New Ph.D. opportunity: Gender perceptions of climate change impacts

This Ph.D. project will study gendered perceptions of climate change impacts with a particular focus on marine fisheries and aquaculture in target regions in both developed and developing countries. Data on perception of climate change impacts will be collected at the individual level, with a purposive sample targeting women and men. The PhD student will 1) conduct a literature review on gendered perceptions of climate change impacts; 2) analyze gendered patterns in local perceptions of climate change impacts using the LICCI data set (www.licci.eu); and 3) collect and analyze primary data on climate change impacts, climatology, catch data from industrial and artisanal fishing activities and post-harvest fresh fish processing and distribution in a case study featuring fisheries and aquaculture sector from Liberia (west Africa).

If you are interested, check the conditions and full requirements here. Interested candidates should send the application to the ICTA María de Maeztu Management Unit (pr.mdm.icta@uab.cat) by 15th September 2019, 5 pm CEST.

LICCI has successfully wrapped up the first training workshop!

The very first training workshop of LICCI took place at ICTA-UAB from 17th to 21st of June 2019. LICCI team members greeted 10 partners coming from different countries in Barcelona, Spain. It is an exciting moment to witness how common ground in research could bring people with very different expertise together and share insights from each one’s own field. The underlying idea of the workshop is to build a comprehensive understanding of the data collection protocols and to discuss how to adapt them to the local context of each partners’ field site.

It was an intense but immensely inspiring week, which enriched discussions about indigenous and local knowledge and climate change, bridged collaborations between young scholars and senior scientists, and interspersed by traditional Spanish cuisine, wine and beers! Hats off to all the partners for their invaluable contributions! See you soon!!

News from the field: insights from the Serer

We arrived in the field by the end of April. The landscape was drab brown and dry, scattered with bushes, acacia trees and baobabs. In the past, the rainy season used to start earlier, we were told; by this time, the first millet seeds would have begun germinating across the fields. But nowadays the duration of the rainy season has shortened from five months to roughly four months, and the dry-spells have become more frequent and less predictable. Farmers tend to wait until the second or even the third rain to seed, fearing that an unexpected dry-spell would harm the seedlings. As a way of mitigating climate change effects, farmers also have started to rely more on shorter cycle crop varieties, since the shorter maturation period is better suited to the higher uncertainty and to the later onset and shorter duration of the rains. 

We pre-tested the LICCI methods among the Serer ethnic group, in Niakhar District (west of the Groundnut Basin, Senegal). The majority of the Serer population are farmers, who practice rain-fed shifting agriculture. Interestingly, and in contrary to the trends observed in other semi-arid regions in the world, farmers mentioned an increase in the rainfall during the last decades. During the testing, we constructed the community timeline with the locals, and learned that after a 30-year period of drought and a severe drought event in the 70s, starting from the early 2000s the rain has become more abundant and frequent but also more patchy and unpredictable. With the return of the rain, some crops varieties abandoned in the past due to the lack of water are also coming back.

We collected a long list of local indicators of climate change impacts. The list covers a wide range of local observations, including: higher water salinity; less foggy and cloudy days; higher frequency of patchy rains; higher temperatures; decrease of the duration of seasonal rivers and ponds; disappearance of terrestrial animal species; changes in soil humidity; decrease in pasture availability and composition; increase in livestock illnesses etc. This indicates that the environment is changing and that local people not only perceive it, but are also concerned about it. However, it is not only the climate that is changing and local peoples’ perception of the changes taking place in the region were extremely interconnected with many other drivers of change. In most of our conversations, deforestation, increase in population pressure, youth exodus, availability of off-farm work, and development and state interventions came up together with climate change to explain the fundamental transformations taking place in the region.

The time we spent in Niakhar has enriched our insights, which would not only help us refine the data collection protocols, but also allow us appreciate multiple ways of knowing and strengthens our conviction that knowledge systems from more traditional, resource-dependent societies can make invaluable contributions to climate change research. Our most sincere gratitude to the Serer, that so generously shared their time and stories with us. We take their voices with great responsibility. Djokonjal a paax!

