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Strengthening partnerships to leverage existing ICT enabled climate information services

September 16, 2016

An emphasis has been made that, if efforts to up-scale climate smart agricultural solutions are to thrive, it is critical for CTA to leverage existing platforms and stakeholders at large, and work towards harmonising and strengthening these collaborations.

The focus can, among other issues, be on building strategic synergies, review and improve these platforms and mechanisms. This can facilitate the expansion of reach, avoid duplication and improve mobilisation of resources, hence bringing about meaningful, sustainable up-scaling of climate smart agricultural solutions in Southern Africa.

ICT tools used in extension

There is evidence of existing extension services. This needs to be well organised, more pluralistic and decentralised. Some services provided include radio and television, short message services (SMS), video, digital pens, public ICT access centres, web portals, call centres, mobile applications, field campaigns, print medias, cooperatives, knowledge generation and dissemination – special programmes, national agriculture information services, e-voucher system, and innovation hubs.

The existence of different knowledge management platforms both virtual and physical provides a range of opportunities to various actors. Countries are taking advantage of the existence of multiple services provided with interest on climate change and climate resilient systems. This presents an opportunity for diversity and increased outreach.

Knowledge management for effective use of ICTs

However, it has been realised that knowledge management approaches need to be enhanced and re-aligned to ensure they support innovative ICT enabled climate information services. The increasing penetration of ICT in countries breads increased opportunities as communities can now not only access limited information such as SMS, but can also access (on demand) information that they need. More innovative ICTs such as interactive voice response and video can be leveraged to break the barriers of cost and illiteracy, hence improve accessibility.

While it is recognised that various organisations provide extension services and employ various ICT and knowledge management mechanisms, there is need to effect national stakeholder engagement. This process should aim to understand who is doing what, where and how partnerships can be formed for collaboration.

Adapting proven approaches to local conditions

As much as approaches that work successfully in other countries may need to be replicated, it is important to note the importance of localisation of approaches. Various local policies, structures and environment, among other issues require a well re-structured approach re-aligned to the local situation.

With new technologies and more innovative ways of integrating ICT in climate information services emerging, the gap in capacity of individuals as well as institutions has been growing. Inadequate capacity over-shadows growth and adoption of emerging approaches, as well as effectiveness and efficiency of existing approaches. This calls for the need for continuous capacity development to respond to rising capacity needs. It has been observed that this is also one of the key issues that should be considered in order to break the barriers to up scaling of climate smart agricultural solutions in Southern Africa.

The need for enhanced learning and knowledge exchange among different actors within and among countries should be seen an opportunity to understand challenges, learn from failure and success of other actors, and encourage collaboration. This can also help in the build-up of knowledge repository to inform the review and development of platform and approaches.

Blog post by Simon Wandila, Social Reporter for the Regional planning meeting on 'Scaling-Up Climate-Smart Agricultural Solutions for Cereals and Livestock Farmers in Southern Africa'.

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Publication: 'Climate Solutions that Work for Farmers' (CTA, 2016)

Article: 'Building climate-resilient cereal and livestock farming in southern Africa'

Blog post: 'Climate information through ICTs'

Blog post: 'The Road to climate-resilient cereal and livestock farming

Blog post: 'Knowledge management to support ICT-enabled climate information services'

Watch the video interviews carried out during the meeting