Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany, the INTERFACES Project works with four other regional projects to strengthen the integration, coherence and reach in the area of sustainable land management


INTERFACES is an accompanying project that will support four BMBF-funded regional research and development (R&D) projects in their endeavor to drive change for sustainable land management in Sub-Saharan Africa. It will do so through impact-driven support activities which build on networking for the regional projects, science communication, social learning processes and capacity development, and by complementary transfer analyses that enable or facilitate the implementation as well as improve the relevance and outreach of the regional projects’ research-based findings.

Main Cooperation Partners

BMBF_CMYK_Gef_M [Konvertiert]

Supporting Pathways to Sustainable Land Management in Africa (INTERFACES)

INTERFACES is an accompanying project that will support four BMBF-funded regional research and development (R&D) projects in their endeavor to drive change for sustainable land management in Sub-Saharan Africa. It will do so through impact-driven support activities which build on networking for the regional projects, science communication, social learning processes and capacity development, and by complementary transfer analyses that enable or facilitate the implementation as well as improve the relevance and outreach of the regional projects’ research-based findings.

Key bottlenecks for better adoption of technical solutions or ideas for better land management include that the proposed solutions may not necessarily match the constraints or meet the priorities of the stakeholders who are supposed to use them, that there is resistance to change due to power structures, value systems, norms and institutions, or that it is unclear how to achieve the desired change because context-specific behavior change management concepts are missing. To achieve changes towards sustainable land management, a fundamental reorganization is needed across technological, economic, political, institutional and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values. Changes must be gender-responsive and socially inclusive, which means that implementation pathways for sustainable land management must be based on thorough gender and power analyses and lead to outcomes that benefit both women and men of different ethnicities, ages, classes, and income levels.

The outputs from INTERFACES are expected to include scientific and non-scientific publications, the promotion of transdisciplinary research and social learning approaches in order to produce research results that are relevant to practice, the strengthening of already existing networks on land management issues and linking them up with different African and international networks to further contribute to the implementation of the R&D results in the area of land management. Finally, INTERFACES will anchor implementation-oriented research in education and training.

INTERFACES has four work areas that together strengthen the integration, coherence and reach of the regional projects with regard to sustainable land management:

  1. Knowledge synthesis through dialogues about future visions and theories of change for sustainable land management – together with the regional projects and actors from science, policy and practice,
  2. Support of innovation and implementation processes by identifying change strategies to bridge knowledge-behaviour gaps,
  3. Communication, networking and knowledge management and
  4. Education and capacity building, e.g. through the integration of teaching content into African and German graduate programs.

The methods and results of the regional projects find their way into the training of project partners and students with regard to the training of future “change agents”.


    • Development of future visions and impact models for sustainable land management (‘theories of change’) & alignment of research
    • Shared learning through dialogues and the interfaces: science-policy-practice
    • Knowledge management, science communication and networking with stakeholders in Africa and international organizations
    • “Gender mainstreaming” – aligning research and implementation in a gender-sensitive way
    • Training of change agents as multipliers for sustainable land management and implementaion research including communication strategies & media competence


    • Intervention-specific impact pathways and impact predictions through quantitative models
    • “Follow-the-innovation” from research to implementation (participatory observation of activities, shared learning, complementary activities)
    • Understanding and developing of sociocultural appropriate and gender-sensitive strategies to bridge “knowledge-behavior gaps“ and achieve behavioral change: incentive systems for adoption, gender roles, norms, power dynamics in land management


    • Training of change agents
    • Curricula development
    • Workshops, lecture and seminar series
  1. Supporting the science communication and networking activities with a focus on German and international actors
  2. Organizing workshops and side-events at major international conferences
  3. Supporting the implementation processes of specific interventions
  1. Science communication in Africa
  2. Supporting networking activities through identification of relevant stakeholders, establishing relevant contacts, disseminating information, etc.
  3. Establishing contacts with the private sector and commercial partners
  1. Advice and training for media communication,  monitoring and evaluation of effects
  2. Capacity development and education –  linking up with African universities
  3. Analysis of Germany’s contribution to sustainable land management and research on behaviour change with a focus on incentive systems

Collaboration on gender and gender responsive research as well as gender mainstreaming in implementation processes

  1. Supporting networking activities, e.g. by identification of African and international stakeholders
  2. Spreading research results and approaches, and provision of research infrastructure
  3. Actively engaging in science communication, results dissemination and policy decision support
  1. Supporting research and teaching in the field of crop production and resource conservation
  2. Providing decision-makers with actionable information considering the complexity of environment
  3. Characterization of risks and uncertainties

Dr. Tina Beuchelt



Blog #6 – An Eventful Month of June


Co-developing innovations for sustainable land management in West African smallholder farming systems(COINS)

Sustainable intensification (SI) is defined as “a process or system where agricultural yields are increased without adverse environmental impact and without the conversion of additional non-agricultural land” (Pretty & Bharucha 2014). SI of semi-arid West Africa’s predominantly cereal and legume based, mixed crop-livestock farming systems is challenging. The heterogeneity of smallholder farms requires that pathways toward SI are flexible and adapted to local agro-ecological and institutional conditions, as well as to the investment capabilities of farmers and other value chain stakeholders. Even when innovative farming practices show productivity benefits in local research settings, their uptake by farmers has often not met expectations. Many farmers lack the financial means to invest in new practices or cannot risk losses if they do invest. Moreover, for vast degraded areas long-term investments in restoration are required. To enable farmers’ uptake of improved farming and land restoration practices, approaches are needed to target and tailor practices such that desired outcomes can be reached, as well as to incentivize land uses beyond food production through value creation to support other ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation. Importantly, farmers need to have access to comprehensive risk management strategies to mitigate the risks and enable investments in the face of increasingly variable and extreme weather, market and other shocks. Novel boundary institutions to connect farmers to climate-mitigation and land restoration financing sources offer tangible opportunities for restoration of degraded land. As farms progressively integrate markets and are embedded in the wider environmental, economic and social fabric, more holistic landscape and value chain approaches are required to address the complex, interrelated effects that typically transcend traditional farm management boundaries and classical farming systems research. Additionally, there is the need to enhance the capacity of farmers and related stakeholders so that SI can be implemented successfully.

Building on existing, promising agricultural management and land restoration practices for mixed crop-livestock systems for case study regions in Northern Senegal and Northern Ghana (Annex A1), COINS is built on:

  • a landscape approach based on state-of-the-art modelling, monitoring and data science to target (1) improved crop and farm management practices for SI on productive land, and (2) land restoration practices on degraded soils to rebuild soil fertility and to enhance delivery of critical ecosystem services at the landscape level, building natural capital;
  • operationalization of enabling mechanisms, including comprehensive risk management strategies and an incentive and monitoring program for sustainable land management and restoration for COINS partner farmers;
  • co-development of a suite of farmer advisory services for implementing the sustainable farming and land use practices such that achievement of desired outcomes is supported;
  • a multi-actor approach organized and facilitated in SI Innovation Labs for both study regions.

