Planning the future for community adaptation to climate change

  • By Yaya Bouaré
  • 01/11/2018

Villagers from Malian villages of Matan and Mpèssèrèbougou villages pose for a picture in Matan, July 2018. (Courtesy: Bouba Traoré)

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Like many other common beliefs in Mali, the communities of Manta and Mpesserebougou Mali's Koulikoro region used to attribute to God the effects of a warming globe.

That view is changing with "farm of the future", a community-based climate project that connects rural farmers to communities with similar climates but that have already undergone transformations linked to climate change, such as lack of rains and floods.

Through visits that took place in July in another two villages, Tongo and Wakoro, which are also in central Mali in Segou region but further up north, members of the two communities were able to witness what their agricultural and climatic systems might look like in the near future - in other words meeting with their future climate selves.

That is because Tongo and Wakoro are located close to the desert where climate change is already more visible than it is in their counterparts, Manta and Mpesserebougou.

Following the visits, to better understand the sites with which they were paired, participants from the two communities, who gathered in focus groups, imagined the climate they hoped for their villages.

They did so by answering a series of critical questions: How their village looks now; How it looked like in the 30 years ago; and what they would want it to be in the next three decades? Finally, participants asked themselves what they needed to do in order to get their villages to get there. Questions and answers revolved around their management of natural resources, food security, poverty and their perception of a changing environment.

Throughout their discussions, the two communities were unequivocal that they wished to see their land become green again, with grazing opportunities for animals and produce for humans.

Women emphasized gardening for fruits and vegetable production.

In relation to farming, the communities said they wished to see the fertility of their soil restored to see better harvests.

Maintaining healthy river flows during the rainy season and developing fish farming were also expressed desires.

The two communities have made plans that could get their villages to the desires future points.

They said they were open to receiving support from Waati Yèlèma Labènw, an aid project part of BRACED that helps communities adapt to the effects of climate change.

Yaya Bouaré is the BRACED knowledge management engagement leader in Mali. He works for the Overseas Development Institute.

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