Dutchman seeking to educate Peruvian citizens and farmers about climate change

H enk Smeenk is a Dutch man with a mission: to help farmers in developing countries face the challenges of climate change. With this in mind, he created up with the EduClima program, currently piloting in Peru as well as Sri Lanka and Tanzinia. It involves educating citizens and farmers about climate change, and teaching them how to use sensors to help monitor, and adapt to, changes in the climate caused by global warming.

The Problem

By 2050 there will be 9.6 billion people on earth, and to feed this burgeoning population, we will need to produce 70% more food than now. Over the next 50 years, we must produce as much food as humanity has made in the last 10,000 years.

To meet this demand, farmers must generate more produce, but that is proving a struggle as climate change effects worsen. Farmers in developing countries will be especially affected, with more extreme climates already changes. This unpredictability can affect how much a farmer is able to produce, and if he (or more often, she) produces less, he/she will earn less.

The Solution:

EduClima plans to use Climate Smart Agriculture” (CSA), a strategy of using local data gathered from sensors and monitors to help tackle or predict problems facing farmers. It has three pillars:

  • Productivity: Using CSA encourages better and smarter farming, without further damaging the environment
  • Adaptation: CSA can help farmers in the face of short-term issues, but also develops resilience against long-term changes happening in the climate.
  • Mitigation: The use of CSA helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Internet Revolution

Known as the “Internet of Things” revolution, recent developments in technology means that it is far easier and cheaper to now have a range of sensors collecting data, automatically uploading it to a centralized database. However, despite this being the case, many local farmers aren’t aware of the benefits, or they do not yet have adequate internet connection. However, there is a new Dutch satellite system (Magnitude Space) trying to make improvements in terms of connectivity by end of 2017. EduClima is hoping to teach local people to use sensors in recording data by educating not only adults, but children as well.

EduClima Education Program

There are three phases to EduClima’s program. The first will take place in the later years of rural primary schools, where children aged 12-14 will be taught about climate change. There will be an internet-connected climate station with a sensor, and the students will be able to monitor the effects of climate change themselves. The data will be recorded as a climate history of the area.

The second phase involves recruiting students who completed the first stage, but who are especially passionate about the project. Now in high school (aged between 13-17), these selected students will have the chance to engage in knowledge-building sessions on “Climate Smart Agriculture” and role of sensor technology.

The third phase involves again selecting a number of motivated students between 16 and 21 to start a 3-year program Learning and Development (L&D) program. Here the students will be taught using a variety of methods (face-to-face training, individual assignments, distance learning, coaching, project work, group work) in order to convey knowledge about “Climate Smart Agriculture” and the role of sensor systems.

The grass roots program will be monitored by social EduClima BV in the Netherlands, and local EduClima foundations in Peru. And the program is ambitious: the aim to start phase 1 in 2018 with 50 schools and 2,500 children, but by 2022 they hope that number will have grown to 1,700 schools with 182,500 children. In terms of the Learning and Development Program, they are aiming to have 360 participants by 2022. Now they are looking to set up the EduClima Foundation Peru in order to help fund the project.

Certainly an ambitious project, but with a shifting climate and ever-growing population, there is no doubt there EduClima is part of necessary innovation here in Peru.

For more information, feel free to contact Mr. Smeenk at [email protected]

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