I was visiting my family in Nicaragua after Hurricane Irma event on September, excited to get 24/7 fast internet connection while being there, which we do not have yet at Finca Tungasuk (as you may now internet access is still not so easy to get in the countryside, hopefully soon!) when I saw a facebook link announcing the upcoming UN CC: e-Learn Platform upcoming course on: “The National Adaptation Plans: Building Climate Resilience in Agriculture”.
During my time in Nicaragua, being far from the farm allowed me to have time and look from the distance and process what just did happen to us and around 75% of the island. We just finished a very active hurricane season this 2017 and this was my first time experiencing in the countryside the impact of a hazard weather event like hurricane Irma was. We had some tree lost and damages, but we did “well” compared to the central/east part of the country. You can find more information on this report on Hurricane Irma and Cuba. I questioned myself what we should have done to avoid some of the loses and damages due to the wind impact on the farm and which measures we could take to prepare for another weather event like this one.
No better timing for me to get acces to this large tank of resources on climate change information, mitigation and adaptation actions.
After facing for the first time a hurricane and seeing how fragile is the agriculture sector facing this kind of weather events, but on the same time how adaptative and strong nature showed us it can be, I decided to take the challenge on taking this online course once I was back to Cuba. The course started on the 13th of November and I flew back to the island the 15th, I knew I will have limited acces to internet once back to the farm. But I could not let this opportunity walk away from me, specially because we have been gathering information through family members, volunteers and friends who bring from time to time books or magazines on sustainable agriculture methods, but sometimes not having access to a larger list of reading resources or immediate access to Google when we want to get some answers on when doubting how to address certain problems in the farm related to crops, has been not so easy. When I realized the large list of reading resources and institutions involved in the course there was no room for doubt.
This has been also a good opportunity to share and exchange information, experiences and expertise with different people from different parts.of the globe (through the forum and peers assesments in the platform) who are familiar or facing similar climate change risks/impacts like long drought periods, extreme weather events, extreme rainfalls periods, erosion, etc.
Do not get me wrong I am not complaining at all: Internet acces has improved A LOT since we moved to Finca Tungasuk in 2014. From December 2016 we have a wi-fi spot in our municipal city: Caimito, which is 7 km from the farm. Before we had to go all our way to another town (Bauta) or Havana to check our gmail accounts or google whatever we needed. We got used to it, in fact I started doing checklists before heading to the Wi-fi spot in order to do not forget anything I have on the waiting list. But doing a MOOC with limited internet access was a hole new experience for me. I have done a few online courses in the edx.org platform related to Food, wellness and nutrtion while we were living in France, and recently while I spent time in Nicaragua.
Doing one from Cuba took me some extra time, extra economic resources (the good news is that now the hour of internet connection is cheaper now 1 cuc/1hour) and the effort of crossing our neighbors crick, grab a vintage car taxi ride and bicitaxi (like a bikeshaw) to get there, which in fact was a good opportunity to visit them more often and strengthening neighborhood.
I will do it again and encourage everyone hesitating on enrolling an online course from the island to go for it. It requires a little extra organisation and prevention, because you could face some internet connection problems. I would recommend doing it in two steps: dedicate one day to download the reading materials and watch the lecture videos and another day to do the quizzes, participate in the forums, reply to any comment, etc.
For those having the curiosity to learn how can someone contribute in a personal, local level to mitigate and adapt to climate change regardless your profession or background, go and check the UN CC:eLearn Platform: Think, talk, act climate.
About the course:
The National Adaptation Plans: Building Climate Resilience in Agriculture Course was structured in 6 weeks:
Climate Change Adaptation, Agriculture and Food Security: Introduction
International Frameworks and National Adaptation Planning
Identifying and Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Risks
Identifying and Prioritizing Adaptation Actions in Agriculture
Governance, Coordination and Finance
Communication, Monitoring and Evaluation
The course aimed to help the participants to understand the nexus between climate change adaptation, agriculture and sustainable development. To learn how agricultural can be taken into account when formulating and implementing national adaptation planning, based on the advice and experience of leading experts, through sevveral weekly lecture videos, notes, forums, episodes from some countries like Philippines, polls and other additional resources. It was a good opportunity to exchange our own experience at Finca Tungasuk and get some feedback and contributions from other participants.
Some of the questions that were adressed during the course were:
✓ How can we better link local, farming knowledge with scientific knowledge?
✓ How can we bridge the gap between the limit of what communities can do on their own and what government and other services need to do?
After the course participants would be able to:
✓Identify types and sources of knowledge and information needed for adaptation planning
- Identify tools for modelling climate change impacts and mainstreaming gender in adaptation planning
- Discuss examples of different adaptation options in agriculture
- Integrating Traditional Knowledge Into Adaptation Planning
- Identify interlinkages between climate change, agriculture and food security and the role of national adaptation planning
- Recognize differentiated climate change impacts on livelihoods and gender in agriculture
- Describe the basic elements of an integrated communications strategy.
- Distinguish coordination and governance aspects of implementing adaptation actions in agriculture sectors
Now time for Finca Tungasuk to implement some of the new tools and learning materials we have in our hands (useful for smallholders farmers as we are) to adapt to climate change . We are committed to do sustainable and conservation agriculture as much as possible, which has not been an easy path to follow but its worth every effort and focus on a long term solutions to address climate risks and vulnerabilities.
Happy holidays from Finca Tungasuk,
#CCLearnAlumni, #thinkclimate, #climatechange, #hurricaneirma, #cuba