Don’t tell us how to adapt to climate change.


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Unheard narratives from men and women farmers in Nepal

Dr Floriane Clement
Mr Pawan Kumar, freelancer

IAMCR, 17 July 2014

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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  • Some funds have shifted from more traditional domains of development such as forestry, agriculture, irrigation to climate change
  • Three components: Exposure, sensitivity to stresses and the capacity to adapt (Adger 2006).
    Exposure: nature and degree to which a system experiences environmental or socio-political stress
    Sensitivity (or potential for recovery Chambers 1989 in Bohle et al 1994): degree to which a system is modified or affected by perturbations
    Adaptive capacity (or resilience, McLaughlin and Dietz 2008): ability of a system to evolve in order to accommodate environmental hazards or policy change and to expand the range of variability with which it can cope. For resilience, defined as the ability of a system to resist or recover from damage (McLaughlin and Dietz 2008).
  • Two main approaches in vulnerability assessment literature:
    - Risk hazard approach (left) evaluates the multiple impacts of a single climatic event
    - Entitlement or vulnerability (right) analyses look at the multiple causes of a single outcome.

    Risk hazard traces a causal linear relationship to the environmental hazard. The strength of the RH approach is that it can help understand the immediate outcomes of a climate shift or event in a given (or static) context. Identifying such outcomes is useful for mapping the places most likely to experience acute damages under conditions of climate variability and change. Taking the system at risk as static, however, the RH approach does not treat the ways the system at risk might amplify or dampen the effects of a given event. In addition, the RH model has difficulties distinguishing among components of the system that might result in significantly different consequences after a perturbation or stress. These models do not take into account how social, institutional and political economic relations shape the distribution of exposure and damages

    The entitlement approach looks at social and political-economic factors. The cause of vulnerability is located in society and environmental hazard is only one of the factors leading to the observed outcome.
  • Policy-makers need to get answers to two questions:
    - Who is vulnerable? This requires to understand where, who and what : risk-hazard assessment, with indicators and mapping is useful here.
    There is a gender question here: men/women but not only. Also depends on class, caste, religion, ethnicity, social capital. Only proximate causes of vulnerability will be identified.
    - How to support them? This question requires to understand ‘why’: analyse proximate causes AND underlying structural factors (e.g. why certain social groups can access certain resources and others cannot, how does the current political economic system constrain the influence of some to decision-making over various spheres of their lives)

    Other important questions to consider: people’s perception of vulnerability: even if their vulnerability is low, they might perceive it as high and not act.
    Trade-offs in terms of scale: reducing vulnerability of some can increase poverty of others.
    How to evaluate vulnerability interventions: Success can be evaluated in terms of effectiveness, or efficiency, or fairness/equity….
  • This approach uses Sen’s concept of entitlements to assess vulnerability where entitlements=`the set of alternative commodity bundles that a person can command in a society using the totality of rights and opportunities that he or she faces’ (Sen, 1981)
    Starts from 'Endowments = Set of assets, e.g. include claims that household can make on other households,
    How these endowments can be transformed through production, transfer, inheritance… e.g. how land and labor power are transformed into food entitlements.
    Good to analyse food crisis and show how other factors than food production and environmental factors can lead to famine.
    Capabilities: ‘beings and doings that people value and that they are able to achieve’
  • Advantages: framed by farmers themselves
  • Farmers were concerned by weather change and explicitly connected changes in rainfall patterns (regularity, timing, frequency) to what they coined as ‘the failure of agriculture’ and change in migration patterns (longer term (several years) migration to Arabic countries) but none of their films focuses on climate change only, they rather chose topics related to societal changes.
  • Farmers films shown to experts who responded in a video interview and farmers film+experts’ response was packaged as a 20mn TV episode weekly on national TV channel from June to December 2013.
  • NAPA: used as a basis for the development of an adaptation strategy.
    National programme of action for adaptation (NAPA) starts from climatic hazards and their potential impacts on a range of domains (public health, food security, energy, shelter, etc) and proposes adaptation options to address these impacts.
    Vulnerability is rooted in
    natural environment: “the low level of development and complex topography’
    household characteristics “most of the people living in the mid and far western regions are among the most vulnerable, a situation closely related with the poverty rates in these areas, the heavy reliance on small scale agriculture”
    Individual characteristics: “women are engaged in climate sensitive sectors” (p.14).
    Local context: “the lack of basic services and livelihood options”
    Interventions: No mention of other issues affecting vulnerability e.g. migration, institutional vacuum, absence of locally elected government body, political instability, etc. Local stakeholders consultation but framed in such a way that they themselves also proposed technical interventions

