The Role of Information and Communication Technologies for Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change

The Role of Information and Communication Technologies for Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change

Climate change is one of the most complex challenges that humankind has to face in the next decades. As the change process seems to be irreversible, it became urgent to develop sound adaptation processes to the current and future shifts in the climate system. In particular, it is likely that the biggest impacts of change will be on agricultural and food systems over the next few decades (M. E. Brown, C. C. Funk, 2008). Some scientists (Lobell et al., 2008), due to the application of crop modeling tools, have pointed out that climate change is likely to reduce food availability due to a reduction in agricultural production.

Introduction:

Climate change is one of the most complex challenges that humankind has to face in the next decades. As the change process seems to be irreversible, it became urgent to develop sound adaptation processes to the current and future shifts in the climate system. In particular, it is likely that the biggest impacts of change will be on agricultural and food systems over the next few decades (M. E. Brown, C. C. Funk, 2008). Some scientists (Lobell et al., 2008), due to the application of crop modeling tools, have pointed out that climate change is likely to reduce food availability due to a reduction in agricultural production.

The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), a committee of the United Nations that collects and reviews the most important scientific contributions to this issue every five years, provided evidence that higher frequency and diffusion of climate fluctuations is likely to produce more severe and frequent droughts and floods, which are the main causes of short-term fluctuations in food production in semiarid and sub-humid areas. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia occupy the majority of these lands, meaning that the poorest regions of the world are going to face the highest degree of instability in food production (J. Bruinsma, 2003). J. Schmidhuber and F. N. Tubiello (2007) contributed investments in communications as an effective mean to address future climate change.

Within this framework, it is crucial to identify information and communication systems that the farmers need in order to cope with the new conditions. This is particularly true for poor smallholder farmers, as in Africa the majority of African farmers do not have access to the scientific and technological advances that support agricultural decision-making because of the lack of reliable communication networks (M. Boulahya et al, 2005). With regard to agronomic research, one of the major challenges will be studying the needs of policy makers and how to report and communicate research results in an effective way for supporting the adaptation of food systems to climate change (J.S.I. Ingram et al, 2008). To the same aim, in 2001 the IPCC underlined the local conditions that could determine if a community is likely able to adapt to changes and, among others, have the ability as decision-makers to manage information, which was particularly stressed (IPCC, 2001).

Simone Sala
© FAO, 2010
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