Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change

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Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change - Eldis ...

Rethinking Supportfor Adaptive Capacityto Climate ChangeThe Role of DevelopmentInterventionsFindings fromMozambique, Ugandaand EthiopiaSimon Levine, Eva Ludiand Lindsey Jones2011A report for the Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance


Published by ODI 2011111 Westminster Bridge Road, London se1 7jd, UKCopyright © Overseas Development Institute, 2011Readers are encouraged to quote or reproduce materialfrom this report for their own publications, as long as they arenot being sold commercially. As copyright holder, ODI requestsdue acknowledgement and a copy of the publication.The views and opinions presented in this report arethose of the authors and do not necessarily reflect thoseof ODI, ACCRA, ACCRA consortium members and affiliates,DFID or the alliance members of CDKN.Designed by Nicky Barneby @ Barneby LtdEdited by Matthew Foleyisbn 978 1 907288 56 2ACCRA – the Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance – is a research and capacitybuilding consortium of Oxfam GB, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI),Care International, Save the Children and World Vision International. It works inMozambique, Uganda and Ethiopia.ACCRA is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) andthe Climate Development and Knowledge Network (CDKN).Cover photo: Ander Kello, Ethiopia. (Haramaya University, 2010)


ContentsAbbreviations ivAcknowledgementsResearch Teams viExecutive SummaryvviiSection 1 Introduction 1Section 2 Understanding Climate Change 9Section 3 The Relationship Between Climate Change and Development 13Section 4 Findings from the Field on Adaptive Capacity 17Section 5 Lessons for Research from Using the LAC Framework 29Section 6 Conclusions 31Section 7 Summary Conclusions and Recommendations 35References 36


AbbreviationsACCRAAMJaslCBOCDKNDFIDDJFDRRENSOGCMGDPGHGIPCCITCZJASLACMDGODIONDPSNPSRESVSLAAfrica Climate Change Resilience AllianceApril, May, JuneAbove Sea LevelCommunity-Based OrganisationClimate Development and Knowledge NetworkDepartment for International Development(of the UK Government)December, January, FebruaryDisaster Risk ReductionEl Niño Southern OscillationGlobal Climate ModelGross Domestic ProductGreenhouse GasInternational Panel on Climate ChangeInter-Tropical Convergence ZoneJuly, August, SeptemberLocal Adaptive Capacity FrameworkMillennium Development GoalOverseas Development InstituteOctober, November, DecemberProductive Safety Net ProgrammeSpecial Report on Emissions Scenarios by the IPCCVillage Saving and Lending Association


AcknowledgmentsThis paper was written by Simon Levine, Eva Ludi andLindsey Jones, researchers at the Overseas DevelopmentInstitute in the Humanitarian Policy Group; Water Policy/Agricultural Development and Policy; and Climate Change,Environment and Forests programmes respectively.It is based on three country reports and eight sitereports produced by research teams from Uganda,Ethiopia and Mozambique (see below).The authors would like to acknowledge thecontributions of the women, men and children in theresearch sites as well as local and national governmentstaff, staff from our ACCRA partners (Care, Oxfam,World Vision and Save the Children) and many local andnational development organisations. The numerousvaluable contributions from officials at all levels, whogave their input via validation exercises conducted in eachsite and at national level, are also greatly appreciated.The ACCRA Regional Conference held in Nairobi from26 to 28 September 2011 provided additional insightsand clarifications and a very rich discussion on whereand how the ACCRA research results might influencepolicy and practice. Valuable comments were alsoreceived from Josephine Lofthouse (ACCRA InternationalProgramme Coordinator), Kirsty Wilson (Ethiopia NationalCoordinator), Margaret Barihaihi (Uganda NationalCoordinator), Melquisedec Gomes da Silva (MozambiqueNational Coordinator), Lydia Baker, Catherine Pettengell,and ACCRA steering group members Chris Anderson(Oxfam GB), Nidhi Mittal (Save the Children), Karl Deering(Care International) and Jason Garrett (World Vision).The original conceptualisation of this research and thedevelopment of the research framework also owe a debtto Susanne Jaspars, Sara Pavanello, Rachel Slater, NatashaGrist, Alex Arnall, Sobona Mtisi and Catherine Pettengell.


Research TeamsUganda Frederik Ayorekire (Gender and DevelopmentInitiatives), Margaret Barihaihi (World Vision), AnthonyKagoro (World Vision), Doreen Ruta (Gender andDevelopment Initiatives).Ethiopia Million Getnet, Kindie Tesfaye, BeneberuShimelis, Hiluf Gebrekidan and Belay Kassa (all HaramayaUniversity), Kirsty Wilson (ACCRA/Oxfam GB).Mozambique Alex Arnall (Reading University).Country reportsUganda Jones L, F Ayorekire, M Barihaihi, A Kagoroand D Ruta, 2011. Preparing for the Future in Uganda:Understanding the Influence of Development Interventionson Adaptive Capacity at the Local Level. ODI/ACCRA.Ethiopia Ludi E, Million Getnet, K Wilson, Kindie Tesfaye,Beneberu Shimelis, S Levine and L Jones, 2011. Preparing forthe Future? Understanding the Influence of DevelopmentInterventions on Adaptive Capacity at Local Level inEthiopia. ODI/ACCRA.Mozambique Arnall A, 2011. Preparing for the Future inMozambique: Understanding the Influence of DevelopmentInterventions on Adaptive Capacity at the Local Level.ACCRA.


Executive SummaryThe Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance (ACCRA)is an alliance of five development partners: Oxfam GB,the Overseas Development Institute, Save the Children,World Vision International and Care International. It wasestablished in 2009 with the aim of understanding howdevelopment interventions can contribute to adaptivecapacity at the community and household level, and toinform the design and implementation of developmentplanning by governments and non-governmentaldevelopment partners to support adaptive capacity forclimate change and other development pressures. Thispaper is based on an analysis of three country studiesconducted by national research teams in eight researchsites in Ethiopia, Uganda and Mozambique for ACCRA. Itdescribes the Local Adaptive Capacity (LAC) frameworkdeveloped for this project, its application during theresearch, and the evidence found about the impact ofdevelopment interventions on the adaptive capacity ofpeople and communities.Change is a constant in the lives of rural people inAfrica. For most developing countries, climate changeadds another layer of complexity to existing developmentchallenges, such as high levels of poverty and inequality,rapid population growth, underdeveloped markets, poorinfrastructure and service provision, and weak governancesystems. Development interventions will need to helppeople and communities to adapt to the interactionof these new and old pressures. Since change is aconstant, sustainable interventions can only be achievedif people can adapt them in the future to a changingcontext.Adaptive capacity is understood as the ability of individualsand communities to anticipate, deal with andrespond to change – both changing climate and developmentpressures – while maintaining (or improving) theirwellbeing. Adaptive capacity refers to the potential ofindividuals and societies to respond to change, so it is notcurrently possible to measure it directly. ACCRA thereforefocused on five dimensions that are considered to contributeto adaptive capacity: the asset base (includingphysical and non-physical assets), institutions andentitlements, knowledge and information, innovation, andflexible forward-looking decision-making and governance.The rapid rise in warming of the Earth’s surfaceover the last half-century is well accepted, and thereis general scientific acknowledgement that this hasbeen caused largely by human activity. Although thereis rapidly increasing understanding of how the climateis likely to change at the global scale under variousemissions scenarios, what is less well understood isthe exact magnitude of future temperature and rainfallchanges at the local level, and how these are influencingbio-physical systems. Global climate models are mostcommonly used to project broad trends in temperatureand rainfall distribution and intensity. However, difficultiesin downscaling these models to the spatial and temporalscales relevant to local decision-making persist. For thisreason, scenario-based approaches that consider a rangeof possible climate, agricultural production and waterfutures are recommended. In the three ACCRA countries,observed and projected trends confirm that temperatureshave risen and will continue to increase sharply. Trendsin rainfall are not as well-aligned and are much moreuncertain, but models suggest that annual rainfall inEthiopia and Uganda will increase slightly in this century,with no substantial changes for Mozambique. All modelssuggest an increase in rainfall intensity over the sameperiod.In order to understand the impact of climate change atthe local level, it is important to recognise the interactionsbetween climate change and wider developmentpressures. People adapt to the impact of climate changeon wider development processes, such as rising foodprices, the spread of disease and illness, and competitionover natural resources. The impacts of climate changewill not be the same for all. Vulnerability to the impactsof climate change often comes from vulnerability in ageneral sense – from poverty and marginalisation. Itmakes little practical sense to talk about how peopleadapt to climate change in isolation, since adaptation isdriven by a range of different pressures acting together.Supporting local adaptive capacity cannot therefore beseen in isolation as ‘climate change programming’. It is anintrinsic part of all development interventions.Although the range of interventions studied in theACCRA fieldwork is varied, there are discernible common


viiiRethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Changefeatures. Typically, interventions focused on technologydissemination, often including direct asset provision.Many respondents reported that interventions, whichcontributed to their household income, had made themmore resilient to future shocks and stresses, but noneof the interventions had explicitly set out to supportadaptive capacity. Had assets been considered as part ofwider adaptive capacity, different project decisions mighthave been made. Since people’s assets and technologieswill need to change with changing circumstances, projectscould have helped establish permanent links betweenpeople and sources of a range of technologies.Assets, such as irrigation infrastructure, only deliverbenefits to people if there are institutions that ensurethis. ACCRA research found that institutions are at theheart of the lack of sustainability of interventions. Someinstitutions were subject to elite capture and corruption.In other cases, new institutions were established butthey did not survive because they were not sociallyrooted. Some interventions were introduced as newtechnical practices without considering the institutionalarrangements required (e.g. introducing changes tonatural resource management on common property). Fewinterventions had adequately considered the necessaryinstitutional framework. These are well-rehearsedproblems associated with interventions, not just those(mis)conceived as climate change.People’s innovation was rarely considered; interventionsequated ‘innovation’ with the provision of standardisednew technology, which recipients were supposed tosimply adopt. In some villages, innovation was clearlyconstrained by a dominant culture which frowned upondoing things differently. This culture was not challengedby the introduction of an ‘approved’ innovation by externalauthorities or experts. Opportunities were being missedto find out where, how and by whom local innovationis happening, i.e. the forces that constrain people frominnovating. These barriers included institutional issuessuch as culture, the ability to take financial risks, lack ofconfidence, and limited access to information and newideas. Adaptive capacity could have been supported byidentifying and analysing these factors and identifyingmeasures to address them together with the peopleconcerned.Governments’ and projects’ treatment of informationwas largely confined to providing standardised technicalpackages deemed to be ‘correct’. In fact, it is almostinevitable that information will not be appropriate tomany people, and the sources of information will thentend to be considered unreliable. People’s opportunitiesand constraints are diverse and farmers rarely, if ever, havethe objectives deemed obvious by those providing theinformation packages (e.g. maximising yield per hectare).Seeing information and knowledge as components ofadaptive capacity would encourage actors to put moreemphasis on giving people a wider range of information,appropriate to a much wider range of circumstancesand future scenarios; giving people the tools to findinformation for themselves; and turning informationinto knowledge by supporting people’s ability to use theinformation for decision-making.ACCRA research found that, rather than forward-lookingdecision-making, policies and development interventionswere often running risks of maladaptation, i.e. decisionmakingthat leads to long-term increases in vulnerability,from two sources. Firstly, climate information wasbeing misinterpreted and uncertainties not adequatelycommunicated, leading to the potential for ill-informedplanning; and secondly, interventions and policies weredesigned without considering available evidence, eitherfrom economic analysis or climate information sources,including longer-term climate projections. Interventionswere based on a projectised approach, with ‘participation’consisting mainly of asking ‘communities’ what theywanted. Policies were too often based on top-downplanning which did not support local flexible decisionmakingand agency.Summary conclusions1. All development interventions need an agency lens,i.e. they need to be thought of not simply as deliveringa given infrastructure or technology, but as vehiclesfor expanding people’s range of choices. For anyintervention to offer sustainable benefits, considerationis needed at all stages, from preliminary researchto final evaluation, to the question of how differentpeople will use the intervention under a range ofpossible climate futures. This is impossible withoutdue attention to features which are largely neglectedin development planning and interventions, namelypower and institutions.2. The five characteristics of adaptive capacity arenot stand-alones, from which one or more can beselected for attention, they shape and depend oneach other. Taking adaptive capacity on board doesnot mean adding five sets of each intervention forthe five characteristics. It means understanding thesedimensions of people’s and communities’ lives, anddesigning and implementing interventions in waysthat enhance the way in which assets, institutions,innovation, knowledge flows and decision-makingcontribute to increased agency, and more informeddecision-making for the long term.


