Agricultural development set to benefit from a diet of CaSAVA

ICRAF’s Capacity-strengthening Approach to Vulnerability Assessment looks attractive to two projects funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development


By Kharmina Anit

At the Second Quarterly Meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in the Philippines, 29–30 September 2014, two of the seven IFAD-funded projects expressed interest in adopting ICRAF’s Capacity-strengthening Approach to Vulnerability Assessment (CaSAVA) method. CaSAVA helps researchers and communities identify the assets and deficits of existing livelihoods in a community and find ways for farmers to adapt to economic and climate-related shocks and hazards.

‘Behind-the-scenes’ during a video baseline survey of the Smart Tree-Invest project. The video baseline survey is another way ICRAF researchers record changes in the buffering and filtering capacities of farms. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Cruz

Five IFAD-Assisted Loan Projects and five IFAD-Assisted Grant Projects operating in the Philippines participated in the meeting, shared updates on their progress. Two of the investment projects expressed interest in CaSAVA: the Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project of the Department of Agriculture was interested in how they could make use of CaSAVA in their assessment study; and the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which shares one of its study sites with ICRAF’s Climate-smart, Tree-based, Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project, was keen to explore a  potential collaboration on the social aspect of vulnerability.

Another vulnerability assessment method from the International Potato Center (CIP) was also presented at the meeting. By listening to the presentations on the different methods being used in the various projects, the researchers working with the other investment projects could take home what was relevant for their cases.

CIP’s Root and Tuber Crops Food Security (RTCs-FS) Assessment Study assesses vulnerability by looking at food availability, utilization and access. CIP assessed food resilience and how root and tuber crops could help people cope with food insecurity.

ICRAF’s vulnerability assessment focused on climate and market resilience and assessed how trees or agroforestry systems could be used as coping and adaptation strategies for climate and market variability. CaSAVA includes scientific modelling in assessing land-use changes and their impacts on the buffering capacity of a watershed, carbon-stock dynamics, and biodiversity.

Although the two methods differed on a number of points, both used participatory approaches that included focus-group discussions, key-informant interviews and household surveys to help ensure comprehensive data collection and recognition of farmers’ perspectives.

While expressing interest in CaSAVA, the meeting participants were also concerned that the implementation phase (six months) for the method in Smart Tree-Invest was too brief compared to the assessment-planning phase (two years). Given the short, three-year duration of Smart Tree-Invest, the meeting was worried that farmers and other locals involved in the project might not be able to absorb everything and few tangible benefits would be realized. However, it was emphasized that local stakeholders were already involved in the project from the beginning and in the second year of implementation a working group comprising key stakeholders will be formed to develop environmental services’ business cases. These business cases will help improve the buffering and filtering capacity of the landscape as well as the livelihoods of smallholders. The farmers’ improved adaptation strategies would thereby make them less vulnerable to both economic and climate-related shocks and hazards.




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This work is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry’s component on landscape management of forested areas for environmental services, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods'

Kharmina Anit

Kharmina Paola A. Anit has recently rejoined the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Philippines as a National Consultant for Smart Tree-Invest, an IFAD-funded project. She worked for ICRAF in 2011-2013 under the payments for ecosystem services (PES) component of the Ridge to Reef Project. Her research interests are resource economics, population dynamics and PES. Kharmina is currently taking up MS in Environmental Science at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Some of her publications are about the willingness to pay for water services and the use of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool in enhancing the effectiveness of PES.

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