“A framework for examining justice in food system transformations research” New paper with inputs from Kulima

A new paper “A framework for examining justice in food system transformations research” has just been published in the journal Nature Food. The paper, led by Stephen Whitfield with a team that included Katharine Vincent, calls for critical analysis of the justice implications of food system transformation. It does this by presenting a framework of three justice lenses — historical, representational and distributional — that can be adopted when thinking across the temporal dimensions of food system transformation.

The paper highlights that food system transformation and justice are subjects of research, recognising that drivers of transformation are both internal and external to the food system and that they evolve dynamically over time. It also points to the fact that research in a transformative space requires researchers to play a key role in supporting inclusive dialogues and showing awareness of their own role in framing discussions.

New project launch “Supporting Pastoralism and Agriculture in Recurrent and Protracted Crises” (SPARC)

This week the Supporting Pastoralism and Agriculture in Recurrent and Protracted Crises (SPARC) research programme has been launched. Led by Cowater, ODI, the International Livestock Research Institute and Mercy Corps and funded by FCDO, the six-year programme will develop and share knowledge to help the international development community better assist pastoralists, agro-pastoralists and farmers living with climate change, protracted crises and ongoing conflicts.

Partnering with local researchers and organisations, as well as drawing on the expertise of its core partners, SPARC is generating knowledge to build the resilience of millions of people living in agricultural, pastoral and transitional communities in the drylands stretching from east to west Africa. Kulima director, Dr Katharine Vincent, is part of the programme management team as the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Advisor.

Biemruok Cattle Camp Bentiu South Sudan – image by UNMISS – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Exploring the adaptive capacity of sugarcane contract farming schemes in the face of extreme events” New paper with inputs from Kulima

A new paper “Exploring the adaptive capacity of sugarcane contract farming schemes in the face of extreme events” has just been published in the journal Frontiers in Climate. The paper, led by Rebecka Henriksson with Katharine Vincent and Kivana Naidoo from the UMFULA project team, developed a framework to determine adaptive capacity and then assess how this changed over time to mediate the impacts when different contract farming schemes were exposed to climate hazards, as shown through different production levels.

The Phata and Kasinthula sugar outgrower (contract farming) schemes are both in Chikwawa district in southern Malawi. As a result, they are similarly exposed to extreme events, but have shown different impacts in terms of sugarcane production. Looking over the last 10 years, the total level and components of adaptive capacity differ in several aspects. Phata had much better prerequisites to mitigate the impacts of the extreme events (i.e. maintain production), particularly related to the components of the adaptive capacity framework, i.e. the Asset base, Knowledge and information, Innovation, and Forward-looking decision-making. Kasinthula had limited capacity to recover from the severe 2015 floods, the adaptive capacity was thus drawn upon and had not been replenished by the time the next event occurred (drought). This novel, comparative approach to assessing adaptive capacity, linking to past events, is useful in determining the components of adaptive capacity that are missing and need to be built in order to reduce risk from extreme events and climate change.

“Climate variability affects water-energy-food infrastructure performance in East Africa” New paper with inputs from Kulima

A new paper “Climate variability affects water-energy-food infrastructure performance in East Africa” has just been published in the journal One Earth. The paper, led by Christian Siderius with other members of the UMFULA project team, including Katharine Vincent, highlights how climate variability is poorly understood in East Africa’s climate transition zone, where variability in rainfall is projected to increase. The implications of these projected changes in climate on infrastructure performance are poorly understood, with implications for the water, energy and food sectors.

graphical abstract

Infrastructure design should take into consideration the potential for changes in climate variability and recognise the limitations of planning on the basis of short time series of observations or projections. In the Rufiji basin in Tanzania and Shire basin in Malawi, a repeat of an early-20th century multi-year drought would challenge the viability of proposed infrastructure (dams). A long view, which emphasizes past and future changes in variability, set within a broader context of climate information interpretation and decision-making, is crucial for screening the risk to infrastructure and informing contingency planning to manage climate risk.

“Gender, migration and environmental change in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta” New chapter led by Kulima

A chapter on “Gender, migration and environmental change in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta“, by Katharine Vincent, Ricardo Safra de Campos, Attila Lazar and Anwara Begum, is part of a newly-published book “Engendering Climate Change: Learning from South Asia“.

Patterns of who migrates, where and for how long are strongly gendered. Against this backdrop, environmental change is altering the context in which migration takes place. The chapter outlines some of the theory on migration and gender, on how environmental change affects migration, and the gendered effects of environmental migration. It illustrates arguments using primary data from a sex-disaggregated survey of 1356 households in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta, from which it is concluded that migration flows and consequences exhibit gender differences and that environmental change plays an integral role. The chapter concludes with some insights into future environmental change and its potential effects on migration patterns in Bangladesh.

