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Local prioritization and testing of adaptation practices supported by a collaborative mapping tool will out scale lessons learned globally



“Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) shields farmers from the adverse effects of climate change, improves farm yields and household incomes, for stronger and more resilient communities” (CCAFS, 2015). It helps farmers at the local level to increase production, build resilience to climate variability and change, and at the national level it helps decision makers to deliver food security and development goals, while reducing emissions. Anyhow, the selection of the right CSA practices for a farmer is a very complex task and there are many internal and external factors influencing the success of implementation, such as knowledge access. Further, successful CSA practices are site specific and depend on biophysical and social factors.

For agricultural services, mobile phone-based technologies become more and more a tool to close the last mile of communication between agricultural experts, local Implementers and farmers. Barriers for using mobile-phone based agricultural services for small farmers in developing countries exists. For this reason, local agriculture experts act as knowledge brokers to close this communication gap and help farmers to access information through modern internet communication tools (ICT). The benefits for project implementers are, that they can be complemented with traditional participatory methods and suit in very well for simple evaluation of the implementation success and monitoring of ongoing activities.

The basic idea of our approach is that geospatial visualization and ICT tools can be the enabler to transform local experts to knowledge and technology broker. Our tools can be linked to any ongoing CSA project, and work best in combination with traditional participatory approaches.

What actions do you propose?

The approach that we propose is to combine highly relevant CSA research outputs with practical knowledge on the ground, use modern information and communication technology (ICT) to support the interaction between actors and to accelerate the delivery of information from agricultural experts to implementers, and feedback from implementers to outside experts. A platform has been developed and tested for a first pilot in Northern Tanzania (Eitzinger et al., 2015) during the year 2014, more than 900 farmers has been engaged, participatory workshops for CSA prioritization were carried out and local agricultural experts have been trained using  the mobile phone-based system. In order to make the approach more robust it is necessary to extent the pilot to other areas and to evaluate the usability of such a platform in engaging local knowledge broker like technicians and community leader using the tools fulfilling their needs of information access. We are linking to ongoing projects of implementing climate smart agriculture practices with farmers and provide a ready to use framework for ICT integration with traditional approaches.

The general objectives of our proposed approach are:

Use hotspot mapping of biophysical constraints to inform context-specific CSA packages for agricultural investments,

Discuss hotspot maps and prioritize CSA packages in participatory workshops, including farmers and local experts

Train local experts in using phone-based communication technologies for the testing and implementation of packages,

Install demonstration plots for prioritized CSA packages on several farms in the pilot area

Engage local actors, national policy makers, and experts of practices in information feedbacks using phone-based communication technologies and an interactive platform.

The Specific objectives are:

Action 1:  Assess local biophysical constraints using indicators for climate and soil constraints, and identify hotspots to target CSA packages.

Hotspot maps provide an effective way of communicating scientific knowledge to the general public (Sherbinin, 2013). We aim to reduce the complexity of biophysical analysis outputs and focus on indicators for climate and soil constraints which leads to low resilience to climate shocks. Hotspot maps uses thresholds from indicators rather than continuous variables to define discrete areas (Ericksen, et al 2011) where a higher impact is to be expected and map regions that are particularly vulnerable in human environmental systems like agriculture (Sherbinin, 2013).

Action 2: Engage with stakeholders to communicate and share the hotspot maps to discuss solutions to overcome biophysical constraints with solutions.

Focal workshops employing a variety of participatory methods to provide an overview of the extent to which farmers – both men and women – are familiar with climate risks associated to their agricultural production presented by the hotpot maps and how they can overcome this constraints with solutions. During the workshop we will share printed hotspot maps and discuss solutions to overcome biophysical constraints. We will introduce the CSA Implementer mobile platform to local actors and discuss how best to communicate the hotspot maps and appropriate CSA packages using the CSA Implementer application.

Action 3: Carry out a prototype testing with the existing application and improve functionality during the project lifetime based on outputs from Focal workshop and field experiences.

We will use a previous developed mobile application for Implementation Monitoring of CSA practices (android), which is connected to a spatial postgresSQL database (Postgis). Based on recommendations from the focal workshop we will improve the existing version of the CSA Implementer mobile application. Improvements of the CSA Implementer system will mainly focus on lessons learned from the first pilot testing in Tanzania 2014 and outputs from the focal workshops. Further we will enhance usability and offline map functionalities by implementing open source map functionalities using LeafletJS and Sql-lite geopackage for offline map-tiling.

Action 4: Train local technicians and Implementer using modern mobile-phone technology for improving their ability of Information access and Communication and Information feedbacks with experts.

We will train local experts from different community groups in using the mobile-phone based application CSA Implementer. Barriers to participation for farmers exists on such a platform, as such local agricultural experts like extension workers or technicians act an important role as technology-broker for farmers. We will train local community experts on the use of ICT tools and its application for their daily work communicating with farmers.

Action 5: Install demonstration plots on several farms in the study region. Plots will be managed by farmers, CSA experts will be invited for demonstration sessions.

