by Dr. Kasiita Herbert
For me it was a dream come true, finding myself stuck between Prof Nelson Ssewankambo and Mr.
Chebet Maikut as I witnessed the launch of Climate change Adaptation and ICT (CHAI) phase III. These
are very powerful figures in academic research and climate change respectively. I had written tones of
emails and made several phone calls for over 10 years to meet Mr. Chebet, the Ugandan UNFCCC focal
point in vain but thanks to IDRC, I made my first successful move in knowing this powerful man. Being
my neighbor on the left, we spent quite some time getting to know each other and of course I put in my
interest to participate in the fourth coming review of the sixth IPCC assessment reports.
Thanks to IDRC am an innovations fellow attached to the Uganda chapter of the CHAI project which has
turned many stones as far as climate information is concerned. For six years now, in three districts in the
Uganda cattle corridor namely Soroti, Nakasongola and Ssembabule over 100,000 farmers have been
receiving accurate and timely climate information through interactive FM radio broadcast, text
messaging, email and face-to-face meetings in three intervention districts including: seasonal weather
forecasts and agricultural information localized to sub-county level; weekly livestock and crop market
information to help them decide what, when, where and how much to sell; guidance on low cost
rainwater harvesting techniques; drought and flood coping mechanisms; and termite control measures
in local languages.
A lot of impact has been registered including; increased access to adaptation information by 48%, the
monetary value of crop loss and damage 40% to 65% less than in Rakai used as the control district.
People have been keenly using this information and their lives have not been the same. My life has not
remained the same either since my first visit to the CHAI districts. I have come to learn a new dimension
of scaling and sustainability in phase III of the same project. Earlier on, I knew scaling up as getting more
people and localities on board or basically replicating the proven concept elsewhere. Thanks to CHAI
phase III, I now know what is called functional scaling, where the project’s geographical scope is not
necessarily increased but the gaps in the original design identified, closed, documented and made
available for those partners that hope take the project on in other places. This is more like coming up
with a more flexible and efficient formula for use by any partner hoping to take the work forward.
As an innovations fellow, definitely I have identified the gaps in the ICT tool used in the earlier phases
and I have closed them by coming up with a new technology that will address a few major the shortfalls
in climate communication delivery and translation of the same into climate action. I would have loved to
go on and on but today is the last day of the workshop, I don’t want to miss the cocktail and diner. Let us
keep in touch.