Tamale, Jan 28, GNA - The chiefs and people of eight communities in the Garu-Tempane and East Manprusi districts at the week end said the annual hunger gap experienced in the northern parts of the country during the dry season had reduced appreciably in their communities.
They said since the Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) under CARE International helped them three years ago, we they are able to store more food now than they used to do and even when they ran short around May and June, they rely on the income they make from other ventures to provide for their families.
The chiefs and community representatives said this at an annual review meeting of ALP, and its partners held in Tamale to reflect on its activities in the past year and explore innovative ways of achieving the projects objectives.
The eight communities on the ALP-CARE five-year pilot programme are Zambulugu, Dimea, Saamini and Jawani in the East Manprusi District, and Akaara, Farfar, Tariganga and Kugri in the Garu-Tempane District.
ALP is a programme under CARE International, a non-governmental organisation that is working in the eight communities to create awareness on climate change and support the people build up capacities to adapt to or cope with the effects of climate change.
It provides a holistic analytical approach for communities to plan adaptation actions that are informed by climate science and local observation of climate change.
Mr Romanus Gyang, the Programme Manager, said the programme had involved the district assemblies, civil service organisations and other NGOs to ensure sustainability of its activities.
He said the assemblies were being informed of the situation in the communities and would be supported and informed of the various adaptation strategies of the people so that the assemblies could study and include them in their development plans for the communities.
The communities are being supported to diversify their livelihood strategies such as in agriculture where they are given credit facilities in the form of fertilizer, improved seeds and technical support to adopt conservation agricultural practices including zero tillage, tied ridging and stone bonding to control erosion.
They are also supported to do group farming using early maturing maize and soya seeds, proceeds of which they are encouraged to save at the community level to enable them use the money more prudently.
In one of the communities, Zambulugu, in the East Mamprusi District, a group cassava farm has been started with cassava cuttings of an improved variety.
The communities were also taught and supported to form Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) to enable them save their earnings and borrow at low interest rate to undertake other income generating activities and other household responsibilities such as paying for health insurance, buying school uniforms and books for the children.
During a group meeting to discuss the impact of ALP supported activities in the communities, Madam Aguur Asaman, a womens leader from Tariganga, said the VSLA savings scheme was helping them most as membership was opened to all and they could borrow from it to expand their businesses, do dry season farming and meet challenges in times of emergency.
There is no woman in Tariganga who is idle because ALP has made it possible for all of us to have access to one type of support or the other and with money, no serious person can say she has nothing to do, unless she is lazy, she said.
Mr Mahamudu Salifu, a farmer and an ALP trained rain gauge monitor from Zambulugu, said with the rain gauge he was able to record rainfall figures that are forwarded to the District Agric Office and together with the weather information the community was informed on the right time to start sowing their crops as is done in the other communities.
He said they had also been taught how to make compost with animal droppings, kitchen waste and grass to fertilize their farms while avoiding bush and farm burning to conserve the environment.
A report by a monitoring and evaluation team of three consultants said what had changed in the communities since the work by ALP are improved food security, efficient rural credit scheme, learning and awareness about climate change, improved awareness on gender issues and ownership and community vision.
Others include community confidence, disaster preparedness, conservation agriculture and a new outlook on livestock production which is taken as a business and not as part of life as it used to be.