The overarching aim of COINS is to incentivize and enable sustainable farming and land use measures and associated governance mechanisms to improve livelihoods and food security while increasing natural capital by reversing land degradation and increasing resource use efficiencies. The following specific objectives are designed to deliver outputs that support COINS actors in sustainably achieving intensified agricultural production and land restoration (see Fig. 1 for the project structure and Fig. 2 for the impact pathway):

  1. Compile an inventory of locally promising farm management SI measures and land restoration practices and enabling conditions for their uptake (cross-cutting work package

XCWP 1 SI Innovation Labs, see Figure 1)

  • prioritize the most promising practices for different land degradation states and trajectories
  • monitor performance of the prioritized practices on farms
  • map and characterize advisory and innovation support services (providers and services) at value chain level
  1. Develop an assessment methodology to aid targeting of SI and sustainable land use at landscape level (Tier 1):
    • identify mechanisms behind degradation and successful conservation and restoration efforts
    • assess the perception of farmers about SI practices as well as their advisory needs and capacities in operating digital tools
    • explore short and long-term trade-offs between crop and livestock productivity, incomes, and indicators of natural capital
  2. Produce a set of guidelines for linking farmer organizations with international climate financing to support land restoration, including appropriate monitoring programs (Tier


– Explore novel investment pathways for land restoration and map different options to capture value

  1. Co-develop a catalogue of risk management strategies and formulate recommendations for operationalizing financial instruments to deliver comprehensive risk management to enable SI (Tier 2):
    • identify successful governance models for enabling co-design, financing and implementation of improved risk management and land restoration options
    • catalogue local enabling mechanisms and assess needed developments
    • assess how the most promising mechanisms would alter farmer decision-making around SI
    • assess possible scenarios to enable uptake of sustainable farming practices in a series of social simulations
    • add promising risk-taking elements (e.g. access to credit) together with incentives for using improved farm management practices (e.g. reduced insurance premiums) to ACRE-Africa’s

(COINS partner) current crop insurance program at a pilot scale

  1. Co-develop a set of guidelines on establishing advisory services for implementing sustainable farming and land use practices (Tier 3).
    • incorporate SI compliance monitoring workflows, metrics and advisories inside the agCelerant business development platform
    • connect smallholder farmers, finance, insurance and industry in Senegal and Ghana to derisk investment, facilitate access to credit and safely reduce information bottlenecks and asymmetries while balancing tradeoffs between short and long-term risk
  2. Formulate policy recommendations on which SI measures, land uses and associated enabling mechanisms are most suitable for specific contexts considering policy priorities around sustainability outcomes (Tier 3):

– develop policy briefs that support policy makers in decision making and sustainable land management at governance level

  1. Build new alliances, strengthen regional research and adaptive capacity to manage risk, build natural capital and improve livelihoods (SI Innovation Labs, Cross cutting activities on Education, networking & communication):
    • co-generation of knowledge
    • increase capacity of all participants in the Innovation Labs to identify and mobilize SI options
    • bring together financial service providers for crop and livestock insurance and restoration finance, farmers, input and output market actors, technology developers, extension services and researchers
    • strengthen existing Innovation Platforms
    • strengthen scientists’ ability to produce more socially robust science
    • ensure capacity development in academia with the aim to link science to the people
Project organisation

COINS is designed for a duration of 48 months with a focus on two case study regions: Northern Senegal and Northern Ghana (Annex A1). The project follows a transdisciplinary co-design approach, with a range of scientific methods including on-farm and landscape level monitoring, remote sensing, land use and process-based modelling, and integrated scenario modelling and analysis using AI and qualitative research methods, including literature reviews and focus group discussions. The project is organized in three tiers: Tier 1 Targeting; Tier 2 Enabling; Tier 3 Advising where all activities take place within two central cross-cutting SI Innovation Labs (one in each of Senegal and Ghana, XCWP 1). Finally, the project has a dedicated Education, Networking and Communication work package (XCWP 2), as well as work packages for Data Management (XCWP 3) and Coordination (XCWP 4). The project structure is shown in Figure 1.

At the core of the project, the two SI Innovation Labs mobilize, engage and coordinate all interactions between project researchers and all actors (researchers, financial service providers for crop and livestock insurance and restoration finance, farmers, input and output market actors, technology developers, extension services) to ensure synergies while minimizing actor fatigue and duplication. The Innovation Labs will follow open innovation approaches and will be facilitated to ensure inclusivity and fair opportunities for men and women’s participation. By drawing on and contributing to existing innovations networks in both countries, particularly the agri-business domain, the solutions generated in the project will support various entrepreneurial ventures beyond the pilots worked on in the project, including particularly youth. Core activities within the Innovation Labs (to be shared across the tiers) include the specification of sustainability indicators to monitor, simulate and value, identification of promising SI measures and land uses, scenarios formulation and evaluation. Attention will be paid to horizontal (i.e. researchers-researchers, farmers-farmers) and vertical (researchers-practitioners-farmers) learning. Through the use of constant feedback exchanges, timely adjustments will be implemented – hence maximising as well as better capitalising on the different strengths from partners towards effectively realising relevant scientific outcomes and relevant solutions for farmers and practitioners. This will also strengthen existing Innovation

Platforms (in which various COINS actors participate) as well as scientists’ abilities to produce more socially robust science.

In Tier 1- Targeting the aim is to build the underlying scientific basis to understand and evaluate under which conditions specific SI measures deliver expected outcomes and what the associated tradeoffs are. Using a combination of remote sensing, land use analysis, crowdsensing, field, farm and household app collected monitoring data, socio-economic survey data with novel approaches to data collection including crowdsourcing photos through mobile devices, process-based modelling, and more traditional knowledge sources, current land degradation status, land use trajectories and the associated biophysical drivers will be examined to identify mechanisms behind degradation and successful conservation and restoration efforts. In close collaboration with the use of technical apps, we will assess the perception of farmers about SI practices as well as their advisory needs and capacities in operating digital tools. An intended outcome of the work is a scientific framework, to be institutionalized at WASCAL, to assess where and how to best target SI measures such that desired sustainability and productivity outcomes can be achieved. The framework will be suitable for both baseline and future conditions, with differential emphasis on monitoring versus scenario analysis, respectively. Machine learning analytics will be developed to combine the data sources into knowledge on farming sustainability indicator performance (e.g., crop yield and stability, income and soil carbon sequestration potential as a proxy for environmental sustainability) to be further specified by SI Innovation Labs actors. Beyond the assessment framework, the research activities here are envisioned as iterative with learning loops to improve models and analytical steps, as well as update system indicators and SI measures. The initial assessment will provide a baseline for subsequent project activities such as supporting the development of user-friendly guidelines and methods for exchanging information and knowledge among the project partners (farmers, researchers, advisors, entrepreneurs). The final assessment will explore short and long-term trade-offs between crop and livestock productivity, incomes, and indicators of natural capital (i.e., ecosystem services such as soil fertility, biodiversity, water supply etc.). As there are few previous examples of landscape assessments in the context of SI, methods developed in COINS will constitute an important scientific development in assessing impacts of farm-level decision making at landscape level.

