Lessons Learned

Project formulation, institutional arrangements and coordination

Programme design should be carefully considered for undeveloped remote areas, taking into account realistic timelines, logistical arrangements and budgets. Reconnaissance visits to the project sites and active engagement with local stakeholders to gain an understanding of the local conditions is essential. An assessment of available baseline data is crucial, particularly in a neglected area. Thus, sufficient time needs to be allocated to the design phase.

In arid and semi-arid regions and remote areas, where available data and understanding of what works, and what does not work in the local context, are very limited, sufficient time needs to be allocated to project design and formulation, necessitating an inception phase, in order to prevent costly inefficiencies during implementation.

The “Delivering as One UN” approach is conceptually accepted as a good way towards harmonization between all agencies. However, it should be designed so that each agency has clearly delineated implementation tasks and responsibilities, without impinging on others. A single procurement process would greatly reduce inefficiencies brought about by each agency conducting its own procurement, particularly when some agencies have to conduct international tenders, while other are obliged to conduct national tenders.

It is critical that there is full involvement and buy-in of the intended beneficiaries and local government leadership from day one. Project design should allow sufficient time to engage with local communities and stakeholders in order to ensure an understanding of the expected benefits of the programme. This will ensure buy-in and ownership from the start. It is imperative to create such mechanisms before the end of the programme to avoid a collapse, which is could easily happen in such remote areas.

FAO adaptation interventions and future directions 

Water is central and critical to climate change adaptation in Chicualacuala and similar areas. The current and future water resource, from all sources, must be scientifically assessed and used sustainability in order to adapt to climate change and support long-term development. Future project formulation and site selection should also assess the water availability potential, as it will significantly influence adaptive capacity to climate change.

The study area where small-scale irrigation has been practised has shown considerable increases in crop production. This has also resulted in the piloting of some of the CA principles such as crop rotation, intercropping and maintaining soil cover through mulching using manure. CA is likely to be more widely accepted if the basic principles are broadened to include crop-livestock interactions that would encourage multipurpose trees and grass species that can be used for both human and livestock needs.

Crop-livestock integration was not envisaged as an intervention by the project, and was not developed, but it will remain a very important area for scaling-up. It has significant potential for building resilience and developing crop-livestock synergies in a smallholder system operating under rainfed conditions, and where livestock are crucial resources in adaptation. The development of animal traction rather than the conventional mechanized ploughing could also be a more affordable and environmentally sustainable solution to the problem of climate change. 

The introduction of the slaughterhouse could catalyse the modernization of the livestock sector and provide opportunities for marketing and livelihood diversification. This is a potentially appropriate adaptation response in areas endowed with livestock resources.

Urgent attention to managing and regulating the harvesting of forest resources, combined with the strengthening of alternative income generation from sources other than charcoal, is vital to climate change adaptation. The development of community forest management plans and the introduction of by-laws serve as a strong basis to maintain the ecological stability of the forests. This could be an example for up-scaling in other areas.

Beekeeping and integrated fish and small animal farming were activities not envisioned in the project document but have been initiated based on local requests. Such flexibility will be important in incorporating changes in climate change adaptation programmes, which will help build resilience.

The development of value chains, particularly small enterprises, based on the resource endowment of the district, will be an important means to adapting to climate change.

The use of renewable energy from the sun and organic waste, and its use for increasing production and value add should be supported at all times as a climate change adaptation. The technical considerations and barriers must be assessed before deciding on feasibility, particularly relating to biogas. The by-products of biogas can also be used for improving soil fertility, which is a serious constraint in the project area. Solar energy has proved a valuable alternative in generating energy particularly in water extraction for both human and livestock needs.

The right climate-related information at the right time is an essential element of any farming operation, equally for subsistence and small-scale farmers in vulnerable marginal areas. This will become even more important under climate change and will make a significant contribution to developing climate resilience.


Social cohesion and gender dynamics play a very important role in the ability of communities to adapt to climate change. Successful scaling-up of promising adaptation interventions must take this into account.



last updated:  Wednesday, June 6, 2012