A bit about Strømme
Strømme Foundation, a top-10 Norwegian development NGO, aims to combat poverty and foster a world free from it. They work through local partners in West Africa, East Africa, and Asia, empowering individuals and communities to drive their own development. Their approach embraces inclusivity and respect for all, and all programs prioritize gender equality, environment, climate change, inclusion, and anti-corruption.
Climate Change and the Adoption of Smart Technologies
Bangladesh’s floodplain terrain, intersected by numerous rivers, makes it the 43rd most climate-vulnerable country and the 37th least prepared to combat its effects. Severe flooding, particularly in Stromme Foundation Bangladesh’s operational areas like Kurigram, Gaibandha, and Jamalpur, has severely impacted the region, disproportionately affecting impoverished communities. These flash floods during the monsoon season submerged approximately 80% of households, resulting in the destruction of assets, including crops and livestock.
Program Initiatives to Raise Awareness and Training
The program, recognizing the risks posed by climate change, trained 1,531 focal persons in climate adaptation. These individuals were connected with the local government committee to develop community-specific action plans for addressing climate issues.
Furthermore, Community Service Providers (CSPs) were trained in climate-smart agricultural technologies through collaboration with public and private sectors. The 2020 annual report notes that all supported families received training in climate-smart technologies.
Beneficiaries adopted innovative technologies to protect their crops from environmental threats, especially flash floods in Kurigram, Gaibandha, and Jamalpur districts. These included Sack Bag, Keyhole Garden, Floating Bed, and more.
The Sack Bag Method is an adaptive technology which prepared on or before flood. In the flooding period, this method ensured safety of the vegetable crops/ sapling from flooding, who are living in the low land or flood prone area. During the flood time, targeted families have saved their sapling by using this method from flood through hanging the bag/shifting the bag in over the flood water. After the flood, farmer then re-shifting/cultivation this crops and got early winter product and consumption. Which resulted model role to other communities who did not apply this method.
Using compost in production vegetable: Necessary training provided to program participants on compost preparation with homestead waste and cow dung. Participants are producing pit compost, vermin compost etc. and using those for vegetable production which reduce production cost by reducing chemical fertilizer cost. This helped on produce safe food. Some of the participants become entrepreneurs of vermin cost production and earning money by selling this fertilizer to the neighbours.
Tree plantation: Program participants have been trained on homestead space planning the planting different trees including fruit in suitable spaces of homestead. Based this training participants planted 5-10 different fruit and timer trees. This initiative directly improved nutrition and food security as well increase income and improve environment.
Floating bed is a technology where farmers are easy grow seedling of crops and vegetable. These seeding can easily transplant in mainland just after flood water gone which is very time effective for farmer for quick vegetable cultivation. In project location, there are some unused pond/cannel/rivers nearby where targeted families cultivating vegetable using this technology.
Keyhole garden: The Keyhole Garden is prepared with soil or mud in homestead raising up above flood level. They mixed organic matter like household wastes and fertilizer and planted vegetables. Adaptation of this method do not need any additional money for preparation. This keyhole is used during monsoon to produce different vegetables following multi-layer and multi-cropping system.
Sex-pheromone trap: Participants received training in using sex-pheromone traps, a healthier and cost-effective alternative to insecticide spraying in vegetable crops like brinjal and gourd. This training was conducted with the assistance of personnel from Ispahani company, who promote this environmentally friendly technology, and government agriculture department.
Impact on Program Participants and the Environment:
As a result of the programme, families are producing crop in adverse climate conditions like flash flood as well as producing safe food using climate smart technologies like sex-pheromone trap, vermin cost, pit compost etc. The also contributing to improve environment by planting tree in homestead spaces and not using chemical fertilizer or pesticides.
“I got training on vermin compost preparation. I collect earth worm from nearby district and started production. I am using in by vegetable garden and selling to other. I am earning about BDT 20,000/month from selling this fertilizer. I am now about spent more than before for my children education.”
Shefali Khatun from the village of Purbo Goricora, Jhinaigati upazila of Sherpur district.
Floating Boat School
Stromme Foundation’s Inclusive Basic Education Project in Bangladesh was initiated to address the gaps in quality education for children in hard to reach areas. The project focuses on creating an enabling environment for children in climate-vulnerable communities. During the monsoon season, all higher grounds are occupied for essential household purposes, so, in providing a floating school in the water-logged areas, children are still able to attend a learning space.
Read about the project in full here.
Biochar Technology Reforms Farming in Tanzania’s Semi-Arid Singida Region
In the semi-arid agroecology of Singida region, Tanzania, a remarkable transformation is underway. Smallholder farmers, once grappling with the challenges posed by climate change and uncertain rainfall patterns, are now embracing biochar technology as a lifeline to improved livelihoods and agricultural sustainability. This promising change is the result of the Enhanced Livelihoods through Commercial Agricultural Production (ELCAP) Project, a four-year Project implemented by the Stromme Foundation (SF) in Partnership with Sustainable Environment Management Action (SEMA).
The ELCAP Project operates in Iramba, Ikungi, and Manyoni district councils of Singida region, with a clear mission of enhancing the income levels of smallholder farmers, their households, and other stakeholders in the value chain through a multi-split approach that includes novel biochar formulation & application, market linkages, private sector partnerships, and the creation of green jobs. Four key crops i.e., maize, sorghum, sunflower, and pigeon peas are at the heart of this endeavor, forming the foundation for sustainable agriculture in the region.
The core of the project’s strategy lies in its focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation. In a region where soil moisture is often the limiting factor for crop production, the impact of climate change has disrupted traditional rainfall patterns, posing a grave threat to food security and economic stability. To address these challenges, the ELCAP Project not only provides timely weather information and advice to farmers but also introduces innovative technologies such as biochar.