Tier 2- Enabling aims to ensure economic feasibility of implementing SI measures for farmers as well as to identify value addition opportunities for using SI measures beyond agricultural production. This tier comprises three important sub-components. The first would be a comprehensive value chain analysis for the promising SI measures. The second sub-component is the co-establishment of a mechanism (e.g., NGO, private company) to incentivize the use of SI measures via creating value. This would include both the creation and management of an organization to link members of the Innovation Labs to appropriate funding (i.e., international climate, green or restoration financing schemes) and the co-design of a monitoring system integrating remote sensing and data collected through mobile devices. Efforts will be made to ensure the monitoring program produces both information to support compliance and payment to farmers to diversify and increase their incomes as well as support national and regional governments in climate negotiation processes or policy assessment processes. The latter includes policy reviews in light of incentivizing farmers and other actors to adopt SI measures and if necessary lobby for revisions. The third sub-component of Tier 2 aims to develop comprehensive risk management strategies to build farmers climate resilience as well as enable the use of SI measures. A catalogue of risk management options (risk reduction, responsible risk taking, risk transfer and risk savings) for various farm types will be derived from literature, expert consultation and within the Innovation Labs. In parallel, integrated bio-economic models will assess the economic feasibility, risk reduction and long-term outcomes on environmental sustainability indicators (e.g., soil organic carbon) of various combinations of alternative risk management options for both current and scenario conditions. As all activities, the strategies and scenarios to evaluate will be defined within the Innovation Labs. Finally, a pilot project to deliver insurance solutions with reduced premiums when SI measures are implemented will be developed. The aim of Tier 3- Advising is to derive knowledge systems to ensure SI measures can be implemented such that the desired sustainability and productivity outcomes are achieved. This would include knowledge transfer at two levels, drawing on knowledge generated in Tier 1. Firstly, solutions will be developed for farmers to select and then tailor SI measures to their own agroecological and socio-economic realities. An advisory service is envisioned that would provision tailored analytics at the appropriate time (long term versus between season versus within season) with additional real time analytics such as market, weather, pest and disease forecasts and on-farm data. Using the advanced assessment methods developed in Tier 1 (Obj 2) and insights on value addition and risk management from Tier 2, we will develop policy briefs that support policy makers in decision making and sustainable land management at governance level. Secondly, WASCAL will lead efforts to develop the visualization and communication strategies to enable the use of the assessment framework (Tier 1) to provide scenario analytics to support policy to target SI and agroecological measures and the associated enabling mechanisms across agroecological and farmer socioeconomic conditions.

The cross-cutting activities on Education, Networking and Communication within XCWP 2 will transcend activities in the two SI Innovation Labs connecting with important initiatives and institutions across West Africa and SSA more broadly. The ultimate aim is to support outscaling of innovation solutions as well as the institutionalization of the knowledge generated in the project in the regions’ universities. This process will allow further co-creation and building up on the project results for other actors to extend the knowledge and applicability of the solutions generated to other sites. New university course materials will be developed around the use of digital and model-based knowledge of land management in participatory processes with farmers and policy makers. Educational materials will be co-developed in cooperation with the WASCAL graduate schools and the SASSCAL centers of excellence for Food Security, Agriculture and Land Management (Angola) and for Biodiversity and Human Health (Botswana) to ensure capacity development in academia with the aim to link science to the people. The work package will also foster the linkages with important actors outside the innovation platforms, primarily pan African and also internationally. Finally, the work package will develop and implement the project communication strategy both within the project and externally to other stakeholders. Methods also include participatory mapping and hackathons to target higher educated stakeholders with experience in EO and digital technologies. Community workshops will be tailored for stakeholders with heterogeneous educational backgrounds and from different organizational levels with the goal of mediating sustainability and data literacy and teaching potential utilization opportunities of web GIS.

Data Management (XCWP3) will link project activities to the WASCAL Data Infrastructure (WADI). It will ensure timely exchange of data within the project and provision of results to users. It will also allow open access to project results on a long run. Methods and software code, as far as not restricted by intellectual property rights, will also be made available through this work package. With support of the Research Data Management Organizer tool a data management plan will be set up formalizing the collection, storage, documentation, legitimacy, sharing, conservation and re-use, responsibilities, allocation of resources, security and ethical aspects of the research data. A participatory web GIS for environmental conservation, SI and sustainable land management will be developed and linked to WADI.

Coordination (XCWP 4) will ensure scientific exchange and project management, reporting, and dissemination of results beyond what is explicitly addressed in the education, networking, and communication activities. It also includes sharing information within the project and technical cooperation in the field. This work package ensures the project progresses adequately with regards to achieving planned milestones, deliverables and planned project outcomes.

COINS addresses the current limitations in smallholder farming in SSA due to challenging environmental and socio-economic conditions. Figure 2 shows how COINS’ key outputs support user outcomes and will have a positive impact at practitioners’ level, including farmers, policy makers, entrepreneurs and academia. With that, COINS aims at building strong scientific and institutional support to target SI in Senegal and Ghana. The innovation labs also consider alternatives that can support other ecosystem services (e.g., increasing biodiversity, carbon sequestration) and for which potential funding sources are identified. This will lead to increased productivity (ideally without loss of non-agricultural land) and modern, evidence-based multi-actor land management. COINS’ impact will aid to achieve various SDGs in the long term (e.g., SGDs 1, 2, 6, 8, 13, 15, 16), leading to food security and food sovereignty as well as sustainable resource use as outlined in the Agenda 2063 (e.g. aspiration 1, goals 2, 5 & 7 of Agenda 2063).

  • Economic prospects of success

With already existing innovation networks and entrepreneurial processes, specifically in the agribusiness ecosystems, the data generated in the project will be linked to the reality of entrepreneurial ventures for start-ups to generate business models adaptable to risks. The project will facilitate a cocreation process between researchers and practitioners in collaboration with technology and innovation hubs with further linkages to the informal sector and end users of the innovation ecosystem (Tech-Hubs, FabLabs, etc.). The focus will be on the case study countries and will be established to extend the scope of solution and innovation to women and youth. Given the widespread development of start-ups and innovation hubs in Africa, as a form of knowledge management, the project will extend lessons learned from COINS’ co-creation activities to other agribusiness innovation communities in the WASCAL and SASSCAL networks and beyond.