Executive Summaryix3. Working to support agency requires participatoryways of thinking and acting. However, much of what iscalled ‘participation’ has failed to deliver the intendedtransformation in relations between developmentagents and the people they wish to work with. Thereare practical reasons for this, relating both to deeplyentrenched attitudes and also to resources, includingfunds, time and skills. Getting participation right willrequire a major investment by many kinds of actorsworking together. The alternative, of ‘business asusual’, will ensure that investment in developmentcontinues to have the disappointing results that havebeen seen over the past decades, both for sustainabledevelopment in general, and for adaptive capacity forthe new and pressing challenges of climate change.4. Change at system level is required because thenecessary changes to the practice of developmentwhich ACCRA has identified are not actionable byany single organisation or individual acting alone.The adaptation required by development actors istransformational, not incremental. Platforms will needto be strengthened and, where necessary, created atlocal, national and international level for negotiatingthese fundamental changes and paradigm shifts.Although the challenge is enormous, the increasing useof the language of ‘impact’ provides an opportunity toplace at the centre of debate the necessary conditionsfor sustainable impact.Although system-wide change is needed, there aresome minimum steps that individual governmentdepartments or agencies can take at the level ofinterventions.Recommendations1. No development without adaptive capacityGovernments and development partners do not needto think of designing separate projects for buildingadaptive capacity, but should rather incorporateinto the design of all development programmes aconsideration of how people will be able to adapt inthe future. Adaptive capacity should be considered inall assessments, planning processes, feasibility studies,agreements with donors, implementation, monitoring,reporting and evaluations.2. Flexibility and scenario planningAll interventions should be designed and implementedbased on future scenario planning which includes allthe important likely changes – and their interactions– but also acknowledges uncertainties. Interventiondesign and development planning must build flexibilityinto programme design and management, and buildsupport for adaptive capacity into planning objectives.3. Using autonomous innovation as an entry point for anadaptive capacity perspectivePlanning and intervention design should use people’sown ability and practice of experimentation andinnovation as an entry point. This involves understandinghow people are currently experimentingand innovating in response to different pressures, andunderstanding the constraints to innovation and theuptake of new ideas. This inevitably includes havingan understanding of institutional factors, powerrelations, and other socio-cultural factors.4. Turning information into knowledgeInformation provision should not stop with givingpeople facts. All information providers should redefinetheir role as one of ‘knowledge providers’, whoseobjectives are more ‘informed decision-making’. Boththey and others should support people to acquirethe required skills and tools to analyse and use theinformation provided and, furthermore, to givethem the ability to access independently furtherinformation from a variety of sources. Frequently, thiswill entail working with those generating and holdinginformation to ensure that they are better connectedto people.


Section 1 IntroductionChange is a constant in the lives of rural people in Africa.People have always had to cope with sudden shockssuch as war, rain failures or food price spikes, and withlonger-term stresses such as population increases, thedegradation of natural resources and long-term declinein their terms of trade. These and many other changeswill also be there in the future, but there is a more recentappreciation of change in the form of climate change. Formost developing countries, climate change adds anotherlayer of complexity to already existing developmentchallenges, such as high levels of poverty and inequality,rapid population growth, underdeveloped markets, poorinfrastructure and service provision, and weak governancesystems (Smit et al., 2003).Current climate models agree that there will be change,and that this change will vary greatly from place to place,but they disagree on the magnitude of that change, andthey are also not able to tell us exactly what form thatchange will take at the local level (Royal Society, 2010).Climate change affects people directly (e.g. throughchanging rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures)and indirectly, by exacerbating other changes, includingyields, world and local prices for crops, migration patterns,possible tensions over dwindling natural resources anddisease patterns. These other changes are constantly influx, magnifying the uncertainty around the effects ofclimate change.Responding to climate change and related uncertaintyis a principal development challenge. The impacts ofobserved and projected changes on global and regionalclimate are likely to have significant implications forecosystems and the livelihoods of the communities thatdepend on them (Tompkins and Adger, 2004). In lightof this, it is vital that policy-makers and developmentplanners understand how best to reduce vulnerability toclimate change impacts, and ensure that communitieshave the capacity to adapt to changes over time.1.1 Adaptation and adaptive capacityGiven its wide array of impacts on and interactions withwider development, climate change will inevitably haveconsiderable implications for development interventions.Accordingly, there is a need to consider how suchSearching for water in Kotido, Uganda, during the dry season. (Photo: M. Barihaihi, 2010)


2 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate ChangeType of AdaptationAutonomousAdaptationPlannedAdaptationIncrementalAdaptationTransformationalAdaptationMaladaptationDescriptionAdaptation that occurs naturally by private actorswithout intervention of public agencies. Often,autonomous adaptation does not constitutea conscious response to climatic stimuli, butis triggered by ecological changes in naturalsystems and by market or welfare changes inhuman systems.Adaptation actions that are the result ofdeliberate policy decision or action on the part ofpublic agencies.Adaptation that results in small incrementalchanges, generally aimed at enabling a person orcommunity to maintain its functional objectivesunder changing conditions.Adaptation that results in a change in theindividual or community’s primary structure andfunctionAn adaptive response made withoutconsideration for interdependent systems whichmay, inadvertently, increase risks to other systemsthat are sensitive to climate change.Figure 1: Types of adaptationThis terminology reveals much about the preconceptions ofthose who shape both discourse and policy in this area. Thedefinition of planned adaptation is from the World Bank and iscommonly accepted. The autonomous adaptation definition isfrom UNFCCC and UNDP (2001).‘Planned adaptation’ is whatthe state or ‘development partners’ do – as if people’s ownadaptation (‘not a conscious response’, ‘triggered by stimuli’) isnot the result of their analysis and planning. Despite reservations,this paper prefers in general to use terminology that is alreadywidely accepted, in order both to avoid confusion and to avoidthe discussion being sidetracked away from important issues andinto issues of terminology.interventions help people and communities to adapt tonew configurations of their natural, socio-economic andpolitical environment, and the relations between them.Adaptation within human systems can be broadlydescribed as the process of adjustments to actual orexpected climate and its effects, in order to moderateharm or exploit potential benefits (IPCC, 2011). Adaptationdoes not occur instantaneously; a person or communityrequires agency, ability and willingness to realise theiradaptive capacity and adapt successfully (Adger et al.,2004). A suitable enabling environment is needed toensure that individuals and societies are capable ofmaking the changes necessary to respond to climatechange and other changes. Adaptation manifests itselfin a number of forms, is undertaken by various agents,and occurs at multiple scales. Adaptation practices canbe either anticipatory or reactive and, depending on thedegree of spontaneity, can be autonomous or planned(Smith et al. 2010) – see Figure 1. Accordingly, there aredistinctions between adaptation as a programmaticapproach and adaptive actions and processes byhouseholds, communities or institutions themselves: theformer is largely planned, seeking to facilitate sustainableand effective positive adaptation by the community asa whole and avoid maladaptation; the latter is generallyassociated with any such actions in anticipation of (ormore commonly as a reaction to) shocks and stresses.Indeed, it should be noted that adaptive actions are notnecessarily positive, and short-term gains or benefitstaken to adapt to changing shocks and stresses can insome cases lead to increased vulnerability in the long term– known as maladaptation (ADB, 2009). One importantrole of development partners is therefore to helphouseholds and communities to assess and understandcurrent strategies to see which ones might lead tosustainable adaptation, and which ones tomaladaptation.At the local level, adaptation is rarely in response toclimatic stimuli alone. In many cases, a direct climaticevent is less likely to trigger adaptive action than theeconomic and socio-political consequences of theclimatic condition (Smit and Pilifosova, 2001). Thus, theconsequences of a climate event are not direct functionsof its physical characteristics. Rather, as Rayner andMalone (1998) contend, they are functions of ‘the way inwhich a society has organised its relation to its resourcebase, its relations with other societies, and the relationsamong members’. This echoes discussions about ‘natural’disasters, which are never simply natural hazards, butthe product of the impact of a natural hazard on peoplewhose vulnerability has been created by socio-cultural,economic and political conditions and power relations(Cannon and Müller-Mahn, 2010). Accordingly, in orderto understand how societies can better cope with andadapt to climatic stressors and climatic change, thefocus must be addressing the political, socio-cultural andeconomic factors that may promote or inhibit the capacityof individuals or groups to adapt (Smit and Pilifosova,2001). Moreover, the majority of actions taken to adapt tochanging climate and development pressures are reactive,usually occurring after a particular weather event (Adgeret al., 2005). Far fewer have anticipated future changesand taken action to prepare for them. Increasing emphasisis needed to ensure that communities do not simply waituntil the climate has changed and then adapt; rather,they need to be supported in developing their capacity


Introduction 3Box 1: Adaptive capacityCommunities are considered to have high adaptivecapacity when they are able to anticipate, deal with, andrespond to changing climate and development pressures,while maintaining (or even improving) their wellbeing.It is not possible to directly measure adaptive capacity,as it refers to the ‘potential’ of individuals and societiesto respond to change. In this research, ACCRA focusedon dimensions that it considered to contribute to theadaptive capacity of a system in a particular context.These are the five characteristics that make up the LocalAdaptive Capacity framework: the asset base, institutionsand entitlements, knowledge and information, innovationand flexible forward-looking decision-making andgovernance.Sources: Lim and Spanger-Siegfried, 2004; Smit and Wandel,2006; Jones et al., 2010b.and provided with the tools to evaluate options and makeproactive decisions (Mani et al., 2008; Reisinger 2009)Nearly all societies and their activities are sensitiveto the climate in one way or another, largely becausewhere people live and how they generate their livelihoodis influenced by their surrounding climate (Adger etal., 2003). Variability and uncertainty in the climate areinherent, and human societies have often had to dealwith, and respond to, unforeseen variations in climate orweather extremes. However, the ways in which societieshave coped to date, and the range of these copingmechanisms, may not be sufficient to deal with the newchallenges brought about by climate change (van Aalst etal., 2008). Societies most vulnerable will not only be thosethat experience the greatest impacts, but also those mostsensitive and least able to adapt to the changing climateand development pressures. In order to successfullyadapt to future climate variables, many communitiesin developing countries will have to modify theircharacteristics and potentially transform their structureand how they organise themselves.1.1.1 Why a focus on adaptive capacity?One of the biggest challenges within development programmingis how to ensure that individuals and societiescan adapt beyond the programme cycle of an intervention.This is key to climate change adaptation because there isno end-point to which people have to adapt; people needto acquire the capacity to adapt for generations to come.The challenge to development practice is how to meetimmediate needs whilst also building this capacity toadapt in the future. A focus on resilience alone does notnecessarily bring in this perspective;: a specific focus onadaptive capacity is needed.Adaptive capacity refers to the potential to adapt, asand when needed, and not necessarily the act of adaptingor its outcome. Adaptive capacity is multi-dimensionaland the elements that make up an individual’s adaptivecapacity are not entirely agreed. It essentially relates toAdaptive capacity at the local levelAsset baseCharacteristicAsset baseFeature that reflect a high adaptive capacityAvailability of key assets that allow the systemto respond to evolving circumstancesInstitutions andentitlementsExistence of an appropriate and evolvinginstitutional environment that allows fairaccess and entitlement to key assets andcapitalsInstitutions andentitlementsFlexibleforward-lookingdecision-makingand governanceKnowledge andinformationThe system has the ability to collect, analyseand disseminate knowledge and information insupport of adaptation activitiesInnovationThe system creates an enabling environmentto foster innovation, experimentation and theability to explore niche solutions in order totake advantage of new opportunitiesKnowledge andinformationInnovationFlexible forwardlookingdecisionmakingandgovernanceThe system is able to anticipate, incorporateand respond to changes with regard to itsgovernance structures and future planningFigure 2: The ACCRA framework for thinking about Local Adaptive Capacity


4 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Changewhether people have the right tools and the necessaryenabling environment to allow them to adapt successfullyover the long term. It is also important to bear in mindthat adaptive capacity is context-specific and varies fromcountry to country, community to community, betweensocial groups and individuals, and over time (Smit andWandel, 2006).ACCRA recognised that it is not possible to directlymeasure adaptive capacity, as it refers to the ‘potential’of individuals and societies to respond to change; soinstead the research sought to investigate dimensionsthat are considered to contribute to the adaptive capacityof a system in a particular context. These are the fivecharacteristics that make up the Local Adaptive Capacityframework (see Figure 2) used in the ACCRA research toinvestigate the impact of development interventions onpeople’s and communities’ adaptive capacity.1.2 The Africa Climate Change ResilienceAlliance (ACCRA)Building adaptive capacity is a requirement of climatechange adaptation and development interventions, and assuch there is a need to learn how to support it effectively.An alliance of five development partners – Oxfam GB,the Overseas Development Institute, Save the Children,World Vision International and Care International – cametogether in the ACCRA consortium. The alliance's aimwas to understand how development interventions –whether in the form of DRR, social protection or livelihoodprogrammes – are contributing to adaptive capacity atthe community level, and to increase governments’ anddevelopment actors’ use of evidence in designing andimplementing development interventions that increasethe adaptive capacity of poor and vulnerable communities.ACCRA’s four objectives are:1. To understand how existing social protection,livelihoods and disaster risk reduction projects byACCRA members build local adaptive capacity toclimate change, and how these approaches can bestrengthened.2. To use the findings to influence donors, developmentpartners and civil society to improve future planningand action.3. To work together with local and national governmentsto build capacity to implement interventions that canbuild communities’ adaptive capacity.4. To encourage learning across countries and disciplines.Men in Meboi Community, Chibuto District, discussing a seasonal calendar with ACCRA researchers. (Photo: ACCRA Mozambique, 2010)


Introduction 5Community focus group discussions during data validation with government staff and resarchers in Gulu, Uganda.(Photo: M. Barihaihi, 2011)The LAC framework was the overarching conceptualframework for our work. It draws on extensiveconsultations with academics, policy-makers andpractitioners, and is tested in pilot studies in each ofthe three countries. Most assessments of adaptivecapacity at household or community level have focusedon assets and capital as indicators (Dulal et al., 2010).While useful in helping us to understand what resourcespeople have or need to adapt, these asset-orientedapproaches tend to mask the role of processes andfunctions (Jones et al., 2010a and 2010b). Understandingadaptive capacity, therefore, requires that we alsorecognise the importance of intangible processes suchas decision-making and governance, the fostering ofinnovation and experimentation, and the exploitationof new opportunities and the structure of institutionsand entitlements. This means moving away from simplylooking at what a system has that enables it to adapt, torecognising what a system does that enables it to adapt(WRI, 2009). Understanding what development activitiesare doing to support this capacity, and what can be doneto further enhance it, will be crucial to strengtheningadaptive capacity.Binterventions. The different sites were chosen torepresent different livelihoods, different agro-ecologicalcharacteristics, and different types of project intervention,including disaster risk reduction, social protection andlivelihoods support programmes, in reaction to thedifferent development challenges and climate hazardseach site faces.Following the development of the programme’sconceptual framework and research guidance, the incountryresearch began with an inception workshop,bringing together experts from academia, government,civil society and NGOs to discuss the LAC framework andadapt it to the national context. This was followed bythe development and testing of the research protocol;analysis of available secondary data; an intensive periodof fieldwork in the research sites; data analysis and theproduction of site reports. These formed the basis for thecountry reports on which this final document builds (forUganda see Jones et al., 2011; for Ethiopia see Ludi et al.,2011; for Mozambique see Arnall et al., 2011). Investigationswere carried out by a team of national researcherssupported by the national ACCRA coordinator, and withthe support of the international ACCRA coordinator andthe Overseas Development Institute (ODI).1.2.1 Research approach and methodologyUnder ACCRA, research was conducted in three countries,Ethiopia, Mozambique and Uganda. In each country,two or three research sites were identified where oneof the consortium members implements development1 For more see the ACCRA background paper (Jones et al., 2010b),http://www.odi.org.uk/resources/download/4790.pdf.


