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This is a bottom up approach where all stakeholders in a community determine and mobilise themselves to build climate resilience.



Community land use planning and mapping is a key planning instrument that involves community members in exploring local land-use planning issues. It is an interactive process in which local communities discuss and determine how to manage the land and other natural resources in their locality thereby helping communities adapt and build resilience to the changing climate.

It is no longer news that many communities in Least Developed Countries are already been affected by climate change impact and one of the most affected sector is agriculture. Many initiatives designed as interventions to help communities adapt and build resilience do not involve communities who are the land users and are the key stakeholders in the design and implementation leading to the failure of many of such initiatives and projects after millions of dollars are spent.

Communities have been in existence for centuries and have been surviving using and managing their land resources using indigenous knowledge, they understand the issues and can also proffer solutions to these issues. Experience has shown that local and indigenous is critical to helping communities build resilience and improve their adaptive capacity especially in land use management. What is needed is an improvement on indigenous knowledge and local technologies and this is the that is the gap that this initiative addresses by providing the platform for communities in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to come together in their various communities to identify problems affecting their landscape and proffer solutions to restore degraded landscapes, helping themselves  become more climate resilient.

The proposal addresses most of the sustainable development goals particularly goals and focuses on community development, our approach is a down up approach to build the capacities of communities to respond to the changing climate by sustainably managing forest, combating desertification, halt and reverse land degradation,halt biodiversity loss.

Is this proposal for a practice or a project?


What actions do you propose?

The propose actions to be taken involve a step by step process as stated below:

  1. Community entry, mobilization and formation of Participatory Land Use teams

The very first step is the identification communities with land use challenges; priority is giving to farming communities. An entry point is made through the community traditional or religious institution, farmers groups, women’s group and or youth’s group depending on the community. The initiative is introduced to the micro group after which public awareness and sensitization is held during which some members of the community volunteer join the participatory land use team. The sustainable Development approach of leaving no one behind is put to use here where the community formed must have a representation of all based on gender.

The approach to the process is developed as an interactive and integrated process cutting across different sectors and bringing multiple stakeholders together but places a greater emphasis on participation of the community members. It would allow for ample time for different views and interests to be taken into account from the different stakeholders involved. This enables members of the community to be fully involved in facilitating their own planning processes.

  1. Training of Participatory land Use Team

         To further ensure active participation and better understanding of the process, training is organized for the team to assist in data collection. They are provided with and trained on the use of hand-held global positioning system (GPS) and how to conduct oral interviews for the purpose of obtaining historic data.

  1. Data Collection/Tools and Methods

Data collection is critical to the overall success of this initiative; this action is carried out by the organization (GIFSEP) with the assistance of the Participatory Land Use Team. Some of data collected include the following:



  1. Statistics of Land Use and Land Cover

Statistics of land use and land cover considered Included;

Area under cultivation, Soils, Forest, Fadama, Grazing Area, Gullies, Settlements, Rock outcrop or hill and total land area etc.


  1. Demography

 Land holdings and tenure type, and availability of land. 

Settlements, Farming systems (Type, area and distribution of crops), Type, number and distribution of livestock, grazing reserves. Infrastructure, markets, communication networks and services.


    1. Tools and Methods
  1. Transect Walk

A transect walk is a systematic walk along a defined path (transect) across the community together with the local people to explore the land, water, forest by observing, asking, listening, looking and producing a transect diagram. Depending on the size and land of the community the PLUP team is divided into groups to work with the technical team from GIFSEP.

  • Boundary Delineation

Boundary delineation describes the extent of the community land. It provides the opportunity for the easy resolution of present and future boundary conflicts.

  • Land capability classification based on biophysical data collection

The productive capability for various land-use classes is a function of its biophysical properties. The data collection ensures land classification for optimum land-use planning.

  1. Global Positioning System

The GPS is used as a tool in this context to collect geographical data this data is used by the GIS Specialist to downloads satellite imagery and topographic maps of the community. The Topographic map, Aerial photographs and Satellite images gives a specific description of the land use classes based on geographical location. It gives a wider view of the land cover and basic information on the elevation, slope and underlying soil formulation processes.

