Assignment 1 CBA Discussion
Online Learning: OL 341 From the Ground Up for Adaptation
Center for Sustainable Development

This the CBA Discussion only, there is also an important discussion about the basic assignment: OL 341 Discussion 1.

This week’s resources: Please note that all of these docs can be found in the link in the column to the left called “Links to CBA Specific sites and Docs.”

Climate Change and Adaptation:
These are five of the best documents that I have found for the purposes of this course. The first one by GTZ is the one that we will use for the first two assignments – it is simple, clear and has excellent resources.
GTZ: Climate Change Information for Effective Adaptation – A Practitioners Manual

IIED Glossary of Adaptation Terms

These next three documents are also excellent – but are more complex. They contain some of the clearest background information that I have found on adaptation – but they are densely written.
UNDP Designing Climate Change Adaptation Initiatives – UNDP Toolkit for Practitioners

This IDS/Tearfund document analyzes CC impacts across different development sectors, provides simple case studies, ideas for activities and resources. This document could provide you with ideas for your project activities.
IDS: Adapting to Climate Change

UNDP Gender, Climate Change and Community-Based Adaptation: A Guidebook for Designing and Implementing Gender-Sensitive Community-Based Adaptation Programmes and Projects

CSDi: Specialized Links to Adaptation Documents and Sites.

1. Review of climate change science and adaptation.
This is a self conducted climate change review and there will not be an assignment associated with it.
The documents in this week’s resources provide the most comprehensive information that I found on both climate change science and adaptation. However I would consider printing out the GTZ manual and simply reading through part one to refresh your memory about climate change concepts.

The UNDP toolkit and the IDS document also present very clear information about the interrelationships between adaptation, development, and disaster risk reduction.

2. Introduction to Community-Based Adaptation (CBA) to Climate Change (CC)

Communities and societies in general have long been adapting to climate changes, but these adaptations have typically been discrete and reactive. The idea that adaptation to climate change should be planned, proactive, and anticipatory is relatively new and is an important element of CBA.

Since climate change affects communities differently according to their respective vulnerabilities and adaptive capacities, adaptation must be locally specific and appropriate to the context. CBA projects aim to enhance the resilience of communities and ecosystems to projected effects of climate change.

CBA emerged from a growing awareness that those most vulnerable to climate change and climate-related risks are poor people whose livelihoods often directly depend precisely on those natural resources most prone to climatic stress (for example, poor, rural farmers in sub-Saharan Africa who rely on rain-fed agriculture). Many vulnerable groups are living in either remote or marginal locations and have difficulty in accessing government support and services. In addition, many are marginalized by social and political structures, which affect their capacity to adapt to current climate hazards and future change. CBA helps to directly address the needs of these poor and vulnerable communities.

The best CBA projects combine local knowledge with scientific knowledge. CBA responds to pressing local adaptation needs, draws upon local knowledge, fosters community-driven innovation, and supplements community capacity with (scientific) knowledge and material resources.

Despite variations of form, all CBA recognizes the need for context-specific adaptation projects that identify local vulnerabilities, draw upon local knowledge and capacity, improve local adaptive capacity, and directly involve local stakeholders.
UNDP Gender, Climate Change and Community-Based Adaptation.

What exactly is community-based adaptation to climate change, and what are communities adapting to? The underlying idea in developing a climate change linked project, is to engage the community from the very beginning of the project design and foster the development of skills sets that will allow them to be the long-term stewards of the project activities and the outcomes. Why? Because if you work for an NGO that is designing and launching a project, your funding will end in one or two years – and you’ll leave. So the community will need to continue the activities long after you are gone if they are going to successfully adapt to a long-term challenge.

And what are these challenges that are linked to climate change? They are as diverse as other development challenges and can include health, water, food security, migration, livelihood and disaster preparedness. In fact it’s very important in the beginning of project design to determine whether the problem that the community is facing is indeed related to climate change or to another more traditional development problem. The reason for this is that the solutions for a climate linked problem and a traditional development problem might take two different approaches.