6 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change1.2.2 ACCRA research sites in UgandaGuluKotidoBundibugyoSite Bundibugyo Gulu KotidoGeographical zone Highland & Lowland Woodland Semi-aridPrincipal climate hazard Floods Poor rains, variable rainfall Poor rains, variable rainfallMain livelihood sourceRainfed agriculture for market; cashRainfed agriculture for marketPastoralism; subsistence rainfedcrops important in lowland areasagricultureDevelopment interventionsRwenzori Livelihoods and DisasterPreparedness Support programme• Empowerment of poor people toachieve sustainable livelihoods,influence those with power overthem and ultimately improve theirstandard of living• Support community prioritiessuch as improving livelihooddiversity, food security, agro-‘Roco Kwo’ programme• Multi-sectoral initiative addressingsustainable livelihoods, peacebuilding,conflict resolution, genderequity, psychosocial support andgender-based violence• Agricultural input provision• Establishment of village savingsand loan schemesNorth Karamoja PastoralDevelopment programme• Support resilient pastorallivelihoods• Working with local government toempower rural communities• Supporting community-basedgroupsprocessing activities and DRRplanningWomen participating ina focus group discussion inKotido, Uganda.(Photo: M. Barihaihi, 2010)


Introduction 71.2.3 ACCRA research sites in EthiopiaWokin, Dabat DistrictAnder Kello,Chifra DistrictAddis AbabaKase-hija,Gemechis DistrictSite Ander Kello Kase-hija WokinRegion Afar Oromia AmharaGeographical zone Lowland (dry Kolla) Lowland (Kolla) Highland (Dega)Principal climate hazard Cyclical drought Drought, floods Erratic rainfall, floods, hailstormsMain source of livelihoodPastoralism, increasing agro-Mixed crop cultivation, KhatMixed crop cultivation, livestock,pastoralismimportant cash cropincreasingly market-orientedKey programme interventionsPILLAR – Preparedness ImprovesLivelihood Resilience• Improve drought preparednessthrough protecting andHIBRET - Household Asset Buildingand Rural Empowerment forTransformation, including PSNPC• Reduce food insecurity andAgricultural Scale Up Programme• Policy influencing, enhancingmarket access and improvinggender equitydiversifying the livelihood assetsincrease community resilience byof pastoralists in drought-prone(i) protecting household assetsareasand community resources; and(ii) increasing agricultural outputthrough integrated naturalresource management andstrengthened civil societyFocus of intervention Disaster Risk Reduction Social protection and sustainablelivelihoodsSustainable livelihoodsStone terraces in an enclosedarea, Kase-hija research site,Ethiopia. (Photo: K. Wilson, 2010)2 The Productive Safety NetProgramme (PSNP) providesa labour-based cash or foodallowance (paid without a labourcontribution for those who cannotgive it) to a targeted numberof households in a village/community.


8 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change1.2.4 ACCRA research sites in MozambiqueChanganineSena R.MuanalavoR.Candela R.MurenaNhacuechaAlto ChanganeCaia DistrictRegulo ChatailaMurracaChibongolouaNtopaPhazaCaiaSombeChaimiteChibuto DistrictChibutoMalehiceMenganeSite Chibuto CaiaRegionSouth (Gaza Province)Limpopo River BasinCentre (Sofala Province)Zambezi River BasinPrincipal climate hazard Drought FloodsMain source of livelihoodKey programme interventionsAgriculture for subsistence crop production; cattlerearing;migrant labourIntegrated rural development programme• Food and seed distribution• Micro-credit• Livelihood diversificationAgriculture for subsistence crop production and cashincome; cash crops; casual farm labourLivelihood diversification• Formation of groups and associationsPromoting irrigated potatoproduction in Caia District.(Photo: ACCRA Mozambique,2010)


Section 2 Understanding Climate ChangeResponding to climate change and related uncertaintyis a principal development challenge. In recognising theneed to adapt successfully in the long term, it is importantto explore our understanding of climate change. Thissection gives a brief overview of available information forguiding policy decisions in countries like Ethiopia, Ugandaand Mozambique. It outlines some of the uncertaintiesinvolved in predicting changes in future climates (what wedo and do not know).First, what we know. We know that there has been arapid rise in warming of the Earth’s surface over the lasthalf-century, and that there is strong evidence that thiswarming has been caused largely by human activity,through activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, andchanges in land use (IPCC, 2007). We have a reasonablygood understanding of how the climate is likely to changeat the global level under various emissions scenarios (i.e.estimates of how the world is likely to look and act in thefuture). And we know that the risks associated with someof these changes are substantial and need acting upon(Royal Society, 2010).Second, what we don’t know. We don’t know, withabsolute certainty, what the exact magnitude of futuretemperature and rainfall changes will be, and how theywill influence the biophysical environment at the regionaland local level (such as rainfall patterns and water cycles,30no30s20e 30e 40e 50e2 2.4 2.8 3.2 3.6 4Change in temperature °CBox 2: An example of the type of climate data availablefor Sub-Saharan Africa and the difficulties in using it forpolicy-makingThis is an ensemble of different global climate modelsshowing projected changes in annual surface airtemperature for the period of 2060–2089 relative to abaseline of 1970–1990 under an A2 scenario. Viewed as‘business as usual’, this emissions scenario describes aheterogeneous and divided world. It maintains a focuson regional economic growth over local environmentalsustainability and high population growth.Variables for Ethiopia, Uganda and Mozambique areeach clearly visible. Each box is roughly 250kmC, giving asingle averaged value of temperature difference over theentire box.This is not a true reflection of how temperatureswill change at the local level, as temperatures will varywithin each block. Availability and access to data fromRegional Climate Models, which try to generate morelocalised climate information, is poor for much of Sub-Saharan Africa. Outputs like these make for difficult policydecisions, and the uncertainties involved with each ofthese models must be taken into account.Source: CLIVAR VACS African Climate Atlas – WCRP CMIP3 Multi-Model Data Module, accessible at: http://www.ouce.ox.ac.uk/~clivar/ClimateAtlas/ipcc.html


10 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Changethe temperature of oceans and related influences onweather patterns). These are often the most relevantissues for effective decision-making.To get an accurate understanding of climate change,it is important to look at a number of different sourcesof information. In doing so, researchers draw heavily onpast data from observed recordings, as well as modelledprojections to simulate future climates. In the context ofACCRA’s three country sites, getting access to, and makingsense of, available information is often challenging.Despite recent efforts by governments to develop thesesystems, all three countries suffer from common problems,including a poor network of weather stations and largegaps in the records due to poor facilities and a lack ofinvestment in infrastructure and personnel, as well asissues of conflict. In light of this, one of the primary toolswe turn to is climate modelling.A climate model is a system of different equationsthat simulate the interactions between the atmosphere,oceans and land. They are generally used to predict howSmall-scale irrigation is considered an important strategy to overcome rainfall variability in Kase-hija, Ethiopia. (Photo: K. Wilson, 2010)


Understanding Climate Change 11Observed trendsEthiopia Mean annual temperature has increased by 1.3°C between 1960and 2006. Daily temperature observations show significantlyincreasing trends in the frequency of hot days, and much largerincreasing trends in the frequency of hot nights. The strong interannualand inter-decadal variability in Ethiopia’s rainfall makes itdifficult to identify long-term trends.There is not a statistically significant trend in observed meanrainfall in any season in Ethiopia between 1960 and 2006. Thereare insufficient daily rainfall records to identify trends in dailyrainfall variability.Global Climate Model projected trendsThe mean annual temperature is projected to increase by 1.1 to3.1°C by the 2060s, and 1.5 to 5.1°C by the 2090s. All projectionsindicate substantial increases in the frequency of days andnights that are considered ‘hot’.Projections from different models in the ensemble are broadlyconsistent in indicating increases in annual rainfall in Ethiopia,largely in the short rainy season (OND) in southern Ethiopia.Projections of change in the rainy seasons (AMJ and JAS), whichaffect the larger portions of Ethiopia, are more mixed, but tendtowards slight increases in the south-west and decreases in thenorth-east. The models in the ensemble are broadly consistent inindicating increases in heavy rainfall events.UgandaMean annual temperature has increased by 1.3°C since 1960. Dailytemperature observations show significantly increasing trends inthe frequency of hot days, and much larger increasing trends inthe frequency of hot nights.Across Uganda observations show statistically significantdecreasing trends in annual rainfall. Trends in the extreme indicesbased on daily rainfall data are mixed. There is no significanttrend in the proportion of rainfall occurring in heavy events.The mean annual temperature is projected to increase by 1.0 to3.1°C by the 2060s, and 1.4 to 4.9°C by the 2090s. All projectionsindicate increases in the frequency of days and nights that areconsidered ‘hot’.Projections of mean rainfall are broadly consistent inindicating annual increases. The models consistently projectoverall increases in the proportion of rainfall that falls in heavyevents.Mozambique Mean annual temperature has increased by 0.6°C between 1960and 2006. Daily temperature observations show significantlyincreasing trends in the frequency of ‘hot’ days and nights in allseasons.Mean annual rainfall over Mozambique has decreased atan average rate of 3.1% per decade between 1960 and 2006.Daily precipitation observations indicate that, despite observeddecreases in total rainfall, the proportion of rainfall falling inheavy events has increased.Figure 3: Summary of general trends for Ethiopia, Uganda and MozambiqueDThe mean annual temperature is projected to increase by1.0 to 2.8°C by the 2060s, and 1.4 to 4.6°C by the 2090s. Theprojected rate of warming is more rapid in the interior regions ofMozambique than areas closer to the coast.Projections of mean rainfall do not indicate substantial annualchanges. The range of projections from different models is largeand straddles both negative and positive changes. Overall, themodels consistently project increases in the proportion of rainfallthat falls in heavy eventsSource: McSweeney et al., 2008.the climate might change in the future, based on differentemissions scenarios. Climate models vary considerably intheir complexity and accuracy. The more complex modelsseek to simulate the interactions between componentsof the climate system, representing parameters such astemperature, wind and humidity with latitude, longitudeand altitude in the atmosphere as well as the oceans.The most commonly used models operate at a large scale(i.e. on a global to hundreds of kilometres scale) to giveindications of broad changes in characteristics like averagetemperature and the intensity and distribution of rainfall(see Box 2). To help understand future climate changeat a scale more useful to local decision-making, climatemodellers turn to techniques known as ‘downscaling’.These typically generate outputs at a much finer scale,ranging from 25–50kmC. The resources and techniquesneeded to carry out downscalingE are however expensiveand require significant resources, most of which are largelyunavailable and inaccessible to much of Sub-SaharanAfrica.Climate models are not a magic bullet. They do notgive an exact representation of future climates, and theycarry a wide range of uncertainties. Nor do they all agree.In order to get a more reliable picture of future climatechange, multiple models are run using the same emissionsscenarios and averaged out to see where there is commonagreement. Yet in certain places, a high degree of variationexists particularly at smaller scales. For example, 90% ofglobal climate models cannot accurately replicate past orpresent climatic conditions observed across Sub-SaharanAfrica (IPCC, 2007). These challenges make the task ofdecision-making for adaptation extremely difficult.Despite these uncertainties, it is clear that the climate ischanging and will continue to do so. Continued populationgrowth and rapid economic development are likely tofurther increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Indeed,scenarios presented in the Intergovernmental Panel onClimate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC, AR4)are now widely viewed as conservative, with present GHGemissions higher than those projected by the worst-case3 Climate variables are broad summaries of observed and projectedoutputs. For more detailed variables see McSweeney et al. (2010).4 There are two main types of downscaling. Dynamic downscalinginvolves embedding a Regional Climate Model (RCM) within a GCM. Thisprocess requires significant computing power. Empirical downscaling usesrelationships between modelled data and recorded observational data toprovide local detail. This is less computationally demanding, but requiresan accurate and lengthy database of observational data.