The data collected above is used to produce vulnerability and natural resource maps. The map seeks to locate the potential threats and capacities of the land for future use while improving the present land use.

4.       Participatory Sketching of the Community Map.

The community members themselves carry out the sketching themselves with the land use team facilitated by GIFSEP. The map is sketched on the ground in a central location in the community. All types of land use, including primary, secondary and occasional uses are indicated on the map and documented some symbols are used to represent the community forest, farm lands, settlements etc.  GIFSEP Facilitation team guild discussions on the different topics related to the mapping process. This generated important information to support the mapping and the next steps in the land-use planning process.


5. Identification of community Problems and Ranking

Landscape problems were identified during the transect walk and or satellite imagery are mentioned and their location identified on the map and marked. This is achieved through the active participation and inputs by the community members. Both the women and the youths are giving the opportunity to make contributions.

The ranking of identified problems is carried out using the pair wise ranking method and direct voting by members of the community. This method involved pairing of a problem with series of other problems to determine its level of severity relative to others. The ranking provides opportunity to prioritize problems based on the needs of the community with participants having a good understanding of the extent and the need for intervention.

6.    Community Action Plan Development :The community Action Plan is the high point of the exercise where the community members are given the opportunity to identify the causes of the problems identified  and proffered solutions to the problems stating clearly the community’s solution to the problems.

Solutions to the problems identified and opportunities for change is an important part of the planning process. The community members themselves proffer solutions to the identified problems and opportunities that are acceptable to all land users and other stakeholders. They further state the responsible parties for the recommended solutions, community contribution towards the success of the actions proffered and suitable period for execution.

Bye laws are made and are agreed upon by the community members for example laws against falling of tress and indiscriminate bush burning with have adverse effect on the community landscape and reduced carbon sequestration. The community bye laws are further taken to the local Government for institutionalization and to enhance policy formulation.   

Production of a Geo-Referenced Map

With the help of the data collected above, a Geo- referenced Vulnerability and land use map of the community is produced by GIFSEP GIS Specialist, the map is put side by side with the one produced by the community. The Geo referenced highlights the following:

  • The occurrence of climate-related hazards in the prospective target area/specified location (including a historical analysis of hazard types, intensities, frequencies and associated losses and damages);
  • The physical exposure of livelihoods, ecosystem and critical infrastructure to different locations to the most prevalent climate hazards (‘hot spots’ mapping)
  • The key properties that determine the susceptibility of livelihoods, ecosystem and critical infrastructure in the target area to the most prevalent climate hazards (sensitivity analysis)


Presentation of Map and Brief Report to the Community for   


At the end of the exercise in each community the Community Action Plans, the vulnerability and land use maps and  by laws of the community are presented to all the community members and adoption for acceptance and a brief handing over ceremony of the of Map and community action plan  to the participatory land use team and the community leadership. The Community Action plans and bye laws help to shift people’s behavioral norms and catalyze physical actions  like community tree planting and water conservation activities among others.

It is important to note that many of the problems that are identified by the community members include, land use issues such as deforestation and desertification in some cases, soil infertility, lack of water for irrigation and domestic use, absence of health care, zero or no roads, absence of schools, gender iniquality among others, 



Who will take these actions?

The key actors include the following:

  1. The community
  2. The Non-Government Organization/ Civil society/ Developmental Organization
  3. The Government

The Community; Everyone (Land Users) in the community is involved in the implementation of the initiative. Specifically, the traditional or religious institution, the leader of the farmers group, the women leaders and youth leaders, they all play an important role of mobilizing community members and the various groups in the community leaving no one behind. The land use team that is formed with a representation of all stakeholders within the community represents the community at meetings and other actions where the attention of everyone in the community is not required.