  • Scientific and technical prospects of success

COINS follows a strategy where tier 1 is characterized by data flow from field scale (practitioners) to scientists while it is vice versa in tier 3. This valorizes and appraises the uptake and utility of scientific data and technologies by farmers, actors in the agricultural value chains and other practitioner agricultural initiatives. We target the WASCAL graduate schools and the SASSCAL centers of excellence as institutions to train next generation multipliers. By co-creating educational material based on the project findings we ensure long-term capacities in developing and using state-of-theart digital technologies. As COINS supports employment of PhD candidates and young scientists, educational progress is envisaged not only for WASCAL and SASSCAL but also for the German institutions. The planned hackathon and participatory activities have high potential of user uptake. The project will create a community to exchange on the overall scientific output of the project to generate further utility for research-informed decision making at local, regional, and international levels for actors and institutions in policy making, risk management, agriculture etc..


Partners in Germany:

Dr. Ursula Geßner & Dr. Frank Thonfeld
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)
Deutsches Fernerkundungsdatenzentrum (DFD)
Münchener Straße 20
82234 Weßling, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)8153 28 1250
E-Mail: [email protected], [email protected]

Dr. Heidi Webber, Dr. Johannes Schuler and Dr. Mathias Hoffmann
Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung e. V. (ZALF)
Eberswalder Str. 84, 15374 Müncheberg,
+49 (0)33432 82-4075
E-Mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

Dr. Erick Tambo
United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)
UN Campus, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1, D-53113 Bonn, Germany
E-Mail: [email protected]
Tel: + 49-179 99 20 115
Fax: + 49-228-815-0299

Dr. Thomas Gaiser, Dr. Amit Srivastava
University of Bonn / Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (UBonn-INRES)
Katzenburgweg 5
53115 Bonn
Tel: +49 (0)228 73 2050
E-Mail: [email protected]

Dr. Valerie Graw, Jun. Prof. Dr. Andreas Rienow
Geographisches Institut, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstraße 150 (RUB)
44780 Bochum
Tel: +49 (0)234 32 24791
E-Mail: [email protected], [email protected]

Dr. Hycenth Tim Ndah, Dr. Fanos Birke, Prof. Dr. Andrea Knierim
University of Hohenheim (UHOH), Institute of Social Sciences in Agriculture
Department of Communication and Advisory Services in Rural Areas
Schloss Hohenheim 1, 70599 Stuttgart
E-Mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] +49 (0) 711 459 22648

Dr. Tsegaye T. Gatiso
University of Bonn, Institute for Food and Resource Economics (UBonn-ILR)
Faculty of Agriculture
Nußallee 21, 53115 Bonn
E-Mail: [email protected]
+49 (0) 228732325

Partners in Africa:
Dr. Dilys S. MacCarthy
University of Ghana (UGHA)
Soil & Irrigation Research Centre, School of Agriculture
E-Mail: [email protected] or [email protected]
+233 244090502

Dr. Gerald Forkuor
United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA)
2nd Floor International House
University of Ghana
E-Mail: [email protected]; 00233249113057

Dr. Oble Neya;  Dr. Kwame Oppong Hackman
West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) Blvd Mouammar Kadhafi, 6 BP 9507, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
[email protected] (+226 64453535); [email protected] (+226 66829375);

Pierre C. Sibiry Traore
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Manobi Africa PLC
℅ agCelerant Senegal, a Manobi Africa Group Company Almadies Zone 12 Lot 14, P.O. Box 25026, Dakar, Senegal
[email protected] / [email protected] (+221 773550468)

Dr. Laure Tall
Initiative Prospective Agricole et Rurale (IPAR)
Immeuble Kër Jacques Faye, Lot 445, Ngor, Dakar, Senegal
E-Mail: [email protected]
(221) 33 869 00 79

Dr. Alhassan Lansah Abdullai
Savanna Agriculture Research Institute (SARI)
P.O. Box 52,
Nyankpala, Tamale, Ghana
E-Mail: [email protected]
Phone: +233 547386701

Dr. Jane Olwoch
Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL)
28 Robert Mugabe Avenue
Windhoek, Namibia
E-Mail: [email protected]

Amos Nyongesa Tabalia
Agriculture and Climate Risk Enterprise Limited (ACRE Africa)
Ground Floor, Zep Re Place, Longonot Place, Upper Hill Nairobi
Nairobi, Kenya
E-Mail: [email protected]
+254 727 373 330, +254 719 249 615

Increasing efficiency in rangeland-based livestock value chains by co-designed digital technologies and machine learning approaches (InfoRange)

Pastoral livestock production on rangelands is an important land-use system and contributes between 15 and 60 % to the agricultural GDP of countries in eastern and southern Africa. Largely mobile herds exploit the temporal and spatial heterogeneity in resource availability (pulses) on rangelands. This production strategy has advantageously low fossil fuel input needs but is very knowledge- and information intensive. Therefore opportunities derived from digitalisation will have high potential to increase efficiency (‘precision pastoralism’). To successfully introduce the technology InfoRange uses a transdisciplinary approach to co-design the ICT solutions with users and embeds them in social innovations. By an actor- and activity oriented approach we build on knowledge of different involved actor groups to understand how their decision making can be improved through ICT. Co-designed ITC solutions will enhance sustainable rangeland use and efficiency in livestock production through improved grazing management and veterinary service provision. InfoRange will combine user generated information (e.g. similar to geotagging photos in google maps or live traffic updates) with remotely sensed data. State-of-the-art machine learning models will be developed to analyse the generated crowd data (e.g. time series), capture and understand phenomena such as differences in pasture use intensity as well as classify and recognise patterns in different scenarios. Including representatives of different governance bodies from the onset of the project permits to create outputs in formats suitable to enhance policy decisions

Dry rangelands cover over 40% of Africa’s surface, well over 60% e.g. in Kenya or Ethiopia and close to 100% e.g. in Namibia [1,2]. With comparatively low average rainfall and high evapotranspiration, vegetation growth is highly variable in space (heterogeneity) and time (seasonality), and occurs in ‘pulses’ [3]. This limits energy-intensive farming systems, which rely on controlling the environmental conditions through external inputs. Consequently, “extensive” livestock systems have become the predominant global rangeland use systems. Mobile pastoral systems  operate with very little external energy input and have developed strategies to use their livestock herd to strategically exploit the vegetation pulses in space and time and transform them into a steady outflux of livestock produce [4, 5]. Stationary ranching systems initially followed a carrying capacity stocking rate approach, but nowadays increasingly adopt much more spatially and temporally flexible grazing strategies (imitating mobility) to maintain and restore their resource base [6, 7, 8].