We will organize demonstration plots on several farms. CSA practices will be demonstrated by experts and tested by community members. A Train the trainer approach helps to spread best practices within farmers and will be documented on the CSA Implementer Platform. The very specific spatial and local context of the best practice of CSA Implementation can be replicated on socio-ecological similar sites in distant communities. Best practices will be show on a georeferenced map on the CSA Implementer platform

Action 6: Moderate the process of engagement between experts of packages and the local Implementers of CSA packages.

Scientists and experts can interact with local experts and farmers through the CSA Implementer application. We will demonstrate to experts how to interact on the interactive platform (CSA Implementer) with local implementers and farmers. This workshop will focus on experts to be connected to the local technology brokers through the interactive web-platform. Experts of agricultural practices are important to provide useful information to the technicians working on the local level. This How-to workshop will mainly exist in the introduction of functionality and range of the CSA Implementer platform. We will discuss usefulness and further requirements for improvement and integration into national systems with these experts.

Action 7: Document barriers and benefits farmers perceive about CSA packages and show to national decision makers through platform reports.

Disseminate the barriers and benefits of CSA packages documented through the CSA Implementer platform to national stakeholders. At the end of the project we will disseminate outcomes to national stakeholders and show benefits and constraints of using the CSA Implementer platform for local adoption of CSA packages. Lessons learned of CSA implementation will be further shared on the Geocitizen ( platform and provided as open-standard Web-Map-Services. Using this standard our lessons learned can be added to any platform using geo-web technologies (eg. google maps, openlayers, arcgis-online,  …) 

Who will take these actions?

The project will be carried out by a partnership of Academic, Agricultural Research, local governmental Institutions, Community board and a local NGO for implementation. The CEC Foundation developed a Geo-Citizens platform that merges geo-web technologies and social media in one single, comprehensive, and interactive tool for participatory spatial planning. It allows citizens and communities to collaboratively report observations, discuss ideas, solve and monitor issues in their neighborhoods (Atzmanstorfer, 2014). Based on the GeoCitizen framework, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) has built an agriculture module called CSA Implementer, Ecohabitas as local NGO in southern Colombia provides many years of experience in participatory work with communities. Local community leader will take action on the ground.

Where will these actions be taken?

Colombia experienced the more than 40 years of an internal conflict and is just about entering in a post-conflict era. This will implicate more investments by the national government in the development of rural areas. The South-Western department Cauca, one of the most effected regions through the conflict, is characterized by high rate of climate related risks in agriculture, low capacity of farmers because of lack of extension work and investments, a low level of agricultural infrastructure and market access and mostly small scale subsidence and family farming. The rural areas of its capital Popayan has been selected for implementing the proposed actions to increase farmer’s resilience to climate shocks. In this area farmers typically grow coffee or sugarcane on plots between 1-3 hectares, most of them lack access to financial capital because of missing land titles and are exposed to natural risks like high erosion prevalence, climate variability and a long term shift of crop suitability through progressive climate change (Ramirez-Villegas et al., 2012; Ovalle et al., 2015).

What are other key benefits?

Currently in Colombia there is a strong focus on the development of rural areas within the post conflict rural development initiative of the national government. Institutions and local actors need support for developing local adaptation plans in co-creation with communities within the upcoming years. Our proposed tools will help the local actors to develop a territorial approach and adapt the national strategies to their context. Farmers and local experts like technicians or extension workers get access to knowledge about climate smart practices and can test them in their local context. Gained experience and lessons learned can be shared globally and will contribute to a network of Best practices for climate change adaptation related to a specific context.

What are the proposal’s costs?

USD 180.000 including biophysical hotspot mapping, focal workshops and demonstration plots installation and maintenance, training of local actors using the CSA Implementer platform and engaging with all actors through the GeoCitizen platform.

Time line

Short term (1 year) - Piloting of methods for in Cauca, Colombia (this proposal covered by USD 180k costs)

Medium term (2 years) - Replicate Best practices of CSA Implementation in socio-ecological similar sites in Latin America using the GeoCitizen collaborative mapping platform

Long term (5 years) – global out scaling the approach

Related proposals

Perception shape actions: translate climate change communication to local context:


Atzmanstorfer, K., Resl, R., Eitzinger, A., & Izurieta, X. (2014). The GeoCitizen-approach: community-based spatial planning – an Ecuadorian case study. Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 00(00), 1–12. doi:10.1080/15230406.2014.890546

CCAFS. (2015). Climate-Smart Agricultural Practices. Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. Website. Available from:

De Sherbinin, A. (2014). Climate change hotspots mapping: What have we learned? Climatic Change, 123(1), 23–37. doi:10.1007/s10584-013-0900-7

Eitzinger, A., Sayula, G., Benjamin, T., Rodriguez, B., Winowiecki, L., Läderach, P., Koech, N., Twyman, J. 2015. Project Report: Using Science Knowledge and Expert Feedback to Accelerate Local Adoption: Climate Smart Technologies and Practices meet ICT tool. International Center for Tropical Agriculture CIAT. Cali, Colombia. Available online at:

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Ramirez-Villegas, J., Salazar, M., Jarvis, A., & Navarro-Racines, C. E. (2012). A way forward on adaptation to climate change in Colombian agriculture: perspectives towards 2050. Climatic Change. doi:10.1007/s10584-012-0500-y