Community based adaptation: local solutions for a global concern

06 April 2011 | News story

Community-based adaptation is about helping people cope with the impacts of climate change. At the recent 5th annual conference on “Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change” in Dhaka, Bangladesh, researchers, practitioners and policymakers gathered to share knowledge and experience in planning and practicing adaptation at different levels.

Presenting IUCN’s work, Katharine Cross, Acting Water and Wetlands Coordinator for East and Southern Africa said that “adapting to climate change impacts needs to occur across various scales of governance, from national level policy to district development plans.” In Tanzania, IUCN is mainstreaming climate change into existing and newly created water governance institutions. This mainstreaming has been in the form of awareness-raising on climate change impacts, application of vulnerability assessments, and implementation of adaptation actions from the community to the basin levels.

Community-based adaptation takes a local approach, one that looks at the community and asks what we can do to support what they are already doing. It is the communities themselves that are at the front lines of dealing with climate change impacts. So how are they coping? How have they coped before? And how can we help them to cope better if these problems change or get worse?” said Hannah Reid, IIED Senior Researcher. The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is the main driver of the annual conference.

In East Africa, IUCN is now scaling up the community-based adaptation approach and using lessons from projects in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya to enable water governance institutions to practically implement climate change adaptation approaches. “This can be achieved through integrating outputs of climate change vulnerability assessments into catchment management plans and by identifying priority actions to be undertaken by different stakeholders,” said Cross. Priority actions in the region include construction of cattle troughs or boreholes to provide alternative sources of water and reduce conflict between different users. The aim across all three countries is to ensure that adaptation to climate change impacts are integral parts of planning and development activities across all water governance scales.

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