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The IICA-CBF Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) Project seeks to assist beneficiary Caribbean countries in their efforts to maintain and increase resilience and reduce the vulnerability of ecosystems and people in the face of adverse climate change impacts.

IICA-CBF EbA Project Newsletter

Issue #5: March 2022

March Missions


In terms of project execution, the month of March was particularly pivotal. It represented both the end of the second year and start of the third and final year of the IICA-CBF EbA project. It also hosted a critical in-country mission of the IICA Soil and Water team to train farmers and technicians on Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) and Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) using a soil-centric approach, while simultaneously planning for the much anticipated training for the communities themselves to be able to operate community drone kits to collect data and monitor project sites.  

Take a pinch of soil, add water and knead


IICA's soil and water specialists, Dr. Chaney St. Martin and Mrs. Nekelia Gregoire-Carai went on a 4-country mission between the 5th and 20th of March, to teach farmers, Ministry of Agriculture technicians and project community stakeholders how to diagnose, measure and respond to climate, soil, and water-related stresses on-farms and in vulnerable landscapes. In true project style, the teaching was hands-on and 'touchy-feely', following an instruction sheet aptly titled 'Texture by feel procedure'. In fact, the 1-page document read like a recipe, instructing the trainees to take approximately 25 grams of soil, add water drop by drop and knead to break down the aggregates into a consistent putty-like texture. This learning by doing, seeing and experiencing first hand, was appreciated by the trainees.


Trainee in Tobago doing the 'pinch of soil' texture test (photo: J.Romany March 2022)


 

The IICA-facilitated training addressed a range of issues, to improve understanding of climate risks, how to move Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) and Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) from concepts to practices, soil health for evidence-based decision-making and implementing interventions at the farm, community and national levels. The training featured a balance of participatory field and classroom activities. Field activities, on selected farmer farms and vetiver installation sites, focused on observing farm layout and points of interest related to climate risk, soil health and EbA approaches. They also sought to establish a pattern for the collection of representative soil samples, proper soil sampling techniques, physical and biological soil analysis, and collection of indicator plants.


'Dr. Chaney' (2nd from left) and trainees at the Cooks Landfill site, Antigua (photo: N.Carai, March 2022)

In Antigua, in particular, the field training provided the opportunity for a practical evaluation of an established field trial to determine the reasons for plant death at the Cooks Landfill and the best medium for vetiver root growth. In St. Lucia and Tobago, the field sessions also included the proper use of an A-Frame and the method for establishing contours while field sessions in Dominica and St. Lucia included best practices for establishment, monitoring, evaluation and use of compost. Another important focus was to build understanding of the root system architecture of plants to highlight the role of roots in plant response to soil conditions and stresses as well as an indicator of soil health conditions. These indoor sessions were important to set the context for the more elaborate soil analysis using the 'Gemplers Soil Quality Test Kit', approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a simple tool for a thorough assessment of the soil's ability to perform its critical functions. Four such Gemplers Kits were purchased by the project to facilitate the training and will remain in-country.
 


Trainees in St. Lucia leaning about the root system architecture of plants and soil health (photo: N.Carai, March 2022)


The main message wall, classroom training in Dominica (photo: N.Carai, March 2022)

The sessions at the vetiver sites focused on the optimal siting and spacing of grass barriers to limit soil erosion, best practice in transplanting slips (healthy root system), establishment of a monitoring system to ascertain the effect of the intervention (root system development and culming density), method for establishing contours, and the use and/or integration of vegetation already adapted to the area to help reduce soil erosion.


Practical session at the vetiver installation site at the Quarry in St. Lucia (photo: N.Carai, March 2022)

In total, across the four project countries, 79 farmers and technicians, of all age groups, including 29 youth, were trained and received certificates of participation: Antigua (23), Dominica (20),  St. Lucia (26) and Tobago (10), with a breakdown of 46 male and 33 female, The trainees also included some persons who participated in the vetiver training executed by IAMovement, directors and technical officers of the CBOs and ground staff implementing the hedgerows, and farmers.  
 

"I attended the soil testing training program which was very fun and informative. A lot stayed with me, which I’ll put into good practice in my farming career, such as soil physical tests, pesticide and soil health".

 Glen St. John, Member of the Canaries Community Improvement Foundation (CCIF) St. Lucia

Using drone technology in climate action (Part 2)

Airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology, using the GatorEye drone, was introduced by project partner, University of Florida, for geospatial mapping in the Caribbean for the first time in October 2021. This technology was enabled through the IICA-CBF EbA project to create detailed maps of the specific locations targeted for installation of the vetiver grass as a natural soil erosion and slope stabilization solution. Since then, plans were being made to acquire drones for community use through training sessions scheduled for April 2022.


Dr. Eben Broadbent (r) with the Project team at the GatorEye launch/land site in Petit Soufriere (Photo: UF Oct.2021) 


 

Issue#3/Jan.2022 ‘Drone geospatial mapping of project sites’ featured Part 1 of the first-time use of the University of Florida’s (UF) GatorEye Uninhabited Flying Laboratory to apply LiDAR technology in the Caribbean. LiDAR technology is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth. These light pulses, combined with other data recorded by the airborne system, generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics. LiDAR has been around since the 1960s, mounted on airplanes or at ground level on moving vehicles or tripods, measure and map specific locations.
 