12 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate ChangeIPCC scenario, and consistent with a rise in global averagetemperatures of 3–4°C and 3–5°C over Sub-SaharanAfrica (Calow et al., 2011). Climate models can provide auseful indication of future trends. If their uncertaintiesare understood and interpreted correctly, climate modelscan be extremely useful tools for policy-making. Theycan inform us of broad trends across various scales –whether in relation to increasing average temperatureand a growing number of ‘hot days’,F sharp rises inrainfall intensity and heavy rainfall events – and canallow decision-makers to plan ahead and make informeddecisions to support sustainable adaptation. With thisin mind, confidence is high enough to inform and guidepolicy at regional, national and in some cases local scales.With a good understanding of the knowns andunknowns of climate change, we turn our attention toobserved and projected trends for each of the threeACCRA countries. Figure 3 shows a high degree ofvariation between countries, both in terms of past andfuture climate. In all three, temperatures have beenincreasing sharply, and in all three this will continue.Trends in rainfall are not as well-aligned, with Ethiopiaand Uganda showing slight increases in annualrainfall, and no substantial changes for Mozambique.Perhaps most importantly, all suggest an increase inrainfall intensity and the number of heavy rainfallevents. Yet these projections mean very little unless theyare translated into more local conditions, considered inlight of wider development pressures and interactions,and set alongside the implications on sectors andlivelihoods.5 ‘Hot’ days (and ‘hot’ nights) are defined as the temperature currentlyexceeded on 10% of days or nights in that region and season.


Section 3 The Relationship Between ClimateChange and DevelopmentIn order to understand how people are affected byclimate change at the local level, it is important torecognise the interactions and overlaps between climatechange and wider development pressures. In many senses,climate and development have a dual relationship.Climate change is a threat to sustainable developmentand the achievement of many key development targets,such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)(Alexander et al., 2011). In addition, the impacts of climatechange, felt at the local level, will often be mediatedthrough interacting development pressures (O’Brienet al., 2004). Indeed, people seldom adapt to the directimpacts of climate change, whether in the form ofgradual increases in average temperature, decreases intotal annual precipitation, or greater seasonal variability.Rather, the impact of climate change is typically feltindirectly, for instance through rising food prices, thespread of disease and illness, and competition overnatural resources and their management (Hertel andRosch, 2010).Moreover, many of the ‘natural’ events typicallyassociated with climate change have strong links tohuman processes and the ways in which social systemsinteract with natural systems (Brooks, 2003). Floods anddroughts illustrate this very well. Climate change is oftenassociated with increases in rainfall variability, leading toa higher likelihood of flood and drought events in manyareas. Climate change itself can be attributed to changesin rainfall intensity and patterns of distribution. However,the occurrence and extent of flood and drought eventsare often influenced by human activities – for exampleissues of natural resource and land use managementsuch as deforestation, soil degradation and changes towater drainage – and other anthropogenic factors. Thissection discusses some of the climate and developmentchallenges in the three ACCRA countries and how theyinteract. The risk of variable and decreasing crop yieldsin rural communities in all three countries, for example,is influenced both by increasingly variable rainfallpatterns and by the ongoing degradation of naturalresources, in part a result of population pressure andthe lack of economic alternatives for large parts of therural population.Another way that development overlaps with climatechange is through the distribution of impacts acrossdifferent social groups. The impacts of climate change willnot be evenly felt; some will be hit harder than others.Vulnerability to the impacts of climate change will oftenbe mediated through social and institutional factors.Poverty, livelihood, age, gender, culture, ethnicity and clanwill all have a significant bearing on levels of vulnerability,and on how different social groups are allowed or able toadapt (Adger et al., 2007). Not surprisingly, groups that arevulnerable to the impacts of climate change are often alsoconsidered vulnerable in a general sense (i.e. those unableto deal with the impacts of multiple shocks and stresses,whether climate- or development-related). In this regard,an understanding of people’s ability to adapt to climatechange also has to take into account their ability to dealwith and respond to changing development pressures(Eriksen et al., 2005).Infrastructure damaged by heavy rain makes marketing moredifficult and expensive. Bundibugyo. (Photo: M. Barihaihi, 2010)The poorest and most marginalised groups within asociety are often considered to be hardest hit and leastable to adapt to changing climate and developmentpressures, particularly those whose livelihoods are heavilydependent on natural resources. As a consequence,promoting sustainable development can play animportant part in helping people adapt to the impactsof climate change. Returning to the MDGs, for example,


14 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate ChangeLivestock market in Chifra, Ethiopia. (Photo: Haramaya University, 2010)efforts taken in ‘reducing poverty, providing generaleducation and health services, improving living conditionsin urban settlements, and providing access to financialmarkets and technologies, will all improve the livelihoodsof vulnerable individuals, households and communities,and therefore increase their ability to adapt’ (Ayers andHuq, 2009). Recognising this complex relationship, in orderfor communities, governments and civil society actorsto understand the impacts of climate change, they neednot only projections of future climate over different timescales, but how various development scenarios are likely toplay out over the short, medium and long term. Knowinghow water storage capacity is likely to change and theimpacts of soil degradation on crop yields, understandingrates of population growth and identifying changingpatterns of migration and urbanisation, are each equallyimportant as they are likely to be influenced, and playa mediating role, in delivering the impacts of climatechange at the local level.The impacts of climate change are widespread, but itsconsequences will fall disproportionately on developingcountries, and typically will hit the poorest communitieswithin them the hardest (Smith et al., 2003). Variabilityhas long been a characteristic of the climates of Uganda,Mozambique and Ethiopia; dealing with it is part andparcel of rural livelihoods. Livelihoods are particularlysensitive to fluctuations in seasonal rainfall. However, thecapacity of individuals to respond to climate variabilityremains generally low across the three countries,particularly in rural contexts. Generally, these communitiesalso face a host of wider pressures, some of which maybe influenced by the impacts of climate change, e.g. thethreat of displacement in conflict, increasing populationpressure on land, unequal resource distribution andglobalisation (O’Brien et al., 2004).Therefore, in exploring the impacts of climate changein the three ACCRA countries, we have to also understandthe general development context in each, and the specificfactors that contribute to their vulnerability. Below webriefly describe the main development challenges facingUganda, Ethiopia and Mozambique (for further details,refer to the individual country reports)3.1 Developmental challenges in the studycountries3.1.1 UgandaUganda faces a host of developmental challenges.Although significant gains have been made in relationto economic growth and poverty reduction, particularlyduring the 1990s, significant barriers to progress remain.


The Relationship Between Climate Change and Development 15Finding adequate pastures for cattle during the dry season is difficultin Kotido District. (Photo: M. Barihaihi, 2010)As of 2006, 25% of Uganda’s population lay below thenational poverty line and the country is ranked 161 out of187 countries on the Human Development Index (UNDP,2011). Devereux et al. (2002) suggests that Uganda’scurrent poverty situation is the outcome of both economicand historical factors, describing two principal barriersto supporting sustainable development at the nationallevel. Firstly, the economic structure reflects a chronicfailure to achieve productivity increases in the contextof a growing population. Secondly, the numerous warsthat the country has experienced (and to some extentcontinues to experience) have left a legacy that furtherimpoverishes the country. High levels of poverty, internalconflict and poor access to basic services act as key driversof vulnerability. Moreover, the general lack of human andtechnical skills to exploit available income-generatingand livelihood opportunities is both a cause and symptomof Uganda’s low social and economic status (Okidi andMugambe, 2002).The environment and development are closely linked.Access to land is the basis for rural livelihoods, but thisis becoming increasingly constrained in the face ofmounting population pressures. Uganda’s populationgrowth rate of 3.4% between 1991 and 2002 is higher thanthe average for Sub-Saharan Africa, and the population isexpected to double between 2002 and 2025 (UBS, 2002).Agriculture forms the backbone of Uganda’s economy,employing around 80% of the country’s labour force, butproductivity is low. Food-crop production accounts for atleast 65% of agricultural GDP.3.1.2 EthiopiaChanging patterns and intensities of rainfall andincreasing temperatures will have consequences for allEthiopians, but especially for the more than 70 millionpoor people whose survival depends on rainfed agriculture(farming and/or pastoralism). As of 2005, 39% of Ethiopia’spopulation lay below the national poverty line (UNDP,2011). Despite considerable improvements humandevelopment is still very low; Ethiopia is ranked 174 out of187 countries on the Human Development Index (UNDP,2011).Reasons for Ethiopia’s vulnerability are manifold.Its geographical location and topography entail highvulnerability to the impacts of climate change. Thehighlands, home to almost 90% of Ethiopians, aredominated by sedentary crop farming; many lowlandareas are characterised by mobile pastoralism, withincreasing numbers of agropastoralists in areas betweenthe two (Yacob Arsano et al., 2004). Historically Ethiopiahas been prone to extreme weather variability. Rainfall ishighly erratic; most rain falls with high intensity and thereis a high degree of variability in both when and whereit falls. Since the early 1980s, the country has sufferedseven major droughts – five of which have led to severeDegradation of natural resources is widespread throughoutEthiopia and an important factor undermining livelihoods.(Photo: Haramaya University, 2010)food insecurity – in addition to dozens of local droughts(World Bank, 2010). One of the reasons for this pronouncedvulnerability is the extremely low level of waterresources management, either in the form of watershedmanagement or investment in water infrastructure (WorldBank, 2006).On an aggregate level, Ethiopia’s economy will remainhighly vulnerable to exogenous shocks, mainly becauseof its dependence on primary commodities and rainfed,small-scale and subsistence-oriented agriculture.Agriculture remains the largest source of growth, thoughmounting pressure on land puts considerable limits onproductivity growth. As a result of population growth, theaverage size of landholdings has decreased by more thanhalf since the 1960s.


16 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change3.1.3 MozambiqueSince the 1992 peace agreement brought 25 years of civilwar to an end, macroeconomic reform, donor assistanceand political stability in Mozambique have helpedachieve rapid improvements in the country’s rates ofeconomic growth and poverty reduction. Despite thisprogress, however, Mozambique remains dependent onforeign assistance for much of its annual budget. Thecountry is ranked 184 out of 187 countries on the HumanDevelopment Index and as of 2009, 55% of Mozambique’spopulation lived below the national poverty line(UNDP, 2011).Over 80% of Mozambique’s population depend onsmall-scale, rainfed agriculture (ISDR, 2009). The best soilsare located in the country’s extensive network of low-lyingfloodplains (Brouwer and Nhassengo, 2006). Mozambiqueis subject to frequent periods of drought, particularly inthe south and centre. Cyclones regularly strike coastaldistricts in the summer months (October to March),bringing heavy rains, strong winds and storm surges. In2000, widespread flooding in southern and central regionsof the country resulted in 700 deaths, 491,000 peopledisplaced and millions of dollars’ worth of damage (WorldBank, 2000). Subsequent efforts by the government anddonors to establish early-warning systems in high-riskareas, particularly the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers, havereduced flood impacts considerably. However, a widerange of socioeconomic factors, including high levels ofmalnutrition and HIV infection, coupled with rudimentarysocial services, mean that Mozambique remains highlyvulnerable to external shocks and stresses, with limitedcapacity to adapt to changes.Access to services such as safe drinking water is a challenge in many rural parts of Mozambique. (Photo:ACCRA Mozambique, 2010)


Section 4 Findings from the Fieldon Adaptive Capacity*4.1 Perceptions of climate changeIn all countries, respondents in the research sites describeddistinct perceived changes in local weather phenomena.Patterns varied, but people generally pointed to alterationsin seasonality (i.e. changes in the onset and duration ofrainfall), as well as greater variability and uncertainty inrainfall patterns and increasing temperatures. Extremeevents, such as hailstorms or extremely heavy rainfallleading to flooding, were also said to have increased inrecent years. These changes were cited as having knock-onimpacts on livelihoods through increasing animal and cropdiseases, increasing occurrence of pests or invasive weeds,decreasing crop yields and pasture, shortage of water andincreased human diseases.Most respondents felt that the stresses on theirlivelihoods had increased, and that their ability to reactand adjust had also changed, because of increasingpopulation, less arable land per household, and increasinglevels of resource degradation. People noted that weatherrelatedstresses and shocks were mostly felt indirectly,in the form of decreasing crop yields, decreasing wateravailability and decreasing rangeland productivity, andhence fewer livestock.The absence of good meteorological data means thatit is hard to know how accurately people are describingchanges in climate trends. Section 2 showed that thereis good evidence to substantiate the perception thattemperatures are now higher, but it is much harder to beclear about rainfall trends. Whilst ACCRA’s own analysisof meteorological data showed some evidence to supportcommunity perceptions (for example declining rainfallduring the short rainy season in Afar Region, Ethiopia,based on analysis of data from the Mille meteorologicalstation), none of these trends was statistically significant.Many of the impacts which some attribute to climate orweather change can also be due to other developmentpressures, such as increasing pressure on land,environmental degradation and reduced mobility forpastoralists (see Section 3). Without good data, it is rarelyeasy to interpret what can be a mix of accurate reporting,subjective feeling, idealisation of the past and uncertaintyas to the underlying causes of trends.Box 3: Climate change and childrenIn Ethiopia, children were asked how weather changeswere affecting them. Apart from reflecting the concernsof their parents, they also mentioned specific impacts ontheir own lives. In the highland areas, children have totake livestock out grazing. They complained that heavyrainfall caused flooding and they were sometimes unableto cross the swollen rivers and streams to get back home.In pastoral areas, children reported that good grazing landwas now much further away, forcing them to leave schoolto take animals in search of pasture.Children, like the ones in Ander Kello, Ethiopia, face particularchallenges regarding the weather. (Photo: E. Ludi, 2010)4.2 Local adaptationThere is a general belief that the three countries studiedin ACCRA have low adaptive capacity at national level. Thisis largely due to their general poverty and inequality, lowcapacity to invest in change, and weak state institutionsand services. It is widely believed that this makes the threecountries more vulnerable to climate change. There wasoften a tendency to assume that this translates into lowadaptive capacity at local level. This cannot be assumed;* For a more detailed presentation of the evidence on which this analysisis based, see the three ACCRA country reports, Jones et al., 2011; Ludi et al.,2011 and Arnall, 2011, for Uganda, Ethiopia and Mozambique, respectively.


