Southern Egypt stands to lose up to a minimum of 30 percent of its food production by 2050 as a result of climate change impact. In Southern Egypt a reduction of approximately USD580 and USD1380/acre would occur on annual farm revenue with temperature increases of 1.5oC and 3.6oC, respectively, if no adaptation efforts are undertaken. For a household that relies on agriculture for a living (55% of the region’s households), this reduction can represent up to 80% of its total income. As a result, livelihoods of the already economically- stressed smallholders of the region will be at stake.
Since March 2013 the Government of Egypt and the World Food Programme has been implementing the Building Resilient Food Security Systems Project, which aims to 1) improve the adaptive capacity of the Southern zone in the face of anticipated climate-induced reduction in food production and 2) build institutional capacity at all levels to enable sustainability and replication throughout the zone and the country. The project funded by the Adaptation Fund of the United Nations Fund on Climate Change is being implemented in the 5 Governorates of Southern Egypt, namely Aswan, Luxor, Qena, Sohag, Assuit.
The project enhances resilience through two complementary components as follows:
Component I. Adaptation to climate change through technology development and transfer. This component introduced a package of integrated adaptation techniques in crop and animal production, as well as enhancement of water and land use efficiency as follows:
- Building resilience in agricultural production through integrated interventions such as:
- Establishment of climate information centers in the local NGOs to link farmers to technical experts, provide information about climate and its impact on food production and what the farmers can do to reduce losses. The centers also provide a 5-day weather forecast with recommendations of what to do safeguard crops in the case of foreseen extreme weather events. Unemployed educated youth from the village are trained on using the system, and on information dissemination in their communities;
- Introduction of tested and proven heat tolerant varieties of common crops such as wheat, maize, and tomato; and promotion of high income crops that grow better in warmer climates, particularly medicinal and aromatic plants;
- Building soft skills to build resilience in the face of weather variability that may impact plants in critical growth stages. Those include changing sowing dates, new agricultural treatments to increase crop heat tolerance, modified irrigation schedules, and fertilization schedules;
- Value addition in agriculture and intercropping to diversify and increase income (examples include plantation of onion with wheat; maize with tomato; and garlic with wheat) as a means of risk reduction and increasing resilience. Value addition to diversify and augment income sources, such as improved post-harvest practices and small scale food processing.
These interventions are introduced through an array of complementary activities, including consolidation of land holdings, establishment of demonstration fields, extension services including farm-to-farm visits, extension services, demonstration farms and creation of enabling physical and financial assets.
- Building resilience through livestock and poultry production whereby heat tolerant varieties are introduced through animal revolving loans. Vet services, training and ongoing technical assistance on animal nutrition is given by trained governmental and community organizations and lessons learned are transferred to other Southern Egypt communities through farm-to-farm exchanges.
- Introduction and use of water saving irrigation whereby irrigation efficiency is realized through laser leveling of soil; canal lining; canal sloping; or simply canal clearing of weeds. Demonstration fields are set up and water users associations are established/ strengthened whereby farmers are trained on how to cooperatively manage their water resources.
Component II. Capacity building for climate knowledge and adaptation replication of all actors involved in the 1000 poorest village initiative in order to replicate them to reach around 1.7 million people. This component includes:
- Capacity building of government technical staff through a wide array of trainings
- Documentation & sharing of lessons learned and best Practices
- Integration of climate adaptation solutions into the curriculum of the universities and technical schools
Achievements: The different agricultural activities have demonstrated very positive results in building the farmer’s resilience against climate change. These included 25-30% increases in crop productivity, coupled with 20-25% reduction in water usage. In cases of extreme weather events, farmers who followed the recommendations of the project’s early warning system recorded a 60% less loss in crops that those who did not.
The initiative can be replicated in other countries for the most vulnerable communities and regions with the similar climatic and socio-economic conditions.
Partners: The Ministry of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Center, Directorates of Agricultures, Vet, Irrigation, Social Solidarity and Education in the 5 Governorates, the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, the Egyptian Metrology Authority, 14 local Community Development Associations, the University of South Valley, the Agricultural Secondary Schools in the project districts.
Budget: US$ 6.9 mln.
WFP-Egypt Country Office
Dr. Ithar Khalil – Head of Climate Change and Livelihoods
Tel: +202 25261992/93