Facilitating collaboration between policymakers and researchers for effective and dynamic climate-smart solutions in Zimbabwe

Climate change worsens poverty for large parts of the population in Zimbabwe. There are multiple efforts to incorporate climate change adaptation in agricultural programs; however, there are gaps between research and policy that limit context-specific and effective responses. To bridge the gap a project in Zimbabwe is working towards facilitating evidence-based decisions to support the contribution of climate action to agricultural transformation.

Given the need for more effort to enhance climate action, the AgMIP (Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project) CLARE (Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience) project, funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC), provides tools, and information to better understand vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change, and its performance under plausible future pathways, towards enhanced climate change adaptation, mitigation co-benefits, and resilience. The collaboration with multi-scale and multidisciplinary experts and stakeholders to undertake and validate forward-looking research is set to guide actionable agriculture and climate change policy decisions.

The Government of Zimbabwe places high priority on the agriculture sector. The country steps up its climate actions in line with its own Vision 2030 and the Paris Agreement provisions, where both climate change adaptation (National Adaptation Plans) and mitigation (Nationally Determined Contributions) are critical to support the agricultural sector.

Directors of the Climate Change Management Department (CCMD) say that AgMIP CLARE complements their mandate on climate change assessments and planning for adaptation and mitigation actions with a focus on local-level interventions supported by national policies. Research officers, climate scientists, academicians and journalists affirm the same and share their experience on how AgMIP has equipped and guided them and, how involving them in developing the policy briefs is a step forward in bridging the gap between research and policy.

CCMD Director and Deputy Director Mr Washington Zhakata and Mr Kudzai F Ndidzano say, “Through the project, we had the opportunity to participate in the revision of future climate and adaptation scenarios for Zimbabwe as a country and implications for specific farming systems like the mixed crop livestock farming in Nkayi district. This enhanced our understanding of the future climate impacts, as well as entry points for policy development and implementation, which are critical for strategic planning considering the expected future climate. The key messages as elaborated in the jointly revised policy briefs come in handy to reach out to policy makers, with evidence-based policy recommendations for strengthening research and policy linkages in the country.”

Climate Scientist, formerly at CCMD, Dr Elisha N Moyo, says, “This methodology is transformative in that it gives scientists, policymakers and practitioners an understanding of the likely climate direction or the convergence or divergence of models when it comes to the future scenarios. It enables researchers to understand the certainties around climate modelling or the confidence in the projections”.

Principal Research Officer at Matopos Research Institute, Mr Gevious Sisito, says that there is a growing demand for AgMIP CLARE integrated assessments and collaborative research tools that can test the impacts of adaptation packages under specified farming systems and climatic conditions. This can support mainstreaming climate change adaptation through better-tailored technology packages. The Matopos Research Institute hosts one of the Green Climate Fund Innovation Platforms for testing climate change adaptation packages in semi-arid farming conditions

Social Scientist at Lupane State University, Dr Thulani Dube, says, “Forward-looking approaches in terms of climate simulations and integrated modeling have enormous potential. We have introduced this subject in our curriculum to capacitate students that enroll with us”.

Journalist and Communication Specialist, Mr Busani Bafana, says climate research and policy advocacy are technical and complex but relevant and beneficial for development. “As a journalist, I realize the importance of effective communication of research outputs. The AgMIP tool has offered important insights on future climate scenarios and for me, the next steps will include on-the-ground assessment on farmers adopting the adaptation packages and how current policy frameworks are helping farmers adapt,” he says.

The below diagram explains the consultative process being deployed to bridge the gap between research and policy for climate adaptation in Zimbabwe.

The policy briefs mentioned in the article can be accessed on http://oar.icrisat.org/11933 and http://oar.icrisat.org/11934

Research-informed policy and decision-making for climate adaption in Zimbabwe

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