18 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Changepoor farming systems may be much more flexible thanmore industrialised ones, and social organisation may bemore resilient in a less ‘developed’ setting. The researchaims of ACCRA were to understand better how localadaptation takes place and, since it is not practicallypossible to measure adaptive capacity directly (see Section1.1.2), to assess the impact of different developmentinterventions on the various dimensions of local adaptivecapacity.The first aim proved difficult. Whereas plannedadaptation is often based on written plans and proposals,local adaptation is hard to find. Most people are unawarehow they adapt to changing circumstances or how theyimprove their work skills; an external researcher can onlydiscover this by asking very specific questions, for whicha large amount of prior understanding is necessary.GConclusions about the scale of local adaptive capacitycannot be drawn, therefore, from this research. More canbe said with confidence about the ways in which peopleconsciously try and adapt, since they do this at a levelmuch more amenable to discourse.In all sites in all three countries, people had madeconscious decisions to adapt their lives. Economic changesincluded simple switches to more drought-tolerant crops,investment in irrigation, changes in herding patterns andgreater investment in non-farm income.Four important things stand out about autonomousadaptation in the research sites:1. Adaptation was rarely in response to changes inweather patterns alone, but rather to economicpressures resulting from the interaction of differentfactors, sometimes including the weather. In fact, it israrely possible to disentangle the multiple changesto which farmers are responding, and it makes littlesense to do so. For example, more farmers were lookingto irrigation as the reliability of livelihoods based onrainfed agriculture is seen to be poor. This may beexpressed as ‘climate change’ (though it is inaccurateto say that this is more than weather variability), but itcan also be seen as a reaction to smaller landholdings;less income from crops due to price changes; increasingexpenses for other livelihood needs; reduced yields dueto eroded soils; and crops withstanding dry spells lesswell due to the soil’s reduced water holding capacity.Adaptation can also simply be a reaction to a newlyaccessible technology. It is impossible to quantify the‘number of changes’ made due to each cause, but pricechanges or newly-available market opportunities (e.g.because of better accessibility or increasing urbandemand) are probably at least as important, if not moreso, than the weather in driving change. Price changes,too, have complex causal chains. For example, therehas been a significant increase in oil crop productionin northern Uganda over the last few years, followinga steep increase in the price of sesame. Generalobservation supports the view that farmers consideredprevailing market prices just as much as they consideredweather patterns when switching varieties orcrops. This does not imply that weather changes maynot be important, only that, when different factorsinteract, it makes little sense to try to separate out thecauses of farmers’ adaptation.2. There are few examples of transformative changes inlivelihood driven by climate stresses. Most adaptationwas incremental, involving changes made in orderto permit people to continue in broadly the samelivelihood (e.g. supplementary income from charcoalmaking or petty trade). In rural settings, economiclivelihoods are very much bound up with people’s socialworld, and radical change is difficult without movinglocation, particularly since there is little scope foreconomic diversification. Migration to towns is usuallyone of few options. This raises the question whethersuch adaptation is advantageous in the long run, orwhether it is locking people further and further into alivelihood which may, in the long run, be unsustainable(‘maladaptation’). This also applies to adaptationwhich is supported externally.H Safety-net programmes,for example, have had some success in preventinghouseholds from falling into destitution, but muchless success at helping households accumulate assetsand escape poverty (Gilligan et al., 2008; Devereux andGuenthe, 2009). However, if the underlying problem ofvery small landholdings is not being solved adequatelyby safety nets and accompanying programmes,people’s underlying vulnerability may remain thesame. The difficulty is that, while locking people intounsustainable livelihoods may be called maladaptation,it is hard to see what options are available forsupporting more radical transformative adaptation.Sometimes a radical change is the only option forhouseholds. For example, in Ander Kello, Afar Region inEthiopia, people’s herd sizes had declined (for a varietyof reasons, beyond the scope of this report to discuss)to the point where it was no longer worthwhilespending the time taking them grazing for longdistances. As a result, more settled patterns of livestockkeepingwere being taken up by people who had beensemi-nomadic herders. However, this was describedby respondents as adapting to ‘failure’ rather than anexample of forward-thinking adaptation. This may alsobe an example of maladaptation, since lack of mobilityis further undermining the resource base around the6 Most people trying a new recipe will not succeed perfectly the first time.Although the results usually improve with time, few can explain whatthey have done differently.7 Sometimes called ‘planned adaptation’, see Figure 1.


Findings from the Field on Adaptive Capacity 19Supplementary income from charcoal making is a common strategy in difficult times. (Photo: M. Barihaihi, 2010)newly established villages, on which the remaininglivestock depends.Whilst government officials described settlingpastoral communities as a planned adaptation strategywhich will enable them both to access basic servicesand use irrigation to pursue agriculture, ACCRA researchfindings highlighted that this risks maladaptation.Settlement could further undermine the resource base(water, grazing and agricultural land) around the newlyestablishedvillages. The social dimensions of successfuladaption may also be undermined because experienceshows that transitions from communal to individualland-use systems risk creating inequality and conflict.3. Adaptation was reactive not proactive. The researchfound no cases of farmers, communities or localleaders reporting making changes, technical or social,because of long- or even medium-term predictions,except by extrapolating past and existing trends (e.g.land pressure for grazing, price trends). This lack offorward-looking decision-making was so prevalentthat it was taken for granted. This should not be thecase. It has obvious implications for adaptive capacityand communities’ ability to prepare for (as opposed toreact to) change. The research was not able to identifywhy this was the case. Explanations may lie in anycombination of insufficient knowledge about scenariopredictions (e.g. climate change, future price trends/market conditions); lack of trust in the predictions;difficulty in analysing the local implications ofpredictions; lack of knowledge of alternatives; and lackof knowledge about how to implement alternatives.More worryingly, ACCRA has not found any reports ofprevious or existing attempts to investigate this crucialproblem in relation to any of the three countries.4. Most examples of adaptation uncovered by the fieldresearch were technical. It is impossible to know ifthis reflects the kinds of change taking place, or if it issimply because researchers found it much harder toget at adaptations in social organisation. There weresome examples from Ethiopia. Changes in rules aroundland use were found in Kase-hija, where householdswithout access to irrigable land can use others’ land forcultivating sweet potato in the dry season, and landlesspeople are being given the right to manage conservedcommunal land and benefit from grass sales. In Wokin,a growing group of landless people is starting to selforganise.They are saving money together and havebegun to use their self-organisation to claim rights,putting pressure on the local authorities for changes inthe rules on the use of communal land. Although thishas not yet met with any success, their activism as agroup is still a highly significant change.


20 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change4.3 Impact of development interventionson adaptive capacityNone of the development interventions studied haddeliberately tried to build adaptive capacity; theywere designed to improve livelihoods, to reduce risk/vulnerability or to act as safety nets. The research beganfrom the assumption that any intervention would be likelyto have unintended impacts, both positive and negative,on the various characteristics and ingredients of adaptivecapacity. It was believed that there may be differencesin the way in which different interventions (sustainablelivelihoods, DRR and social protection) affected adaptivecapacity, but in fact the evidence showed strongunderlying similarities across the three countries, allresearch sites and all the implementing agencies presentthere, regardless of the explicit ‘intervention type’.The ACCRA fieldwork studied a range of interventions,Iincluding support to irrigation infrastructure, women’ssavings groups, agricultural extension, incomediversification, grants, the provision of assets (e.g.improved seeds, credits, social infrastructure) and training.In Ethiopia, there was also a state social protection/safety net programme (the PSNP). Despite such diversity,common features can be discerned. Typically, interventionsfocused on the introduction of a specific technology orinfrastructure. In most cases this was achieved throughdirect asset provision, with accompanying trainingspecifically for that technology. The actual technologiesintroduced varied greatly, from ‘improved’ seed varietiesbroadly targeted at ‘communities’, to youth trainingprogrammes for livelihood diversification (e.g. Kotido,Uganda), which provided specific skills and start-upassets (e.g. driving lessons and motorbikes, training andequipment for barbers).Programme design often followed a ‘participatory’process with the community. This was typically basedon village (‘community’) meetings, where peopleprioritised their immediate needs. Many interventions,even those where individuals were provided with assets,were delivered through groups formed by the project.Interventions were often based on the assumption thatthey would increase income by improving or diversifyingassets, and this improved income stream would be partof a virtuous circle, thus ensuring sustainability. Manyinterventions also included organisational ‘capacitybuilding’, e.g. training of malt barley producers in collectivemarketing (Ethiopia); support to village savings andloans groups (Uganda and Mozambique); establishingearly warning committees and developing communityemergency preparedness plans (Ethiopia). Most ruralcommunities studied had not received isolated projects;they received support from both government and nongovernmentalactors, including discrete ‘projects’ andstate services (e.g. agricultural extension, safety nets). Thisresearch treats both as ‘external interventions’.The views of villagers tended to follow the logic ofthe intervention. Interventions, it was reported, hadhelped build resilience, because villagers now had moreassets. In Ethiopia, respondents reported that the assetsprovided by the interventions had made it easier for themto deal with variability in the weather by helping themcover difficult periods with new income sources (e.g.honey). More assets often contribute to better livelihoodoutcomes, and diversified livelihoods contribute toincreased resilience. Little evidence was found, though,that more assets in themselves contributed to betteradaptive capacity.There are several possible – and plausible – foundationsfor the link between increased assets and increasedadaptive capacity. Adaptation may have an investmentcost barrier, which more assets and higher income mayremove. (This is certainly true at national level, e.g.investment in new green technologies, infrastructureconstruction, mass extension and training of citizens.)However, no projects had quantified an investment barrierto adaptation and designed an intervention to resolveit. This is unsurprising, since none of the interventionsincluded improved adaptive capacity among theirobjectives.Another possible causal pathway rests on the idea thatpoorer households have less adaptive capacity becausethey have to be much more risk-averse, since their marginof failure is so small. Higher income (in cash or food) couldraise these risk horizons, opening up innovation space.Adaptive capacity would thus be improved through a linkbetween assets (and livelihood outcomes, or income) andinnovation. Although plausible, and although there issome evidence from other studies that the poor do indeedsacrifice longer-term benefit for short-term survival, thistheory would be much more useful if there were concreteevidence about the income thresholds at which riskaversion began to reduce. Again, in the absence of anyindependent technique for quantifying adaptive capacityor risk aversion, the research could not find any evidenceabout this.The better-off may also have more adaptive capacitybecause of the indirect consequences of improvedincome – e.g. more travel and exposure to ideas andinformation, better social status and a more influentialvoice in the community, and more self-confidence. Theresearch found some anecdotal evidence of this, such asthe ability to claim water rights in an irrigation system andexposure to new ideas through travel (see below). It was8 Details of all the interventions in the various sites are in the countryreports (Jones et al., 2011, Ludi et al., 2011, Arnall, 2011).


Findings from the Field on Adaptive Capacity 21Community members in Ander Kello reported declining livestock numbers per household due to drought and rangeland degredation.(Photo: Haramaya University, 2010)not possible to generalise about this effect or to quantifya threshold above which people ‘gain’ adaptive capacity inthis way.Since interventions did not consider adaptive capacityin their design, and since interventions rarely make theirprogramme theory explicit, it is hard for research to finduseful evidence to substantiate any links between assetsand adaptive capacity. In fact, closer attention to thestories emanating from the field research gave reason totreat with some caution the idea that adaptive capacityhad been built by giving people assets. A fairly typicalintervention such as the provision of seeds, tools andtechnical information for a vegetable farming groupJ restson the assumption that the group can turn the hand-outsinto a sustainable income stream, as mentioned above.But this assumption in turn rests on implicit assumptionsthat (a) the people the project wanted to help have thelabour, literacy, land etc. to engage in this activity, (b)the group is able to continue to work harmoniously infuture (that there is no elite capture, no corruption, etc.)and carry out all functions as envisaged, (c) the technicalinformation and seeds provided are the right ones for thespecific land in that specific village and appropriate to theindividual needs and constraints of each group member,and (d) that their appropriateness will remain despitechanges in factors such as prices, demand, weatherand climate, population pressure and land and waterdegradation.In some cases there was clear evidence that one or moreof these assumptions was not true. Some of the youth inBundibugyo were given goats, but simply sold them thesame day – they had no interest in the income-generatingactivity they were introduced to, only in the cash valueof the assets handed out. Farmers sometimes regardedintroduced technologies as inferior because they were notappropriate to their needs. This was the case, for example,with ‘improved’ groundnut varieties in Mozambique,which the state research and extension services, and theNGO, felt were superior to local varieties because theygave higher yields. Farmers prioritised risk avoidance overyield maximisation, and preferred their local varieties,which they felt were more drought-tolerant. Manyrespondents nonetheless reported that interventions suchas the one cited above contributed to their household9 Typical in the sense that it represents a transfer to specific individuals ofa particularly technology deemed to be beneficial through asset provision(including training), provided through a newly-formed group.