An overly simplified example could be that a village spring has dried up. Is this due to the fact that there’s a climate induced drought? Or is it due to the fact that the hillsides behind the village have been deforested and rainwater runs off and can no longer percolate slowly into the soil and recharge underground water systems – including the one that fed the village spring? A watershed restoration that includes reforesting the hills could solve that runoff problem, but might not solve the water shortage problem if indeed the spring dried up because of the long-term drought.

One of the differences in using these activities in adaptation projects is to bear in mind the timescale of an adaptation project; the project will need to be able to be maintained for decades. One of the challenges in development is project sustainability. Frequently in development we may be talking about a project with a relatively short duration that may not need to be maintained by the community after the NGO has left: a childhood vaccination program could be an example of that.

But if your adaptation project involves something like soil conservation, or water conservation, or the restoration of a watershed, or improved agricultural techniques, these activities will need to be continued and maintained by the communities long after you, and your NGO have departed.

Consequently, you need to begin developing a sense of community ownership from the very beginning. Ideally, you would want your community to view this project as being their idea and their project — and you’re just a short-term consultant who’s coming in to give them a spot of expertise. So in Assignment One, and again in Assignment Four, we’re going to begin engaging with the community and helping them to develop a sense of project ownership.

Aside from the sense of ownership the community will need to be given the skill sets that they need to continue and maintain the project activities. We will also want to incorporate local knowledge and indigenous strategies into our projects. Training sessions may spread out over several years and may involve a long-term, integrated follow-up program, it may involve specialized tools, and it will most certainly incorporate the fact that the community members need to have an understanding about their vulnerability to climate change and how these activities can help them adapt to changing conditions.

We will be covering these topics — and many others — in depth in this module of four courses. But, for now our first goal is to learn how to develop a sustainable, impact-oriented CBA project.

A challenge you may come up with during this week’s needs assessment is that the community may not prioritize a need which is related to climate change.

What I’m going to propose for this course, is to do a mixture of activities so that you include some adaptation techniques mixed in with the community prioritized development activities. This will be explained in assignment one.

Community Based Adaptation brings together those working in the fields of disaster risk reduction, community development, and climate change science. Community Based Adaptation draws on participatory approaches and methods developed in both disaster risk reduction and community development work. CBA needs to start with community expressed needs and perceptions, and have poverty reduction and livelihood benefits, as well as reducing vulnerability to climate change and disasters. In practice, CBA projects look very like ‘development as usual’ and it is difficult to distinguish the additional ‘adaptation components’.
IIED: PLA Community Based at Patient to Climate Change.

I will enthusiastically work with each one of you during the first two assignments of project development to help you bridge any gaps that might arise between their perception of need and your interest in adaptation. I strongly encourage you to participate in the class forum in order to discuss the wealth of ideas that may come from the communities and from your experience and research.

There are two lists of links to websites and documents in the column at the left. One (Links to Dev sites & Docs 341) is a set of several hundred links to all sorts of development activities and information. The other one called CBA Specific Links, are links specifically to the best community-based adaptation sites and documents that I’ve come across. If you know of others, please forward them to me and I will add them to this list.

Specialized Links to Adaptation Documents and Sites: , provides actual CBA field activities arranged by sector. You can scan this list in order to get ideas for activities for your project. By clicking on their links you can get expanded background information about the activities. By clicking on CBA Specific Links a you can scope in and find detailed field guides for implementing the activities—or lesson plans for related participatory workshops.

The Progression of the 4 course module:
Sustainability not only includes community engagement, but also good project design, the ability to fund a project, and the ability to successfully manage the project once launched.

Consequently, in this family of four courses, 341, 342, 343, 344, we will be taking an integrated approach to developing a CBA project. 341 and 342 will focus on the project design, funding opportunities, and the management of a CBA project. In 343 and 344 we will look more deeply into CBA philosophies, strategies, project launch, and proper hand over to the communities.

I look forward to working with you on your adaptation projects. So let’s get started.

Tim Magee