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Published by: Svale Fossåskaret on Oct 23, 2013
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1
 
C
limatiC
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hange
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ulnerability
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or
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mall
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Cale
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armerS
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iCaragua
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ore
 
than
 
rain
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Improved varieties of beans developed through Participatory Plant Breeding.
Nicaragua - rich in varieties
Nicaragua is situated in Central America, bordering Costa Rica in thesouth and Honduras in the north. A population o about 5.5 millionlives in the country, the majority living on the Pacic coast. Agriculture,especially coee production, is a major activity in the northern andPacic region. Coee, bananas, beans and tobacco are some o theagricultural commodities which the country produces.The biggest rainorest in Central America is ound in the Atlantic region.However, due to deorestation, this has been drastically reduced the lasttwo decades. The Atlantic coast is also home to 12 000 varieties o plantsand 1400 animal species – making this region very rich in biodiversity.Nicaragua is the poorest country in the region with around 80 % o thepopulation living on less than 2 US dollars a day.
C
limate change is gradually beingelt by communities all over theworld. Changes in temperature andrainall patterns are already contributingto increasing the vulnerability o many o the poor in developing countries. InNicaragua the weather pattern has changeddramatically. his creates another actor o  vulnerability or small scale armers withew or no other options to secure theirlivelihoods.Based on inormation and data rom localarmers in Nicaragua, this publication willassess how climate change is aecting thesituation or armers, and how they areworking towards limiting vulnerability tochanging conditions. he study has beenconducted with cooperation rom theCentre or Promotion o Rural and SocialDevelopment (CIPRES) in Nicaragua.Earlier, armers used to know exactly when to plant their seeds in order orthem to grow and be ready or the harvest.Now the irst rains all at unpredictabletimes and the intensity varies too. Farmersand local organisations are, however,developing various methods or adaptingto such climate change. hese practicesinclude the improvement o their seedsand crops, and promoting alternativelivelihood strategies or ood production.he livelihoods in the area are mainly small-scale basic grain production atsubsistence level. Maize, beans and sorghumare common crops. A part o the crop issold when there is surplus, but storagecapacity is small and hinders storage orbetter prices at other times o the year.Households also produce vegetables,cooking bananas, and ruit. hey raisepigs and hens in the yards and most peoplekeep a ew cattle. In some districts, shadecoee is grown in the highlands, some o it produced organically in agro-orestry systems, and tobacco is also being grown.
 
C
limatiC
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hange
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ulnerability
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aCtorS
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or
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mall
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Cale
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armerS
 
in
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iCaragua
2
The study area and project site
Te study was carried out in the Municipalities o Condega, Pueblo Nuevo (both in the Department o Estelí), and otogalpa (Department o Madriz). CIPREShas been working or more than seven years in theseareas. CIPRES is advising and accompanying smallarmers in the application o sustainable agriculturalpractices that include the improvement o their crops.Te three municipalities cover an area o .km2 and have a population o approximately ,people. Te project area is located in the NorthRegion o Nicaragua.Te Central North Macro Region has beenclassied as a Dry Zone because o its low rainall.Due to the presence o cordilleras, massis, and valleys,the local climate, has spatial and temporal distributiono precipitation. Nicaragua has a tropical savannahclimate with variations according to elevation (semi-wet in the highlands and dry in the lowlands).Nicaragua is one o the poorest countries inLatin-America, with a GDP per capita o US,compared to , in its neighbouring country CostaRica. A poor welare system, unequal distribution o wealth and resources, and decades o conict are otherreasons that have led to extreme poverty. Many amilieshave lost their livelihood assets; they have low levelso education and limited access to healthcare. Telack o inormation about sustainable agriculture hasresulted in unsustainable practices and monoculturedesigned and oriented to an external market. All thishas put strain on and deteriorated the natural resourcebase. Te break up and eventual disintegration o many amilies o migrants along with a high proportiono households run by single women (temporally orpermanently) are also expressions o the vulnerability that the communities have to deal with daily.
Climate change in Nicaragua
Te climate is unpredictable and extreme weatherhas become more common. During the course o a year, there can be both drought and hurricanes.Drought alternated with excessive rainall, makingarmers vulnerable since they are not able to beprepared or respond to such extreme weatherpatterns. Furthermore, the eects o climate changescome in addition to the degradation o the naturalresource base because o agro-chemicals, over-cultivation o soils, deorestation, slash-and-burnagriculture and deterioration o water sources.People in the countryside are no longer able topredict the weather patterns. Beore they could planagricultural activities ollowing signs rom nature butnow, local predictions are no longer eective. Boththe occurrence o drought as well as late rainy seasons,have changed the best time or planting basic grains.
Climatic risks and local vulnerabilityNicaragua (project area in green)Social dimension and people’s perception of climate change
Global warming has created many new challenges and problems allaround the world. Climate change is predominantly noticed throughchanges in weather patterns, temperatures, amount o precipitationetc. For many poor armers this has a direct impact on their livelihoods,orcing them to change their agricultural practices. This change isneither easy nor cheap, creating more insecurity or the alreadymarginalized armers.In this analysis we consider past and current climate stress by lookingat subjective experiences o climatic events. The experienced climaticvariability and change is crucial in an adaptation analysis, becausethe outcomes depend not only on the meteorological qualities o aweather pattern or extreme event, but also on contextual actors thatinfuence people’s vulnerability and their capacity to adapt. Thus, aminor drought might have serious consequences or some, while othersmay experience relatively small consequences o a serious drought.Such understanding makes it possible to design measures that supportpoor people in their own eorts and make use o existing strengths andopportunities. The analysis thereore argue that adaptation measuresneeds to move beyond climate risks and physical adaptationmeasures, to include the social context and people’s perception oclimate change, in order to build their capacity and resilience to copewith barriers and thresholds.
 
