© WWF-US / Nikhil Advani

    The climate adaptation projects database showcases climate adaptation initiatives around the world, drawn from a collection of other sources. It exhibits case studies of adaptation projects, which include climate hazards and impacts, and the corresponding adaptation strategies.

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    WWF’s “Wildlife Adaptation Innovation Fund” supports the testing of new ideas through on the ground projects which have potential to reduce the vulnerability of species to changes in climate. Success and lessons learned from these pilot projects will provide useful guidance that move conservation beyond business as usual approaches and rapidly scale promising efforts to help wildlife endure under conditions of rapid change.

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Piloting a traditional Bolivian agricultural technique to reduce the impacts of drought and frosts

Santa Maria Yucuhiti is a small, quiet town surrounded by cloud, conifer and red oak forests. It is located in the mountainous region of southeast of Mexico. Most of its 6,500 inhabitants are “Mixtecos,” the fourth largest indigenous minority in America, which has inhabited the area since 300 B.C. 

Eleuterio is 37 years old. He is one of the many farmers of the town. Like his father and his grandfather, he sows the land using the traditional slash and burn method. “Santa María Yucuhiti has never been an easy place to live, however, the last seven years have been the hardest I can recall,” Eleuterio said. “We have always dealt with frosts and droughts, but now they are harder and more unpredictable; we do not know when to sow in order to avoid losing crops”, he added during an interview.

Alternatives to agriculture are scarce. Due to its isolation, people depend on their own crops for food. Some families have small cattle, which serve as a back-up during hard times, and some young men have migrated to distant cities. However, most of the farmers still remain and face higher risk. In order to cope with a changing climate, in 2016 community land owners agreed to start sowing in areas less exposed to cold winds. Those areas are bordering the forests, which are owned by the community. After one year, two sowing seasons and one hard frost event, the crops cultivated in these new areas seemed to perform better. However, two fires went out of control and damaged about 15 hectares of native forest. People are afraid that the “slash and burn” practice combined with intense drought could destroy more and more forested areas and exacerbate the problem.

But what to do then? Thanks to a grant through the WWF-US Climate Crowd initiative, WWF Mexico partnered with Espacio de Encuentro de Culturas Originarias, a local NGO, to implement an innovative project to deal with droughts and frosts at the same time. The project combines the installation of fog catchers with artificial water channels surrounding crops. Fog catchers collect the required water from the atmosphere to feed the water channels that, in turn, create a micro-climate that reduces damage to crops. Water channels are widely used in Andean and Amazonian regions with good results: moderated night temperatures, reduced impacts from drought, irrigated soils, reduced soil erosion and pest control.

The project focuses on testing the system’s effectiveness on Mesoamerican crops, mainly maize and beans. The objective of this project is to increase the survival rate of crops after frost events. Four fog catchers and 10 water channels were installed to protect ten treatment plots. Local farmers sowed these plots at the beginning of September. 300 corn plants, 150 black beans plants, 150 broad beans plants, 150 mustard plants, 60 broccoli, lettuce, chard and cabbage plants.

Although a very unusual hailstorm affected all crops planted in September, results from monitoring of a second round of crops replanted after the hailstorm indicate the project has been effective in improving crop survival. Despite a combination of frost and heat wave events in January, 380 plants out of 400 survived in the project plots (95% survival rate) while only 50 out of 200 survived in the control plots (25% survival rate). While ongoing monitoring will provide further insights on the effectiveness of this innovation, initial results are promising.

Implementing conservation agriculture in Tanzania to reduce vulnerability of small-scale farmers to climate change

In the highlands of Karatu District, farmers have experienced declining yields due to frequent drought and soil degradation, which is exacerbated by increasingly erratic rainfall. To improve farm productivity in the face of climate change, WWF-US funded a small-scale adaptation project implemented by the School for Field Studies and in collaboration with the local community of Kilimatembo. By constructing trenches, ridges and terraces to prevent runoff, and planting trees and grasses to help stabilize the soil, the project aims to improve conservation of soil and water in small farms and thereby improve yields.


Overcoming deteriorating water resources in Hoima, Uganda

The rural village of Kihigwa, located in Hoima District Uganda, once relied on a consistent pattern of rainfall that would come and go in moderation in accordance to the biannual rainy season. The ever-increasing impacts of climate change though have transformed this once stable system into a system of extremes. Consequently, the people of Kihigwa are being forced to adjust to longer and hotter dry seasons and shorter rainy seasons with heavier storms. While this change is having severe impacts on many aspects of life, the people of Kihigwa felt that their water resources were being degraded the most. They came to this conclusion after participating in several weeks of intensive discussions and activities that allowed them to analyze their situation and develop realistic solutions that would benefit the greatest number of people. In Kihigwa, people had always depended on open springs sources to collect their water. In the changing climate though, those sources had become more prone to drying up during droughts and more susceptible to contamination from surface runoff during heavy storms. This led to increases in water borne illnesses and an increase in the time needed to fetch water during drought. In response to this challenge, the community of Kihigwa worked with a local Peace Corps Volunteer to identify the most important water sources in the village. Using funds acquired from a WWF grant, four key open water springs in Kihigwa were transformed into protected shallow wells and springs. These actions have ensured that the water sources are protected from contamination at all times while also providing a stable flow of water all year round even during drought.