The Non-Government Organization/ Civil society/ Developmental Organization; This body facilitates and provides all the technical personnel required for the successful implementation of the project. They include the following:

  1. Gender Specialist; work with the women and youths to ensure that they are not left behind and their voices are heard.
  2. GIS specialist; Assist with the collection, interpretation of data, download of satellite imagery and production and printing of geo referenced maps.
  3. Soil Scientist: Carry out on the spot assessment of the soil fertility status, collects soil sample for further soil analysis.
  4. Technical assistants and data collection agents: They assist in collection of socio and geographical data.
  5. Economist: Helps to analyze the socio Economic Data.
  6. Law Practioner:   Helps in drafting the community by-laws.
  7. A project Manager and Facilitator:  Has a critical role of coordinating the activities but above facilitating activities to ensure no one is left behind.
  8. Monitoring and Evaluation Officer: Carries out M and E

The NGO also helps to link the community with potential donors and other NGO’s  to intervene on some of the issues the community cannot take action without help or intervention and also carry out a monitoring and evaluation and maintains a relationship to mentor the team to ensure that they carry out the activities the community agreed to.

The Local Government: The local Government is close to the people at the grass root, a representative from the local government either from the department of Environment and or Agriculture is represented in the Land Use Planning Team. This is done to get Government acceptance, adoption and up scaling of the initiative to other communities. They also assist in making the bye laws part of the local laws with the Local Government.


Where will these actions be taken?

These actions are best suited for villages of less than 10,000 in the least developed countries particularly in Sub-saharan Africa other developing countries across the world where climate change is already impacting community livelihood and affecting  landscapes  and agriculture that the people rely on for their existence. 

We succesfully carried out this initiatives in 50 selected communities in Northern Nigeria with positive outcomes and with several request request for replication in other communities.

In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.


Country 2

No country selected

Country 3

No country selected

Country 4

No country selected

Country 5

No country selected


What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

This initiative is capable of planting at least 100 Million across 5000 communities using the Farmers Natural Regeneration approaches.  An average matured tree will absorb about 0.024 tCO2eq per year. Therefore, 100 million Trees at maturity will about the trees will absorb 1,680,000 tCO2eq in 20 years. It will also help countries meet up their Nationally Determined Countries with active involvement and contributions from the citizenry. The initiative is also capable of sequestrating carbon in the soil with the adoption of good farming techniques. On the side of adaptation by 2030, at least a combine 100,000,000 hectares of land afforested through climate smart processes and natural regeneration approaches. This and other water conservation measures will halt desert encroachment, improve soil infertility, serve as shelter/wind breaks and reduce wind and water erosion.

According to the World Bank 2015, most of the global poor live in sub-Saharan Africa. The average poverty rate for sub-Saharan Africa stands at about 41 percent, and of the world’s 28 poorest countries, 27 are in sub-Saharan Africa all with a poverty rate above 30 percent. 

Business as usual would mean that we will create more poor people with adverse effect on world’s peace and security.

According to the latest IPCC report, the climate consequences of a 2° world are far greater than that of 1.5° and we are not on track for either. A 1.5°C world could reduce the number of people both exposed to climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050 compared with 2°C.

  • Without urgent action, climate impacts could push an additional 100 people into poverty by 2030 
  • By 2050, it could mean that as many as 143 million people across three developing regions will become climate migrants, with individuals, families and even whole communities forced to seek more viable and less vulnerable places to live.
  • The impact of extreme natural disasters is equivalent to a global $520 billion loss in annual consumption, and forces some 26 million people into poverty each year.
  • Air pollution is responsible for more than 7 million premature deaths each year . Direct costs to health could be as high as $4 billion per year by 2030.
  • Climate change will not only make it more difficult to feed the projected 10 billion people by 2050 but its impact is already being felt in the form of reduced yields and more frequent extreme weather events that affect crops and livestock.



What are other key benefits?

One of the key benefits of this initiative is that it enables practitioners and decision-makers to identify the most vulnerable areas and communities. In turn, this means climate change adaptation options targeted at specified contexts can be developed and implemented. Expected co-benefits of the planned components include, inter alia:


  • Promotion of biodiversity.
  • Restoration of dergaraded soils in the long run.
  • Reduction in soil and water pollution.


  • Mitigate forced migration occasioned by climate change.
  • Reduction in incidences of herdsmen and farmers conflict.
  • Reduction in the vulnerability of women and girl children to sexual assaults and other gender based violence


  • Women economic empowerment as potential entrepreneurs.
  • Creation of multiple indirect jobs along the fuel wood supply chain.

