Because of the broad ranging impacts of climate change, it is important that local communities begin to prepare themselves to adapt to future increased risk. The Community Adaptation Projects aimed to assess the vulnerability of local communities to climate change and how these coincide with the risks that they face daily. The projects also sought to determine how communities can increase their resilience to climate change impacts. The following tasks were completed in two communities: food trials for alternative crops, a rainwater harvesting assessment and a community risk assessment.

Current Status of Project
Maize is the staple food of many communities in the eThekwini Municipal area, so it is important to assess how the yields of maize are likely to change under altered climatic conditions. A number of crops are being investigated as it is envisaged that under climate change conditions maize yields will drop and communities will need to seek alternative crops. The testing of suitable alternative crops to ensure food security in a changed climate has been undertaken at two test sites in Ntuzuma and Ntshongweni. Winter planting of maize, pumpkins, wheat and beans took place in the winter of 2009 and the yields were recorded at the end of the season. Summer planting of maize, cassava, amadumbe and sorghum occurred at the start of the summer of 2009, and the yields were assessed at the end of the 2010 season.

An important consideration in the testing of alternative crops is their social acceptability amongst communities. Community cook-offs have taken place at the two sites where alternative crop planting was done: Ntuzuma and Ntshongweni. At these cook-offs the alternative crops were cooked using various interesting recipes such as fufu, cassava bread, cassava chips, sorghum bread, pumpkin soup and amadumbe soup. These were tasted by community members to see how they responded to the new foods.

Future Activities
The assessment of crop performance for both summer and winter yields for the alternative crops from the Nntuzuma and Ntshogweni sites will be conducted. The same assessment be done for the Northern KwaZulu-Natal sites, namely Empangeni and Makhathini, as these two sites mimic the future conditions of Durban, as predicted by certain climate change scenarios. Community cook-offs will then be held for the Ntuzuma and Ntshongweni communities to assess the community’s acceptance levels for the alternative crops as part of the rainwater harvesting component of the project, four potential micro water harvesting interventions have been proposed. These interventions aim to improve the harvesting and use of water for specific and necessary purposes.
The information gathered from these projects will inform the community climate change risk assessment and adaptation plan.

Updates on this project
The ‘Climate Smart Communities’ project has been completed. This project included vulnerability assessments, crop trails and rainwater harvesting. Further work on Community Based Adaptation will occur in 2012 (post COP17).

The impacts of climate change will be most felt at a community level, and the eThekwini Municipality has therefore initiated the development of Community Adaptation Plans to address them. As part of this, rainwater harvesting in communities was identified as a key activity, and a pilot project at a school in Luganda was initiated. Rain and stormwater harvesting was used to provide the school and the surrounding community with additional water to be utilised on the community garden adjacent to the school and also on their individual homestead gardens. This has reduced conflict over water, reduced the occurrence of erosion of the school grounds and flooding of the school during storm events. A vastly improved playground area has also been built as part of this project.

To read the Community Based Adaptation Report for Durban please click here