has not genuinely incorporated the differential gender technological nuances.

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Assessment of the relations between crop yield variability and the onset and intensity of the West African Monsoon

Timely information on the onset of rain is essential for effectively adapting to climate variability and increasing the resilience of rain-fed systems. However, defining optimal sowing dates based on the onset of rain has been challenging. We compared and analyzed the West African Monsoon onset according to Raman's, modified Sivakumar's, Yamada's, and Liebmann's definitions using station data from 13 locations in Senegal from 1981 to 2020. Subsequently, we systematically analyzed the effect of the differently estimated monsoon onsets(WAM-OS) on maize development. To this end, we applied the set of the generated WAM-OS as sowing dates in simulations of maize growth and yields, applying the Agricultural Production Systems sIMulator(APSIM) at 13 locations representing different agroclimatic regions across Senegal. We examined the impact of the sowing dates under variable conditions of soil organic carbon(SOC) and plant available water capacity(PAWC). Our analysis showed statistically significant differences between the WAM-OS dates, rainfall characteristics computed for these, and maize yields simulated using different sowing dates according to the WAM-OS definitions. We found Liebmann's onset dates were most suitable for both hydrological and agronomic applications since they were characterized by the lowest probabilities of prolonged dry spells after onset, the highest amount of rainfall in the mid-season, and the highest simulated maize yields compared to other onset definitions. Our results highlight the importance of sowing dates and their accurate prediction for improving crop productivity in the study area. We also found SOC and PAWC were important factors that improved maize yields. We recommend improved access to climate information services to help smallholder farmers get timely information that helps them in their sowing decisions and encourage agronomic interventions that improve the SOC level, soil pore volume to retain more water and other soil properties directly(e.g., tillage) and indirectly(suited cropping systems) that contribute to enhancing crop productivity.

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