“The evolution of empirical adaptation research in the global South from 2010 to 2020” New paper in Climate and Development, led by Kulima

A new paper "The evolution of empirical adaptation research in the global South from 2010-2020" has just been published in the journal Climate and Development. The paper, by Katharine Vincent and Georgina Cundill, applies a scoping review approach to three leading adaptation journals covering different scales of analysis (Global Environmental Change, Regional Environmental Change and Climate and Development) to assess how empirical adaptation research in the global South has evolved over the last decade. The review shows that the quantity of empirical adaptation research has increased and that it covers both policy and practice and also different scales (from supranational down to individual level). There is significant and growing interest in the determinants of adaptation and adaptive capacity (including the role of barriers and enablers), and a small but growing interest in the role of gender. The overall increase in total publications does not show even geographical or sectoral coverage. Large swathes of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East/North Africa remain severely under-researched; and the overwhelming majority of papers focus on rural and agricultural issues rather than cities. This analysis offers tangible evidence to highlight where geographical and thematic gaps exist in our research on adaptation in the global South.

“Mobilizing Climate Information for Decision-Making in Africa: Contrasting User-Centered and Knowledge-Centered Approaches” New paper with inputs from Kulima

A new paper "Mobilizing Climate Information for Decision-Making in Africa: Contrasting User-Centered and Knowledge-Centered Approaches" has just been published in the journal Frontiers in Climate. The paper, led by Blane Harvey with an author team that includes Katharine Vincent, examines the ways in which climate information was mobilized for use under the Future Climate for Africa programme. Document analysis of outputs and key informant inteviews shows that, within the programme, a total of 20 knowledge mobilization tools and approaches were identified and used. There was a complex interplay between user engagement and knowledge mobilization processes, including the strategic or flexible use and re-use of knowledge products as the user engagement process evolved. These findings have important implications for future attempts to promote improved use of climate information in decision-making.

“Climate Risk in Africa. Adaptation and Resilience” New edited book with inputs from Kulima

An edited volume "Climate Risk in Africa. Adaptation and Resilience" has just been released, documenting the experiences across the Future Climate For Africa programme. The book, co-edited by Declan Conway and Katharine Vincent, explains how adaptation is a learning process that requires the bringing together of lots of people with different knowledge and experiences. It showcases various ways in which scientists partnered and worked with decision-makers – through co-production, transdisciplinary partnerships and multi-stakeholder engagement processes – to generate decision-relevant climate information to enable effective adaptation to climate change. Case studies cover a range of African countries, including Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya and Burkina Faso, and sectors from agriculture to water to urban planning.

“Adaptation interventions and their effect on vulnerability in developing countries: Help, hindrance or irrelevance?” New paper with inputs from Kulima

A new paper "Adaptation interventions and their effect on vulnerability in developing countries: Help, hindrance or irrelevance?" has just been published in the journal World Development. The paper, led by Siri Eriksen with an author team of 20, including Katharine Vincent, uses a review of 33 empirical studies, nearly 200 papers, and the insights of the authors to highlight how some interventions inadvertently reinforce, redistribute or create new sources of vulnerability. These maladaptive outcomes result from shallow understanding of the vulnerability context; inequitable stakeholder participation in both design and implementation; a retrofitting of adaptation into existing development agendas; and a lack of critical engagement with how ‘adaptation success’ is defined. Overcoming these shortcomings requires shifting the terms of engagement between adaptation practitioners and the local populations participating in adaptation interventions; expanding the understanding of ‘local’ vulnerability to encompass global contexts and drivers of vulnerability; and promoting learning processes within organisations and with marginalised populations. It concludes by asking whether scholarship and practice need to take a post-adaptation turn akin to post-development, by seeking a pluralism of ideas about adaptation while critically interrogating how these ideas form part of the politics of adaptation and potentially the processes (re)producing vulnerability.

“Adaptation pathways: A review of approaches and a learning framework” New paper in Environmental Science and Policy, with inputs from Kulima

A new paper "Adaptation pathways: A review of approaches and a learning framework" has just been published in the journal Environmental Science and Policy. The paper, led by Saskia Werners with Russell Wise, James Butler, Edmond Totin and Katharine Vincent, is an output of the recently-finished Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia. Based on a review of the literature, the paper finds three clusters of approaches to adaptation pathways, namely (a) performance-threshold oriented, (b) multi-stakeholder oriented, and (c) transformation oriented, each of which broadly corresponds to three desired outcomes of pathways development, namely (i) meeting short and long-term adaptation needs, (ii) promoting collaborative learning, adaptive planning and adaptive capacity, (iii) accounting for complexity and long-term change, including a potential need for transformation. Based on the review, a learning framework then presents a number of propositions to guide systematic reflection about why and how adaptation pathways are developed.