    ‘National efforts to make the socio-economic sectors climate-resilient’ ‘it is also a challenge to identify the vulnerable sectors’
    Again risk hazard approach starting from climate change impacts on different sectors.
    Depicts a very apolitical narrative on vulnerability
    Focus in challenges identified: ie how problems are framed

    Focus on technologies: “a lack of an institution that can examine climate change in the perspectives of science and technology”; lack of “programmes for avoiding, minimizing or adapting to the changing climate by developing appropriate technologies”
    Focus on managerial issues: “Need to enhance the capacity of public institutions, planners and technicians, private sector, NGOs and civil society involved in development work”.
  • Videos on twelve different topics related to social and climatic change. Like pieces of puzzle you assemble, looking at interconnections.
    Climate change clearly not the primary issue for farmers. The two main concerns are “farming impossible” and migration impacts on men and women which are also the ones with the most arrows – causal factors and complex.
    We need to consider these interconnections. Massive shift of funds to climate change interventions will not be effective if we don’t act on the other underlying causes of vulnerability. The national and local economy, weak political system and political instability, the education system, gender norms and migration patterns interact with climatic variability to produce vulnerability.
  • Very strong terms used in some of the films, farming is ‘impossible’ and ensures only basic survival
    Adaptation strategy is migration: but portrayed as forced migration. Migration remittances mostly used for daily expenses, food needs
  • Vulnerability not rooted in climate (lack of rainfall) but in deficiency of provision of public services and government support to agriculture

    Poverty: “Before there was a spirit of cooperation in terms of contribution of labour “We contribute money but it does not solve the problem” “money was spent without coordination and in vain”. “The government doesn’t provide these facilities. Only the rich people receive benefits and nobody listens to the poor” “the government jobs are only for selected people, such as a son of the big and leading politicians.”
  • “I use the motor-pump when it is the only possible option”. “if you do not find people for agricultural work, then farming is impossible”.
    “This dam could be built in two days; we seven people are working here and it looks impossible”. “even the dozer was not helpful…”
    For men, the main issue is the lack of manpower caused by migration and loss of social capital

    What does vulnerability mean for women: most development interventions focus on increased women’s workload because of men away.
    But women hardly mention this in their film and rather talk about the social pressure from women whose husband has not mgrated.
    Gossip on women having an affair when their husband is abroad. They are more mobile (can go to the market, city to collect remittance) but feel a lot of social pressure when exercising this mobility.

  • But emphasise that farmers have done efforts themselves:
  • Minor reference to science
  • A water storage might help on the paper to address short term variability but if we don’t consider the local and macro social political system in which it is embedded, it might do little to reduce vulnerability. For instance, NAPA does not consider migration at all. Though research clearly shows that the current lack of manpower due to mgration is a critical constraint in sustaining agriculture for collective and even farm-based agricultural works. If building a storage, who will use it/maintain it?

    The central position of climate change in development and agricultural discourses offers a threat as it might focus on natural causes of vulnerability and sustain apolitical narratives. It is also a unique opportunity to reflect on pre-existing men and women’s vulnerability and to develop integrated policies and programmes that can cross institutional barriers to reduce vulnerability to societal and environmental change in general.
  • Don’t tell us how to adapt to climate change.

