Upcoming workshops

We are currently seeking to establish more collaborations with researchers and practitioners based in Europe, Latin America, Oceania and Asia whose work involves climate change and local communities, and who are willing to contribute to the goals of the LICCI project. With that purpose, and if the current COVID-19 crisis allows, several regional training workshops will be held. If you are interested, keep track of the news on our website.

Beyond the local: The geographical spread of climate change impacts in the Bassari landscape (Senegal)

The Bassari are a group of agriculturalists who live in the South West of Senegal, in the Kédougou region. Hunter-gatherers until the last century, the Bassari nowadays practice extensive agriculture, alternating crops with fallow areas. Among the many threats to Bassari traditional agricultural system, we recorded one that goes beyond the local: the arrival of transhumance herders coming from the North of Senegal, where demographic increase and the decrease in rain has affected pasture availability.

Khaya senegalensis -“atyes” in Bassari language, pruned by transhumant pastoralists to obtain fodder

From October 2019, LICCI core team member Anna Porcuna and her partner, Benjamin Klappoth, have been conducting research among the Bassari, an ethnic group of about 22.000 people found in Senegal and Guinea. Anna’s research aims to understand how the agricultural system of the Bassari from the village of Ethiolo, Senegal, is impacted by climate change.  The village of Ethiolo, in the region of Kédougou, is situated in a hilly region characterized by a tropical dry or savannah climate type. The Bassari of Ethiolo practice subsistence farming and their agriculture is rain-fed and mostly cereal-based, with some cultivation of vegetables and legumes. Climatological research in the area shows clear climate change trends, including an increase in temperature and changes in precipitation. The Bassari, themselves, also perceive many local impacts of climate change, including a shorter rainy season and the earlier dry out of seasonal rivers. 

However, the Bassari also mentioned other threats to their livelihood, and particularly the encroachment of their lands by transhumant pastoralists coming from the North of Senegal. According to the Bassari, in the last 10 years, transhumant pastoralists have started to bring their livestock to pasture in Bassari fallow fields and forests. Respondents reported that the arrival of transhumant pastoralists has resulted in a deforestation increase, an increase in the frequency and intensity of wild fires, and an intensification of livestock illnesses.  

While the Bassari do not link the arrival of the pastoralists to changes in the local climatic system, far away from Bassari land, in the North of Senegal, demographic increase and precipitation decrease have affected the availability of pasture, leading to a shift of pasture mobility patterns. Notably, transhumant herders are nowadays moving more and more to the South to find fresh fodder for their sheep. Not familiar with the functioning of the local ecosystem inhabited by the Bassari and reticent to change their management practices, the transhumant pastoralists use of Bassari landscape seems to be having many negative impacts. The Bassari complain that transhumant pastoralists do not follow traditional forest-management techniques that have for long time helped them preserve the forest. For example, to feed their herds, pastoralists from the Nord extensively cut big branches from the tree, thus damaging the tree. Moreover, they do not separate the cut branches from the tree trunks, thus increasing changes of tree burning during wild fire season.

The example shows how climate change impacts that might be perceived locally (i.e., drought in the Northern regions) can have an impact that goes far beyond the local (in this case through the increased mobility of transhumance herders), affecting the intensity of climate change impacts in a different geographical area (i.e., the Bassari landscape). 

Picture above: Focus Group Discussion about crop and landrace traits. Picture on the left: the LICCI team working with the Bassari. From left to right: Susanne, Pascal, Viki, Anna and Benjamin.

Interns blog!

A mandatory part of every MSc at the Wageningen University & Research (The Netherlands) is to carry out a full-time internship. Coming from environmental policy (Francesca) and climate change studies (Marzia), we wanted our internship to focus on climate change impacts and how people perceive them. So, we started looking for internships and we came across the LICCI project (LASEG Research group).

After a Skype meeting with Viki, in September 2019 we joined the LICCI team for six months.  

At LICCI we carried out several tasks aimed to improve the project. For instance we helped the LICCI core team to revise the LICCI protocol, to test the LICCI app, as well as we facilitated the organization of two out of three LICCI workshops (in September and November 2019). Moreover, we were in charge of the dissemination part by taking care and updating the LICCI website. 

However, we also had our researches to focus on: Francesca investigated how climate change impacts wild edible plants and how it is locally perceived, while Marzia looked into water-related indicators of climate change, their perception in local communities and the struggles to access water in some areas of the world.

Considering these past months spent at LICCI, we have really positive feelings about this internship. Not only we learnt a lot about the contribution of local knowledge to climate change research, but also we understood how such a big project works, with all its parts, phases, challenges, and how the skillful LICCI researchers manage it all!

The LICCI’s inclusive and friendly environment encouraged us to be active members of the team and to boost our curiosity, so, if you are interested in doing an internship at LICCI, just go for it! 

Don’t you wish to do your internship in a friendly, dynamic and international environment?

Francesca & Marzia, interns at LICCI

Victoria Reyes-García receives an ERC Proof of Concept grant linked to the LICCI project

Victoria Reyes-García ICREA Research Professor at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) is one of the 76 top researchers that will receive ERC Proof of Concept grants. This top-up funding is awarded to ERC grantees to explore the innovation potential of their scientific discoveries and bring the results of their frontier research closer to market or society. This final injection of €11.4 million pushes the total number of ERC Proof of Concept funded projects during 2019 to 200. With the additional money researchers can, for example, investigate business opportunities, establish intellectual property rights, conduct technical validation, or explore the social benefits of their frontier research findings.

