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Dossier Introduction

Tackling Climate and Disaster Risks in Development Cooperation

, par Pain pour le prochain

The scientific evidence for a human influence on climate change is unequivocal : Human activities and the emissions of greenhouse gases in particular lead to global warming and to changes in weather patterns. Increases in droughts, floods, and extreme precipitation events are the consequence. According to the Human Impact Report of the Global Humanitarian Forum, these climate risks and the effects of a rapidly changing climate on agriculture and health seriously affect hundreds of millions already now. With the projected acceleration of climate change, the numbers threatened by the adverse effects of climate change will rapidly increase in near future.

The changing climate poses severe problems to present and future development goals. Climate risks affect the livelihoods of the rural poor. Their strong dependence on natural resources and their limited capacity to adapt renders the population of the global South very vulnerable to climate change. Therefore, development projects need to take climate change into account to lead to sustainable improvements in the standards of living of the beneficiaries.

Motivation and History

Climate variability and change is one of the many stressors influencing the lives of local communities. Although more than a quarter of the development activities have been identified to be seriously threatened by climate risks, most community-level development projects do not explicitly take climate risks and their impacts on local livelihoods into account. Neither are the long-term effects of climate change or the potential for mitigating climate change, i.e. reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration, dealt with in designing development projects.

Considering this shortcoming in the planning and managing of development projects, Bread for all and HEKS decided to analyze, whether a systematical integration of climate risks and mitigation potential in development projects would be feasible and meaningful. In early 2009, a climate consultant of HEKS and Bread for all, was sent to Honduras to perform a pilot study on climate proofing of community-level development projects. Climate proofing, refers to the protection of existing investments against climate risks.

During his stay, the consultant analyzed two community-level projects in southern Honduras and organized in collaboration with Intercooperation a workshop on climate change for the partner organizations of HEKS and Bread for all in Honduras. The climate proofing analysis and the workshop in Honduras awakened considerable interest and thus, three additional climate change workshops in Niger, Ethiopia, and Haiti were organized and financed in 2009.

Participatory Tool on Climate and Disaster Risks

The first climate proofing analysis was planned to be carried out using the Community Based Risk Screening Tool – Adaptation and Livelihoods (CRiSTALi). This tool, however, proved to be too complicated to use in the field and lacked various aspects considered important. Bread for all and HEKS, thus developed a new tool. The Climate Proofing Tool is simple to use in the field and also covers the aspects of mitigation of climate change and disaster risk management.

The tool closely follows the structure of CRiSTAL. In different modules that build on each other, the tool helps the user to analyze :

• how climate risks and natural hazards affect the local communities,

• what current coping strategies of the local communities exists,

• how the project impacts the livelihood resources relevant to dealing with climate risks,

• whether the project contributes to mitigating climate change,

• how to adjust the project to further strengthen the adaptive capacities of the beneficiaries and improve the project’s impact on global climate.

The information for a climate proofing assessment is collected through stakeholder consultations and a limited amount of literature review. Consulting the beneficiaries and project coordinators ensures that modifications to the project emerging from such an assessment are adapted to the local context. The consultations are held in different groups with men and women separated to respect the different realities of their everyday lives and to make sure that both have their say. In addition, beneficiaries and project coordinators are consulted separately.

The tool lists a series of participatory exercises that focus on climate risks, their impacts on the livelihood resources, and current coping strategies. Additionally, the tool includes tables to collect and structure the information from the consultations and the literature review.

Climate and Disaster Risks Workshops

The climate change workshops aim at raising awareness for the topic and aim at providing the basics needed to climate proof a development project. Participants to the workshops come from a range of institutions to best cover the different aspects of the topic and to foster fruitful and interesting discussions. Priority is given to producers and coordinators of development projects of partners in the respective countries. To foster gender equality, we demand that both female and male representatives of the projects attend the workshops. Local experts from the different research organizations and representatives of the government are also invited. The different backgrounds of the participants are also the major challenge in organizing a workshop. Depending on the situation, interpreters are needed and the presentations and exercises have to be adapted to fit the needs of the participants.

The workshops consist of a series of introductory presentations, exercises and a field trip. The topics covered in the presentations include :

• Global climate change, its causes and its effects

• Local climate change and impacts

• Strategies to deal with climate change : a) adapting to the inevitable local impacts and

b) avoiding further climate change

• Adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction

• International and national climate politics

• An example of a climate proofing analysis of a local community-level development project with the Participatory Tool on Climate and Disaster Risks

• Examples of local development projects with a strong climate component.

Whenever possible, the presentations are held by local experts to make use of the local knowledge, to promote and introduce the local experts to the participants, and to stimulate cooperation between the different organizations and experts.

In smaller groups, the participants learn to use the climate proofing tool. The exercises in the workshop mirror the participatory exercises as proposed in the Participatory Tool on Climate and Disaster Risks. The participants identify climate risks, their impacts on livelihood resources, and current coping strategies. In a final step they develop a community-level climate project for their area. Additionally, the participants are given the possibility to visit a local project that features a strong climate component or a research centre during a field trip.

Continuation and Evaluation

The climate change and climate proofing workshops are intended as kickoff events to raising awareness on the topic of climate change for development agencies in the respective countries. A successful implementation of climate change in project evaluation and design, however, requires a lot more than a four-day workshop. The agencies concerned are thus urged to autonomously analyze their existing projects with the Participatory Tool on Climate and Disaster Risks and to use this tool in the design of new projects.

In order to evaluate the long term impacts of the workshops, Bread for all and HEKS agree with the partner organizations on the following indicators of success and assess them on a regular basis.

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