Why "Taking the Heat" ?

700 million Africans live in rural areas where small scale agricultural livelihoods contribute both to local economies and to community food security. Changes in rainfall patterns, temperatures and growing season add to the growing list of vulnerabilities faced by rural communities, causing potentially devastating impacts on agricultural livelihoods and on the communities they support. Scientists predict that sub-Saharan Africa will be one of the places to feel the heat of climate change most severely, with major impacts on farm families and rural economies that are already under stress and often plagued by extreme poverty and hunger. What is the human face of climate change in Africa? How are small scale farmers adapting to changes in the climate? How might Canadians learn from and assist these communities? Taking the Heat addresses these questions, providing a summary of a series of events that brought representatives from sub-Saharan Africa to Ottawa in December 2007 for 3 days of dialogue with the Canadian public, elected officials and policy makers.

Taking the Heat - Part One

About the Speakers

Joshua Mukusya, Kenya

Joshua Silu Mukusya was born in the Machakos district of Kenya in 1948. He studied agriculture in eastern Kenya and after leaving home for several years, to work in various agricultural roles, he returned to his native village of Utooni when his father died in 1978. As the eldest son, Joshua felt responsible for taking care of his mother and family. In 1978, Joshua set up the Utooni Development Project (UDP) with the help of six sympathetic families who shared his convictions about the value of self-help projects. Within three years, 75 families were committed to the work of UDP, whose motto, "Without Vision We Perish", has inspired thousands of people to improve their lives and their communities. Joshua Mukusya has been responsible for building 8,500 rainwater collection tanks, 140 sand dams and 13,000 km of soil conserving terraces in farmers' fields.

Mamby Fofana, Mali

With more than 20 years experience in sustainable agriculture in the context of the Sahel, Mamby FOFANA possesses an intimate knowledge of participatory research, biodiversity, agro-forestry, natural resource management and food security in semi-arid lands. Mr. Fofana currently works as a Natural Resources Management Officer with Swedish Development Cooperation in Bamako, Mali. He is on the Board of Directors of USC Canada, and former Director of USC’s internationally acclaimed Seeds of Survival program in West Africa. Mr. Fofana is a member of the UN Science and Technology commission of the Convention on Drought and Desertification on behalf of the Government of Canada since 1997. He currently chairs the Donors’ harmonization group in Mali on forest resources management. Mamby Fofana received the Solidarite Canada-Sahel prize as resource-person for public education on anti-desertification in May 2000, and the World Innovation Prize (awarded to USC-Canada Mali) for innovation in the use of traditional knowledge and genetic resource conservation, at EXPO 2000 (Germany).

Dr. Rachel Bezner Kerr, Canada

Dr. Bezner Kerr has been involved in food security, agriculture and nutrition research and development activities in Malawi for ten years. She works as the research coordinator with the Soils, Food and Healthy Communities project in northern Malawi, a participatory project in which farmers test different sustainable agricultural options for improving food security, soil fertility and children's nutrition. An active farmer organization is involved in coordinating farmer training, knowledge exchange and research. The project, which began in 2000, now works with over 5000 smallholder farmers in the region. Rachel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Western Ontario.

Taking the Heat Video - Part Two

About the Events

The events and video were organized by two coalitions of Canadian civil society organizations – the Canadian Coalition for Climate Change and Development and the Canadian Food Security Policy Group:

C4D is an emerging coalition of development and environmental non-government organizations and research institutions that formed in 2007. The goals of the coalition are to: To bring the voice of the international development community to the climate change dialogue in Canada; and to develop knowledge and capacity in the international development community to address the global challenges associated with climate change and development. The chair of C4D is held jointly by Care Canada and the Pembina Institute

The Canadian Food Security Policy Group brings together Canadian international development agencies, emergency relief providers, farmers/producers’ organizations and human rights groups who have worked for decades in sectors related to enhancing food security in developing countries and in Canada. Members include Canadian Council for International Co-operation, Canadian Foodgrains Bank, CARE Canada, Christian Reformed Church, Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, ETC Group, Inter Pares, Mennonite Central Committee Canada, National Farmers Union (Canada), Oxfam Canada, Oxfam Québec, CHF - Partners in Rural Development, Rights & Democracy, UPA développement international, USC Canada, United Church of Canada and World Vision Canada.