The Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture project has won the first Climate Smart Agriculture Project of the Year Award at the inaugural Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Summit 2018 in Kenya.

The summit drew together 300 senior-level representatives from UN agencies, NGOS, investors and governments, agricultural associations and private sector partners, to explore policy updates, best practice and innovations for Climate Smart Agriculture in Africa. It also served as a showcase for success stories from across the African region as a foundation for future projects.

The Award recognises outstanding projects that bring together multiple stakeholders in the agriculture ecosystem to form new partnerships that improve productivity, resilience, and efficiency. The Rwandan entry was deemed the winner from more than 50 submissions for its project, which is transforming Rwanda’s rural communities and economy through historic weather data reconstruction and providing climate forecast information, training and online tools for agricultural decision makers.

By the end of the Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture project, nearly a million farmers will have timely access to useful climate services. Agricultural planners, policy makers, investors, and food security specialists will be able to respond more effectively to droughts, floods and other climate-related risks. Now about two-thirds of the way through the four-year project, Rwanda has already made notable progress.

Building on the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI)’s Enhancing National Climate Services (ENACTS) approach, the project supported Rwanda’s National Meteorological Agency Meteo-Rwanda to fill gaps in its historical climate records. Merging satellite data with its station observations, it can now provide a range of high-resolution climate information tools and products tailored to the needs of agricultural decision-makers in Sub-Saharan Africa through web-based “maprooms”.

Some 75,000 farmers across Rwanda’s 30 districts have been led through the process of understanding this local historical and forecast climate information and incorporating it into their farm and livelihood planning by trained intermediaries, in a process known as Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA).

The project also works with Radio Huguka, a rural radio station covering 75 per cent of the country, to regularly broadcast weather information and innovative programming about its use for agricultural decision-making.

Finally, the project has worked with Rwanda’s government and the World Meteorological Organization to develop a national climate services framework that will oversee and foster sustained coproduction, assessment and improvement of climate services.

The Rwandan project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), led by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and implemented by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), alongside other partners.

Desire Kagabo, CCAFS Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture Project Coordinator based at CIAT, said: “It is essential to build on local governance structures. For example, the hybrid of the ‘Twigire Muhinzi’ homegrown extension service system and PICSA, enables farmer champions in villages to rapidly reach a large number of farmers with weather and climate information to effectively inform farmers’ decisions at farm, household and community levels.”

Jim Hansen, leader of the CCAFS Climate Services and Safety Nets Flagship Program, added: “This investment of human and financial resources, and innovative solutions such as ENACTS and PICSA, have made it possible to make things that have previously only been demonstrated a pilot scale work for farmers on a national scale.”


Featured image: A farmer in a maize field in Nyagatare, in Rwanda’s Eastern Province. Picture by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

(via CCAFS, Aid Forum)