Community-based Adaptation core principles, practices and relation to EbA Charles Ehrhart CARE Internationalʼs Poverty, Environment and Climate Change Network Presentation during 5th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation Dhaka, Bangladesh 28th March, 2011Tuesday, March 29, 2011 1Adapting to the unavoidable impacts of climate change is now widely recognized as vital to a coherent, global response to climate change. As a result, recentyears have seen a marked rise in adaptation funding – with even steeper increases expected in the near term. During the last decade and a half, adaptationfunding flows prioritised awareness raising amongst policymakers, strengthening government capacity, and support to government planning processes. Thoughthese activities will remain important recipients of adaptation funding, demand and support for action on the ground is growing.Significant resources are already being allocated to large-scale infrastructure projects, such as damns and dykes that can make an important contribution toreducing people’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. However, evidence from more than sixty years of development experience shows that theseinterventions can only provide a partial solution – at best – to meeting the needs of especially vulnerable people. As a result, there is mounting interest amongstdonors, multi-lateral organisations and civil society in “community-based” approaches to adaptation. This presentation explores emerging core principles andpractices around CBA, as well as its relationship to EBA.
Community-based Adaptation CBA aims to reduce negative impacts of CC on vulnerable populations - both in the short and long term - from the ground up it is “targeted” and “focused,” and addresses both the “software” and “hardware” of adaptation it is a “community-led,” or “community- driven” approach to adaptation that complements top-down planning and programmes it operates at multiple levels and can be large scale - so long as communities remain at the centre of planning and actionTuesday, March 29, 2011 2Community-based Adaptation (CBA) refers to an evolving yet distinct set of principles and practices that aims to reduce the negative impacts of climatechange on individuals, households and communities - both in the short and long term. It targets the most vulnerable populations in northern and southerncountries, in either rural or urban contexts; and it focuses on activities with the greatest bang for the buck. This targeting and focusing, embedded in participatorysituational analysis and action-planning processes, distinguishes it from development business-as-usual.CBA values the “software” as well as “hardware” of adaptation. Put another way, some CBA investments – like irrigation canals or mangrove saplings planted as ahedge against storm-surge – can be carried and counted. However, these tangibles are usually linked with complementary investments in community-baseddisaster risk management, community-based natural resource management, or farmer-to-farmer field schools.These investments often extend to women’sempowerment, which many professionals believe essential to building long-term adaptive capacity.In the 1980s and ’90s, many governments in Africa, Asia and Latin America transferred key responsibilities to lower administrative levels. As decentralisationprogressed, local plans and policies became increasingly important to development – both in terms of focusing government resources and establishing aconducive environment for “bottom-up” efforts. Community-based planning (i.e. “planning by communities, for … communities, which is not isolated from but linksinto … local and national government planning systems”) rapidly evolved within this space as a core development strategy.In many countries, government adaptation efforts are being mainstreamed and bundled together with pre-existing, decentralised development and/or disaster riskmanagement planning processes. This provides CBA projects with ready-made platforms for bottom-up adaptation planning and action, as well as structuredarticulation within large-scale government systems. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that so many CBA projects (whose staff frequently have decades ofdevelopment or disaster risk reduction experience) routinely include community-based planning and capitalise on pre-existing relationships with governmentauthorities/processes to pursue new objectives. Indeed, like community-based development, CBA projects often aim to make government planning and resourcesallocation systems – at all levels – more responsive to people’s needs by increasing participation, transparency, and accountability. Towards this end, CBA projectsemploy a range of tactics, including community mobilisation, advocacy to increase direct participation in government planning processes, and participatoryresearch to inform national and sectoral adaptation policies.As an example of CBA operating at multiple levels: CARE’s Reducing Vulnerability to Climate Change (RVCC) project in Bangladesh worked in communities butALSO helped 14 Union Parishads develop adaptation plans and undertook national level advocacy on growing salinity and decreasing access to potable water
characteristic practices CBA projects typically entail a combination of the following intervention types: Promotion of climate-resilient livelihoods Disaster risk reduction/management, Capacity strengthening of local civil society & government institutions (to more effectively support local adaptation efforts) Advocacy & social mobilisation to address the underlying causes of vulnerability (e.g. poor governance, limited access to basic services discrimination & other social injustices)Tuesday, March 29, 2011 3CBA projects characteristically entail a combination of the following intervention types:• Promotion of climate-resilient livelihoods (including, for example, income diversification, technology transfer and/or behavioural change);• Disaster risk reduction/management;• Capacity strengthening of local civil society and government institutions so that they can more effectively support community, household and individual adaptation efforts; and• Advocacy and social mobilisation to address the underlying causes of vulnerability, including poor governance, lack of control over resources, limited access to basic services, discrimination and other social injustices.
