Cisco and Mercy Corps: Cultivating local weather adaptation and resilience in Kenya



Cisco and Mercy Corps lately accomplished a five-year Know-how for Influence partnership centered on delivering humanitarian support and growth help sooner, higher and to extra individuals around the globe by accelerating digital options.  There’s loads to have fun and replicate on, particularly as we heart our vitality on our new partnership targeted on fostering local weather adaptation and resilience within the Horn of Africa.

Beneath is a dialog I had lately with Carolyn Florey, Senior Director of Mercy Corps’ Know-how for Growth Workforce, reflecting on our transformational partnership, and looking out ahead to what’s subsequent.

Carolyn: Mercy Corps and Cisco have been partnering for 15 years! Our most up-to-date five-year Know-how for Influence partnership reached greater than 12 million individuals throughout 45 nations, and it has additionally influenced the broader humanitarian and growth sector, and Mercy Corps’ capability as a corporation. What outcomes are you most happy with? 

Two women smiling at the camera
L to R: Carolyn and Erin in Wajir, Kenya.

Erin: I’ve liked seeing the packages evolve through the years — from the earliest proof of ideas and pilots, to some initiatives being replicated throughout different areas and scaled throughout the group. The good thing about a multi-year partnership is that it has afforded us the time to check options, to pivot and adapt when issues don’t go as deliberate, and to scale initiatives that gained traction and had an affect. In lots of circumstances, we have now recognized new purposes and alternatives to use these options to challenges we hadn’t even anticipated on the partnership’s outset. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, for instance, we noticed how crucial know-how options had been to proceed supporting susceptible populations. Mercy Corps was effectively positioned to reply, leveraging our work constructing digital communities to ship trusted and dependable info on COVID-19, and our initiatives to digitize money and vouchers to ship money help faster and extra effectively to these in dire want.

We see our funding as catalytic, so it has been gratifying to see this borne out by our Know-how for Influence partnership. Our assist has allowed Mercy Corps to put money into its individuals, instruments, and tech-based programming to drive larger effectivity and affect. In doing so, Mercy Corps has been in a position to exhibit the worth of this assist, leading to larger institutional funding, further funding and new partnerships which have helped additional scale these efforts. It’s unimaginable to see Cisco-supported know-how initiatives now embedded in 116 Mercy Corps packages in 45 nations!

Erin: How about you, Carolyn? Which initiatives do you are feeling have particularly moved the needle for Mercy Corps’ work?

Carolyn: The Know-how for Influence partnership was extremely distinctive in that it touched all the things from operations to innovation. You used the phrase “catalytic” to explain Cisco’s funding — and it has really been a catalyst for enhancing how Mercy Corps operates as a corporation. Our monitoring and analysis (MEL) work is a powerful instance of this. As humanitarians, we work in very complicated and fragile environments. These embrace communities experiencing battle from armed teams, acute starvation, and far uncertainty. Program monitoring and evaluating is crucial to the success of our work, as a result of it permits us to grasp if our packages are creating the supposed affect we search, and really supporting individuals in quickly evolving conditions. Digitizing and automating our MEL processes has been a sport changer for our program groups, permitting us to have a richer, extra full understanding of our packages’ affect a lot sooner.

Carolyn: In what methods are you hoping to see the partnership construct on its successes and learnings as we deal with one of the urgent points we collectively face: local weather change?

Erin: I consider there’s a direct hyperlink between local weather change and humanitarian crises. We all know that communities in low-income nations are disproportionately affected by local weather change and lack the assets to adapt and reply to an growing variety of crises that may be exacerbated by local weather change, corresponding to floods and drought. Mercy Corps’ new 10-year Pathway to Chance technique, centered round constructing resilient communities, resonated with Cisco and mirrored our elevated deal with addressing local weather change and constructing resilience.

Mercy Corps works on a few of as we speak’s hardest challenges, with communities which can be on the forefront of the local weather disaster. Over the course of our Know-how for Influence partnership, Mercy Corps has examined, tailored, and utilized modern know-how options to enhance the best way they ship support. It due to this fact made sense that we expanded our partnership, constructing on what we’ve realized and developed, and see how we will apply this strategy and know-how to assist communities adapt and construct resilience to their altering environments. I’m hoping that, as with our Know-how for Influence partnership, we will leverage the actions and applied sciences from our work within the Horn of Africa, and apply these to different areas and communities equally affected by local weather change.

A woman standing in a field cracked and dry from drought
Pastoralist, farmer, and mom, Kheira Osman Yusuf, walks throughout the cracked, dry earth of the reservoir subsequent to her farm in northern Kenya.

Erin: Carolyn, I’d love to listen to your perspective on this. How do you see know-how enjoying a task in Mercy Corps’ local weather resilience work? 

Carolyn: There are a number of methods our current work may be expanded and tailored to construct local weather resilience.  For instance, we will mix digital money funds with our disaster evaluation work to make computerized funds upfront of extreme climate. We will present digital early warning alerts earlier than these crises happen, and likewise digital info afterwards in order that the communities we work with have the knowledge they should entry companies and assist. Know-how opens the door for us to construct and obtain local weather resilience from a number of angles, lots of that are already mirrored in our work.

In Kenya, via our new partnership with Cisco, we’re growing the uptake and use of digital info companies and instruments amongst key decision-makers to allow them to make data-informed selections to fight the consequences of local weather change — which in Kenya, seems to be like extreme drought. We see potential in scaling this strategy to the broader Horn of Africa area and past.

People inside a greenhouse as dust swirls outside
Feminine farmers in Kenya develop candy potatoes inside a greenhouse amidst extreme drought.

Carolyn: We lately had the chance to go to Wajir, Kenya collectively and see a few of our local weather adaptation programming in motion. What had been some highlights of that have for you? 

Erin: The spotlight of those visits is all the time assembly the individuals: the native Mercy Corps workforce, their authorities and group companions, and possibly most vital, the agropastoralists, whose lives and livelihoods are most impacted by local weather change.  It was extremely shifting to see the drought firsthand, and to take heed to the tales and views of these affected. Whereas in some methods disheartening, it was additionally inspiring to see the numerous methods during which Mercy Corps is partnering with these communities to adapt to their altering setting, and innovate to enhance their livelihoods.

One other spotlight (for the expertise, not essentially the style): attempting heat camel milk, a Wajir staple!

Carolyn: Combating local weather change is perhaps an important problem of our lifetime, and one which clearly can’t be solved by one group alone. How is Cisco addressing local weather change? What function do you assume these partnerships play in tackling world points?

Erin: Cisco’s function is to “Energy an Inclusive Future for All” — and that additionally means by and with all. Collaboration with companions giant and small, world and native, has all the time been a part of our strategy to driving lasting and systemic change. One space the place Cisco has the potential to make a significant affect is with our clients. How can we assist them use our merchandise and options to scale back their environmental footprint and obtain their sustainability objectives? We’re working to scale back the vitality consumption of our merchandise, and construct them utilizing round design ideas that may prolong their life cycle and cut back the quantity of supplies they require. However past that, we are going to proceed to have a look at how we will proceed to associate with organizations like Mercy Corps — as a result of we have now seen that once we mix the power of the humanitarian sector’s experience with our core competencies in know-how and connectivity, we will have a deeper and longer-lasting affect.

Be aware: Images courtesy of Mercy Corps