Uthpal Kumar of the WaterApps project was involved in a monitoring and evaluation workshop of the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) approach. The workshop took place in Dinajpur, Bangladesh from 7-11 July and was the start of the evaluation that will take place until September 2019.
PICSA aims to build capacity among smallholder farmers for the use of climate information services for agricultural decision-making. DeltaCAP and WaterApps are partnering with the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), and the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, to adapt and pilot the PICSA approach across more than twenty villages in Bangladesh. The programme was implemented in Khulna, Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Barisal and Patuakhali districts during the last Boro/Rabi Season (Mid-November 2018 to Mid-April 2019).
The monitoring and evaluation training was led by Dr Samuel Poskitt of the University of Reading and involved enumerators from the different districts and representatives from the project partners. The enumerators are graduate students from several regional universities, they were selected to collect the information for the evaluation in five districts. The training included workshops on how to conduct focus group discussions and qualitative and quantitative surveys. The quantitative surveys are done with a digital toolkit while the qualitative surveys and focus groups focus on face to face interaction. The training included field tests to try out these evaluation methods.
Figure 1: Training Session for the Enumerators at BRAC Learning Centre in Dinajpur, Bangladesh facilitated by Dr. Samuel Poskitt of the University of Reading, UK.
The initial results of the field tests show that the farmers who got training in the PICSA approach are already adjusting their farming practices. The farmers who were approached for the focus groups discussion and interviews feel that their knowledge of climate information has increased. Additionally some of them are now seen as someone with knowledge on weather and climate so they are asked to provide weather information to other farmers in the community. There is enthusiasm for PICSA and the participants would like to involve more farmers and to include more schools to increase the impact of the PICSA approach for climate services. It is safe to say that the training workshop and the preliminary evaluation results are quite promising for future upscaling of the PICSA approach in Bangladesh.
Figure 2: Women participants are discussing the effect of the PICSA training (effect diagram) at personal, household and community levels during focus group session conducted at Belbaria Village, Dinajpur District.
Figure 3: An enumerator is conducting a field test of the quantitative survey using the Online Digital Kit at Belbaria Village, Dinajpur District.
Figure 4: A young farmer of Belbaria Village at Dinajpur District who received the PICSA training is now using climate information services to produce seedlings of seasonal vegetables. He receives a good response and economic return from seedling supply to the local farmers.