Vanesse Labeyrie, Anna Porcuna Ferrer

New publication from the LICCI team!

“A collaborative approach to bring insights from local observations of climate change impacts into global climate change research”

Distribution of world meteorological stations based on the CRUTEM.4.6.0.0 dataset and locations of the reviewed case studies along with the main climates according to the Koeppen–Geiger classification.

Based on a review of research on place-based observations of climate change impacts, in this paper the LICCI team explores the challenges and potentials of bringing insights from indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) into climate research. Specifically, we explore the transferability, integration, and scalability of ILK, and conclude that despite the untapped potential of ILK as data source, there are important geographical gaps and insufficient coordinating efforts to reach that potential. We suggest creating a community of practice as a necessary step to bring place-based climate knowledge into climate change research and policy agendas.

Open access: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877343518301295?via%3Dihub

Check the LICCI-classification tree!

News from the field: the Betsimisaraka expertise

As a continuation of the work undertaken in Kenya, our team carries on with the protocol testing in Madagascar to further improve the methodologies for future global data collection.

In April, LICCI core team members Xiaoyue Li and Vincent Porcher took a field trip to Madagascar to work with the Betsimisaraka people of Vavatenia. Residing in the hinterland of the east coast in northern Madagascar, the Bestsimisaraka have a long history of extensive interaction with agroforestry systems, they are known for various rice-growing practices such as shallow paddies field and rainfed rice after slash-and-burn. The humid tropical region where the Betsimisaraka live is well-known for its rich biodiversity but is also a regular subject to cyclonic episodes with high rainfall records.

With the immeasurable support from Dr. Stéphanie Carrière (The French Research Institute for Development, IRD) and Dr. Vanesse Labeyrie (The French Agricultural Research Center for International Development, CIRAD, and also a core team member of LICCI), Vincent and Xiao were able to build a growing collaborative relationship with local research institutions and obtain authorizations from the mayor and the Fokotany chief (local authority) to carry out the work in Vavatenia. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Mihantra, who is a Betsimisaraka community member currently doing her Ph.D. at University of Tamatave, greatly helped facilitating the fieldwork.

The Betsimisaraka generously shared with us a long list of changes they observed over the past decade, ranging from more frequent droughts to dried and cracked soils, which the latter is an unprecedented phenomenon considering this is a humid region. We learned that these recent climatic disturbances had caused numerous negative consequences on their economic activities. In particular, the clove and the rice productions are heavily impacted by the irregularity of rainfalls, of which, the former is considered as the local economic backbone, while the latter serves as the primary staple food of Malagasy people. All of these valuable information shared by Betsimisaraka people is also embedded deeply in their daily concerns about the household income and food security. These new issues faced by the Betsimisaraka are inevitably intertwined with the country’s complicated political situations and are accentuated by climate change and deforestation, which the latter is a major concern on the island. Moreover, this learning experience with Betsimisaraka people allows us to realize and emphasize on the complexity of the inter-relational chains between local and global climatic phenomena. It is also important to note that some local indicators of climate change impacts (LICCIs) could quite be the result of the concomitant effect between climate change and local drivers, as it is the case in the East of Madagascar with the deforestation of the rainforest.

The LICCI team stays enthusiastic about continuing this collaboration in close relationship with the Betsimisaraka people and extending our research spectrum to other Malagasy cultural groups in the near future. We are deeply grateful for the Betsimisaraka’s warm welcome, and extremely delighted about the chance of visiting the incredible agroforest and spending time with the Betsimisaraka to learn their experience and knowledge.

Misaotra betsaka !

