As the world recognizes this Earth Day, Winrock International‘s Agriculture Education and Market Improvement Program (AEMIP) is mobilizing a major initiative to integrate climate change concerns into Guinea’s national agriculture education and training (AET) system as a part of USAID’s Global Climate Change (GCC) initiative. With the support of volunteer technical assistance, AEMIP is developing technical and institutional leadership on climate change within the agriculture sector at Guinea’s AET institutions. “Now with climate change as a ‘hot topic,’ if we can better understand this, we can disseminate the information to others and contribute to global level efforts to protect the environment.” – student at the national forestry institution in Guinea, the École Nationale des Agents Téchniques des Eaux et Forêts (ENATEF), which has received previous Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) support in climate change-related topics.
Our recently-completed Baseline Study for the AEMIP GCC Integration Pilot found that climate change knowledge and capacity to implement climate change programs is limited in Guinea among key agriculture stakeholders in government and AET institutions – however there are promising levels of awareness and initiative for adaptation within the private sector and among smallholders. To respond to this context, AEMIP has integrated a number of climate change initiatives into its overall ag education strengthening program that will bring these stakeholders together for a comprehensive agriculture sector response to climate change. These initiatives include:
- In partnership with Purdue University, the development and delivery of a series of trainings in Climate Sciences for faculty and students at ISAVF. Two F2F volunteers completed institutional capacity assessments in gender and climate change in September 2013 that contributed to the development of these courses.
- With the support of F2F volunteers, AEMIP is installing an weather monitoring station on the ISAVF campus, to begin climate data monitoring.
- AEMIP is supporting the emergence of a Guinean Agriculture Institutions Network (GAIN) that will raise the standard of ag education in Guinea and promote the importance of agriculture professions, in particularly as they relate to climate change. An F2F volunteer will soon travel to Guinea to help this new network to develop its governance structure, strategic plans, and a major communications campaign.
- Finally, AEMIP is launching its signature Innovation Grants program in May 2014. Grants will support research teams at ISAVF and among GAIN members to undertake applied research projects for community-based adaptation, climate change policy development and execution, and public education on climate change.
For the AEMIP Innovation Grants Program, AEMIP will be recruiting for F2F volunteers from academic institutions to serve as Research Advisors to Guinean research teams – a longer-term commitment to cooperate virtually with the research teams, as well as conduct two, two-week trips to support research teams, over an 18 month period. Those interested in volunteering as these Research Advisors should look for assignment announcements over the next month on the Winrock Volunteer page of the Winrock website, www.winrock.org/volunteer.
-Dawne Deppe, Winrock Program Manager for AEMIP