core principles amongst the core principles identified in the UN’s Statement of Common Understanding on HRBA, the following exert an especially strong influence over the discourse and design of CBA: non-discrimination, equality and the special needs of marginalized social groups; active, free and meaningful participation; empowerment; and accountability.Tuesday, March 29, 2011 4While the term “Community-based Adaptation” is still young, it has rapidly matured on the basis of principles and best practices gleaned from the last half-centuryof development and disaster-risk reduction/management experience. This heritage has many implications for how CBA is currently understood and applied. Oneof the most significant legacies shaping CBA is the widespread adoption of a Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA, or RBA) to development and even wideracceptance of its participatory, process-oriented principles.HRBA provides a conceptual framework for development based on human rights standards as stipulated in international treaties and declarations. It aims topromote and protect human rights by integrating the norms, standards and principles of the international human rights system into the plans, policies andprocesses of development. Guiding principles of the Human Rights-Based Approach, as set out in the UN Statement of Common Understanding, embodydecades of lessons learnt and shift away from a “needs based approach.” They clarify the ultimate objective of development as “greater realization of rights,” andthey promote strategies that strengthen both the capacity of rights-holders to claim their rights and duty-bearers to fulfil their obligations. Accordingly, humanrights inform both the ends and means of development.
1. non-discrimination and the right of marginalised people identify especially vulnerable individuals and marginalised social groups fully include them in all levels of adaptation planning and implementation understand and address their unique needs through targeted interventions ensure that adaptation activities do not inadvertently worsen their vulnerability redress power imbalances and other structural causes of differential vulnerabilityTuesday, March 29, 2011 5The principle of non-discrimination, equality and special attention to the needs of marginalized social groups is central to the international human rightsframework. Increasingly applied to development policy and practice during the past twenty years, it has fundamentally shaped how many development actors seethe challenge of adaptation – and their role in meeting it. Integrating this principle into adaptation efforts entails explicit steps to:• Identify especially vulnerable individuals and marginalised social groups;• Fully include them in all levels of adaptation planning, as well as implementation processes (by providing, for example, information in minority languages);• Understand and address their unique needs through targeted interventions (reaching poor women, the elderly, geographically isolated communities, and politically marginalised Indigenous Peoples);• Ensure that adaptation activities do not inadvertently worsen their vulnerability;• Redress power imbalances and other structural causes of differential vulnerability within and between households.The influence of a rights-based approach explains why many development and humanitarian actors, including CARE, Oxfam, the International Federation of RedCross/Crescent Societies, and DfID, place so much importance on differentiating between social groups in their climate change vulnerability assessments. It alsoexplains their commitment to targeting especially vulnerable social groups (e.g. poor women) and concern with structured injustices.
2. active, free and meaningful participation participation is a fundamental right it is also a solid operational principle this principle is often interpreted as meaning people have the right to influence adaptation plans, policies and practices – at all levels. it has resulted in projects to facilitate information flows and aid women to assume leadership roles this principle helps explain why CBA proponents so often emphasize “empowerment” over charitable supportTuesday, March 29, 2011 6Active, free and meaningful participation in development decision-making is a fundamental right. Participation is also a solid operational principle, since leavingintended beneficiaries out of decision-making increases the risk that interventions will not match people’s priority needs; be culturally or ecologically inappropriate;or services will prove too costly.In the context of adaptation, this principle is commonly interpreted as meaning people have the right to influence adaptation plans, policies and practices – at alllevels. It has resulted in projects facilitating timely, transparent information flows about climate change; aiding women (through training and mentoring) to take onleadership roles in community and local government organisations. This principle also helps explains the emphasis that CBA proponents typically place onempowerment versus charitable support.
3. empowerment empowerment is about treating people as the rightful directors of their own development. this principle is commonly interpreted as a mandate to help people gain the power, capacities, capabilities and access necessary to adapt their households, communities and societies to the impacts of climate changeTuesday, March 29, 2011 7Empowerment is about treating people as the rightful directors of their own development. This principle is interpreted as a mandate to help people gain the power,capacities, capabilities and access (political, economic, etc.) necessary to adapt their households, communities and societies to the impacts of climate change.
4. accountability aims to increase people’s capacity to claim their rights, as well as state capacity to be held accountable (through more accessible and responsive public officials/ institutions, etc.). In the context of climate change, this principle is frequently evoked to justify downward accountability for the flow and allocation of adaptation funding.Tuesday, March 29, 2011 8Accountability is another core HRBA principle affecting how development actors view the adaptation challenge. It aims to increase people’s capacity to claim theirrights, as well as state capacity to be held accountable (through more accessible and responsive public officials/ institutions, etc.). In the context of climate change,this principle is frequently evoked to justify downward accountability for the flow and allocation of adaptation funding.
ecosystems in the context of CBA CBA frequently deals with natural resources (and often prioritises improved NRM-related activities) CBA is frequently concerned with the continuing flow of environmental goods and services CBA rarely takes a holistic approach to working with complex ecosystems... CBA rarely accounts for “secondary” ecosystem goods & services (e.g. pollination)Tuesday, March 29, 2011 9
towards a complementary set of “ecosystem principles” we need to develop and internalize a complementary set of “ecosystem principles” for community-led adaptation such as: fully integrate ecosystem goods and services (e.g. living storm barriers) into people-centred adaptation strategies/ plans strive for long-term solutions and avoid “maladaptation” build the resilience of key ecosystems so that essential goods (e.g. forest foods) and services (e.g. flood mitigation) aren’t lostTuesday, March 29, 2011 10