The new grant will help the LICCI team, led by Victoria Reyes-García, to create an Indigenous Climate Change Impacts Observation Network (ICCION) oriented to bring Indigenous knowledge and perspectives to climate change policy fora.

The ERC project Local Indicators of Climate Change Impacts (LICCI) explores the potential of Indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) to contribute to climate research, but only tangentially addresses the marginalized position faced by Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLC) to bring their knowledge and perspectives to climate change research and policy fora. This new project will contribute to bring IPLC’s knowledge and perspectives to climate change policy fora 1) by engaging with IPLC on the co-design of a digital Indigenous Climate Change Impacts Observation Network (ICCION) and 2) by engaging with the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which has the mandate to strengthen the role played by IPLC in addressing and responding to climate change.

The Proof of Concept grant amounts to a total of €150,000 for an 18-month period, which in this case will go towards the creation of an Indigenous Climate Change Impacts Observation Network.

ICCION is an innovative response to the IPCC call for more ground level data as it will expand the geographical and temporal coverage of data collection on local indicators of climate change impacts. Moreover, partnering with IPLC and international organizations constitutes an important social innovation, as these alliances might facilitate IPLC effective participation in climate change science-policy fora. Finally, ICCION innovates in developing technological solutions to address technical (i.e., low internet access) and social concerns (i.e., Indigenous data sovereignty) that are of particular relevance for IPLC, but which have often been neglected in other technological developments.

The long-term establishment of the observation network proposed here will contribute to give IPLC a more relevant voice in global climate policy fora, not only by informing climate change impact research, but also making it more socially acceptable.

Notes from the field: the chronicles of sensitivity to LICCI among rural farmers in Southwestern Nigeria

During October and December 2019, the LICCI partner Ayansina Ayanlade and colleagues – Isaac A. Oluwatimilehin and Godwin Atai – started to implement the LICCI protocol among rural farmers in the states of Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ogun and Kwara in Southwestern Nigeria. The team worked to identify the sensitivities of rural farmers to climate change impacts and the choice of adaptation strategies in farming communities. The selected settlements were crop and livestock farming communities for the past century – Oko, Otamokun, and Ilora in Oyo state, Akinlalu, Odemuyiwa and Erefe in Osun state, Ijare, Ibule Soro and Owena in Ondo state; Onibode, Kobape and Odeda in Ogun state; and Ogbondoroko, Shao and Omupo in Kwara state. The selection of the field sites is based on the AIMS research project based in the Department of Geography, Obafemi Awolowo University, although, the reports from two major states are presented here.

Otamokun and Ilora in Oyo state are predominantly smallholder farmers communities who cultivate both tuber and cereal crops such as cassava, maize, rice, millet, sorghum among several others. But, Ijare, and Owena in Ondo State are predominantly farmers largely involved in tree crops like cocoa, coffee, rubber, and palm production. The sites generally fall within tropical wet and dry climate of Koppen’s climate classification dominated by two seasons which are the rainy and dry seasons.

In each farming community, farmers were interviewed individually through Semi-Structured Interview (SSI) and collectively through Focus Group Discussion (FGD). The fieldwork at this stage aims to: (1) explore the history of the study site in relation to changes in the climate and activities of the local people such as agricultural activities; and (2) to assess their perception of climate change and how their farming/cropping activities have been threatened by climate change in recent years.

Farmers during FGD

During the SSI and FGD, the majority of farmers stated that they perceived changes in the climate system including “increase in the annual temperature and reduction in the amount of rainfall in both early and late growing seasons”. Generally, the elders among the rural farmers claimed that “there have been changes in the onset of the rainy season which is now delaying the planting time, and cropping seasons are now shortened as planting dates are no longer fixed because of changes associated with weather events”. What is obvious from the SSI and FGD is that the majority of farmers reported that

the climate now is by far different from what we used to have in the past. Climate change has resulted in changes in the biophysical environment, poor yielding of crops as a result of change associated with a reduction in rainfall, attack of pests and diseases. Some pests not known in back the years are now prominent, crops planted in the past are not as productive as they used to be, even cropping trees is no longer sustainable”.

Scientific papers report that income significantly determines climate change adaptation strategies and in this case, the majority of farmers live below the poverty level, with monthly incomes less than $ 100. Therefore, we have little understanding of what motivates rural households to adapt to climate change, and how to link smallholder farmers’ climate change adaptation decisions with their local knowledge about climate change. This will be the focus in the next stage of this research and more results will be presented soon. 

Last but not least: the LICCI training workshops are officially concluded

A new page of the LICCI project is about to start as we have concluded the third and the very last training workshop. In November, we hosted 17 partners at ICTA-UAB in Barcelona for one week of intense training workshop again to comprehend the LICCI protocol . It is another fruitful and constructive week in term of discussion and networking. The LICCI core team would like to thank all of the participants for this inspiring week. We look forward to hearing and sharing our partners’ fieldwork updates soon!

LICCI currently has 43 partners from across the world. These three workshops have served as bridges for both core team members and partners to build even stronger networks, and eventually will lead to many collaborations in various formats and sub-working groups in the making.

We would like to thank all of the partners again, without whom this adventure would not have been possible.