Climate change is more than a threat, it’s a reality for millions of the people we work with. We recognise that climate change is a huge challenge in the fight against poverty. The impacts of climate change are already destroying livelihoods and increasing financial, political, social and environmental inequities. CARE's response to climate change is rapidly expanding to reflect the severity of the challenge. We focus on helping poor and marginalised communities adapt to their already changing climates. We use innovative approaches to help vulnerable people prepare for disaster and make their livelihoods more resilient.
Climate change is more than a threat, it’s a reality for millions of the people we work with. We recognise that climate change is a huge challenge in the fight against poverty.
The impacts of climate change are already destroying livelihoods and increasing financial, political, social and environmental inequities.
CARE's response to climate change is rapidly expanding to reflect the severity of the challenge.
We focus on helping poor and marginalised communities adapt to their already changing climates.
We use innovative approaches to help vulnerable people prepare for disaster and make their livelihoods more resilient.
Policy-makers are often tasked with making difficult decisions in the face of an uncertain future outlook. Will infrastructural investments still be relevant in 25 years? What new markets are likely to emerge in the medium term? How will a gradual increase in average temperatures over the coming decades affect livelihood security? Though largely context specific, these are but three examples of the types of forward-looking questions that should be asked of many longer-term policies or plans.
Despite this need, the development and humanitarian sectors continue to face criticisms over their relative rigidity and short-termism with regards to project funding and delivery. Recent emphasis on promoting a ‘resilience approach’ to programming has resulted in calls for more longer-term objectives and deliverables, greater flexibility in planning processes, as well as better collaboration and coordination amongst key development actors. Though easy to describe in abstract terms, knowing how to put these principles into practice is a considerable change. More importantly, few tools are available to help translate the conceptual arguments into tangible changes and recommendations for day-to-day programme activities.
Those that do exist have so far failed to inspire the scale of change and interest needed to instigate appropriate change. This is where this paper hopes to add some value.
Almost daily reminders by the scientific community of the impending dangers posed by climate change have yet to penetrate the consciousness of our political leaders. Despite the fact that climate impacts are now unfolding much faster than previously modelled, governments are failing to act with sufficient mitigation ambition.
The current and future scale of climate change implies serious loss and damage, especially to the lives and livelihoods of those who are poor, most vulnerable and least to blame. Thus we urgently need a means to respond.
Joto Afrika is a series of printed briefings and online resources about adapting to climate change in sub-Saharan Africa. The series help people understand the issues, constraints and opportunities that poor people face in adapting to climate change and escaping poverty.
This Joto Afrika edition (December 2012) highlights a number of Community Based Adaptation (CBA) models and their outcomes at community level as experienced by CARE International's Adaptation Learning Programme with lessons for effective CBA.
Including Participatory scenario planning, Farmer field schools, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR),
Early Warning Systems (EWS) and Community based adaptation plans.
For many years in Kenya, CARE has been championing the empowerment of vulnerable communities, supporting them to take their destiny into their own hands and maintain their dignity. In 2011, the CARE Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) discovered that climate information was not being used effectively in planning for agro-pastoral activities and that this was contributing to higher drought and climate related losses. Community members expressed a real need for simple and relevant climate information for their use.
ALP in Kenya is using Participatory Scenario Planning (PSP) workshops as an innovative and inclusive way of communicating climate information to communities and government departments. One and a half day workshops are carried out twice a year just after the national seasonal forecast has been released by the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD).
Workshop participants include the meteorological department, community members, local government departments and local NGOs who share their knowledge about past and future climate forecasts.
A joint report with Action Aid, World Wildlife Fund and Germanwatch
Climate change will inflict devastating damage to land, property, ecosystems and human life. Yet loss and damage from climate impacts gets far less attention than it deserves from climate negotiators and politicians.
The concept of loss and damage is increasingly important because we have not mitigated or adapted to climate change in time: whatever we do now, there will still be losses and irreversible impacts. Current emission reduction commitments are out of step with the scientific urgency of tackling climate change. We are likely to overshoot the critical 2°C threshold, putting the planet on a 4 to 6°C pathway of global warming.
The World Bank estimates that even in a 2°C world, adaptation costs for developing countries will amount to a minimum of US$70 billion by 2020 and to up to 100 billion a year by 2050. These figures do not cover the costs of hard-to-measure issues such as ecosystem degradation, misery, loss of life or capacity building, and the actual costs could easily double.
Piku Laar is a 35-year-old farmer and petty trader from Farfar community in Garu-Tempane District in the Upper East Region of Ghana. His livelihood is being affected by erratic rainfall brought on by climate change. To help him increase his crop yields, he needs to be able to better predict when and how much rain is likely to fall so that he can plant his crops appropriately. Forecasts and past rainfall data if available at all, are general for northern Ghana and difficult for farmers to understand and use. Using rain gauges can enable him and others to keep a record of actual rainfall season by season which will reflect changing rainfall patterns over time.
Our one planet is in a precarious state. We have been at this state before – but today the picture is much more bleak. Our planet’s trajectory towards sustainability is even further off track than 20 years ago, when the first UN Conference on Sustainable Development took place in Rio de Janeiro. We knew the challenges and the solutions then, and we know them today. So what is holding us back? It is not science or resources that are lacking. It is a profound failure in our political and economic systems to stop social injustice, stamp out poverty and address environmental degradation. It is a lack of political will and ambition to improve the lives of millions of poor women and men and children.
The Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP), implemented in Africa by CARE International, is supporting communities and local governments to use seasonal climate forecasts and information on climatic uncertainty for decision making, as part of the community-based adaptation (CBA) approach. Participatory Scenario Planning (PSP), as used by ALP, is a mechanism for collective sharing and interpretation of climate forecasts. PSP is conducted as soon as a seasonal climate forecast is available from meteorological services, meaning it occurs as many times in the year as there are rainy seasons in that particular area. In a workshop setting over one to two days, PSP brings together meteorologists, community members, local government departments and local NGOs to share their knowledge on climate forecasts. The workshop creates space for sharing climate information from both local and scientific knowledge, discussing and appreciating the value of the two sources and finding ways to interpret the information into a form that is locally relevant and useful.
Climate change interventions require decision making in the face of uncertainty. New research conducted by UK economics think tank nef (new economics foundation) on behalf of CARE International in Garissa, Kenya, found that, investing in community based adaptation (CBA) makes strong economic sense, even in a volatile and evolving environmental context. In virtually all scenarios studied the economic, environmental and social benefits of CBA – where vulnerable communities make informed development and risk management decisions and actions in response to climate change impacts – far outweigh their costs, suggesting they are efficient and effective even in the absence of adaptation projects at the national level. These findings make a compelling financial case for CBA both in conjunction with larger-scale interventions and as standalone activities.
Climate change has already impacted on innumerable rural communities across Africa, exposing them to increasing hazards and making them more vulnerable. As this trend increases, so does the likelihood that gains in poverty reduction and development may be reversed, particularly for the most vulnerable communities such as those who depend on arid and semi-arid lands for their livelihoods. Adapting to these hazards and unknowns becomes increasingly urgent and important to ensure economic growth, peace and security in African nations and, equally importantly, locally sustainable socio-economic and environment development. Effective adaptation requires strengthening the adaptive capacity of those men and women most affected by climate change impacts – supporting their ability to make livelihood decisions which are resilient and to manage risks when faced with an uncertain future. Adaptation is as much about making informed, flexible decisions and diversification as it is about implementing specific adaptation interventions. These are all highly context specific; with no one size fits all solution even at the local level.