5 Innovative Ways to Adapt to Climate Change
1. Share Valuable Farming Tips

Farmers in Ghana can recall a time when farming was easier. “When I first started farming I didn’t have to put in so much effort to add nutrients to the land, and the yield was still very good. Now I have to put in extra soil nutrients,” said local farmer Clement Naazuin. Decades of intensified heat and wind, less rainfall, and unpredictable weather has taken its toll on the soil. Farmers in Ghana are taking advantage of an important resource, the Farmer Field School, which is organized by the government and multiple NGOs. Members of the community, like Clement, teach other farmers innovative farming techniques to help them adapt to climate change. Farmers, like Clement, are benefitting from the proposed solutions like composting, which cost nothing to implement. Farmers have broken with the tradition of planting on flat surfaces, which allows rain to wash away essential nutrients in the topsoil, and are now planting on ridges instead. Farmers in the Lawra District of Ghana are enjoying higher yields thanks to what they call “soil power.”

2. Listen to Regional Communities

Northern Kenya is trying something new, listening to the community when it comes to making decisions about solutions to climate change. Kenya is home to two different kinds of agriculturalists with very different ways of life, crop farmers and nomadic pastoralists. The government, when making changes to cope with climate change, was not able to address the needs of both. The new constitution, published in 2010, granted more decision making power to local governments. The Climate Adaptation Fund will be implemented this year, and each region gets to decide how to use their funds for projects that will help them adapt to climate change. Regional communities know best when it comes to their needs and workable solutions. One community opted to use its funding to start a local radio station. Everyone has access to a radio, even if they do not own one, which will keep farmers ahead of the game with local weather forecasts.

3. Take Advantage of Social Media

Global farmers who are tech-savvy and have access to a mobile phone can get up to date news about the changing climate. Kenyan farmer Julius Cheruiyot uses his phone to access the Young Volunteers for the Environment site for updates about the weather in his region, which has been more extreme and unpredictable in recent years. Knowing how much rainfall can be expected and when can make the difference between good yields and failed harvests. YVE also provides farmers with specialized tips, like suggesting which crops to plant in anticipation of changing weather patterns.

4. Long Term Planning from Policy Makers

Policymakers need to adapt their strategies as well in order to cope with a more unpredictable environment. After a devastating flood swept through the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, leaving 6,000 dead and destroying crucial infrastructure, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna vowed to “do development differently.” Environmentalists have criticized the Chief Minister, saying the disaster was exacerbated by the tunnels that were blasted through the Himalayas to divert water for the construction of hydro-electric dams, at the risk of landslides. Chief Minister Bahuguna realized the need to think more sustainably, and has established the “Uttarakhand Relief and Reconstruction Authority,” which will involve scientists, geologists, and environmentalists in the development of construction projects in the future.

5. Be Prepared for Disasters

Let’s face it, with the reality of climate change already rearing its ugly head, at-risk regions need to be prepared for the inevitable disasters on the horizon. Early warning systems and shelters are crucial, but people also need to be informed about what to do in case of an emergency. Localities also need to be prepared for the aftermath, ensuring that people will have access to safe drinkable water. Being prepared also means smarter development. “Our exposure to extreme events is growing and this trend needs to be addressed through better land use and more resilient infrastructure as we seek to cope with population growth and rapid urbanization,” according to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström.

– Jennifer Bills
Sources: UN News, BRAC Blog