Biochar, a carbon-rich material derived from organic matter, is proving to be a game-changer for Singida’s smallholder farmers. When added to the soil, it enhances microbial life, increasing carbon storage and improving soil structure, texture, and porosity. These improvements translate to better water and nutrient retention, ultimately boosting crop yields.
In collaboration with strategic partners like Norges Geotekniske Institutt (NGI), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), and Engineers Without Borders (EWB), with funding from NORAD, SF, and SEMA introduced biochar technology to reinforce the resilience of vulnerable rural communities in Singida. NGI conducted training sessions for 1,500 smallholder farmers, both men and women, as well as 13 government extension staff, on biochar production and application.
One of the project’s early success stories revolves around Mr. Massawe, an Agriculture Extension Officer in Unyahati Ward, Ikungi district.
He generously provided his farm as a site for practical biochar demonstrations at the Oxen Training Center in Ikungi. After the training, Mr. Massawe took the initiative to test biochar’s effects on his maize crop.
In previous seasons, drought had plagued his maize fields, resulting in low yields, despite adhering to good agronomic practices and fertilizer application. However, during the 2022/2023 season, when he incorporated biochar into his farming practices, something remarkable happened. Despite the customary dry spell in February 2023, Mr. Massawe’s maize crop remained resilient, showing no signs
of wilting. His yield propelled from 500 kgs to an astonishing 1000 kgs, a staggering 100% increase. Even more impressively, the weight of each maize bag, of the same variety, increased from 100 kgs to 115 kgs. This incredible transformation was attributed to improved moisture retention in the soil, giving a proper grain fill.
Alongside biochar technology, the ELCAP Project has also introduced other good agronomic practices, including tied and open ridges, tillage methods for enhanced soil moisture conservation, the use of improved maize varieties, and organic fertilizer application. Inspired by his success, Mr. Massawe has pledged to become an advocate for biochar as an effective tool in mitigating the impact of climate change in semi-arid areas like Singida and Dodoma.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Massawe emphasized that the ELCAP project had emerged as a bonfire of expectation for enhancing the livelihoods of poor communities in the semi-arid regions of Tanzania, particularly in Singida. Through increased agricultural production, sustainable practices, and innovative solutions like biochar, the project is charting a path toward a brighter and more resilient future for the region’s farmers and their families.
The project’s emphasis on building resilience and sustainability in agriculture is crucial. By improving soil health and enhancing moisture retention, biochar and other practices contribute to long-term agricultural viability, even in semi-arid regions.
In conclusion, the story of biochar adoption in Singida region offers valuable insights into how innovative agricultural technologies, combined with education, local leadership, and collaborative efforts, can contribute to improved livelihoods, food security, and resilience in the face of climate change.
The foundation has taken the initiative to provide comprehensive training in Agroforestry best practices, with a specific focus on Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) and improved land clearing techniques. These skills and knowledge are imparted to the leaders of EPC groups, empowering them to further disseminate this valuable training among local producers.
These actions have helped to reduce women’s workloads, reduce abusive logging, improve rural living conditions, and conserve forest resources to contribute to carbon sequestration (Co2) and mitigate the effects of climate change in the Sahel. (Rapport de capitalisation CCI, SFWA, aout 2022).
The significance of climate change mitigation is underscored by the environmental degradation and the dwindling wood resources in West Africa, particularly in the three Sahel nations of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. As a response to this challenge, the Stromme West Africa Foundation has pioneered a proactive approach by promoting the adoption of enhanced cooking stoves among women participating in savings and credit groups (EPC). This initiative offers a viable alternative to curb the consumption of firewood and bolster environmental conservation.
Training and Awareness
During the training phase, 20 improved stoves were made for demonstration purposes. A total of 492 EPC women were trained in the manufacture of improved stoves. In view of the success of the improved fireplaces, we have seen a strong commitment to the practice by women, through replication not only in the households of women in the EPC groups, but also in those of other women who are not members of the EPC groups. As a result, over 2,000 improved cookstoves have been manufactured as a result of EPC women replicating the training in their households. In this commune of Kadiolo, the women have innovated in the manufacture of improved stoves. Instead of one stove, 3 stoves were modeled. The raw materials (clay, animal dung, straw, etc.) used to make the fireplaces are provided by the women themselves. (Rapport de capitalisation CCI, SFWA, aout 2022).
Impact on Beneficiaries and the Environment
The practice has made women more aware of the importance of protecting their environment, as they use less wood with improved fireplaces. The use of an improved fireplace considerably reduces the consumption of firewood. In addition to protecting the environment, the improved fireplace offers other advantages such as reduced expenditure on wood, protection against burns and smoke-related illnesses, etc. According to the women surveyed, with improved stoves, their use of firewood is reduced by 50%. This saves them money, which they reinvest in their economic activities. To date, several hundred women in the village have and use the improved stoves. (Rapport de capitalisation CCI, SFWA, aout 2022).
« Before adopting the improved fireplace, I spent a lot of money on wood and firewood. But with the improved fireplace, I spend less on wood and I save more. I smoke fish and sell it. I used to spend more than 10,000 CFA francs a month on firewood. But with the improved fireplace, I can use 10,000 Francs of wood for two months. Not only do I save money, but I also reduce my use of wood.».
Extract from an interview with women from the village of Lofigué, commune of Kadiolo
- https://www.eu-cord.org/2015/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/mission-economie-inclusive-kadiolo-lofigue-koulfekan-epc-11-scaled.jpg: https://www.eu-cord.org/2015/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/mission-economie-inclusive-kadiolo-lofigue-koulfekan-epc-11-scaled.jpg