This initiative puts communities at the center of the identification of the community needs , identifying the causes of the problems and proposing solutions with community contribution to the actions or intervention to the issues.


What are the proposal’s projected costs?

The cost of this project can be divided into two.

  1. The cost of conducting the participatory vulnerability and land use mapping.
  2. The cost of the interventions of the identified problems.

The cost of conducting the participatory vulnerability and land use mapping can be categorized into the following:

  • Inception and Documentation
  • Training
  • Field Exercise
  • Consultation and validation of activities.

The cost variables include: administrative and management cost, trainings, data for the download of Satellite Imagery, interpretation and printing of maps, soil analysis, production of training manuals and miscellaneous. It will cost $3500 to conduct participatory vulnerability and land use mapping in a community of less than 10,000 people and a land size of about 10,000 hectares

The cost of the interventions of the identified problems; this cost varies from community to community. Using Tree planting to halt deforestation and desertification as an example, the cost will involve raising a community nursery depending on the size of the land. It cost about $10 to raise one Tree from nursery, transplanting and maintaining to maturity. Therefore, to plant 10,000 Trees per community it will cost at $100,000.

Other cost could involve provision of water for irrigation, livestock and domestic use, the cost here again depends on if it’s a borehole or a small earth day. Average cost of a Borehole depending on the depth and accessories can be put at $15,000 while a small Earth dam can be can cost between $100,000- 200,000 depending on several factors.

There are other costs that will involve training and hands on activity on land and water conservation and management and can be put at $5000 per training.

The major challenges of implementing the proposed actions is the high and over expectations from the community members, many communities expect that we should provide interventions to all the identified issues immediately. 


In a short term, the initiative will create awareness and sensitisation of the communities building their capacities to build resilience to adapt to the changing climate. In the medium term soils  have been reclaimed and already improving the yield, hence improved food security, income and improved livilihoods. Also, many of the sustainable development goals will be achieved around this time. In the long tern will be the consolidation of the gains from the short term to medium term.

This initiative starts having impact from the first day as capacity of the beneficiaries is build from  the onset.


About the author(s)

David Michael is a  highly efficient & dedicated individual with over 15 years' combined experience in project management, operations, research & administration in non-profit and social development. Passionate about environmental management, sustainable agriculture and renewable energy, dedicated to enabling sustainable development in Sub Saharan Africa.
David is the Founder and Executive Director of GIFSEP- Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation based in Nigeria; Mike advocates, educates and mobilises communities to respond to a changing climate through participatory land use planning. He is the African Regional Coordinator for Citizens Climate Lobby and the  West Africa Coordinator for The African Climate Reality Project, He is also the head of Energy and Mitigation of Nigeria's Civil Society Frame Work on Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.
Driven from deeply held conviction, with his personal mantra “Thou shall not pollute the Earth”, he applies a degree in Agricultural Engineering with a specialisation in Soil and Water Management and a post graduate certificate in Renewable energy. His passion is training people, young and old, in best practices for sustainable land management, food production and environmental conservation. 
Some of the initiatives initiated and managed by Mr David Michael includes the founding of Environmental and Agricultural Clubs in schools in rural communities,  another is  #SolarForIDPCamps  which is aimed at providing clean energy access to nearly 2 million persons taking shelter in different Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps across Nigeria by lighting up the IDP camps with Solar.

Related Proposals

 Land Use: Agriculture, Forestry, Livestock 2016 How can we scale-up sustainable landscape management to significantly reduce GHG emissions while ensuring food, water, and energy security?

 Adaptation 2018 What initiatives, policies, and technologies can help prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change?

 Exploring Synergistic Solutions for SustainableDevelopment 2018 What combinations of Climate CoLab proposals could help achieve multiple Sustainable Development Goals?


[1] Method for Calculating Carbon Sequestration by Trees in Urban and Sub-Urban Settings, United States Department of Energy and Administration (1998)

Heraad Sabet, 2015 CEO, The Fourth Sector Group, World Economic Forum Global Future Council on International Governance, Public-Private Cooperation, and Sustainable Development