Although sparsely inhabited, the vast rangeland expanses worldwide provide direct livelihoods for

376 million people [9]. For instance in Kenya rangelands support over 30% of the country’s human population of about 14 million people who keep approximately 70% of the national livestock herd [10]. In recent decades, the global dynamics of a) climate change, b) demographic change and c) globalization of markets, pose challenges for rangeland livestock systems. While a)+b) require increasing mobility, flexibility, buffering capacity, c) requires reliable supplies of produce demonstrating defined production and quality standards at internationally competitive prices.

To keep pace with these developments and increase the resource use efficiency, rangeland based livestock systems must react faster and take better informed decisions to match their resource exploitation activities with higher precision. Such precision livestock farming approaches in low external input systems require the accessibility and integration of time and space explicit animal-, process- and environment-related data [11], leading to the need for digital services and information and communication technologies (ICT).

ICT has in the past been developed as decision support, and have become partly or fully automated tools of the trade in input intensive agricultural systems. Necessary spatial data generation, telemetry services, GPS navigation services, mobile phone network services, are reliably facilitated through an ever growing system of private and public satellites. International initiatives such as GEOSS and Copernicus [14, 15] assure the availability of satellite- and “in-situ”data and research networks/centres, e.g. SASSCAL maintain structures to contribute to such services [16]. Based on these infrastructures and services, web-based information systems and applications for computers and mobile devices have in recent years been developed to also provide decision support and services to dryland users in Namibia and Kenya [e.g. 17, 18], with the Index-based ‘Livestock Insurance IBLI’ and the ‘Namibia Rangeland Tool’ as most prominent examples. Given their degree of technical sophistication, their development is technology driven and masterminded by remote sensing-, digitalisation and ICT experts, who naturally lack the knowledge and expertise to adequately consider e.g. users’ operating capacities, or their specific information needs relevant for decision making. Therefore these systems are initially of limited use and consequently show slow acceptance and use. The currently widely promoted AFRISCOUT App [cf 18] provides access to maps generated from NDVI data supposedly indicating “green pastures”. However, pastoralists’ choice of pasture areas depends on a multitude of factors other than vegetation greenness [18, 19], which are often very site specific, difficult to assess by telemetry and therefore as yet insufficiently incorporated in digital decision support systems. Further, the NDVI alone may too often prove an inappropriate proxy for fodder abundance as it does not necessarily mirror pasture quality, palatability, or toxicity, so that even – depending on very site specific conditions – “NDVI-green” vegetation may prove completely unsuitable as pasture. Participatory rangeland monitoring, evaluation, grazing planning, resource mapping, or GIS have been widely employed since the early 2000s [e.g. 21-23], but information thus generated has to date hardly found entry into digital and ICT appliances.

In this context, participatory approaches to collection of information and data, such as participatory photography and video [24, 25], participatory recording of information or characterisation of phenomena or relationships in ecosystems [26-28] are increasingly employed and described, and can be successfully combined into a citizen science approach with the potential to make land use research more meaningful [29]. Herders could provide location-specific information (photography, description, phenology) on vegetation or water availability. GPS tracking of herds (by herder’s mobile phones) can provide information on use intensity of grazing units. Herders and other stakeholders can report georeferenced disease cases, parasite abundance, predator movements or (in)security incidents. An open-source disease reporting system (KABS) has recently been integrated into surveillance systems of Kenya’s domestic and wild animal sectors [30]. Combining site-specific information on range resource condition and use intensity is of highest relevance for livestock keepers’ management decisions but hardly available or accessible to them in real time. Therefore herders frequently take decisions under incomplete or outdated information. Particularly livestock value chains in extensive drylands currently lack but could profit in their management and organisation from a better, and more accurate “crowd-provision” of real time, georeferenced, and time tagged data on the state of resources and production and market conditions [cf. 31].

InfoRange seeks to contribute to integrating external telemetry and observatory data with land-user generated data on bio-geo-physical ecosystem features in order to render digital and ICT services more relevant for land-users immediate management decisions on grazing, watering, health management, livestock acquisition and marketing.

Main objectives

InfoRange aims at increasing resource use and production efficiency in rangeland-based livestock production through digital and ICT applications/services that permit user generated information acquisition and transmission. It uses a social-ecological systems approach to

  • adapt, modify and further develop existing management ICT tools for decision support in rangeland management, for livestock service provision, and marketing.
  • develop procedures and solutions to enhance the use of these tools by land-users and increase their distribution and accessibility under reduced network coverage.

 combine approaches from citizen science, crowd data sourcing, machine learning, participatory monitoring and evaluation to render these tools more relevant for decision making at different governance levels.

InfoRange’s transdisciplinary approach puts the potential users at the centre of a research endeavour to increase their respective benefits from increasing resource use and production efficiency in rangeland-based livestock systems.

In Kenya, in the arid and semi-arid northern region, specifically in Isiolo and Marsabit Counties (300-800 mm annual rainfall, bimodal, drought is common), mobile pastoral livestock production has developed and co-evolved through intergenerational knowledge transfer on communal rangelands by Borana, Gabbra, and Rendille herders. It is the predominant land-use and source of livelihood. Over the last decade, internet connectivity has improved and most settlements have access. Coverage extends into the rangelands due to the absence of obstructions (mountains).

In Namibia, research sites will be selected in the Kavango East region (including the Ndiyona constituency) and Omaheke Region (including the Otjombinde constituency). Three conservancies are of particular interest including, George Mukoya, Muduva Nyangana and Eiseb (350-800 mm annual rainfall, drought events increasing in frequency and intensity). Rain-fed crop production is mixed with transhumant cattle rearing. One part of the study area includes semi-sedentary livestock production representative for communal livestock management systems in Namibia.


The German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture (DITSL) is a centre of expertise for transdisciplinary research for development and transformation in social ecological land-use systems. DITSL advances methods for transdisciplinary research and multi-actor collaboration to address complex situations related to food and nutrition security, resource management, value chains and transformation of food systems under global change. Prof. Dr. Brigitte Kaufmann is DITSL’s Scientific Director and Professor for ‘Social-ecology of tropical and subtropical land-use systems’ at the University of Hohenheim. Dr. Christian Hülsebusch is an agricultural scientist with extensive experience in Kenya, Niger and Namibia. Both have 25+ years of research experience in Kenyan pastoral areas. In Namibia, they are starting a DFG funded project on pastoral livestock keepers’ knowledge in breeding and rangeland management. Kaufmann currently leads a transdisciplinary consortium funded by BLE for research on nutrition in pastoral and agropastoral systems in Kenya and Benin.

