Assignment 1 Discussion Page
Online Learning: OL 343 Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change: The Community Focus.
Center for Sustainable Development

Welcome to OL 343 Adapting to Climate Change: The Community Focus. In 341 and 342 you learned how to Develop Community Based Adaptation (CBA) projects designed for sustainability and long-term impact. You concluded the courses with a complete set of documentation both for presentation to a donor and for project management upon launch.

Each one of your projects should have had both traditional development components (or disaster risk reduction components) and CBA components. If your project did not have a CBA component— or if you’re not happy with the CBA component that you have—don’t worry because over the next four weeks we will be re-analyzing our CBA components and redefining them in assignment five. So this will be your opportunity to include a CBA component in your project or to perfect the one that you already have.

In 343 we are going to take your CBA project and really develop it into a professional, showcase project. We’re going to begin with a brief review about climate change concepts and community-based adaptation to climate change.

Over the next eight weeks we will be looking for local evidence of climate change, determining how our project may fit into that, conducting a vulnerability and adaptive capacity survey with our community, and begin clearly putting definition to the local context for our climate change challenges. We will refine or modify the activities in our project design– and present a finalized draft to the community for their feedback. We will then begin the steps necessary for launching the project by working with the community to develop a community-based team which in OL 344 will launch the project with us, follow through with the implementation process, and receive the project from us when our job is over.

Assignment 1. Where’s the Evidence about Climate Change?
This week we’re going to learn the concrete steps of how to obtain climate change information, how to interpret it within our local context, and how to determine which are the most prominent CC challenges that our community is facing and may face in the future.

“Bottom-up approaches assess vulnerability and adaptive capacity to current climate variations and future climate trends at the local level. Climate variability is a reality that humans have always been exposed to and have developed different ways of dealing with. Existing coping mechanisms are used as a platform for fostering resilience to future changes. While they can incorporate modeling projections they depend primarily on local knowledge and can more effectively target the poorest and most vulnerable in developing appropriate adaptation responses.” IDS Tearfund: Adapting to Climate Change.

So this week and next week we’re going to be looking for:

1. Proof that there are climate change related challenges that our communities are facing—or that changes are in process which will be creating future challenges.
2. Certainty that the CBA components in our project outline are indeed linked to climate change.
3. Additional CBA challenges which may be important to include in our project outline.

We will be using online literature and databases to collect climate change information for your location, and I would also recommend consulting with a local expert — this could be a government official or specialist at an NGO that has worked with climate change projects. We’re going to be looking for both the trends of climate change and also an overview of potential negative impact. Both the UNDP toolkit and the GTZ manual do an excellent job of describing this process. We will focus most specifically on the GTZ manual for this particular exercise.

Why is it important if our CBA components are linked to climate change?
The same development activity may be used for traditional community development challenges, disaster risk reduction, or adaptation to climate change challenges. For example, reforesting steep hillsides behind our community’s village could be considered a development project in the sense that this may help recharge the villages spring that has dried up, or it could be considered a disaster risk reduction project which could help prevent flooding in the village by reducing runoff.

But if the community’s spring ran dry because of a long-term, climate change linked drought, then the reforesting project may not be the most appropriate solution for solving that specific problem.

And determining the link to CC will help us differentiate between what adaptation challenges we need to deal with immediately – and what long-term plans we need to include in the project for future anticipated challenges caused by climate change.

Also, CBA projects are long-term and may be measured in terms of decades; so we need to know if we’re planning a CBA project whose outputs, outcomes, and impacts need to last for decades– or a community development project that may be a short-term steppingstone for achieving a development goal.

So in this assignment we are going to learn several techniques for obtaining climate change information and interpreting it for our local context, and determining which are the most prominent challenges locally in order to compare this information to the CBA element that we have developed in our course project over the past four months.

Getting started
The Assignment One Homework will guide you through the process.