1 Executive Summary

1.1 Progress for the reporting period

Continuation from reporting for Inception period of Phase II (Milestone 2): • Training workshops for 1 village (Fenale) in seed saving and crop calendars, 4 villages for herb production and quality control (Sedawa, Botshabelo, Mametja Turkey) • Tunnel construction in 6 villages (Fenale, Lepelle, Mametja, Sedawa, Botshabelo, Turkey) • Local marketing initiative for organic herbs and vegetables • Continuation with water issues exploration workshops in 2 villages (Lepelle, Sedawa), to continue discussions and planning and do community screening of videos • Garden monitoring; Sedawa, Turkey, Botshableo, Mametja, Lorraine. • Seasonal review workshop- Botshabelo learning group • Research study for water productivity and water use to augment implementation

IMPLEMENTATION TEAM MAHLATHINI: Erna Kruger, Sylvester Selala, Betty Maimela (intern) AWARD: Cryton Zazu, Bigboy Mkhabela,

2 Project Objectives

2.1 Overview of RESILIM-O Project objectives

RESILIM-O is large multi-faceted, multi-stakeholder, cross-boundary programme to reduce vulnerability to climate change through building improved transboundary water and biodiversity governance and management of the Olifants Basin through the adoption of science-based strategies that enhance the resilience of its people and ecosystems through systemic and social learning approaches. The programme has been running for four years and is being implemented by AWARD (The Association for Water and Rural Development) with funding from USAID.

The Agricultural Support Initiative (AgriSI) was initiated as a sub-grant process within the larger programmed towards the end of 2016. This initiative works specifically with climate change adaptation processes with smallholder communities in both the middle and lower Olifants River basin. In the lower Olifants it is being implemented jointly by Mahlathini Development Foundation and AWARD.

The Agricultural Support Initiative (AgriSI) addresses two of the RESILIM-O programme objectives directly:
i. To institutionalize systemic, collaborative planning and action for resilience of ecosystems and associated livelihoods through enhancing the capacity of stakeholders to sustainably manage natural resources of the Olifants River Basin under different scenarios ii. To reduce vulnerability to climate change and other factors by supporting collective action, informed adaptation strategies and practices and tenable institutional arrangements.

2.2 Sub-grant Project Objectives

Sound agro-ecological practices for soil and water conservation (SWC) and the ability to self-organise and act collectively are regarded as fundamental for building adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change. Not only do agro-ecological farming approaches require minimum external inputs – which may be expensive and increase dependency if subsidised – but they foster farmers’ sense that they can build sustainable futures from local inputs and efforts. With knowledge about the potential impacts of climate change included in the learning journey, farmers can make purposeful decisions around practices such as seed saving and crop-type to plant. This approach supports livelihood diversification – also fundamental for increased resilience – through ‘value-added’ associated activities such as seedling production, tree nurseries and beekeeping, harvesting and processing of marula fruits into jam and other usable products.
The overall aim of the Agricultural Support Initiative is to enhance the resilience of the people and ecosystems in selected villages (5-6) in the Lower Olifants River basin, using a systemic social learning approach, exploring the question: What are you learning about the socio-economic and biophysical characteristics of your environment and how these are changing and how are you able to respond to that?

The overarching objective of this work is to provide support for increased adaptive capacity and resilience to the effects of climate change for households involved in agriculture in select communities of the Olifants River Catchment through:

  • Improved soil and water conservation and agro-ecological practices for increased food security
  • Livelihood diversification and supplementation through alternative climate resistant production;
  • Increased community empowerment as a result of self-organisation and collective action.