Vital Signs Provides Data for Tanzania’s Pioneering Climate Resilience Plan

8/28/2014

​​At the African Green Revolution Forum, Conservation International’s Vital Signs Showcases Support for Tanzania’s Agriculture Climate Resilience Plan

​Addis Ababa/Arlington, Va. USA – Vital Signs, a monitoring system led by Conservation International (CI), is co-hosting an event on Monday, September 1 at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) with Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives (MAFC) to present their unique partnership and show how Vital Signs integrated data and indicators support Tanzania’s Agriculture Climate Resilience Plan.

 
Vital Signs, a system that tracks agriculture, ecosystems and human well-being to inform development decisions, is led by CI in partnership with the Earth Institute, Columbia University and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa, and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Tanzania developed the pilot for Vital Signs in 2010, and the country partner Tanzania Forest Conservation Group leads the system on the ground in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics. 

 
Vital Signs collects data that measures the benefits farmers receive from nature that help them maintain resilient livelihoods; like clean water, soil nutrients, and wild foods. It provides data and decision-support tools to help governments, smallholder farmers and others understand how to make more sustainable choices and become resilient to climate variability and shocks. 

 
At the event, the MAFC will introduce its Agriculture Climate Resilience Plan, presenting a strategy for sustainable agricultural development in the face of climate change. The strategy includes risk assessment, key investments and implementation. Vital Signs data and indicators will support the implementation of the Tanzanian strategy, and are essential tools to help policy makers in Africa and around the world make informed decisions about pursuing agricultural intensification sustainably. 

 
“Climate change will continue to put pressure on our farmers, and that is why we have developed this resilience plan,” said Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Honorable Christopher K. Chiza. “Using the information that Vital Signs provides to help us implement our plan gives us the advantage of making more informed decisions. Together, we can serve as a model for other East African countries as they develop their own climate resilience strategies.” 

 
Agriculture is a critical sector for Africa’s economy; it is the mainstay of most livelihoods and the generator behind a large percentage of GDP. In Tanzania, it contributes up to 25% of the GDP, and 30% of exports. But the effects of climate change – rising temperatures, erosion, diminished access to fresh water, loss of pollinators – threaten important growth in this sector, as well as the lives of small-holder farmers. 

 
“Vital Signs was designed to help people be more resilient – better adapt, grow and thrive – while dealing with the mounting threats from climate change,” said Sandy Andelman, CI’s Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Vital Signs. “Its use to support Tanzania on the national level can help small-holder farmers maintain their livelihoods, and allow Tanzania’s agriculturally based economy to address the challenges of climate variability.”

 
Mama Churi is One of Two Billion Small-Holder Farmers that Depend on Nature for their Livelihoods

 
A real life example of a Tanzanian farmer struggling with climate variability is Mama George Kimbawala – a mother, wife and farmer who grows rice, farms fish and tends beehives in Mang’ula B Village in the Kilombero Valley. Mrs. Kimbawala depends on healthy ecosystems to support her family, but is finding that unpredictable rain patterns are threatening her way of life.  To learn more about her story, watch the video prepared by the CI Visual Storytelling team that will be shown at the event, here: ​conservation.org/MamaChuriVideo​​

 
Already working in Tanzania and Ghana and starting in Uganda, Vital Signs has proven to be a vital tool for CI in collaborating and partnering with governments, other nongovernmental organizations, the academic community, the private sector and key international partners in guiding agricultural development that is sustainable for people and nature. 

 
“Small-holder farmers don’t rely on just one crop or commodity – there are many ways their farms are supported by the natural landscape around them,” said Cheryl Palm, Senior Research Scientist and Director of Research at the Earth Institute, Columbia University. “The information that Vital Signs provides can be used by farming communities for making decisions that will increase yields while continuing to utilize benefits from healthy ecosystems.”

 
Following the presentation of the MAFC and Vital Signs partnership for climate resilience, representatives from East African Ministries of Agriculture will be joined by high-level Vital Signs partners on a panel to discuss the Tanzania Agriculture Climate Resilience Plan and its relevance for other countries, as well as sharing experiences on planning for agricultural climate resilience.

 
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AGRF Press Contacts:
  • Sara Barbour, Senior Coordinator, Vital Signs (805) 886-2392 /email sbarbour@conservation.org
  • Shakwaanande Natai, Head of Environment Management Unit, Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Cooperatives, 0754893346/0714204279/email: aikairuwa@gmail.com
  • Richard Kasuga, Head, Government Communications, Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Cooperatives, 0769/784 239946/ email: Richard.kasuga@gmail.com

 
​About Conservation International (CI)
Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity for the well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area and employs more than 800 staff in 30 countries on six continents, and has nearly 1,000 partners around the world. For more information, please visit our website at: www.conservation.org/ or visit us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

 
About Vital Signs
Through an innovative pilot project with the Government and national partners in 2010, Tanzania developed the model for Vital Signs: an open access, transparent monitoring system.  Scaled in 2012 to include Ghana and Uganda with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Conservation International (CI), Vital Signs provides near real-time data and diagnostic tools to people around the world to guide agricultural decisions and monitor their outcomes. It fills a critical need for integrated measurements of agriculture, ecosystem services and human well-being, and is creating a “gold standard” environmental monitoring system. Vital Signs is led by CI in partnership with the Earth Institute (EI)​, Columbia University and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa.

 
About The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF)
An initiative that seeks to bring together African Heads of State, Ministers, farmers, private agribusiness firms, financial institutions, NGOs, civil society, scientists, and other stakeholders to discuss and develop concrete investment plans for achieving the green revolution in Africa. The Forum focuses on promoting investments and policy support for driving agricultural productivity and income growth for African farmers in an environmentally sustainable way.
The Forum consists of on-going stakeholder engagements as well as major events in which participants review progress and strategize. The first major Forum event was an international convening held in Accra, Ghana in 2010. The second was held in Arusha, Tanzania in 2012, and the third in Maputo, Mozambique in 2013.

 
The AGRF Partners Group includes: African Development Bank; African Union; The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA); Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); Rockefeller Foundation; Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions; Syngenta International; AGCO Corporation; and Yara International. 

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