Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security

The Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Conference took place last month in Kenya. In this event, more than 1200 attendees representing governments, the private sector, the academy, and other civil society institutions, held meetings aimed to contribute to the development of Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) approaches as a first step towards building resilient food systems, improving food security, and adapting to climate change in Africa. 

The discussions centered on understanding the benefits of EBA practices and how to harness them to the current and future agricultural practices implemented in the region through building financeable business models that generate jobs, identifying legislation that will incentivize countries to invest in agriculture, and developing strategies to incentivize private sector involvement.

There have been a number of policy initiatives and programs over the past few decades.  During the first day of the event, participants highlighted agricultural challenges (such as declining yields and food security crisis).  They also discussed ongoing initiatives designed to transition to a more EBA-driven agricultural approach such as projects to promoting traditional crops in Zambia, indigenous vegetables in Nigeria, and the inclusion of women’s rights in Ghana and Rwanda.

Seven parallel dialogue sessions discussed the following topics:

  • The role of youth and women in EBA-driven agriculture: discussions centered on the importance of youth and woman and specific policies designed to facilitate their access to technology, markets, finance, education and training as a pathway to acquire new skills and technologies, and launch viable agri-businesses.
  • The role of private sector in upscaling EBA: solutions were discussed to facilitate the participation of the private in order to achieve an EBA upscaling. Among the noted measures, making financial services more affordable across the value chain; improving physical infrastructure and multi-stakeholder platforms, and adjusting regulatory framework to reduce the costs and facilitate EBA activities.
  • Financing EBA in Africa: panelists underlined the importance of policy incentives to unleash private sector investment in agriculture and other multilateral finance institutions as sources of financing, as well as the importance of developing financial products that meet the needs of smallholder farmers, the strengthening of cooperatives, and risk mitigation that can increase the willingness of banks to lend to farmers.
  • Education, ICT, Data and its Role in Transforming EBA-driven Agriculture in Africa: in this plenary, ways of how to mainstreaming EBA into all the education system across Africa as well as the role of policy makers to grant access ICT’s were discussed. Solutions like providing adequate fiscal measures and steps to enhance data and technology access for farmers were suggested.
  • The Role of South-South Cooperation in Harnessing EBA for Food Security in Africa:  It was noted that South-South cooperation should take place primarily in water; energy; leadership and governance topics and that it should understand the local context rather than applying a generic model across the regions.
  • Innovations to Reduce Post Harvest Losses (PHLs) – EBA Role in Africa PHL and Waste: The conclusion was that these innovations are needed for PHL in order to improve food security and can be done in a way to promote biodiversity protection and jobs creation.
  • Climate Change and Resilience through EBA: recommendations were made such as to align climate processes and frameworks, monitor the impact of EBA measures at the ecosystem level, and better link research and policy agendas.

In conversations around how to make EBA work in Africa it was agreed that the issue for Africa is not the absence of policies, but their weak implementation given the gaps in knowledge regarding how to turn policies into action. Other mentioned challenges were the conditionalities that often come with funding, lack of policy coherence and the challenge of adaptation of the measures to the local context. To overcome these challenges, some measures were mentioned such as enhanced intra-governmental coordination, tackling high costs of production and low market prices for smallholders, prioritizing food production for local markets, and removing bottlenecks in delivering government allocations to youth and women.

Before the closing session, the plenary focused on plans and strategies for implementation and scaling up of EBA approaches and agro-value chains.  They noted the need for coordination between multiple government ministries, the need to reconcile and harmonize national and continental EBA-related policy frameworks, learning from indigenous knowledge combined with innovation, sustainable land management, an mainstreaming EBA into agricultural, forest, water, infrastructure, energy, education and other policies.

For more information on the outcomes of the Conference, please visit the following link.

Photo credit:Flickr