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Script 84.11

Notes to broadcasters

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Climate change can be defined as a significant alteration of average weather from one status or condition to another, whether long-term or short term. For example, many parts of Africa are recently experiencing rising average temperatures and more unpredictable weather events, such as flooding or drought.

Farmers can influence the conditions on their farm by their practices, which may worsen the effects of climate change, or help farmers adapt to them. For example, an area might have been relatively cool due to the presence of trees. But once these trees are cut down, the rivers will also tend to dry up and the local temperature will change gradually. This changing weather pattern affects the whole environment, including people, trees, crops and other animals.

Climate change affects people differently, depending on their surroundings and livelihoods, but is most difficult for people who are already vulnerable.

When climate change affects the length and predictability of the rainy season, this means decreased water security. In Africa, it’s estimated that by 2050, rainfall will have declined by five percent.

When temperatures rise, water evaporation increases, which leaves the soil dry. This contributes to very poor agricultural yields or no produce at all. The temperatures do not only affect the crops but also livestock, which may be more vulnerable to disease.

There will be many negative impacts unless farmers take positive steps to adapt to the effects of climate change. Some positive steps are choosing the right tillage and cropping systems to suit local climatic situations.

In the following script, we will hear how a farmer learns from a daughter and a friend about coping strategies for climate change. If you want to broadcast this script or adapt it to your local situation, you might want to invite an extensionist or local farmer who can provide more practical details on the farming practices mentioned in the script, and advice on how they should be used in your area.

Script

Characters

Host
Olima (Father, a farmer)
Vivian (Daughter)
Bell (Olima’s friend – a farmer too)

Music to introduce the programme

Host:
Hello listeners, welcome to your favourite program on overcoming negative changes. Today we’ll hear how a daughter advises her father and his friend on ways of overcoming drought. Maybe drought or dry weather has been a problem for you too. Stay tuned and learn.

Fade up signature tune, then under host

Vivian:
Good afternoon, Dad. You have had a long walk in the hot sun, eh! The sun was so hot it was almost ripping the skin off my body. I wonder how the people of Siaya (Editor’s note: use name of local area) feel about mishandling all the resources that could help prevent such hardships. Do you know that, if the trees were not cut down, it would not be so hot? Otherwise, how was your day?

Olima:
Good, daughter. But you talk a lot without giving my ears enough time to follow what you mean. You talk of the people of Siaya mishandling resources. What kind of resources do you mean, my dear daughter? And how do they mishandle them? At times, I feel as if your head is failing you and my having taken you to school is of no good use because all you can do is criticize. Ah, anyway…

Vivian:
(Interrupting)…Dad! Now why do you like making me mad?

Olima:
Sorry, daughter. If only you could let me know what you mean.

Vivian:
It is very clear and simple. I meant that our soils have been washed away by wind and rain because of our farmers’ careless farming practices. And others are cutting down trees that could help us preserve the soils and our environment at large.

Olima:
You are only saying this because you are young and haven’t experienced the difficulties that those who practice such activities have undergone.

Vivian:
But who is the loser here, Dad? Who? (Rustling of leaves as Bell comes in. Vivian stops the conversation to see who is coming, as delightful Bell starts his greetings before he reaches the place where the daughter and father are arguing.)

Bell:
How are you, daughter of the lake? You seem to be saying something crucial to your father! And how are you, my friend Olima?

Vivian/Olima:
(In unison) We are fine.

Vivian:
Yes, and let me excuse you two great friends.

Olima:
Vivian, get a chair for my friend to sit under this tree. (To Bell) You really meant it when you said that you would spend exactly a week in the city.

Bell:
Yes, the city is not a place to stay long when you are a farmer. I was only finding new ideas and trying to implement them to overcome this dry season. Doesn’t it worry you?

Olima:
How can you ask a question like that? Tell me about these new ideas.

Bell:
(Vivian comes in with a chair as the two continue with their conversation) The new ideas are about our farming systems and cropping systems. As the climate is becoming warmer and dryer and the rainy season more unpredictable, we need crops and crop varieties that can tolerate heat and drought. Some of these crops we already have – like cassava, millet and sorghum. Some of the farming systems, though, are very hard to remember unless I refer to the book that I got from my son. Aah! Vivian is here and I believe she learned something about this.

Olima:
Yes, I think that, even as you were coming in, we were having some sort of argument over the cause of the dry weather and…

Bell:
(Interrupting) … So I did interrupt your conversation. Come on, my daughter, you know we depend on young minds like yours for fresh advice.

Vivian:
Yeah, I was coming to that, but Dad didn’t give me a chance to.

Olima:
Take the chance, dear daughter, and tell us.