News from the field: Accounts from the Daasanach

Two members of the LICCI team (Victoria Reyes-García and André B. Junqueira) have recently returned from Kenya, where they have started working with the Daasanach people. The Daasanach are a semi-nomadic agro-pastoralist group that inhabit arid areas in southern Ethiopia and northeastern Kenya, in the surroundings of the Omo River Delta and the Lake Turkana – a remote area known as the ‘Craddle of Humankind’, where the earliest signs of our species have been found.

Counting on the invaluable support from colleagues from the University of Helsinki (Mar Cabeza and Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares) and in close collaboration with the Daasanach community member Paul Lokono Haira (Mount Kenya University), Viki and André were authorized by Daasanach elders to visit villages in the surroundings of the town of Ileret. The visit has helped to improve the methods developed by the LICCI core team to document local indicators of climate change impacts. The Daasanach people have kindly shared not only their detailed perceptions of change in climatic, physical, and biological systems, but also their holistic understanding of socio-economic and environmental drivers of these changes, and how they have been coping with these challenging conditions. We learned that, in recent decades, the Daasanach have been facing numerous new challenges derived from the complex interplay between rapidly changing climatic conditions and socio-economic and political changes that include the construction of dams along the Omo River and restrictions on mobility and resource use brought about by political boundaries and conservation areas (i.e., the Sibiloi National Park).

The information the Daasanach have shared with us has enlightened our understanding of the complex interplays between climate and other drivers of change, and it will be part of the global analysis that will be performed by the LICCI project. The LICCI team is discussing with the Daasanach some possibilities for continuing this collaboration and ways in which this information can be used to help their community. We are deeply grateful for the Daasanach for their warm welcome and for willing to share with us their knowledge and experiences. Tagilé!

‘I enjoyed very much taking part in this project. I have interacted with my own community and learned many things about my people that I did not know before. Also, through the interaction with the LICCI team, I also learned how to conduct a research project in the future. This type of project is important as it shows how people are dealing and adapting to changes in climate. Viki and André are friendly and a wonderful research team to work with. Thanks a lot. God bless you.’  Paul Lokono Haira, Daasanach

Call for applications is now OPEN!

Traditional Betsimisaraka house in Madagascar
(Photo by Vincent Porcher)

We are seeking applications from Ph.D. students, early career scholars, and practitioners to join us for this exciting opportunity to work on local indicators of climate change impacts. We welcome applicants with background in anthropology, geography, ecology, and related fields working with indigenous populations or climate change topics to apply! Check out the Call for applications here.

COP24 paves way for operationalization of Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform

by Denise Margaret Matias

A Quechua weaver from Chinchero, Peru
(Photo by Vincent Porcher)

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP), established in 2015 under the Paris Agreement (Decision 1/CP.21), is one step closer to its operationalization after parties to the UNFCCC agreed to launch a Facilitative Working Group (FWG), which will be composed of seven party representatives and seven indigenous representatives. The FWG will also be open to having local community representatives once a constituency is established under the UNFCCC. This is a milestone for the UNFCCC, as it officially allows non-state parties to negotiate on an equal level as parties. With the launch of the FWG, the LCIPP inches forward towards fulfilling its functions of knowledge exchange, capacity building, and integration of indigenous knowledge in climate policies and actions.

LICCI meets other participatory European projects

by Petra Benyei

(Photo by Petra Benyei)

The LICCI project loves the idea of using the distributed efforts and public participation in science approaches both to collect Local Indicators on Climate Change Impacts and to empower the communities with which the project will work. In order to further explore the challenges and opportunities we will face, LICCI team member Petra Benyei travelled to Paris to attend the “Empowering civil society through participatory investigation?” European Round Table Workshop organized in collaboration by European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) within the H2020 project Doing it Together Science (DITOs), Pour une alliance sciences en société (ALLISS), Institut francilien recherche, innovation, société (IFRIS), Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Sciences Innovations Sociétés (LISIS) and the Living Knowledge Network (LKN). Insights from her participation in this workshop will help the team develop meaningful and sensitive ways of engaging community members and NGO’s to build the LICCI network.