Researchers at the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) have launched a project aimed at helping farmers understand the impact of climate change and identify nutrition deficiencies through information.
The three-year Digitally Enabled Resilience and Nutrition Policy (DERPIn) project, funded by GIZ at euros 40,000, is expected to assist farmers in obtaining accurate information regarding nutrition deficiencies, starting with maize and cassava.
According to Dr. Isaac Shinyekwa, the Senior Research Fellow at EPRC, farmers involved in the project will need to predict the challenges caused by climate change and relay this information to the centers for prompt solutions.
He explained that the project’s goal is to create a set of digital tools supporting policy innovation to tackle climate change-related challenges concerning food and nutrition security in Africa.
Dr. Shinyekwa mentioned that even though Africa contributes only 3.8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, African nations are susceptible to extreme weather and other climate-induced shocks that negatively impact agricultural output and food security.
He stated, “To safeguard livelihoods and enhance resilience, African governments require comprehensive data to anticipate and effectively respond to climate-related shocks. Digital technologies, big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning can provide timely, reliable, and spatially detailed data analysis, strengthening countries’ ability to plan and manage shocks to food systems and livelihoods.”
The project aims to generate an integrated and adaptable digital infrastructure of data and analytical tools, equipping both public and private sector actors with the necessary evidence for developing policy innovations that can efficiently adapt and respond to climate shocks.
The DERPIn project is being carried out by AKADEMIYA2063 in partnership with the Pan-African Farmers’ Organisation (PAFO) and research partners in five African countries: Benin, Ghana, Malawi, Uganda, and Senegal.
During the project’s Inception workshop for farmers and other stakeholders, Dr. Shinyekwa explained that it will identify country-specific constraints and specifics that might influence the design of customized data platforms, knowledge products, and policy innovations.
He added that the project is currently a pilot, and if successful and scaled up within the national systems, it will encompass the entire country. “At present, we have selected the districts of Mubende and Masindi to gather data from cassava and maize, with the intention of expanding to other crops. We aim to ascertain in these locations whether these are the crops we observe in GIS so that we can model and conduct sensitivity analyses to understand what happens to these crops if climate change factors affect them,” he said.
Ambrose Asingizibwe, the national executive of the National Alliance for Agricultural Co-operatives in Uganda, noted that the Government has attempted to establish mechanisms and tools for addressing climate change and nutrition issues. However, he pointed out that despite the existence of nutrition policies for many years, malnutrition continues to be a problem in Karamoja, emphasizing the need for better information. “This project has come to support the Government in bridging the gap in information so that they are empowered with information to help them predict and also take immediate action in incidences of climate change,” he said.
He added that the project is expected to train farmers and provide them with information on how to address the challenges they face.
Sarah Sewanyana, the executive director of EPRC, highlighted that the project has come at a crucial time when it is much needed.