22 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Changeincome in the short term, and that this made them moreresilient to future shocks and stresses, echoing the logicof the project implementers. However, few if any of theinterventions researched by ACCRA explicitly set out tohelp households and communities respond to futurechange in development and climate pressures (adaptivecapacity).Having adaptive capacity as a deliberate objectivewould have had profound consequences for theseinterventions. For example, if it is recognised that theassets and technologies that people use will need tochange with changing circumstances, instead of givingspecific assets and technology, projects could put peoplein touch with sources of a range of technologies – andwith sources of information to help them choose the mostappropriate technology for their specific and changingcircumstances. In other words, instead of handing out(for example) new seeds, projects could support linkagesbetween farmers and seed suppliers and sources ofnew varieties – e.g. research stations, other farmingcommunities – so that they can choose their own seeds infuture. Similar arguments could be made about projectshanding out other kinds of assets, for instance aimed atlivelihoods diversification.4.4 What makes assets ‘come alive’?Assets, of course, do not exist in isolation. They can onlydeliver livelihoods through an institutional framework(DFID, 1999 is the clearest presentation of thisBA). Buildingirrigation infrastructure only delivers water to people ifthere are institutions that ensure this. This applies bothto indigenous and externally supported interventions.In Ethiopia, for example, women in an irrigation scheme,developed by the community itself, complained to ACCRAresearchers that they did not receive their fair share ofwater, because they lacked both the money to pay thenecessary bribes and the social status to claim theirrights without bribes. The institutional dimension is atthe heart of the unsustainability of interventions. First, asillustrated above, some institutions were subject to elitecapture and corruption. Second, new institutions wereestablished but they did not survive because they werenot socially rooted. One example is savings groups, wherethe rules did not conform to existing norms about groupmembership, and created different power relations tothose in existing local institutions. (It is unfortunate howoften interventions create new institutions rather thansupporting and working through existing ones that aresocially and culturally accepted). Third, some interventionswere introduced as new technical practices withoutconsidering the institutional arrangements required.Examples here would be the management of commonnatural resources, where a technically sound interventionin Ethiopia, seeking to spread the use of enclosuresfor communal hay production, died out because noinstitutions either existed or were put in place formanaging them and taking decisions about the use anddistribution of any benefits.In many cases change will create both winners andlosers, and it therefore depends on one’s perspectivewhether or not it is believed that positive change hasbeen brought about, or whether maladaption has broughtmore harm than good. Enclosures for hay in Ander Kelloare still limited, and individuals are not (yet?) claimingexclusive rights to harvest the hay; in other pastoral areasof Ethiopia, however, the spread of private enclosures hasled to increasing conflict among livestock keepers (Flintan,2011). Another example is support for increased irrigatedcrop cultivation along riverbanks in Ander Kello (Ethiopia).Vulnerability contextPolicies, institutions, processesLivelihood outcomesShocksTrendsSeasonalityLivelihood assetsSocialCapitalPhysicalCapitalHumanCapitalNaturalCapitalFinancialCapitalLevels ofgovernmentPrivate sectorLawsCulturePoliciesInstitutionsLivelihoodstrategiesMore incomeIncreasedwell-beingReducedvulnerabilityImproved foodsecurityMore sustainableuse of naturalresource baseFigure 4: Sustainable livelihoods frameworkSource: Adapted from DFID 199910 In a similar way, the LAC argues that assets alone cannot deliveradaptive capacity.


Findings from the Field on Adaptive Capacity 23In Afar Region, Ethiopia, irrigated crop farming is becoming increasingly common. (Photo: E. Ludi, 2010)There are clear benefits for those producing the crops,but others suffer, at least potentially. Cropping preventslivestock from easily accessing water from the river. Sofar, no new institutions or social organisations have beendeveloped that could manage the competing interestsof livestock keepers and crop farmers. In many countries,as farmers settle on what was previously grazing land,or livestock access routes to grazing and water, powerrests with the farmers, who are able to co-opt the lawand justice system to impose fines when livestockdamage their crops. There are much wider questionsabout whether support for pastoralism is prolongingpeople in unviable livelihoods or whether, by contrast, itis support to sedentarise pastoralists and turn them intocrop farmers that will prove to be maladaptation. Settledfarming in pastoral areas takes place on land that waspreviously used for communal grazing, so adaptation istaking place around institutional changes (land rights)that determine the assets that people can use for theirlivelihoods. A final judgement will only be possible withhindsight and, since there will always be winners andlosers, it will still be subjective, to the extent that it willbalance the gains of some against the losses for other.There are particular dangers that a policy ofsedentarisation of pastoralists risks maladaptationbecause it does not appear to be adequately based on ananalysis of the available evidence. The current famine inSomalia has severely affected settled farmers, but mobilepastoralists are much less affected.BB This suggests thatpastoralists may have better resilience and better adaptivecapacity, which is being negated by increasing restrictionson their mobile livelihood strategies.4.5 Innovation and changeExamples of innovation were found in all sites, thoughto different degrees and with greater or lesser success.Whether or not a culture supports innovation can alsobe seen as an institutional question. In practice, ACCRAresearch found that interventions rarely consideredinnovation; when it was considered, it was assumed thatforming groups to reduce risk would be sufficient tomake it happen. In some villages, innovation was clearlyconstrained by a dominant culture that frowned on doingthings differently, e.g. in some villages in Ethiopia therewas strong opposition to individuals changing sowing11 Under-five malnutrition rates among pastoralists are around half thoseof riverine famers. See www.FSNAU.org.


24 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate ChangeBox 4: Stories of innovation in EthiopiaWhy are some innovations copied and others not? Twocontrasting examples.Wokin in Ethiopia suffers from heavy soils that aredifficult to plough and are prone to water-logging, whichdamages crop growth. The response of the agriculturalextension system was to promote broad-bed makers,which create deeper furrows and a raised bed to allowbetter drainage. Uptake, however, was limited becausethey were too heavy for the locally available oxen. Onefarmer modified them by using wood to reduce theamount of metal needed, making a lighter tool. Otherfarmers are now coming to him for advice and are copyinghis innovation.One man from Ander Kello received military training inan area of Ethiopia known for its agro-forestry systems.When he returned home he established an orchardwith fruit trees, vegetables and beehives surrounded byeucalyptus trees. The income from the fruit, honey andtimber has paid for all his children to go to school and forbetter medical care for his family. However, he says that,when he started, people considered him crazy, and evennow there is little interest in copying his ideas.It is not obvious that one innovation was moresuccessful or appropriate than the other, or thatone involved greater investment. Perhaps the firstinnovation allowed people to practice their existingstrategies more successfully whilst the second involveda greater psychological change. If extension services anddevelopment projects invested more in understandinghow to ease constraints to the spread of good ideas, greatstrides may be possible in advancing adaptive capacity –and grass-roots economic development.The compound of an innovative farmer in Ander Kello, Ethiopia.(Photo: K. Wilson, 2010)dates in the face of changing weather patterns. A culturethat disapproves of individual innovation and adaptationis not challenged by the introduction of an ‘approved’innovation by external authorities; indeed, this can beseen as supporting such a culture. Opportunities arebeing missed to find out where, how and by whom localinnovation is happening and the forces that constrainpeople from innovating, and seeing how these could beaddressed and innovation supported. Those implementingprojects and the ACCRA researchers all confused theprovision of a new technology (an ‘innovation’) withsupport for innovation as part of adaptive capacity. Indeed,the dominant culture demanding conformity to top-downnorms applies as much to many NGOs and governmentdepartments as it does to rural communities.Innovation is not only constrained by institutionalissues such as culture. Other barriers include the abilityto run financial risks, lack of confidence and limitedinformation, and access to new ideas. All of these factorscould be analysed by development actors with thepeople concerned if these actors were thinking in termsof adaptive capacity. Supporting farmers’ innovationwas a subject of study some years ago (e.g. Röling andWagemakers, 1998; Levine 1996). It subsequently went outof fashion, but has returned to some extent in the contextof local adaptation (e.g. www.prolinnova.net).4.6 Knowledge and informationAdaptive capacity needs knowledge and information, toknow what to adapt to, to have more options and to beable to make informed choices. Many kinds of knowledgeand information are needed, both by famers and bythe development planners and actors who shape theireconomic world and work with them. The research foundareas for improvement in the knowledge networks andinformation flows in each of the three countries studied.Knowledge for planners. It is certainly true that plannersurgently need better information, for instance on the likelyimpacts of climate change in different areas. This shouldnot detract from the importance of the findings, and thatdecision-makers are not currently making good use ofwhat information is already available. This applies both tolarge-scale policy decisions (e.g. settlement of pastoralists,resettlement from flood-prone areas) and to the design


Findings from the Field on Adaptive Capacity 25of specific interventions. This was clearly seen in KaseHija, where farmers had noted that seasonal changewas making traditional (late maturing) sorghum moredifficult to grow, and wanted short-maturing maize. AnNGO distributed maize seeds, but the varieties were longmaturingand less tolerant to water stress than traditionalcrops. Information about growing conditions was easilyavailable and could have informed a decision about themost suitable range of varieties to introduce into the area– but it was not used.Knowledge for farmers. At first sight, a great deal ofinformation was being passed on to farmers in theresearch sites, from agricultural extension and animalhealth information, project packages of technologies,weather forecasts, price information, food security andearly warning information, and a whole host of otherrecommendations and guidance from the government,the media and non-government sources (althoughinformation about climate change was very limited).However, if an adaptive capacity lens is used to analyse theprovision of information and knowledge, a very differentpicture emerges. Adaptive capacity rests on people’sability to make informed choices. Information for adaptivecapacity is thus tested against criteria that measure theextent to which it supports agency and allows people tomake their own, better (i.e. more informed) choices. Onsuch criteria, the provision of information in all researchsites was generally poor.Information:• was prescriptive;• precluded choices;• was unreliable;• was limited to a narrow range of issues;• excluded uncertainty;• was not forward looking, and• lacked medium- and long-term analysis.In addition, there was very weak investment in givingpeople the analytical tools to use information.Prescriptive, precluded choices and unreliable Governments’and projects’ treatment of information was largelyconfined to providing technical packages. There aresimilar assumptions underlying this approach to thoseunderpinning the provision of set technical packagesBringing together farmers and researchers to discuss solutions would allow people to make informed choice.(Photo: M. Barihaihi, 2010)


26 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Changearound assets. A similar assumption exists that technicalinformation is both ‘correct’ and appropriate. Foragricultural technologies, this is defined by whether or notthey maximise yield for a standard set of circumstances.However, it is almost inevitable that the information willoften not be appropriate to many people, and that thesources of information will then tend to be consideredunreliable, for two reasons: the situation of people ishighly diverse, and there is a significant misunderstandingamong information providers of the objectives of thosewhom they are advising. This is seen most clearly in thecase of new agricultural technologies. These are almostalways judged by how well they maximise yields per unitarea. However, no farmers seek to maximise yield perunit area. Farmers aim to maximise their net cash andfood income (not yield), per unit of whichever factor isin most limited supply. This unit is usually time, not land– and often time in a particular month of the growingseason. Much of the failure of ‘development’ efforts canbe explained by the lack of fit between farmers who aretrying in dynamic ways to adapt and ‘squeeze’ a livelihoodout of their limited assets (including time), and statesand NGOs, which seek to instruct them with ‘correct’information that is defined by quite different criteria,which are static and standardised.Weather forecast information, seasonal and shortterm,is provided by state meteorological services, butis rarely used or considered reliable by villagers. Longrangeweather forecasts are inherently uncertain, butwhen this uncertainty is not well presented, farmers canquickly become disillusioned with ‘wrong’ predictions. Amajor problem with short-term forecasts is that they aregeneralised for large geographical areas and so do notprove accurate or useful at local level – where it is needed.Specific short-term warnings for cyclones or for floodsfrom the River Zambezi in Mozambique are an exceptionand are widely acted upon.Information is often not being used to help farmersmake choices (i.e. build their ‘agency’), but to dictateset choices for them. If information and knowledgewere being used to support adaptive capacity, far moreemphasis would be given to providing people with amuch wider range of information, appropriate to a muchwider range of circumstances, to help them to makemore informed choices. Indeed, attention would be givennot just to providing information but also to improvinginformation flows, supporting people’s ability to find andaccess information from a variety of sources.Narrow range of issues; excluded uncertainty; not forwardlooking Information is needed to deal with the processof change as well as to inform decisions about adaptingto future circumstances. This requires information on awide range of topics, whereas farmers were only beinggiven very narrow, technical information. Farmers hadinadequate information about likely future conditions(climate, prices, economics, demographics, markets) andtheir likely impact on livelihoods, and changing risksand opportunities. It is unreasonable to expect any kindof official agency to supply all this information fromall the perspectives needed, so a range of independentinformation providers (i.e. both information producers/analysts and sources of dissemination/media) is almostcertainly required. Forward-looking information waslacking for both shorter- and longer-term futures. Therewas also inadequate recognition of the fact that allpredictions are inherently uncertain. On one level thiscreates a lack of trust in predictions, as discussed above.In one case ACCRA gave long-term climate projections toDistrict officials in Uganda, to see how it would influenceDistrict planning. Meteorological officials reviewed theseand found that the original information had been poorlyinterpreted and had led to potentially harmful planningbecause of a serious misunderstanding of uncertaintyin the predictions. The District Officials had not beenequipped with the knowledge and skills needed tointerpret and use climate information.Adaptive capacity forces us to see information not asa set of facts, but as an input into decision-making andchoice. This puts less emphasis on simply making factsavailable, and instead pays attention to how informationis turned into knowledge, i.e. how people’s ability to usethe information for decision-making is supported. This isparticularly difficult when predictions are uncertain.4.6.1 Turning information into knowledgeTurning information (facts) into knowledge (people’s levelof understanding) requires that people have the toolsto use the information: to analyse it, to use it to answertheir own questions and to have the ability then to actupon it. ACCRA research found little investment in turninginformation into knowledge, either for communities orfor local authorities. It was not possible to research thereasons for this exhaustively, but some threads wereapparent; these are offered here as a basis for furtheranalysis rather than as a definitive diagnosis of theproblem in all of the research sites.• People who have the information do not themselvesalways realise its implications for different ruralpopulation groups.• A huge investment of human resources is needed toanalyse adequately the implications of any individual


