Friday, November 06, 2015

Facilitating climate smart adaptation through the use of Participatory 3D Modelling by Neila Bobb-Prescott at the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum in Barbados

Participatory 3D Modelling or P3DM in short, is a community-based mapping method which is spreading in the Caribbean Region. It facilitates planning and action-taking on climate change related issues. Considering the potentials of the process, efforts are needed to promote the success stories of its use to date. This presentation at the Caribbean Pacific Agri-Food Forum in Barbados (206 November 2015) is an important step in promoting the practice in the region.

Neila Bobb-Prescott's participation in the 2nd Agribusiness Forum has been supported by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA)

Participatory mapping processes for data generation and exchange in SIDS by Aly DeGraff at the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum in Barbados

Participatory mapping is the solicitation and incorporation of geospatially focused local knowledge in bottom-up decision-making processes. It provides a wide decision-making base, taking into consideration the collaborative collection and validation of data while building ownership in the generated data. Participatory mapping can be used as a powerful tool to strengthen public participation in governance and social change in agribusiness communities.

Aly DeGraff delivered her talk at the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum in Barbados organised by CTA and partners.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Samoa’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment receives award for engaging civil society via participatory mapping

On 25 September 2015 the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa (MNRE) received a Public Service Innovation and Excellence Award in the Environmental Friendly/Sustainable Development Initiative team category for the successful implementation of the Integration of Climate Change Risk and resilience into Forestry management in Samoa (ICCRIFS) Project.

The ICCRIFS Project is a 4 year project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The goal of the project is to integrate climate change risks into forestry management in Samoa. After being trained by the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development (CTA) in practising Participatory Three-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM) in 2012, staff of the ICCRIFS Project successfully facilitated a total of 18 P3DM exercises with communities in various sectors including water, forestry, tourism. The first P3D Model to be implemented (covering villages from Laulii to Falevao) became a very effective planning tool. It helped engaging the community by building capacity, knowledge and skills on environmental management, and ways to adapt and mitigate climate change.

The 2015 Public Service Innovation and Excellence Awards ceremony, took place on the 25th of September 2015 as part of the 4th annual Public Service Day. The Public Service Day is held to commemorate, celebrate and recognize the public sector’s contribution and service into achieving the national development of Samoa. Close to 50 Government Ministries and Public Bodies took part in this year’s celebrations.

These Awards are used to recognize the dedication of public servants in achieving their respective Ministry’s and Office’s objectives. Nominations of potential awardees were solicited from the general public in August and were thereafter assessed by an independent panel consisting of 3 members: the Chamber of Commerce President on behalf of the private sector, SUNGO Interim President Vaasilifiti Moelagi Jackson on behalf of the civil society, and the Chairman of the Commission.

The general public as well as schools were invited to take advantage of the opportunity to engage with Government agencies to gain an in-depth understanding of the functions and roles of each of the participating agencies and how these relate to their everyday life.

Related postTop UN officials Helen Clark and Naoko Ishii praising outcome of P3DM activities in Samoa

More information on the P3DM process and case studies are found here and here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction in the Philippines

With the support of UNICEF and the University of the Philippines, children in Camarines Norte help their communities in locating the hazard risks in their areas and plan disaster preparedness measures using a Participatory 3D Model (P3DM).

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Drones and Aerial Observation : New Technologies for Property Rights, Human Rights, and Global Development

Gregor Maclennan from Digital Democracy talks about the use of UAVs used in the context of indigenous land rights in Guyana.

More information on New America

We have wings to fly - Join the uav4ag community

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones for management of crops, livestock, fisheries, forests and other natural resource-based activities represents a new technological frontier and opens up a range of exciting opportunities. UAVs offer also opportunities for grassroots’ involvement in monitoring use of and access to the resources their livelihoods depend on.

A community has been established on to cater for practitioners, researchers, farmers, entrepreneurs, service providers operating in developing countries and who are interested in the topic.  Members of the community share their experiences in developing UAV technologies and related software applications and more importantly in making use of small UAVs to improve the assessment and management of crops, fishing grounds and other resource-based activities. Relevant events, capacity building opportunities and other resources are signalled as soon as these are known by members of the community.

Being the use of UAVs for agricultural purposes a recent phenomenon, national aviation authorities and potential users are facing new challenges linked to the use of UAVs within their skies. Hence this Community focuses also on existing and forthcoming policies, laws and regulations governing their use.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rainforest Airforce: Indigenous Peoples Fly Drones to Protect their Land

In August 2014, Tushevs Aerials ( traveled deep in the Peruvan Amazon to train indigenous leaders in the use of remote-control airplanes for the protection and monitoring of their rainforest. The workshop was hosted by AIDESEP, the country's largest indigenous peoples' network, with participants from the Loreto and Madre de Dios Amazon provinces, as well as from the Panama's Embera peoples. This technology enables communities to monitor and defend their territories against legal and illegal pressures.

These are some images from the weeklong workshop, as well as raw footage that the drone captured while flying over the Pacaya-Samiria National Park in the Loreto Province of Peru.

