Evaluating a transformative adaptation process in São Tomé and Principe
Feature image credit: David Stanley.
E Co. consultant Dr Lili Ilieva recently worked on the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) project: “Enhancing capacities of rural communities to pursue climate resilient livelihood options in the São Tomé and Principe districts of Caué, Mé-Zochi, Príncipe, Lembá, Cantagalo and Lobata”. The project was implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development between 2014 – 2019. E Co. was invited to conduct the Terminal Evaluation of the project and generate recommendations and lessons learned to inform forthcoming initiatives.
As climate risks continue to jeopardise the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, the need for resilient agricultural solutions becomes more critical. Because of their geographic isolation or limited natural resources, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are highly exposed and vulnerable to climate disasters. These result in a complex set of food and water security challenges.
São Tomé and Principe (STP) is a small country comprised by an archipelago at the Gulf of Guinea and it is particularly vulnerable to climate hazards such as droughts, landslides and floods. In addition to this, the country has witnessed a significant variability of seasonality. The agricultural sector is vital for the economy and the communities of STP. However, the sector is characterised by low productivity due to lack of adequate agricultural practices and infrastructure (e.g. irrigation systems), degraded ecosystems. This situation is further exacerbated by climate change.
A transformative adaptation project paves the way to climate resilience
To change this paradigm, STP has embarked on a journey to make their agricultural sector and smallholder farmers more resilient. The GEF LDCF project: “Enhancing capacities of rural communities to pursue climate resilient livelihood options in the São Tomé and Principe districts of Caué, Mé-Zochi, Príncipe, Lembá, Cantagalo and Lobata”. The project was implemented by UNDP and executed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the period between 2014 – 2019.
The project sought to strengthen the institutional capacity of key government agencies to integrate climate change adaptation in the agricultural sector, while increasing the resilience of farmers through adaptive infrastructure and practices. The project is a pioneer in mainstreaming climate change adaptation in agriculture and promoting participatory processes for decision-making. The project also introduced innovative technologies such as greenhouse technology to protect agricultural production from disease and heavy rains and generate alternative income. Another outcome was enhancing the adaptive capacity of farmers through business models such as cooperative organisations.
Together with the national consultant, Antonio Correia – we interviewed more than 20 key stakeholders and visited 12 villages in Sao Tome and 5 villages in Principe to consult local beneficiaries.
Lessons learned from adaptation processes in Sao Tome and Principe
- Participation of multiple stakeholders at all levels of governance (local, district and national) is vital for the success and sustainability of the project.
- South-south know-how and knowledge exchange will enhance capacities to design relevant adaptation measures.
- Developing indicators for the project objective and outcomes need to take into consideration how to best demonstrate the impact of the project with regards increased institutional capacity.
- Introduction and scaling-up of innovative adaptation technologies must be fully planned from the project design stages and properly resourced
At E Co. we are looking forward to support other adaptation projects in their evaluation and collection of lessons learned. Learn more about the work we do here.