January 8, 2015

Fostering participation in East African carbon projects

Eva Fillion, EcoAgriculture Partners

Authors from EcoAgriculture Partners, ECOTRUST and ENR Africa Associates have just launched a training manual aimed at farmer groups, extension staff and project managers who are implementing agricultural carbon projects in East Africa. Carbon projects are initiatives designed to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions or sequester those already in the atmosphere, such as through planting trees. The projects outlined by the authors all conform to the Plan Vivo Standard, a framework for providing resource-poor communities access to the voluntary carbon market. The aim was to explore how to build participants’ capacity and involvement in carbon projects.

Author Krista Heiner of EcoAgriculture Partners noted: “The training guide itself has been very useful in helping project staff build the capacities of community-based trainers and coordinators, who work closely with farmers on a day-to-day basis. Hopefully, by empowering these community leaders with necessary skills and resources, the carbon project will be more embedded in the community, making it more sustainable and cost-effective. The process of developing the training guide was also a good learning experience for all parties involved, as it forced us all to think critically about how to convey sometimes complex information about climate change, carbon sequestration, and project development in a way that would be useful to people who are working on the ground.”

The manual was developed through a participatory action research project that focused on understanding the institutional arrangements of smallholder agricultural carbon projects in sub-Saharan Africa and building the capacity of local institutions to take on larger roles in the management of those projects. It was piloted in the Mount Elgon Region of eastern Uganda, where farmers and other stakeholders provided valuable input.

Study site in Mbale, Uganda. Photo by Seth Shames, EcoAgriculture Partners

Study site in Mbale, Uganda. Photo by Seth Shames, EcoAgriculture Partners

Easy to follow manual lays out lesson plans and objectives

The manual is written in four modules, each containing specific objectives, activities, materials and notes for trainers. Each lesson and module can be modified to fit the needs and goals of the trainers and participants, as well as their resource base. The first module is aimed at a wide audience and provides the necessary background information about for the rest of the curriculum. Next, the curriculum takes participants through the early stages of developing and implementing a carbon project. The third module focuses specifically on afforestation and reforestation initiatives for farmers. Finally, the fourth module details the various stakeholders involved in such projects and their specific roles.

“The training guide itself has been very useful in helping project staff build the capacities of community-based trainers and coordinators…”

The hope is for this manual to facilitate the development and implementation of successful carbon projects in eastern Africa that satisfy the Plan Vivo Standard and expand the capacity and involvement of farmers, extension staff and other stakeholders. Stakeholders in western Kenya undertook a similar process of institutional capacity building for carbon projects and created a similar training guide for smallholder farmers using the Voluntary Carbon Standard, which was launched in April 2014. Both projects were supported by the low-emissions agriculture program of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Project managers in both sites have found the training manuals and related materials very useful for expanding the reach of their activities, by allowing local trainers and community facilitators to play a greater role in the process of building the capacity of other community members.

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Download the manual

Eva Fillion is a Communications Intern at EcoAgriculture Partners. Her interests in sustainability and agriculture have led her to explore the Southwest’s National Parks and to get involved in farming with students in New York City.
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