Recycling plastic bottles to build rainwater harvesting tanks

With two rainy seasons growing noticeably shorter, Uganda continues to endure the struggles of climate change with longer droughts in between its seasons and with few interventions rectifying the problem. To address increasing water scarcity, WWF funded the Ichupa Upcycle project. Designed and led by former Peace Corps volunteer Michal Matejczuk, the project uses discarded plastic bottles collected from around the community as raw material for constructing a rainwater harvesting system that can store water for use during dry spells. 

The Ichupa Upcycle Project involved countless community members, masons, technical advisors, friends and thousands of patients, who worked together to construct nine (9) rainwater catchment tanks utilizing over 30,000 plastic bottles creating a holding capacity of more than 40,000L of rainwater.  The project not only served as a solution to local water scarcity, but also contributed to local capacity building by bringing together different project beneficiaries to negotiate with one another, draw up a solution, source funding for various expenses or the necessary labor, find plastic bottles and the people to fill them, and ensure that the construction of their rainwater collection tanks was completed on time. The Ichupa Upcycle Project is in the process of becoming a registered community-based organization allowing those involved in the project and who cared deeply in its mission to continue expanding the knowledge they gained, and achieve greater impact. 

Rainwater harvesting in Njombe, Tanzania

Through a small grant from WWF’s Climate Crowd program, work recently concluded on a new hand washing station and rain capture and storage system at a primary school in Idunda village, Tanzania. Prior to the project, Itanana Primary School had one water access point on the opposite side of the school from the latrines, so students would often go to the bathroom without washing their hands.  Moreover, during the rainy seasons runoff would cascade from the classroom roofs and excavate a ditch in the clay soil of the school grounds that continues down to the school’s agriculture fields, which support student lunches and school funds.  With increasingly unpredictable rainfall as a result of climate change, it’s becoming all the more important for communities to manage their water resources strategically.

With help from a local Peace Corps volunteer, families, students and teachers of the Itanana School Community came together to mitigate both the runoff and hygiene issues through the installation of a rain catchment system which diverts roof runoff to a water storage tank and any overflow to an infiltration pond to minimize soil erosion and replenish groundwater.  The stored water is piped to a new hand washing station located between the bathrooms and classrooms so that students can conveniently wash their hands before returning to their classes.  The hand washing station also has 5 outlets to satisfy high demand around lunch and break times.  Following construction and installation, teachers led a School Water Day, during which students participated in hands-on activities illustrating the issue of global climate change, the need for more local methods of water conservation, and the best ways to safely use that water for personal health and hygiene.  Quizzes administered before and after the School Water Day indicate that the majority of the 87 students who participated demonstrated an improved understanding of these concepts following the event.

The students and whole community worked hard to make this water supply and personal hygiene project a success, and will continue to take pride in their positive efforts in supporting these basic needs in unique ways.


Installation of 5 weather stations in SW Zambia

We are installing 5 weather stations in SW Zambia, greatly increasing weather data collection in Zambia, a country which has very few stations currently installed. One station will be installed at the WWF office in Sesheke, and the other four stations will be installed in communities in the Sesheke province.

Constructing an irrigation system in Uganda to address unpredictable rainfall

Residents of Mayuge district (and surrounding areas) have noticed especially dramatic changes in climate. Compared to years past, residents have noted long periods of drought and excessive heat, punctuated by extreme rainfall and accompanying soil erosion. Additionally, the timing of the seasons (i.e. rainy and dry season, each of which occur twice per year) have become much less predictable, both in terms of when they start and how long they last. These changes have had devastating effects in a society where nearly 90% of people make a living primarily through agriculture. 

To combat these changes, WWF provided funding to a local volunteer to support a community-wide effort to construct a much-needed irrigation system. The project was made possible by the 200+ community members who contributed to the construction and procurement process.

Outcomes of the project include a large (12ft x 12ft x 13ft) water storage tank, an attached smaller (4ft x 3ft x 2ft) tank to be used for purposes of capturing run-off and filtering out sediment before flowing into the larger tank, a pipe used to capture run-off from the existing borehole (also filtering into the large harvesting tank), a gas-powered water pump, and a 150-meter hose to distribute water to the crops.

To date, farmers have expressed their satisfaction with the new system, which they've already put to use. Continued monitoring will provide further insights into the project's effectiveness in improving agricultural yields in the face of extreme weather.


Restoring a watershed to help communities cope with drought

WWF is partnering with IPE in the Western portion of Sao Paulo State, Brazil, in a region known as the Pontal do Paranapanema. Having worked here for more than two decades, they are working with Climate Crowd to collect data on how communities are being impacted by changes in weather and climate, and how they are responding. Based on these findings, this project will help restore the watershed, a key climate adaptation strategy as these communities face increasing drought and changing seasonality of rainfall.

Reforestation helps to maintain water provision services, decrease damage by wind storms, protect soil, as well as create habitat corridors and buffer zones for wildlife. The communities involved in this project are families in the surroundings of the Black-lion Tamarin Ecological Station (6.000 ha), including youngsters from the families. It is estimated that a total of 600 people will be involved in this project, which will involve planting 2000 trees.