Dr. Broadbent, co-director at University of Florida, thinks that “the whole project is cutting edge, because it has so many different aspects and an interesting new type of approach that can have economic benefits, environmental benefits, and in areas that really need them”. In fact, he admitted that usually, when you think of cutting-edge, you think that it means that you're using some new technology. While using the GatorEye LiDAR itself is indeed cutting-edge in a Caribbean context, what is even more exciting and meaningful, is that he is able to get extremely detailed 3D topographic maps, over a period of time, over a year, across so many different sites in areas impacted by climate change and in collaboration with country partners.



An area of approximately 152 Ha, mapped by GatorEye Lite in Petit Soufriere, clearly illustrates ridge to reef topography. This is a community with intact forested areas and steep slopes impacted by erosion issues as seen along roadsides, in agricultural lands and homes abandoned due to undermining. This community is one of the top 10 most heavily affected by climate change in Dominica (Photo: UF, Oct.2021)

As explained by Dr. Broadbent “the close integration between international partners, cross exchange of information and the various contexts to address big and important issues of larger scale sustainability and climate change, is really fascinating for research on sustainability in the Caribbean”. Based on his own experiences, a lot of what's being done through this eco-system mapping and monitoring approach has not been done sufficiently in the Caribbean. To him, "this is globally cutting edge, we're not only going to learn about vetiver and specific project objectives, but also about what's happening with sediment, soil loss, erosion and landslides in these areas”. It is very obvious now, that the target sites across the communities in the four project countries present different topography and different types of human cultural activities, which will yield interesting data and experiences on a number of fronts.


Vetiver hedgerows installed along a roadside in the Petit Soufriere community (Photo: UF, Oct. 2022)

The project is preparing for the second drone mission to countries, this time, Dr. Broadbent will be training a few community members to operate a compact and foldable drone, called the ‘DJI Air 2S Fly More Combo Drone with RC Pro Remote Controller’. Once trained, their job will be to capture aerial images and video of the vetiver amended project sites as part of the ecosystem site monitoring. The project's use of the GatorEye and provision of tools to enable communities to do their own aerial site monitoring are definitely integrating technology into climate action in the most practical and ground-breaking ways.
 

More hands-on results from the EbA project

Recall that an essential element of the EbA principle is that it must also be people-centred, leading to opportunities to earn livelihoods from nature-based climate action. The Gilbert Agricultural Rural Development (GARD) Centre, the local collaborator of the project in Antigua, has been at the forefront of mobilizing community participation and ensuring that training provided under the project is practiced and put to good use.


Sample of vetiver grass soaps made by trainee under the green business development component (photo: GARDC 2022)


 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the need to wait on adequate supply of vetiver grass from the two established nurseries, the first vetiver handicraft training which occurred in October 2021 was limited to Train the Trainers. The persons who completed the Train the Trainer sessions handicraft in 2021 became trainers in Antigua, supervised/supported by the IAMovement specialists.


GARD Centre's Vetiver Crafting Course showcasing products from trainees (r) (Photo: GARD Centre March 2022)

The diversity of the craft products made by the GARD Centre Vetiver Craft training is a particularly noteworthy achievement for Antigua, which, up to June 2021, had virtually no vetiver grass on the island and almost no one had experience in creating and producing art, craft and other products from the vetiver plant. For this particular trainee, a teacher at a secondary school, these crafted products represented her very first vetiver craft project - a pair of earrings, hair clip and bracelet.  She is also practicing her vetiver plaiting skills to create other products, including coasters. She hopes to now take her newly acquired crafting skills to her students to teach them the benefits of linking green livelihood opportunities to nature-based solutions for climate action. She also plans to use the grass more often in the classroom, having taken a vetiver slip for planting at her school location to use as a teaching tool and as well as a source of material to continue teaching vetiver craft. 


Craft products of trainees using newly acquired vetiver plating and crafting skills (Photo: GARD Centre March 2022)


Gregg Rawlins, IICA Representative ECS (l), receives a gift of the Handicrafters' soap from June Jackson, GARD Centre Community Coordinator (Photo: C. Thomas)

 


Follow the EbA Project on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with activities in each of the project countries.
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PROJECT TEAM

Technical Partners
IICA
IAMovement
University of Florida

CBOs/NGOs
Petite Soufriere San Sauveur Village Council (Dominica)
Canaries Community Improvement Foundation (Saint Lucia)
Gilbert Agricultural and Rural Development Center (Antigua)
Environment Tobago (Tobago)


CONTACT US

Project Management Unit
Trinidad & Tobago: PMU.ebaproject@gmail.com
Communications: Communications.ebaproject@gmail.com



DONORS
 
The Project "Strengthening Coastal and Marine Climate Resilience through Upland and Coastal Ecosystem-based Adaptation and Community Engagement" is funded by the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF) EbA Facility, supported by the Government of Germany through the German Development Bank (KfW) with resources from the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
 
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