Climate-Smart Villages

“I now comfortably pay [school] fees for my children from the sale of the goats.”

In Kenya’s Nyando basin, frequent storms, intensifying fluctuations between flooding and droughts and rising temperatures made it difficult for farmers to plan a successful harvest. While climate-smart techniques and technologies were emerging as potential solutions, making sense of these new approaches and putting them into practice can be overwhelming for any one farmer alone. To address this problem, CGIAR introduced Climate-Smart Villages (CSV), a community-led approach that empowers farmers to work together to solve challenges and introduce climate smart innovations that build resilience for everyone.

Communities in Nyando had long relied on agriculture for subsistence and income alike, but production had been steadily declining by the time CGIAR scientists arrived in 2011. Using the CSV approach, the villages in Nyando came together to share their hopes for the future in the context of a warming climate and identify barriers to achieving their shared vision. CGIAR researchers then provided information about possible interventions, but the villagers were the ones to communally decide on what approaches and innovations to implement. This helped ensure that solutions were appropriate for the context of the community while giving them ownership over the changes being introduced.

Following consultations with CGIAR scientists, farmers in the Nyando basin community introduced a new breed of goat that grows bigger, matures faster, and produces more milk, translating to more food and income for families. “I now comfortably pay [school] fees for my children from the sale of the goats,” shares Daniel Langat, a farmer in Nyando.

Seeing this success, farmers applied the CSV model to other challenges they were experiencing, such as deteriorating arable land and water scarcity. With CGIAR support, communities in Nyando implemented agroforestry practices, introduced solar-powered irrigation, built greenhouses and adopted efficient water management systems, thus ensuring the land could sustainably support the agricultural production that is the lifeblood of these communities.  

Sustainability is built into the CSV model. In Nyando, CGIAR helped establish a collective action fund so that climate adaptation could continue in perpetuity. Farmers deposit profits in a communal savings account, from which they can take out loans to pay for new agricultural innovations. The revenue they earn through increased productivity is then injected back into the community through these collective funds.

Today, the CSV model has successfully been applied in thousands of communities around the world – each with different local contexts and community needs, giving farmers the power to secure a brighter future for their families and for generations to come.

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