3
El Niño - the Southern Oscilation
El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a general term used to describeboth warm (El Niño) and cool (La Niña) ocean-atmosphere eventsin the tropical Pacic. El Niño and La Niña are ocially dened assustained sea surace temperature anomalies o magnitude greaterthan 0.5°C across the central tropical Pacic Ocean. Historically, it hasoccurred at irregular intervals o 2-7 years and has usually lasted oneor two years.ENSO is associated with foods, droughts, and other disturbances in arange o locations around the world. These eects, and the irregularityo the ENSO phenomenon, make predicting it very dicult. The IPCCclaims that ENSO is the dominant mode o climate variability in LatinAmerica and is the natural phenomenon with the largest socio-economic impacts.2007 was a year when typical eects rom La Niña were experiencedin Nicaragua: dry at the start, wet and cold at the end. Because o therainall decit at the beginning o the rainy season in May, June, andJuly, the planting o basic grains did not begin until late June. Hencethe rst bean crop could not be harvested as it should be during thecanícula (the warmest period o the year); but only in August andharvesting coincided with the work o the second planting. The cropswere then aected by the low temperatures in October and therewere major losses o the basic grains harvest. The next cycle also hadlow yields and low quality grains because o these alterations. Due tothese harvest losses, many armers were let indebted.
Drought
Te most requent and damaging expression o climate change in this area is the irregularity o therainy season. In Nicaragua, the rainy season runsrom May to October, and when rainall is less thannormal in volume and requency, a drought occurs.Because these changes are associated with El Niño,droughts show no predictable pattern and their eectsare devastating, especially in the dry zone.One o the main eects o drought is degradationo water sources. Water sources are oen unprotectedbecause o the deorestation and degradation. Tesoil has little inltration capacity, hence the raincarries away the soil surace layer. Rivers have lowerows and many creeks easily dry up when there isdrought or overow in the rainy season. Sources o water become gradually scarcer and the pollution ismore concentrated because o low ows or stagnation.Only in areas with dense orest cover some watersources has been preserved.Te soil also loses ertility by being carried o by the winds aer it is converted into dust under directsolar radiation. Te erosive processes become worseand there is a greater propensity or landslides andlandslips. Tese impoverished and compacted soilslimit possibilities or growing crops, especially i thereis only a minimum o water available.Cattle require stable temperatures or adequatedevelopment. During droughts, temperatures rise,pastures do not grow well, and there is a generalshortage o ood or them. Due to lack o water, thecattle do not develop properly and milk productionalls. In addition, cattle and pigs suer miscarriagesand some die. Farmers have to sell their animals inorder to cover their losses. Droughts occur irregularly,either with the rainy season coming late (not untilJuly) or with dry spells (o up to one month) duringthe rainy season, or rainall is low and dispersed overthe period.
 

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