Findings from the Field on Adaptive Capacity 27predicted change, e.g. of rainfall or temperature. Thisneeds doing area by area. It is a task that has never beendone, because it is simply too big and the necessarypersonnel with the capacity to do it are in short supply.• Turning information into knowledge is necessary, butthere is no system to do this. Each individual personor agency has only a responsibility to inform, not togive people analytical tools. Information providersare evaluated on the extent to which they provideinformation, not the extent to which they catalysechange.• Disseminating analytical ability is labour-intensive,needs long-term horizons, and is very expensive. It ismuch simpler and cheaper to disseminate knowledgeon radio, and this will therefore be preferred wherethis still counts towards the promised outputs andmeasurable deliverables.• In some cases, it seems that knowledge is seen aspower, in that people want to control the distribution ofinformation. A monopoly on information brings power,because, as discussed above, information is so oftenprescriptive and directive – a way of guiding people’schoices, not of liberating them to choose.• Attitudes among educated ‘elites’ are commonly highlypatronising of rural people. Farmers are not creditedwith the intelligence to make rational choices, and sosupporting their ‘agency’ is seen as leading them tomake ‘wrong’ choices. For example, one governmentofficial at the ACCRA regional workshop insisted that, ifthe state gave farmers both long-term predictions andseasonal forecasts, this would only confuse them. Heargued that only Central and local government officialsshould be given the longer-term scenarios, and theywould pass on specific recommendations to farmersfor each season. Clearly, this common attitude is theantithesis of support for adaptive capacity.4.7 Forward-looking decision-making?ACCRA research found risks from two sources ofmaladaptation, i.e. decision-making that leads to longtermincreases in vulnerability. The misinterpretationof climate information and specifically of the degreeof uncertainty leading to the potential for ill-informedplanning has already been discussed. However, a moreimportant reason is that most interventions are madewithout any consideration of evidence about longertermclimatic changes or any forward-looking economicanalysis.The response of the government of Mozambique torepeated floods in the Zambezi River valley has been torelocate famers to higher ground. Research showed thatfarmers close to the river, who are able to farm vegetablesin the dry season and to fish, are much more resilientto a range of economic shocks and stresses than thosewho live on slightly higher ground (FEWS, 2008). Thelivelihoods of those in the river valley were even resilientto floods, and although they sometimes received food aidfollowing floods, the evidence showed that they couldcope quite well without it. It is, of course, hardly surprisingthat people’s livelihoods had been adapted to dealingwith a regular hazard, with which farmers had made aconscious and rational choice to live. There was a need tounderstand the details of livelihoods in the river valley andon higher ground, including consideration of a wide rangeof factors – e.g. weather, soils, economic opportunities,risk and risk management, etc. – before imposing choicessuch as relocation on populations. This was not done.Unsurprisingly, many of those resettled were lookingto return.BCAn example of the need for forward-looking analysisrelates to the rapid creation of irrigation schemes forcrop farming in semi-arid areas. It is impossible to knowwhether these interventions represent adaptationto the impacts of climate change or maladaptation,without much more information about the future scaleof irrigation and about the long-term availability ofwater, the feasibility of irrigation from an economic andinstitutional perspective, and the wider environmental,social and economic impacts. The ACCRA research didnot find that this information was being sought, or thesewider questions discussed.This latter example highlights the need not only tohave and use information, but for decision-making to beforward-looking. Given that we know that the future isuncertain, both in terms of future climates and development,rigid centralised planning runs high risks of eitherfailing to respond to changing circumstances, or evenleading to maladaptation. ACCRA research suggests thatthere were two problems with decision-making andplanning. First, planning is not incorporating availableclimate knowledge or considering other developmentssuch as world food prices and demographic changes, butis primarily reactive and focused on addressing immediateneeds. In part, this stems from current modalities of‘participation’ (asking ‘communities’ what they want),and from short-term funding modalities and from aprojectised approach to development working from plans,but in the absence of coherent long-term strategies.Second, there is still a reliance on top-down planningwhich does not support local flexible decision-makingand agency.The ACCRA field research and analysis was intended asa first field test of the LAC framework. Conclusions can12 Resettlement policies are rarely without controversy over land rights.


28 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate ChangeDiscussing implications of evidence is a key component of forward-looking decision-making and key to avoid maladaptation.(Photo: M. Barihaihi, 2010)be drawn in two areas. First, as a way of guiding research,the LAC framework presented some difficulties. These arediscussed in Section 5. The evidence which was gatheredsuggested that the analytical framework was capableof providing new insights into understanding adaptivecapacity. The earlier presentations of the framework(Jones et al., 2010a, 2010b), though, did not, perhaps,sufficiently emphasise the interactions between thefive characteristics of adaptive capacity. Second, theevidence presented above suggests the need to see thesefive characteristics as being different perspectives of thesame reality, rather than as five independent qualitiesthat can be added, with adaptive capacity as the sumof them all. The way in which ‘agency’ emerges at theintersection of the five characteristics is discussed furtherin Section 6.


Section 5 Lessons for Research fromUsing the LAC FrameworkThere were considerable difficulties in finding goodevidence about the contribution that developmentinterventions had made to local adaptive capacity. Thesedifficulties are in fact an important echo of the centralfinding of the research programme: adaptive capacityis being missed by development actors because they donot ‘see it’. The research process showed that ‘seeing’ thecharacteristics of adaptive capacity involves changingthe way in which many have become accustomed tothinking about development. This was as true for thoseinvolved in the research, as for programme designers andimplementers.The lesson is important. The LAC framework wasspecifically designed to take a closer look at aspects ofdevelopment interventions (and of adaptive capacity)that are often missed: the dynamic aspects of institutions,innovation and decision-making processes. The conceptualframework was turned into a research framework thatwas supposed to guide the research into examiningthese areas. However, initial field reports clearly showedthat these were the very areas that were being underresearched,both in evidence gathering and in initialanalysis. Typical site reports after the first phase of fieldwork were following the same biases inherent in theprogrammes which they were examining, e.g. identifyinginstitutions as ‘organisations’ or formal authorities (localadministrative structures, CBOs).The difficulties in researching abstract and unfamiliarconcepts were magnified because the research oftenpassed through two stages of translation (from English tothe national language in which the national researchersworked, e.g. Amharic or Portuguese, and then into locallanguages). Certain biases and preconceptions couldeasily give translations of sophisticated terminologythat lost the most important ingredient of its meaning.‘Institutions’, for example, was translated as ‘organisations’because of a failure to fully appreciate the difference.Similarly, climate and weather became confused, ‘issues’was translated as ‘problems’ (reflecting a standard NGObias in community meetings) and ‘adaptive capacity’became ‘resilience’.One of he most crucial deviations in terminology,whether because of translation or because ofpreconceptions and bias, was equating new technologiesintroduced by external agencies (‘innovations’ in theplural) with ‘innovation’, the abstract quality that is at thecentre of adaptive capacity. Innovation as a key componentof adaptive capacity is about how people find, create,share and adapt new ideas and new ways of doing things.This could involve changes in technology (e.g. new plantvarieties), new forms of social organisation and new waysof engaging with markets. Discussions at the ACCRAregional conference gave several examples of grass-rootsinnovation, and participants also suggested reasons whythese were frequently overlooked by outsiders. Muchof the explanation lies in preconceptions about what‘local people’ (where ‘local’ means rural, less well-off,less well-educated) are capable of. One participant, instressing the importance of local innovation, explainedthat small-scale farmers do not have the resources todevelop their innovations, and so they remain crude. Itis up to ‘us’ to take these innovations and develop themso that they can be useful. This comment makes clear acommon attitude to what count as innovations, what‘sophistication’ implies, what counts as useful – andabove all, the conflation of giving people new technologywith supporting their ability to create, test, develop andadapt ideas for themselves. Many of the same attitudesare behind difficulties in researching the other ‘softer’aspects of the characteristics of adaptive capacity in theLAC framework. All depend on suspending preconceptionsof the complexity and sophistication of ‘their’ lives ascompared to ‘ours’, and appreciating the centrality of theagency of individuals within any community or society.It would be wrong, we believe, simply to conclude thatthe LAC framework is ‘too complicated’; it is a simpleframework that necessitates dealing with concepts whichare difficult to research. Since the research has given aninsight into adaptive capacity, the concepts have to beretained, even if they are less familiar for researchers andpractitioners alike.The importance of taking on board the difficultiesof researching these areas cannot be over-estimated.One common approach to programme design is to use‘participatory techniques’. These are underpinned byan unstated assumption that, if field workers who are


30 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate ChangeResearcher discussing with an elderly farmer in Kotido, Uganda.(Photo: M. Barihaihi, 2010)untrained in sociology, anthropology, ethnography orsome similar field of study are given a simple frameworkand the ‘right’ questions (often through a use of setPRA exercises), then the development actor can gain anunderstanding of the relevant features of the lives of thepeople it wants to help. This assumption has long beencritiqued.BD ACCRA research found very strong evidencethat far more guidance and support is needed even forexperienced researchers in order for them to understandsome of the most important dimensions of sustainability.Simply giving over a checklist cannot be sufficient. Muchgreater investment is needed into establishing a sharedanalysis. This investment must be both between theresearch organisers/development planners and the fieldresearchers, and between the research team and thecommunities being researched. The resource implications,both financially and time-wise, cannot be avoided orreduced. We have argued that the key to the impact andsustainability of all interventions lies in understandingthe institutional set-up and power relations involved; thiscan only be done by supporting and developing agency,innovation and forward-looking decision-making. If thisis true, then it is clearly wrong to make any attempt todesign an intervention that is not based on understandinghow decision-making currently takes place, and whatthe constraints are to local innovation. Achieving thisunderstanding is a significant, and under-appreciated,challenge.13 See for example Richards (1995) and Stadler (1995).


