AE+6: A New Program to Promote Resilience in the Sahel
At the end of January, we met with three of our West African partners in Bamako, Mali for the first workshop as part of our new regional program. AE+6 (or Agroecology Plus Six) is an innovative approach that builds on the existing programs of our partners to improve the resilience and livelihoods of rural communities living in the ecologically fragile drylands of the Sahel.
While the concept of AE+6 was developed for the Global Resilience Partnership, it builds on the collective knowledge of our founders and partners around the world. Teaching farmers agro-ecological techniques to improve their production and management of natural resources is not enough to build communities that are resilient to climate change. It must be holistic in nature and address socioeconomic and political issues as well.
But what exactly is resilience and how do we contribute to the resilience of communities? The Global Resilience Partnership defines resilience as:
“the ability of people, households, communities, countries and systems to mitigate, adapt to, recover from, thrive, and learn in the face of shocks and stresses, in order to reduce chronic vulnerability and enable sustained development, inclusive growth, and learning and transformative capacity”.
Strengthening the resilience of populations is not a simple or quick solution, nor is it feasible to transform communities in just a two-year timeframe. Our goal with the AE+6 program is to demonstrate proof of concept based in grounded evidence in three dryland areas of the Sahel to help facilitate a wider spread of agroecology to address hunger, poverty, malnutrition, and improve economic livelihoods and resilience.
Peter Gubbels, team leader for the program shared the philosophy of AE+6 in an article he wrote Devex: “agro-ecology in isolation will not achieve a sustainable level of household resilience, especially for women and children. It must be complemented by activities that generate positive synergies. That is the essence of AE+6”.
By integrating six strategies with agroecology, resilience of vulnerable communities will improve. These strategies include:
- Women’s empowerment
- Social equity
- Diversified (non-farm) livelihoods for women through savings and credit
- Improved local governance to support disaster risk reduction measures
- Effective strategies for scaling including creating a local multiplier effect, networking and alliances with national farmer organizations, documentation, and advocacy to influence policy.
During the six-day workshop in Bamako our partners spent time reviewing and deepening each of the six strategies as well as coordinating tasks and milestones to implement the program. The AE+6 team envisions a growing movement of small-scale farmers and allies improving their own practices and creating an enhanced enabling environment, contributing to a massive transition by millions of farm households to a productive, sustainable, resilient agro-ecosystems. This will be done promoting agroecology that is equity, gender and nutrition sensitive, integrated with other synergistic resilience measures that enable vulnerable groups to achieve lasting food and nutrition security.
We look forward to sharing more stories and information about the AE+6 program in the coming months.To learn more about AE+6 and our work in West Africa, read the full solution statement for the Global Resilience Partnership, and sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to stay up-to-date on happenings on the ground.