The music is a regional song called El LLanto del Ayaymama and speaks of a local legend of two abandoned children who the forest spirits save by giving them wings. 

Source: YouTube 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Transformative Power of Social Media in Agriculture: Inspiring Stories

The advent of social media has revolutionised the way people communicate worldwide. But in a growing number of developing countries, these tools are being put to increasingly good effect to drive agricultural and rural development, often with dramatic results. A new publication from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) documents the transformative power of these innovative technologies. Based on 18 case studies drawn from across African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries , Embracing Web 2.0 and Social Media: A life-changing pathway for agricultural development actors provides testimonies on how Web 2.0 and social media are contributing to better engagement of stakeholders in policy dialogue and advocacy, marketing and the provision of information services.

The booklet documents a wide range of practical applications for Web 2.0 and social media in ACP settings. Some farmers have found that Facebook can be an excellent marketing channel to promote their products. Extension agents are discovering that social media is a highly effective way of communicating with the people they serve. Agricultural organisations are using a range of social media tools to mount advocacy campaigns aimed at influencing policy-makers. Researchers are using online collaboration tools to work on joint publications, while more and more young people are using new ICT skills to blog about important rural development issues. Others are seizing opportunities to develop innovative online services and launch their own companies as agripreneurs.

“Social media has become part of everyday life for most people in the developed world. But it has created a life-changing experience for many people in rural areas who have come to use it,” said CTA Director Michael Hailu.

All the stories featured in the booklet revolve around people who have benefited from a CTA-led campaign to make Web 2.0 and social media tools more accessible to agriculture and rural development actors in ACP countries.

The figures speak volumes: more than 4,000 individuals trained, 176 face-to-face training events – known as Web 2.0 and social media learning opportunities (LOs) – held in 44 ACP countries. In 2013, the Web 2.0 and social media LOs carried off the prestigious World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Project Prize in the e-Agriculture category.

Impact assessment studies conducted by CTA have revealed that its Web 2.0 and social media capacity-building activities have led to greater inclusion and empowerment for participants, often with far-reaching repercussions for themselves and the people with whom they interact. Adoption rates are high, with young women emerging as the most likely players to adopt social media, following a training course.

In Uganda, local NGOs are using ICTs to support producers, processors and other actors in agricultural value chains. Agronomists from Madagascar are using Web 2.0 and social media to develop knowledge about apiculture. In Central Africa, a farmers’ network institutionalised social media and improved its operational effectiveness. In Samoa, a Facebook and Twitter marketing campaign is producing impressive results for women weavers of ceremonial mats. And in the Caribbean, bloggers and social media reporters are helping other young people to plan a future in farming.

“Many people have told us that the training sessions have not only changed their working behaviour, but their whole lives,” said Giacomo Rambaldi, Senior Programme Coordinator at CTA.

The official launch of the CTA publication will be held on 26 November 2015 during the International Day of Vrije University (VU) in Amsterdam.

The booklet is available for order in print form or for free download from the CTA publications catalogue

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The power of media: Did the documentary film "Virunga" trigger a plunge in the share price of the oil exploration firm SOCO International?

Virunga is a extraordinary documentary film which focuses on the conservation work of rangers within the Virunga National Park in the  Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the activity of a British company, Soco International, which began exploring for oil within the UNESCO World Heritage site in April 2014. SOCO is an international oil and gas exploration and production company, headquartered in London. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 17, 2014. Since airing on Netflix it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The allegations brought against Soco International by the documentary, and supported by local NGOs and civil society organizations working in and around Virunga National park, put increased pressure on the company to put an end to its exploration for oil within the protected World Heritage Site.

On June 11, 2014, Soco International and the WWF announced a joint statement in which the oil company committed "not to undertake or commission any exploratory or other drilling within Virunga National Park unless UNESCO and the DRC government agree that such activities are not incompatible with its World Heritage status". This was widely cited as a victory for WWF, which had long been campaigning for Soco to leave the region, and credit was also given to the filmmakers. However, strong concerns about the credibility of this agreement were raised by the filmmakers, alongside other NGOs such as Global Witness and Human Rights Watch, and local civil society organisations.

World Wildlife Fund executives now acknowledge that the battle over Virunga is hardly over. SOCO has yet to relinquish its operating permits or commit to an unconditional withdrawal…”They’re leaving the door open,” said Zach Abraham, director of the World Wildlife Fund’s global campaigns. (Source: adapted from Wikipedia)

On March 13, 2015, BBC reported that the Democratic Republic of Congo says it wants to redraw the boundaries of Virunga National Park, to allow for oil exploration.

On June 10, 2015 BBC reported that 'Soco paid Congo major' accused of Virunga oil intimidation.

Since the launch of the film on April 17, 2014, SOCO's share price has plunged by 63.33%. This slump can be attributed only partially to the drop in oil prices as shares from BP and Shell dropped by 14.3% and 25.9% respectively over the same period.

Call for action:
You can view the documentary film on Netflix.
You can interact with the producers via and take action.
Save Virunga:
Watch trailer:

Heads up to Orlando von Einsiede, the film director, the French investigative journalist, Mélanie Gouby and to the team behind this great production!