Towards More Resilient Food Systems for Smallholder Farmers in the Peruvian Altiplano: The Potential of Community-Based Climate Services
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Experiences from the disastrous 2016 El Niño revealed that its forecast, although available, was not known, accessed or understood by a large part of agricultural communities living in remote rural areas. This is all the more striking since these population groups are particularly vulnerable to adverse climate events as their livelihoods heavily depend on climate-sensitive agricultural production. In the framework of Climandes, a twinning project between the meteorological services of Peru and Switzerland, we implemented and evaluated the impact of community-based climate services that were co-developed with the target smallholder communities of the semi-arid highlands of the southern Peruvian Andes, where small-scale farmers are especially exposed to adverse climate events due to high inter-annual climate variability and weak socio-economic capacities. In this chapter we analyse the project implementation through a socio-economic lens. Research results generated alongside the project indicate that the well-directed user engagement resulted in a strong increase of trust in the weather service SENAMHI Peru and led to improved consideration of the information provided in the respective decision-making processes. We highlight the key steps that proved to be indispensable for the implementation of meaningful and sustainable climate services. The project outcomes point to the great and widely untapped potential of community-based climate services to reduce vulnerability and strengthen resilience of smallholder farmers in the face of changing climate conditions.
KeywordsCommunity based climate services Adaptation GFCS User interface platform
We thank the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for their support of the project Servicios CLIMáticos con énfasis en los ANdes en apoyo a las DEcisioneS (CLIMANDES), project no. 7F-08453.01 between the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the WMO. Special thanks for the peer review of this publication go to Filipe Lúcio (GFCS office, WMO) and Guillermo Podestá (Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami). The authors thank the editor and the two anonymous reviewers for their time and comments on this study.
A climate service is a decision aide for governments, organizations and individuals and seamlessly derived from information about the past, current and future climate. Design and implementation of a specific climate service requires in-depth and iterative engagement with the users in order to tailor it to their key characteristics and needs. Effective climate services support climate-smart decisions and in this way lead to increased social and economic resilience to climate variability and change (WMO 2013).
The User Interface Platform is one of the five main pillars of GFCS necessary for a functioning climate service system. It is the mean of interaction for users, researchers and climate service providers to bridge the gap between the science and user community and to guarantee the climate services meet users’ needs. The design of a UIP can vary sector-specifically, but importantly, its design is based on evidence of the users’ needs.
Resilience describes the capability of a system or part of a system to absorb or recover from the effects of a hazardous event and return to its former functionality. This can happen through preservation.
A hazard describes the potential occurrence of a natural or human-induced physical event that may cause loss of life, injury, or other health impacts, as well as damage and loss to property, infrastructure, livelihoods, service provision, and environmental resources. Climate-induced hazards are hazards from atmospheric phenomena, that have the potential to affect humans, their structures or activities adversely. This includes all kind of events that deviate strongly from the mean climate, such as cold waves, dry periods or heavy precipitation events. More specifically, agro-climatic hazards are climate hazards with adverse effects for the agricultural system.
Exposure describes the exposition of people, livelihoods, resources and infrastructure to environmental hazards. The exposure matters, as an environmental hazard only becomes a risk if people or infrastructures are exposed and vulnerable to this hazard.
Sensitivity describes the degree to which a system (a community or an ecosystem) reacts and responds to a climate change or event. This includes both beneficial and problematic responses, resulting for example in food insecurity due to unfavorable climate conditions and yield loss.
Adaptive capacity describes the ability of an individual, community or society to prepare for a coming hazard and take actions to alleviate its adverse impacts. The adaptive capacity to mitigate damage depends upon the available resources (e.g. financial), decision options as well as available information.
The coping capacity is the ability of people, organizations, and systems, using available skills, resources, and opportunities, to address, manage and overcome adverse conditions; in the case of climate an extreme event such as a drought, a frost or an extreme precipitation.
This refers to the predisposition of a community, system or asset to be susceptible to the damaging effects of a hazard through a set of characteristics and circumstances. This can include for example a low adaptive capacity relative to a hazard or a high sensitivity towards it.
Risk transfer describes the process of shifting the financial consequences of a risk from the asset at risk to another, in many cases, less vulnerable party. A risk transfer can occur formally through insurance or through governmental aid.
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