Zhangeldy is a typical village in the South Kazakhstan Oblast, the most densely populated area of the country. The climate is extremely continental and dry, with long winters and hot summers. During the Soviet era, the village specialized in cotton production. Currently, the village is reliant on cattle production on soils degraded from years of mono-crop agricultural production. Climate change pressures have manifested in the area, encouraging unsustainable grazing and pasture management practices in the village. As a result, both grass production and cattle live weight have been falling, thus affecting the income of community members.
This Community-Based Adaptation project pilots new pasture management systems designed to be sustainable in the face of climate change. These include pasture demarcation and rotation, as well as the introduction of better-adapted cattle breeds. The project also conducts assessments to determine sustainable pasture management strategies incorporating climate change factors, and builds the capacity of community and local governments to carry out the new practices.
* This project is part of Kazakhstan's Community-Based Adaptation portfolio. *
During Soviet times, Zhangeldy, a village of 150 people, specialized in sheep breeding and irrigated cotton farming. Unfortunately, high population densities, unsustainable farming and soil management practices, and increasing aridity have led to degradation of the fragile ecosystem upon which Zhangeldy’s residents depend. Ecosystem degradation is diminishing the profitability of farming and cattle breeding. This threatens local livelihoods and leads inhabitants to engage in increasingly maladaptive practices. For example, local herders compensate for diminishing cattle values by purchasing more animals, which decreases profits, contributes to overgrazing, and exacerbates environmental degradation.
With climate change, the combination of reduced precipitation with rising temperatures will decrease snow cover and diminish soil moisture in the area. Hot, dry winds and dust storms will become more frequent, contributing to aridity and soil erosion. This will further degrade the productivity of pasture ecosystems. As forage from pastures accounts for more than 70% of animal diets, climate change threatens to impact the local ecosystem and local subsistence. The Zhangeldy community is highly reliant on natural resources with strong relationships between the climate, ecosystems and livelihoods. Intense droughts in 2008 highlighted the community’s strong dependence on the environment. Residents were unprepared for this extreme event, which significantly reduced the amount of pasture available for grazing and left both livestock and people on the verge of survival. In response, the community decided to take action and start adapting to climate change impacts.
This Community-Based Adaptation project seeks to develop a sustainable pasture management system to reduce vulnerability to climate change. The project was prepared through a participatory process carried out by Zhuldyz Public Association, a community-based organization. It is being implemented in partnership with the farming community, which works voluntarily to improve the sustainability of local livelihoods. The project focuses on improving pasture management by introducing and disseminating a variety of innovations.
Accordingly, the project implement a variety of resilient strategies. By replacing intensive and unmonitored grazing practices with collective “dry-land grazing”, villagers can monitor pasture conditions including soil moisture, vegetation composition, and biomass quality to determine animal impact and regulate it by adjusting cattle load rates or grazing density. By introducing enclosed and rotational grazing practices, the community helps protect areas from overgrazing, thus preserving the local ecosystem. Low-productivity cattle will be replaced with an adapted and resilient breed of Kazakh White-Head cattle requiring less fodder, yielding higher and better quantities of meat and milk. Best practices from this experience will be captured and capitalized upon and disseminated through technical guides.
Key Results and Outputs
Outcome 1 (CBA-funded): Local pastures managed sustainably in face of climate change
Divide 4500 ha of community pastures into fenced zones prepare them for grazing rotations (Output 1.1). Develop waterpoints and associated facilities for enclosed pastures (including electricity, shelters) (Output 1.2). Determine environmentally permissible loads for the enclosed pasture, in line with climate change projections (Output 1.3). Pilot a new grazing strategy with the local community (Output 1.4).
Outcome 2 (co-financing): Reduce vulnerability through different cattle
Purchase Kazakh White-Head Breed cattle (Output 2.1) and implement adapted cattle management method (Output 2.2).
Outcome 3 (CBA-funded): Capacities developed to consider climate risks in pasture management
Make rural inhabitants aware of increasing climate-related risks through training and demonstrational workshops (Output 3.1). Train community members in alternative adaptive grazing technology (Output 3.2). Publish project booklet (Output 3.3) and disseminate lessons learned for replication by other communities (Output 3.4).
Reports and Publications
Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation for community-based adaptation is a new field, and the CBA project is piloting innovative approaches to evaluating the success of locally-driven adaptation projects, and generating lessons to inform ongoing practice.
Key considerations in M&E for CBA include:
- Grounding M&E in the local context: M&E for CBA should avoid overly rigid frameworks, recognizing community heterogeneity and maintaining local relevance
- Capturing global lessons from local projects: CBA projects are highly contextualized, but lessons generated should be relevant to stakeholders globally
- Incorporation of both quantitative and qualitative indicators: to ground projects in tangible changes that can be objectively evaluated, and to capture lessons and case studies for global dissemination
To these ends, the CBA project uses three indicator systems: the Vulnerability Reduction Assessment, the Small Grants Programme Impact Assessment System, and the UNDP Climate Change Adaptation Indicator Framework.
The Vulnerability Reduction Assessment (VRA)
The VRA is a question-based approach with the following aims:
- To make M&E responsive to community priorities
- To use M&E to make projects more accountable to local priorities
- To make M&E capture community ideas and local knowledge
- To gather community-level feedback to guide ongoing project management
- To generate qualitative information
- To capture lessons on specific issues within community-based adaptation
- To generate case studies highlighting adaptation projects
The VRA follows UNDP's Adaptation Policy Framework, and is measured in a series of meetings with local community stakeholders. In these meetings, locally-tailored questions based on standard VRA questions/indicators are posed, and the community assigns a numerical score on a 1-10 scale for each question. Progress is evaluated through changes in scores over the course of implementation, as well as through qualitative data collected in community discussions surrounding the exercise.
The SGP Impact Assessment System (IAS)
The CBA, being a project of the GEF Strategic Priority on Adaptation, aims to increase the resilience of ecosystems and communities to the impacts of climate change, generating global environmental benefits, and increasing their resilience in the face of climate change impacts. To this end, the CBA projects use the SGP's impact assessment system for monitoring achievements in GEF focal areas (focusing primarily on biodiversity and sustainable land management).
The IAS is composed of a number of quantitative indicators which track biophysical ecosystem indicators, as well as policy impact, capacity development and awareness-building.
UNDP Climate Change Adaptation Indicator Framework
CBA projects also track quantitative indicators from UNDP's adaptation indicator framework, corresponding to the thematic area on natural resources management. More information on UNDP's indicator framework can be found on the UNDP climate change adaptation monitoring and evaluation website.
* This description applies to all projects implemented through UNDP's Community-Based Adaptation programme. Specific details on this project's M&E will be included here as they become available. *