The University of Kassel’s (UK) Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering has longstanding experience in livestock monitoring, sensor-based systems in animal farming, and optimisation of production systems. It coordinated serveral large-scale international projects e.g. Reduction of post-harvest losses and value addition in East African food value chains (GlobERELOAD) funded by BMBF-BMZ. Prof. Dr. Oliver Hensel is the Department Chair and has led more than 100 industrial and academic projects (both national and international), has 100+ publications, and mentored more than 55 PhD students. Dr. Abozar Nasirahmadi is a Senior Scientist and Head of Machine Learning and Smart Systems in Agriculture with a focus is on precision livestock farming, AI, advanced statistical modelling, and signal and image processing.

The University of Nairobi’s (UoN) Department of Land Resource and Agricultural Technology  is a leader in rangeland management training and research in East and Central Africa. Dr. Oliver Vivian Wasonga has 20+ years of research experience in arid and semi-arid rangelands and pastoralist production systems. His projects include: 1) Translation of climate information into multilevel decision support for social adaptation, policy development, and resilience to water scarcity in the Horn of Africa Drylands (DOWN2EARTH) funded by the EU, and 2) Economic valuation of sustainable rangeland management practices in northern Kenya, funded by the EU and GIZ. Dr. Joshua Onono, is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public Health, Pharmacology and Toxicology with an interest in how economic concepts, methods and tools can be used to control and prevent disease.

The Center for Research and Development in Drylands (CRDD) is a Kenyan non-profit organisation that contributes to sustainable livelihoods for dryland communities using evidencebased approaches along with an emphasis on knowledge integration between academic and local communities to co-develop and implement innovations. Dr. Hussein Wario is a social-ecologist, dryland development expert, and CRDD Director. He has 14+ years of experience related to pastoralist land governance, natural resource management, climate change and participatory GIS mapping in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. Born and raised in the indigenous Borana community, he brings a wealth of personal and professional experience for engaging communities in participatory approaches.

The Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), is a registered not-for-profit Trust whose main mission is to advance sustainable development, conserve biological diversity and natural ecosystems, and promote wise and ethical use of natural resources. NNF has extensive experience in Community Based Natural Resource Management and has a Sustainable Agriculture team, that applies a people-centered approach to enhance livelihoods.  NNF’s long-standing relationships with communities in the region enable well-targeted participatory activities. Mareike AufderheideVoigts, NNF’s Senior Technical Advisor is trialing different methods of livestock management on a Namibian commercial farm. She also has participatory research experience with pastoral communities in northern Kenya. Angus Middleton, NNF’s Executive Director, has a background in livestock and rangeland management and technical experience in environmental economics, ecological resource management and sustainable agriculture.

The Namibia University of Science and Technology’s (NUST) Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Sciences has expertise in conservation ecology, agroecology, agribusiness management and rangeland management. Richard T. Kamukuenjandje is a lecturer who researches rangeland, trains and mentors farmers in sustainable livestock production and rangeland management, and contributes to the Namibian Rangeland Forum. Sebastian Mukumbira lectures in the Geo-Spatial Sciences and Technology Department with research focused on participatory mapping and co-design to promote conservation with indigenous communities. Dr Colin Stanley is the Acting Dean for the Faculty of Computing and Informatics. He is part of the management team for the award-winning Indigenous Knowledge in the Digital World research cluster which was nationally recognized for outstanding mutually beneficial engagement research. Dr Stanley is part of the NUST Vice-Chancellor’s committee that established the High-Tech Transfer Plaza Select (HTTPS) industry and university partnership. NUST has signed an agreement with the largest Mobile Telecommunication Company (MTC) in Namibia to focus on technologically inspired research projects through this partnership.

Compwiz Creations is a Kenyan company offering software solutions including mobile app development and web design. Entrepreneur, Mitchel Milton Ochieng, has extensive experience developing apps for a range of needs. Compwiz Creations has been selected the best software development and design agency in Kenya with honors including the Technology Innovator Awards 2020, MEA Business Awards 2020, and the African Excellence Awards 2021.

SASSCAL does not currently run projects on rangeland management and digitalization/ICT technology. They have however indicated that they are willing and able to support InfoRange by providing access to data via their data portal. SASSCAL scholars will have the possibility to participate in the PhD training program offered and SASSCAL representatives will be invited to our multi-stakeholder workshops to enhance information exchange.

Decision support for strengthening land resilience in the face of global challenges (DecLaRe

University of Kassel (UKAS): (1) Prof. Dr. Andreas Bürkert, Dr. habil. Sophie Graefe,

Organic Plant Production and Agroecosystems Research in the Tropics and Subtropics (UKAS-O), Email: [email protected], Tel: +49 5542 98-1228; (2) Prof. Dr. Eva Schlecht – Animal Husbandry in the Tropics and Subtropics (UKAS-A), Email: [email protected], Tel: +49 5542 981201; Steinstr. 19, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), (1) Prof. Dr. Christoph Gornott, Lisa Murken – Adaptation in Agricultural Systems (AAS), Email: [email protected], Tel: +49 331 288-2655; (2) Dr. Kati Krähnert – Inequality, Human Well-Being and Development; Email:

[email protected], Tel: +49 331 288-2531, Telegraphenberg A 31, 14473 Potsdam

University of Hohenheim (UHOH), Prof. Dr. Ludger Herrmann – Soil Chemistry and Pedology, Emil-Wolff-Straße 12a, 70599 Stuttgart; Email: [email protected], Tel: +49 711 459-22324

West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), Dr. Oblé Neya, Regional Thematic Coordinator, Dr. Kwame Oppong Hackman, Dr. Jesse Naab, Dr. Belko Abdoul Aziz Diallo, Land Use Land Cover Land Degradation Nexus Climate Change, 06 BP

9507 Ouagadougou 06, Burkina Faso; Email: [email protected], Tel: +226 70 35 91 15

Université de Parakou (UP), Dr. Rodrigue V. Cao Diogo, Dr. Georges Djohy, Dr. Ir. Carole Nadia A. Sossa, National School of Statistics, Planning and Demography (ENSPD) & Crop-livestock Production Systems, P.O. Box 123, Parakou, Benin; Email: [email protected], Tel: +229 9475

8485, 03 BP 303 Parakou, Benin; Email: [email protected], Tel: +229 6545 6660

University for Development Studies (UDS), Prof. Dr. Seidu Al-hassan, Dr. Vincent Kodjo Avornyo, Dr. Ir. Linda Dari, P O Box TL 1350, Tamale, Ghana; Email: [email protected], Tel: +233 244 217888

