Adaptation programmes flawed
07 June 2012
For national adaptation programmes to succeed, partners of the communities – including non-governmental organizations, governmental rural agencies, and local and central administrations – need to gear their planning methods and approaches to effectively support the community’s adaptation efforts. Therefore, IUCN has developed a toolkit outlining participatory approaches and methods covering the entire adaptation cycle including planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The toolkit also provides recommendations for linking up the community planning cycle to higher levels of adaptation planning and programming.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) works with 24 rural communities in East and West Africa (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania) to help them adapt to climate change. These communities experience the effects of climate change in many different ways. Depending on their exact location, communities face a mix of inadequate rainfall, prolonged droughts, extreme heat, floods, excessive rain, strong winds and increases in pest species (which damage agricultural crops) and increased disease for livestock and humans.
The affected communities tend to respond with short-term survival measures. Sometimes they are forced to recognise that emergency measures such as burning charcoal actually accelerate resource depletion and land degradation, however, which will only exacerbate problems in the future.
These communities have the will to adopt more sustainable practices, but their capacity to adapt to climate change is very limited and needs to be supported by national adaptation programmes. In the countries where IUCN works, the first generation of national adaptation programmes were developed in 2007–2008. IUCN discovered that they were seriously flawed in three ways and are proposed a measure to address these shortcomings.
First, the current methods used to assess the effects of climate change are inadequate. They do indicate the hazards communities are facing and also which community members are vulnerable to these hazards, but they fall short of identifying what changes are needed at the community level to address the vulnerability and the hazards.
Second, the first generation of national adaptation programmes of action were only participatory during the process of assessing vulnerability. Planning was left to experts at the central administration levels. But developing a national adaptation programme means identifying measures vulnerable groups can take themselves, and what kind of support they need. Adaptation programmes require planning at various levels.
Third, national adaptation programmes of action in Africa lack mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation (M&E). M&E is an area that has been largely neglected by scientists and other actors involved in climate change adaptation. Measuring the effectiveness of adaptation measures is particularly complicated in Africa where members of rural communities also face several non-climatic hazards, such as lack of security of tenure, poor access to markets and low human capital investment. However, without M&E mechanisms in place it will be impossible to know whether progress is being made or whether proposed solutions are working. As a result, people will not benefit from their experiences with adaptation mechanisms, and this, in turn, will make it difficult to improve policies and practices.Search Terms toolkits policy analytical frameworks case studies africa