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.

Survey to scientists completed

by Anna Porcuna-Ferrer

Photo by David Garcia del Amo

Before launching the LICCI project we conducted an online survey to capture “experts’ opinion” about the feasibility of incorporating LICCIs in climate change studies. The survey was completed by 190 Spanish scientists working on climate change issues who gave their opinion about the potential contribution of LICCI to improve our understanding of climate change effects in the climatic, physical, biological and in the human food-production systems at the local level. Survey results will be available soon! Link to the survey

Call for applications: Master thesis within LICCI project

Neglected and underutilized crops and climate change adaptation

by Anna Porcuna-Ferrer

A Malagasy farmer holding an Eben tree pod
(Photo by Vincent Porcher)

Are you looking for Master Thesis topic? Are you interested in climate change and neglected or underutilized crops? Then, don’t hesitate to apply. Call for application is now open.  

In the last decades there has been a dramatic decline in agrobiodiversity in farmers’ fields worldwide. Global food security has become increasingly dependent on a limited number of varieties and few major crops. The situation has driven attention to “neglected and underutilized crops” (NUS), which have traditionally been excluded from research and development agenda and ignored by policy-makers. NUS are generally nutritionally rich traditional varieties adapted to risky and fragile environments and which do not require high inputs. Previous research suggests that NUS have untapped potential for reducing risks and adapting to climate change.

The proposed MSc thesis topic seeks to understand how climate change affects the management and diversity of NUS preserved on-farm and the potentials of NUS for climate change adaptation.

LICCI team complete and ready!

by Anna Porcuna-Ferrer

Coming from six different countries located across three different continents, the LICCI team met in November 2018 at ICTA-UAB (Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain) to put their brains together and get their hands on the work of bringing local knowledge into climate change research. 

See the whole team