Section 6 Conclusions6.1 The importance of supporting people’sown agencyPeople’s agency is their ability to develop and successfullyexecute their own plans. The development interventionsstudied by ACCRA in the three countries had helped tostrengthen assets and, in some situations, institutions,but they had not incorporated a broader view of theneed to support the adaptive capacity of local people andcommunities. Development partners had not taken intoconsideration how to support people’s own agency andtheir ability to make informed choices and to design andimplement their own ‘projects’. Agency, empowermentor some similar term is sometimes mentioned indevelopment interventions, but in practice it was foundthat interventions rarely led to greater agency. In certaininstances, interventions have even reinforced a lack ofagency by maintaining dependence on outside assistanceor by reinforcing subservience to authority and ‘experts’,rather than supporting people’s independent access to theassets, skills and knowledge that they need to shape theirown future.Without agency there is no adaptive capacity, andwithout adaptive capacity there is no sustainability orongoing development. Development means helpingpeople cope with a future of change – and uncertainchange at that. This cannot be achieved by centralplanning alone, partly because no-one knows the exactway in which climate will change locally, and because inany case all the impacts of climate change on people’slives are influenced and felt through a host of otherchanges. In such a world, project interventions whichfocus on delivering specific interventions to create fixedoutcomes are of limited value. Sustainable developmentcan only be achieved by giving people the ability toadapt to future change, weather-related or otherwise,autonomously. This does not contradict the need forforward-looking decision-making – but it does suggestthat forward looking must include flexibility and choices.6.2 Interconnectedness of the fivedimensions of adaptive capacityLivelihood strategies and their outcomes do notdepend only on the assets people have, but also onthe institutional environment which governs people’sentitlements to assets, and how people may or may notput these assets to use. The institutional environmentinfluences decision-making at all levels, includingwhether and how people innovate and how they accessinformation and translate it into knowledge. Manyinterventions are based on the idea that some form ofcollective action, achieved through group formation, willbring development advantages for the group members.There are underlying institutional dimensions to howpeople act collectively, to solve current problems and toplan for the future. It is thus not simply that adaptivecapacity is shaped by the five characteristics of theLAC framework – assets, institutions and entitlements,information and knowledge, innovation, and forwardlookinggovernance and decision-making. Each of thecharacteristics is defined and shaped by each of theothers. Programming and planning therefore need to takeaccount of all the characteristics and their interactions,rather than seeking to address one in isolation (usuallyassets).During the ACCRA research, agencies often arguedthat they cannot be expected to ‘deal with everything’in what are sometimes relatively small and time-boundprojects. They prefer to make a discrete contribution,and if adaptive capacity is to be put on their agenda, thiswould be achieved by addressing one or other of its fivecharacteristics. This, though, reflects the kind of linearthinking (where inputs lead to certain outputs bringingpredetermined outcomes) that the adaptive capacitylens seeks to challenge. It is to profoundly misunderstandadaptive capacity and its characteristics. It is also tomisunderstand the solution. Adaptive capacity shouldnot be supported by more activities added on to theexisting ways of working, but by doing things differently.All the characteristics of adaptive capacity will always berelevant to every project, however small. It is necessary tounderstand them all, and to find ways of implementing


32 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Changeany project in ways that take account of them all. Agenciesdo not have any choice about which characteristics ofadaptive capacity are important; the only choice they haveis whether or not to be aware to them.6.3 Rethinking participationTaking on board agency will require major paradigmshifts in how local people are perceived and treated.Development actors will have to learn to trust people innew ways, to see their role as supporting people’s own life‘projects’ and to stop trying to determine how they shoulduse the assets, information and opportunities they have.Although talk about the need for ‘bottom-up’ rather than‘top-down’ decision-making is hardly new in any way, theevidence is clear: it has yet to be taken seriously, despitethe ubiquitous rhetoric of ‘participation’.One reason is that a paradigm shift is needed in theway in which participation itself is seen. Modalities ofparticipation have become the vehicle through whichsupport to agency and adaptive capacity has becomeblocked. The research found that interventions wererarely forward-looking, yet the excuse for this is thatcommunities prioritise current needs over solving possiblefuture problems. Is it possible to be both participatory andto address uncertain future stresses and shocks?Currently, participation in programme design typicallyinvolves one (rarely two) community meetings in a fewvillages to hear the ‘community’s priorities’. A numberof implicit assumptions are being made about socialorganisation. Although it is widely recognised that thereare power imbalances within villages, it is still assumedthat these can be taken care of quite simply within a day,for example by having a separate discussion group forwomen. It is assumed that people will talk about theirreal concerns, rather than ask for one or more items fromthe very restricted list of interventions which they knowthat government offices and NGOs can offer. It is assumedthat people can easily identify and articulate theirpriorities and challenges in a first meeting with strangers.It is assumed that meaningful social research can beconducted by taking intelligent and reasonably welleducatedstaff and giving them a set of exercises to follow.Understanding the different constraints facing differentpeople in a village requires much deeper understanding,and this can only take place over a much longerLocal women, researchers and government staff are involved in a participatory hazard ranking exercise in Kase-hija, Ethiopia.(Photo: K. Wilson, 2010)


Conclusions 33timeframe. It is necessary to understand the differentpower structures in the village and beyond, and whatroom for manoeuvre they leave different villagers. (Changewill always lead to winners and losers. Interventions toempower marginalised and powerless groups will oftenchallenge local power relations; status quos do not existby chance, but are the product of power relations.) Itis necessary to understand the role and functioning oflocal institutions, which local people themselves may notfind easy to articulate. It is necessary too to understandhow external actors are perceived, and the ways in whichexternal interventions are contested and used. This hasimplications for the skill set and for the resources required.The benefits that ‘participation’ has so far brought todevelopment efforts have been hugely disappointing. Thisresearch concludes clearly that this is because of the kindof participation being practised. There are huge potentialbenefits in an approach to participation that is based ona fundamental rethink of the relationship between the‘community’ and the external development actor.6.4 The need to reform ‘the system’It is clear from the above that this is not within the controlof any individual organisation or government office. Justas the constraints facing villagers often lie outside thevillage, so too planners and development actors are oftenconstrained by institutional factors in governmentalplanning systems and in the international aid system.Development resources are scarce, and it is hard forthem to commit to paying highly skilled staff withoutthe promise of a certain level of ‘deliverables’ within agiven time period. How government spending and aidmoney are rationed and managed to maximise impactcontributes to overly-rapid needs assessments rather thanresearch, and overly-short time frames for interventionsand pre-set development plans or projects with fixedoutcomes, rather than the flexible provision of skills andassets which people can use to produce the outcomes thatthey themselves choose.Fundamental paradigm shifts are needed in howorganisations work with each other – local governmentwith central government and financing departments,NGOs and UN agencies with donors, etc. Although theproblem is well known, no way has been found to solveit that can be replicated on any scale. This researchsuggests that, unless efforts are made to fundamentallyrethink development planning, there is little chance ofever achieving sustainability with the money spent, orever creating societies that will be capable of adaptingto climate change. Such changes may make it harder tomanage accountability for outputs, but without it, impactwill remain elusive. The system, though, has consistentlyfavoured accountability on financial procedures and ondelivering outputs, not on impact.6.5 Strengthening adaptive capacity at localand national levelMuch of the vulnerability at local level is caused by distantstructures and processes. Without addressing the stressorsthat emanate from higher levels, efforts to enhance theadaptive capacity of households and communities mayfail. The ACCRA research was limited to realities at locallevel (roughly, from village to District). Though little canthus be said about challenges at the wider level, it wouldnonetheless be wrong not to signal their importance.6.6 Integrating climate change intodevelopment policyEvidence from the field research has shown that:a) the impacts of climate change cannot be separatedfrom other development pressures;b) people do not adapt separately to pressures fromclimate change; if they adapt, it is to the pressure theyface, whatever its mixture of causes; andc) adaptive capacity is an ability to deal with change,whether from climate or other development pressures.The elements that give people adaptive capacity are thesame, whatever the cause of the change to which theyhave to respond to.BEThis provides support from grass-roots realities for theargument expressed in Klein et al., 2007, that in thecontext of climate change, climate risks must beaddressed not as a separate initiative but as part andparcel of ongoing development policy across all sectors.It was put more bluntly by Prof. N. Stern (Stern, 2009):“Adaptation is essentially development in a more hostileclimate. It is pointless, and indeed even diversionary ordisruptive, to attempt a rigid and comprehensive separationof elements of investments in physical or human capitalwhich are marked for ‘development’ or ‘adaptation’.”The challenge, though, is how to organise ourselves to dothis.It is an accepted principle that developed countries,which are largely responsible for greenhouse gasemissions leading to climate change, should help financeadditional costs that are being faced by developingcountries in order to deal with the impacts of this climatechange. The Cancun AgreementBF re-stated the financial14 Of course, the relative importance of the different elements of adaptivecapacity, as described in the LAC framework, will vary according to thechallenge: longer term pressures may need more emphasis on differentcomponents of adaptive capacity from a response to short-term shocks.15 The agreement made in December 2010 at the 16th session of theConference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention onClimate Change (UNFCCC).


34 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Changepledge first made in the 2009 Copenhagen Accord thatdeveloped countries would work to a goal of jointlymobilising US$100 billion per year by 2020 of new andadditional finance to address the needs of developingcountries to deal with climate change (Brown et al., 2010).It is vital that the principle that this is additionalmoney is maintained, and that this pledge is not usedto address shortfalls in other development finance. It isalso essential to maintain the principle that these fundsare for addressing problems posed by climate change,and are not used to continue with business-as-usualin development assistance. However, in other contextsit has been seen that separate funding channels canresult in parallel sets of interventions. If there were to beparallel sets of activities at the local level for supportingadaptation on the one hand, and ‘doing development’on the other, it could risk failure in both objectives – intackling poverty and in making people in developingcountries less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.The challenge, therefore, to be faced is this: how to ensureclear accountability in commitments to funding climatechange adaptation, and at the same time ensure thatsupport for adaptive capacity to change (including toclimate change) is properly integrated into developmentassistance planning and practice. It was, though, beyondthe scope of ACCRA to research or to recommend away forward.Diversifying livelihoods is supported as an adaptive strategy – potato marketing in Caia District, Mozambique.(Photo: ACCRA Mozambique, 2010)


Section 7 Summary Conclusionsand RecommendationsSummary conclusions1. All development interventions need an agency lens,i.e. they need to be thought of not simply as deliveringa given infrastructure or technology, but as vehiclesfor expanding people’s range of choices. For anyintervention to offer sustainable benefits, considerationis needed at all stages, from preliminary researchto final evaluation, to the question of how differentpeople will use the intervention under a range ofpossible climate futures. This is impossible withoutdue attention to features which are largely neglectedin development planning and interventions, namelypower and institutions.2. The five characteristics of adaptive capacity arenot stand-alones, from which one or more can beselected for attention, they shape and depend oneach other. Taking adaptive capacity on board doesnot mean adding five sets of each intervention forthe five characteristics. It means understanding thesedimensions of people’s and communities’ lives, anddesigning and implementing interventions in waysthat enhance the way in which assets, institutions,innovation, knowledge flows and decision-makingcontribute to increased agency, and more informeddecision-making for the long term.3. Working to support agency requires participatoryways of thinking and acting. However, much of what iscalled ‘participation’ has failed to deliver the intendedtransformation in relations between developmentagents and the people they wish to work with. Thereare practical reasons for this, relating both to deeplyentrenched attitudes and also to resources, includingfunds, time and skills. Getting participation right willrequire a major investment by many kinds of actorworking together. The alternative, of ‘business asusual’, will ensure that investment in developmentcontinues to have the disappointing results that havebeen seen over the past decades, both for sustainabledevelopment in general, and for adaptive capacity forthe new and pressing challenges of climate change.4. Change at system level is required because thenecessary changes to the practice of developmentwhich ACCRA has identified are not actionable byany single organisation or individual acting alone.The adaptation required by development actors istransformational, not incremental. Platforms will needto be strengthened and, where necessary, created atlocal, national and international level for negotiatingthese fundamental changes and paradigm shifts.Although the challenge is enormous, the increasing useof the language of ‘impact’ provides an opportunity toplace at the centre of debate the necessary conditionsfor sustainable impact.Although system-wide change is needed, there aresome minimum steps that individual governmentdepartments or agencies can take at the level ofinterventions.Recommendations1. No development without adaptive capacityAgencies (Governments and development partners)do not need to think of designing separate projectsfor building adaptive capacity. They should ratherincorporate into the design of all developmentprogrammes a consideration of how people will beable to adapt in the future. Future uncertainty includesboth climate and other changes, which should notbe separated. Incorporating adaptive capacity meansmaking it an integral part of all assessments, planningprocesses, feasibility studies, agreements with donors,implementation, monitoring, reporting and evaluations.2. Flexibility and scenario planningAll interventions should be designed and implementedfor the future, and not just the present. This makesscenario planning an essential part of all developmentplanning and intervention design. Such scenarioplanning must cover more than one possible scenarioand include all the important major changes whichare likely – and their interactions. Intervention designand development planning must be for an uncertainfuture. This means building flexibility into programmedesign and management; and also, building supportfor flexibility (i.e. adaptive capacity) into planning


36 Rethinking Support for Adaptive Capacity to Climate Changeobjectives. This is currently beyond the capacity of most,if not all, development actors. The recommendation isthus: a) to start immediately making what progress ispossible, and b) to invest more in the analytical capacityof those responsible for planning, intervention designand approval, and management.3. Using autonomous innovation as an entry point for anadaptive capacity perspectivePeople’s own ability and practice of experimentationand innovation is one of the key manifestations of theiragency. Planning and intervention design should usesuch autonomous innovation as an entry point. Thisinvolves a) understanding how people are currentlyexperimenting and innovating and b) understandingthe constraints to innovation and the uptake of newideas. This inevitably includes having an understandingof institutional factors, power relations and other socioculturalfactors. It must look at both local constraints toaccessing information and knowledge, and constraintsthat exist outside the local context. Intervention designshould then support people to challenge and overcomethe constraints, both local and external.4. Turning information into knowledgeInformation provision should not stop with givingpeople facts. Information only becomes knowledgewhen people can understand and use it. All informationproviders should redefine their role as one of‘knowledge providers’, whose objectives are ‘moreinformed decision-making’. Both they and othersshould support people to acquire the required skillsand tools to analyse and use the information provided,and, furthermore, to give them the ability to accessindependently further information from a variety ofsources. The control of information access is not alwaysin the hands of rural people themselves. Frequently, itwill also be necessary to work with those generatingand holding information to ensure that they are betterconnected to people.ACCRA’s analysis is that fundamental paradigm changesare needed in how development takes place. Theseparadigm shifts are needed within all development actors,and, most crucially, in how they work together. The fourrecommendations above can be acted upon by individualactors or even by individual projects and can be successfulwithin the constraints of their operating environment.The analysis in this paper, though, clearly leads to theconclusion that meaningful progress towards buildingadaptive capacity can only occur if these individualrecommendations are not treated simply as a checklist foraction, but lead to a transformative change in the way inwhich development and climate change adaptation areconceived, designed and delivered.


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