Innovating Socially: Connecting the Unconnected for Climate-Smart Agriculture

BLOG SERIES | DECEMBER 2014 Authors: Nienke Raap (RIO+ Centre Consultant), Hlami Ngwenya (FANRPAN) Recognizing the importance of reaching a wide range of actors to help them understand the risks of climate change and to advance methods of adaptation, the RIO+ Centre and FANRPAN have initiated a Community of Practice (CoP) for Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) in Eastern and Southern Africa. To ensure the Community of Practice achieves the desired goals, the participation of smallholder farmers is essential. A first step toward this goal is enabling participation through email, making it easier for those with lowbandwidth Internet access to participate. Despite predictions that smartphones will outgrow regular cell-phones in sub-Saharan Africa in the next few years, Internet connectivity is still nearly non-existent in rural locations in our target region. Email remains challenging for members of the farming community. This raises the question of how to connect the unconnected, or how to increase public participation through channels other than the Internet. This blog explores these challenges and also the role of creative theater as an alternative and complementary way to strengthen both connectivity to and with the issues, participation in the debates and solution-making as well as communication on critical issues of the day.

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