University of Göttingen (UGOE), (1) Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Schareika – Social and Cultural Anthropology, Theaterstraße 14; 37073 Göttingen; Email: [email protected], Tel: +49 551 39-27893 (2) Prof. Dr. Daniel Mörlein – Quality of Animal Products, Kellnerweg 6, 37077

Göttingen; Email: [email protected], Tel: +49 551 39-25601

Worldwide, sustainable land management is increasingly important to maintaining the fragile balance between human demands and ecosystem services of available natural resources, to enhance food security, to reduce the risk of conflicts and to foster adaptation to climate change. In this context DecLaRe aims to identify recommendation domains for scalable innovations towards sustainable crop production and animal husbandry in West Africa. Focussing on northern Benin, Ghana, and Togo, DecLaRe builds on available local and scientific knowledge and databases. It enhances their use by fundamental research at the field level and modelling at the national to regional level, aiming to construct a decision support system (DSS) that can be used for land use and land management as well as for policy development. The collaborative setup of this open-source DSS with local and regional stakeholders in a series of workshops will take into account land tenure, crop suitability, soil characteristics, livestock management, and regional food availability. Digital information technology will be used to project the effects of innovations on food availability, farmer income, and system resilience to climate change. Next to guiding local, regional, and international stakeholders towards sustainable land management options, a close connection between science, policy, and the private sector will facilitate effective use of the DSS by decision makers in the partner countries and beyond. The project will also engage with existing MSc and PhD programmes on sustainable land management in the African partner countries and will train 12 additional PhD students in this context.

Using a transboundary approach, DecLaRe aims to define recommendation domains and sustainable pathways for scalable innovations in crop production and animal husbandry of northern areas in Benin and Ghana, regions in West Africa that undergo particularly rapid rural transformation. DecLaRe will use digital information technology to spur innovations on food availability, farmer income, and system resilience in the context of climate change. Of additional importance are projections of where and how crops and livestock can be sustainably produced under climate change and ecosystem boundaries on the available land. Tipping points for system degradation under climatic stress that render production systems unsustainable will be determined. Next to questions of climate change and (agro-)biodiversity loss, a special focus will be put on land tenure (security), land use conflicts and sustainable land management strategies. While the goals of DecLaRe are ambitious, as different components are combined, we believe that a systemic approach is necessary to address the complexity of sustainable land management and to derive targeted and effective stakeholderdriven recommendations.

DecLaRe will focus on the sub-humid savannah regions of Ghana and Benin with annual rainfall ranging from 800 – 1,200 mm, which are confronted by high pressure on its natural resources, population growth, and concomitant transformation to enhanced market orientation. Due to security constrains by repeated raids of Al Kaida and Boko Haram, DecLaRe is forced to abandon study sites in southern Burkina Faso as proposed in the pre-proposal. To connect the ecoregion we will instead operate in northern Togo, which will allow to link with the FONA-project Minodu. For the collection of primary data on farming systems with subsequent experiments on agricultural innovations, exemplary field locations will be set-up in six village clusters of each of the two countries. This will be complemented by a novel socio-economic household panel survey that the DecLaRe project implements in northern Ghana.

”Hidden hunger” expressed by protein and micro-nutrient deficiency is a major topic in the intervention zone. The unique trans-disciplinary research team of DecLaRe allows to quantify micro-nutrient fluxes in a systematic way by beginning with the parent rocks that transfer these nutrients into the soil and further through plants and animals to the human body. Analyses of the different compartments along the trophic pyramid ending with the composition of human diets will allow to determine bottlenecks of Fe, Cu, and Zn nutrition. Thereby we will focus on solutions to overcome these constraints to sustainable nutritional development.

The major output of the project, apart from scientific publications, will be the establishment and testimplementation of an online decision support system (DSS) to enable stakeholders from policy and the private sector to make knowledge-based decisions about sustainable land management (Fig.1). The DSS will be fed with historical and legacy data as well as own research outputs and aims for easy use by decision makers in the partner countries and beyond. In order to keep quantitative computation needs low in an environment with lacking internet stability and narrow bandwidth, most probable scenarios will be developed that are included as spatial data layers or easy-to-calculate algorithms. To facilitate usability of the DSS, groups of stakeholders will be included in its design and activation workshops will be held at the end of the project to hand over the final product.

Inputs feeding into the DSS consist of associated R&D projects managed by the project partners, as well as knowledge established at local universities, NGOs and partner institutions. Scale-dependent data will be integrated from the WASCAL Data Infrastructure (WADI) (i) by leveraging its mesoscale observations networks in Ghana and Benin for field data collection and experiments, and (ii) by building on top of its data repositories and portals (WADIREP), for example the WASCAL HydroMeteorological time series open data portal[1], and the WASCAL Scientific Research Data Catalog[2]. Through its members and by using, inter alia, the DSS, the project will contribute to academic capacity development by output integration in new digital graduate programmes of West African universities. One these programmes is managed by the DAAD-funded African Centre of Excellence Pro-RUWA hosted at University of Kassel.




The work plan provides an overview of the activities of the respective work packages (WP; Figure 2). Temporal and spatial scales matter: while each WP may work on different, content-adjusted spatial and temporal scales, all will contribute to the DSS on regional scale. This allows for projections of the imminent future (next months and year) and mid-term scenarios (2030-2050)[1] and a transnational use of location-specific knowledge in sustainable land management. The major outcome of our project – the decision support system (DSS) for sustainable land use as sketched in Fig. 1 above – receives inputs from different work packages. The work packages are organised as follows: WP 1 and 6 contain overarching tasks connected to all other WPs. WP5 has a “bridging” function as it constructs the DSS based on research outputs from WP 2, 3 and 4. These three WPs are interconnected by their mutually used results, but operate independently and partly on different scales, which ensures a resilient project design.

[1] The spatial scales of analysis are indicated with each WP (except WP6) and the temporal scales are indicated for each task below.  4 Highlighted partners lead the respective task, with other listed partners contributing.


 Fostering local sustainable development through technology and research ( Minodu )

Minodu creates local and scalable networks for communities for sustainable land management with a focus on the cultivation of staple foods, e.g. yams, corn, with regard to climate change, adaptation and prevention in rural, underdeveloped areas in the Kara region, Togo. With this approach, the needs of the communities can be addressed, concrete solutions can be developed and knowledge can be designed relevant and applicable to them.

Climate change and steady growth in the world’s population pose significant challenges to the requirements of sustainable land management and natural resource conservation. While numerous research findings and studies related to these issues are available for regions in sub-Saharan Africa, they often do not take into account stakeholder exchange, or the distribution of findings and knowledge transfer to groups with limited access to digital technology. The project will explore the fault line that arises here. It is primarily dedicated to the application-oriented processing of existing knowledge and the creation of user-friendly formats of knowledge transfer as well as the networking of local actors in order to close the implementation gap between scientific concepts and concrete regionally adapted solutions.

