Overcoming institutional challenges for carbon projects
This training guide was developed within the context of a participatory action research project focusing on the institutional arrangements of smallholder agricultural carbon projects in Sub-Saharan Africa led by EcoAgriculture Partners and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS). The objectives of this project were to identify specific institutional challenges and solutions in carbon projects, implement solutions, and track the impact of these efforts. After conducting analyses to identify specific institutional challenges, project managers jointly determined that the challenge they wanted to work on was that of building local institutions to manage carbon projects. Progress in this area would not only increase the development benefits of the projects, and reduce transaction, staffing, and consulting costs, but will be also be necessary for the long-term success of the projects.
Teaching the implementation of SALM
The manual was created specifically for use in the Western Kenya Smallholder Agricultural Carbon project, managed by the Swedish NGO Vi Agroforestry, which is the test case for the first Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) methodology for generating carbon credits by building organic matter in agricultural soils. Vi Agroforestry takes a holistic approach to project implementation which focuses first on improving farm productivity and livelihoods while generating carbon credits as a co-benefit. The project aims for scale by using its professional staff to train Community Facilitators who coordinate the participation of village-level organizations in the project and provide support to farmers as they implement the sustainable agricultural land management (SALM) practices which generate the carbon credits within the project.
This manual includes introductory modules on climate change and SALM, as well as modules that describe specific SALM practices, including soil nutrient management, tillage and residue management, agronomic practices, integrated pest management, agroforestry, soil and water management and improved livestock management. The manual’s structure reflects the categories of SALM set out in the VCS methodology (see http://www.v-c-s.org/SALM_methodology_approved) and the technical guidance of the Carbon Baseline Survey Manual for the project.
Working at one’s own pace for training
The manual can be given all together as part of an extended, multi-day training session, or separated by module and given over several weeks. Each module is designed to be completed in approximately two hours. For each module, the manual contains an overview of the topic, the learning objectives, and suggestions for further reading, along with notes for the trainer on suggested exercises and summary points. The manual describes how to implement specific techniques in each of these categories, as well as summarizing the livelihood, climate change adaptation and climate change mitigation benefits of adopting the practice. It is meant to be accompanied by supplementary training materials including the companion posters, additional readings, and/or the glossary of definitions in Appendix 1. Trainers will rely on practical demonstrations to illustrate and reinforce the lessons. Simplified posters communicating the content of this manual will serve as a companion.
Ensuring effective training for SALM
In addition, each module contains several follow-up evaluation questions to assess the learners’ competencies, located in Appendix 2. This appendix includes two methods of post-module evaluation. Self-evaluation scorecards can be administered by Vi-Agroforestry staff after each module so students can rate their level of understanding of topics discussed. Then, staff can use group discussion questions as an additional means of determining students’ understanding of the topic and willingness to use the methods described.
This manual will improve the ability of the Vi Agroforestry staff and other training professionals to train community facilitators on SALM practices, and serve as a resource for community facilitators training farmers in their communities.