    1. 1. PPhhoototo :: D Daavvidid B Brraazzieierr//IIWWPPMMhhoIoIttoo: :DToavmid v Barna Cziaekre/InWbeMrgI he/IWMI Don’t tell us how to adapt to climate change. Unheard narratives from men and women farmers in Nepal Dr Floriane Clement IWMI-Nepal Mr Pawan Kumar, freelancer IAMCR, 17 July 2014 Water for a food-secure world Photo credit: Pawan Kumar. Himalay
    2. 2. Context • Massive investment on climate change in the academia and development sector • Climate change debates largely driven by natural scientists • Aim of most research and development projects in developed countries is to reduce vulnerability and enhance adaptation Water for a food-secure world
    3. 3. What is vulnerability? “State of susceptibility to harm from exposure to stresses associated with environmental and social change and from the absence of capacity to adapt” (Adger, 2006) Water for a food-secure world
    4. 4. How to assess vulnerability? • Risk-hazard and entitlement framework (Ribot, 2010) Water for a food-secure world
    5. 5. Designing interventions to reduce vulnerability • Who is vulnerable? • How to support them? • How do people perceive their own vulnerability? • What are the trade-offs? (Adger et al. 2005) • How to evaluate success? Water for a food-secure world
    6. 6. Exploring the causal structures of vulnerability • Household entitlements and capabilities (Sen, 1981), including claims • Multi-scale political economy Water for a food-secure world
    7. 7. Vulnerability and adaptation in Nepal • How climate change vulnerability and adaptation are framed by national policy-makers and farmers? • Based on review of policy documents and farmers’ films produced through a participatory video project Water for a food-secure world
    8. 8. Participatory video project • 2 groups of 6 men and women farmers from 2 VDCs in Dhanusha District, South Nepal trained to use a video camera • One-year project with 12 films produced on climatic and societal change in 2013 • Each film includes 3-4 interviews of local people from different social groups Water for a food-secure world
    9. 9. Methodology • Combination of focus group discussions, training, interviews, public screening and debates • Farmers free to choose topics that matter to them: climatic AND societal change Water for a food-secure world
    10. 10. Engaging a dialogue with policy-makers Partnership with NEFEJ to develop a TV programme that initiates a dialogue between farmers, experts and policy-makers: Samudayako Aawaj, weekly for 4 months Youtube: “farmer voices nepal” Water for a food-secure world
    11. 11. Critical Discourse Analysis • Rhetorical means: How is vulnerability and adaptation framed? What are the proposed solutions, role and agency of different actors and role of science? Water for a food-secure world
    12. 12. NAPA (GON 2010) Climate Change Policy (GON Water for a food-secure world 2011) Perspective Risk hazard approach – impact of CC on different sectors Risk hazard approach – impact of CC on vulnerable sectors and geographical areas Causes of vulnerability Natural environment, household characteristics, local context Natural environment Type of interventions Framed to address climatic risks and variability only Technical and managerial options (e.g. construction of water storage, adoption of drought-resistant crop varieties and organic farming practices) defined for each sector/domain in isolation Technical and managerial Enhancing people’s capacity to adapt: “To enhance the climate adaptation and resilience capacity of local communities for optimum utilization of natural resources and their efficient management” and “to improve the living standard of people” Role of actors Government is to coordinate programmes and deliver public services Local people are to better adapt through increased awareness and adoption of better practices Government is to coordinate programmes; Scientists to predict likely impacts of CC; Local people are to better adapt
    13. 13. Farmers’ perspective (Ground water) irrigation Change in migration patterns Water for a food-secure world Climate change Dowry increase Less cooperation Lack of manpower Low access to good quality inputs Farming “impossible” Poor road facilities No other employment opportunity
    14. 14. The main issue for farmers: “the failure of agriculture” • “Farming is impossible” • “Nothing seems possible” • “Without migration, men would have eaten men” • “What to say, we are in trouble here” Water for a food-secure world
    15. 15. Root causes of vulnerability • Farmers acknowledge changes in weather but do not link it directly to climate or the natural environment “Plants are drying because of a lack of irrigation”; “Because of a lack of irrigation water, farming is a failure” • The role of poverty: money helps but does not solve all problems. Money helps the rich to access the public services everyone should get. Water for a food-secure world
    16. 16. Gender and vulnerability • Women highlight mental stress (due to migration, loss of social capital and gender norms) as a key cause of vulnerability rather than poverty or increased workload Water for a food-secure world
    17. 17. Solutions: the role of technology • Shift from human capital to technology • Technology does not solve all problems • Increased need and expectations for government support: – Concrete dam, electricity, fuel, inputs… Water for a food-secure world
    18. 18. Farmers’ solutions • Irrigation facilities for every 1.3 to 2.7 ha • Receive support on agriculture (access to agricultural information, support from extension officers, access to good quality input) • But also: improve the education system; develop non-agricultural employment opportunities through creation of local small scale enterprises and industries Water for a food-secure world
    19. 19. Role of actors • Government: to listen to and support farmers by providing services, facilities for agriculture • Scientists: to develop new crop varieties and communicate these to farmers • Farmers: to raise their voices and approach relevant government agencies; to turn to non-agricultural activities Water for a food-secure world
    20. 20. Lessons for Climate Change Interventions • Starting from people (and not only from hazards) using a vulnerability analysis • Reconnecting national policies and discourses with farmers’ perception of vulnerability • Addressing underlying structural causes of vulnerability • Climate change is both a threat and an opportunity Water for a food-secure world
    21. 21. THANK YOU Water for a food-secure world