The Minodu project is based on the successful and sustainable solution approach of the Miadé pilot project completed in Togo in 2020. This will be continued methodically and technologically.


The aim of the project is to create local and scalable networks for communities for sustainable land management in rural, underdeveloped areas. The approach allows to address the needs of the communities and to develop concrete solutions.

  • Development of innovative, hybrid participation formats for knowledge transfer on regional land management of staple foods in relation to climate change and adaptation and prevention
  • Networking of different actors in order to bundle competencies, make better use of resources and save expenses
  • Design, provide and further develop knowledge building units on topics such as climate change, sustainability and land use, water management and desertification, and relevant technologies

In this project, approaches are being developed to make existing knowledge applicable and usable: digitally supported and based on the needs of the local communities. There are already many studies and approaches to questions of land and water use in connection with ecosystem services and food security in West Africa. A large part of these studies were (co-)financed by various German public clients. However, these studies are either not known to the village communities, not accessible or not understandable or applicable, or embedded in the local context. The cause can be attributed to language barriers, such as literacy, but also access to the Internet and the media preparation of the studies. Village communities are often unaware of the existence of these studies and do not know where and how to search for them.

There is extensive knowledge in the communities about regional land management and existing resources, such as soil, water, biodiversity, labor, technology, as well as climatic conditions and flora and fauna. The population is often not aware of this knowledge and they should be encouraged to recognize it and make it accessible. The Institut Supérieur des Métiers de l’Agriculture (ISMA, Advanced Institute of Agricultural Professions) of Kara University trains students in these areas. They will be actively involved in the project and thus be given a key role in the success of the project through their research work.

Together with the communities and students of the ISMA, they work out what they can concretely improve on site, what resources are available for this, what research already exists in this regard, and how they can benefit from the partners’ network. By combining digital technologies and social action, new spaces for action are opened up, bridges between the spheres are created, and a peer-to-peer knowledge transfer is designed. This object-based approach will sustainably embed knowledge in all stakeholders by creating a different dimension of attention and an emotional connection to the topic. A technological system is being developed to display information gathered from a combination of individual, community and public sources to open up and encourage constructive influence and participation on sustainable land management issues. In particular, the system should promote understanding and practices in the context of climate-adapted and preventive cultivation of staple foods and. The exchange and transfer of knowledge within the community, as well as the exchange with the various levels of governance, such as scientific institutions, the government and companies, will be strengthened and promoted in the long term. Communities are empowered from within through this bottom-up process and gain access to digital education and participation. Through the distribution, networking and practical processing of knowledge relevant to them with regard to sustainable land management, local and regional solutions are created for sustainable use with regard to expected natural and socio-economic changes.

The central role in the project is played by the local communities and thus the small farmers. Their needs and challenges with regard to sustainable land management are the basis for the development of local and regional solutions for sustainable land use with regard to expected natural and socio-economic changes. For this purpose, students are involved in the project via the ISMA of Kara University and the focus is on the cultivation of staple foods with regard to climate adaptation, change and prevention. The students come partly from the addressed communities and learn agricultural professions on an academic level. At the beginning, there is an onboarding of the Core Team, consisting of DFKI, Local Leads and ISMA of Kara University. The first milestone has been achieved and the Core Team is operational and has a basic project road map.

Subsequently, in the following initial phase of the project, current research and studies accompanied by ISMA and DFKI will be selected and processed. This could be, for example, a WASCAL study on sustainable cultivation practices for the local staple food of the yam culture in drought regions. A first reflection of the students regarding their assessment of the practical applicability of the studies in Togo and especially in the Kara region will be done. Together with the Core Team, criteria for the selection of communities and appropriate studies will be developed on this basis. Parallel to this step, at least six communities with subsistence farmers from the defined area will be selected together with the Local Leads and Kara University stakeholders. The criteria already developed will be used for this selection. The first workshop phase in the communities begins. In this phase, the socio-cultural framework conditions of the communities are worked out with the help of the adapted research method of “cultural probes” and their needs are elicited with regard to their agro-cultural profession. The needs and challenges regarding the cultivation of yams, for example, and its certification together with the communities are elaborated and reflected upon. Afterwards, the applicability of the studies and the selection of the communities will be reflected again in the core team. This first workshop phase concludes with the second milestone, the final selection of communities and studies relevant to them.

For example, in the first workshop phase, it was found that the traditional irrigation system used would already cope with the challenges of climate change, but is not yet included in relevant WASCAL studies. However, from the WASCAL study, the community takes complementary approaches of irrigation management of yam fields through a geological study of soil characteristics in the region. This creates a two-way, eye-to-eye science communication that is directly tangible for the communities. Complex approaches are presented and contextualized in a user-friendly way. The studies and the first workshop phase are reflected in the core team, with a focus on the applicability of the studies. The evaluation phase of the first workshop phase and the planning phase of the second workshop phase will be completed with the third milestone; results of the research and the first workshop phase are processed and shared: a hybrid conference took place, documentation is available in the form of a publication: state partners and the public are informed and given a first platform for discussion, feedback is received.

With the third milestone completed, the second workshop phase begins. Possible outcomes could be a short film on the cultivation of yams or a podcast with a conversation between the student and a community member, which will be disseminated through the local community networks, but also made available to a wider public via the Internet. On this basis, a hybrid participation format is jointly implemented via a local community network. Milestone 4 serves to define the implementation plan for the hybrid participation format. This is based on the results of the evaluation and reflection of the second workshop phase.

A local community network, where practices for yam cultivation that make sense for the region are stored and to which all members of the community have access, could be an outcome of workshop phase 3. The local servers will be used to store and briefly present other studies that might be relevant, in addition to the media formats developed. The functionality of the server (Local Community Networks) will be explained so that community members without a basic digital education can also use the offerings. After the first positive experiences, the users will access the content again and thus continue their application-oriented research. The practical application of the hybrid participation format will be tested by the communities within this third workshop phase for about half a year. After this phase, the application will be reflected by all project participants with regard to their research focus. Kara University reflects on the deployment in terms of the research studies provided at the beginning of the project. DFKI reflects on the deployment in terms of science communication, technologies used, and design methodologies applied.

The results of the project will be presented together at the final hybrid conference. The project concludes with Milestone 5, a tested and iterated good practice for participation in science communication processes licensed with Creative Commons.

Benjamin Abugri

Lead Specialist - Knowledge Management Learning & Communications

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Dr. Fatunbi Oluwole

Director of Research and Innovations

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