Rapid climate smartness assessment of GIZ soil protection and rehabilitation technologies in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, and India

The results from the rapid assessment activity of the project ‘Climate-smart soil protection and rehabilitation in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, India and Kenya’ are presented in this report. The objective of the rapid assessment of climate smartness of GIZ endorsed soil rehabilitation and protection technologies in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya and India is to evaluate these technologies in terms of their potential impact on productivity, nitrogen (N) balances, erosion, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These are suitable (rapid) indicators representing the three Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) pillars – food security, resilience and mitigation. The case study approach allowed for a rapid analysis, but also increased the context-specificity of results which warrants cautions to draw too general conclusions. Farming system diversity across and within the target countries and sites was large both in terms of socio-economic and agro-ecological heterogeneity. This hugely impacts farms’ productivity and environmental performance. This underlines the importance of careful targeting of technologies to farming systems to ensure sustainable intensification. Livestock is an important asset of the majority of farms, distinguished by major farm types in the five countries. It often defines the livelihoods of these farms, adds to food production and is key to nutrient cycling, but is also a major source of GHG emissions. Livestock keeping, paddy rice and residue burning are largest contributors to GHG emissions, depending on the country and farm type. The level to which the supported technologies/interventions address the core idea of soil protection and rehabilitation varies significantly between the GIZ soil programs in the five countries. Intercropping is part of the portfolio of identified technologies in all five countries. It certainly has a potential to contribute to improving soil fertility, but stand-alone, without additional measures, it is unlikely to do so. True triple-win climate-smart solutions, i.e. interventions that increase productivity, improve resilience and reduce GHG emissions, are rare. Instead, implementing soil conservation and rehabilitation measures often has a positive impact on just one or two of the CSA pillars but a negative effect on the remainder(s); i.e. trade-offs have to be made. None of the proposed technologies addresses climate change mitigation (reducing GHG emissions from agriculture) directly. Whether this should indeed be the focus of the GIZ Soil Program, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, should be further debated.