Fade up signature tune then under Vivian

Vivian:
Okay, some of the tillage systems that can help us cope with dry, hot weather are: composting – that means piling up crop residues and other farm wastes in layers to make them decompose quickly; double digging, where the soil is dug two feet deep, then fertilizer is added at the bottom, and the soil returned to the hole; nine-maize hole, where a two-foot square or round hole is filled with organic materials and topsoil and nine maize seeds are planted in it; then there is…

Bell:
(Interrupting)… Sorry Vivian, do you mean that this kind of gardening – this nine-maize hole gardening – can only use maize seeds?

Vivian:
No, you can also plant five seedlings of sukuma wiki (kale), or even five cowpea seeds, planting them in the four corners and the middle of the two-foot square hole. This practice is also referred to as 5-9 seeds per hole. It would be wise to grow varieties of these crops which mature more quickly, with our unpredictable rainy season. There are other farming techniques like fertility trenches where deep trenches are dug, then filled with layers of soil, weeds, grass, manure and kitchen scraps, and, lastly, mulching.

Olima:
How do all these techniques help if I may ask, Vivian?

Vivian:
I’ll talk about the benefits of these techniques one at a time. Composting produces organic materials to fertilize the farm. Deep soil digging creates spaces in the soil, which allows it to hold more water, leaves space for plant roots to penetrate easily into the soil, and provides enough air space for the better growth of crops.

Bell:
What about 5-9 seeds per hole?

Vivian:
This helps in many ways. First, you get maximum production out of a small plot. Second, the moistness in the hole means that the crops are protected from drought. The fertility trench acts in the same way as nine seeds per hole. The difference is only in the method of making them. Mulching, which is using organic matter like dry grass to cover the topsoil, prevents evaporation of water into the air. In that way, the soil remains moist, so that the crops can tolerate dry spells.

Olima:
Are there any techniques that are particular useful for swampy areas?

Vivian:
Yes. If you use raised beds, these will allow water to pass through the spaces separating one ridge from another. All the techniques that I have mentioned prevent soil erosion, and maintain soil fertility. They are also an advantage to those with small pieces of land. And remember that all this can be achieved if only we could tend our gardens rightfully. You would be amazed at how lush everything will be, whether it’s dry or not. Families will be fed – drought or no drought. These are the only ways that can give us peace – peace on the skin, my heart and my stomach filled always.

Bell:
These are all words of wisdom, daughter, but old heads like ours don’t understand unless we put these ideas in practice. If we can start immediately, then we can safeguard the environment.

Vivian:
Yes, safeguarding the environment is important for ensuring sustainable development. We can develop agriculturally by preserving the little land that we already have and trying to improve it with the useful ideas that we acquire daily. This is also about poverty eradication because, when we have preserved the little we have, we will not go begging for food or depend on relief food that is never enough. This is one of the foundations of peace and security. Because, when our brains are full with skills, we will not fight for resources. Instead, we will be secure and peaceful.

Olima:
You both know that recurrent droughts are a permanent feature throughout drylands. And drylands will always need drought resistant crops – we cannot change the basic climate of an area.

Vivian:
Yes, Dad. That is why we say that drylands are not suitable for growing water-thirsty crops like tomatoes on a large scale, because when so much groundwater is used, it exhausts the underground supply. This is why I strongly believe that we must have a pact with our earth to receive sustenance from it but leave it better than we found it.

Olima:
Are you able to demonstrate these practices? You are only a woman!

Vivian:
Woman or no woman, Dad, when climate change or any other problem strikes, it doesn’t spare anyone because of their sex or age. Everybody must restore the land for a better future. And remember: many small things done by many small people in many small places using many small ideas … can change the world. You know that starting is hard work. But if you are sure of your determination, you can be successful.

Bell/Olima:
(In unison) Thanks.

Bell:
I believe my coming here has been a blessing to me.

Fade up signature tune then under host

Host:
Welcome back, listeners. We have heard how our own activities can cause us problems. When we cut down trees or use the wrong methods of farming, it can worsen the impacts of climate change. This makes our lives and our livelihoods more difficult. But we have our own solutions when we learn about fertility trenches, deep soil cultivation, mulching and other practices. Are we not lucky that we know how to overcome hard situations, as Vivian puts it? Drought or no drought, difficult situation or not – a healthy life must be ensured. Now that we have discussed these things, listeners, I believe we are blessed today and will face such challenges head on. Till we meet again, I am your presenter (name of presenter). Bye.

Fade up signature tune then out

Acknowledgements

Contributed by: Rachel Awuor, Ugunja Community Resource Centre, Ugunja, Kenya.

Reviewed by: John FitzSimons, Associate Professor, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Canada.

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