Lessons learned

Looking closely at the local context

The results of the PACDR analyses revealed that often global and local warming add to existing problems like for example overexploitation and degradation of natural resources which again lead to changes in the local water availability. As these impacts can only be solved through collective action, a participatory approach can ensure ownership and launch the discussion within the communities. PACDR can help to work in a systematic and participatory way with local communities so that they hold true ownership of the interventions and activities.

Assessment participants appreciate the methodical mix of the tool. It is crucial that the facilitators of the community analysis are experienced with participatory rural appraisal methods, work in a culturally sensitive way and have solid knowledge of the specific context. Frequently, communities realize for the first time how climate change threatens their main livelihood resources and that it needs long-term strategies to adapt to the changing situation, increasing hazards and weather extremes.

Working with men and women

Results also show the added value of considering gender differences: Modules two and three are suggested to be conducted separately with women’s and men’s groups. After that, the groups share and discuss the results with each other. Results usually vary due to different gender realities – discovering this is highly valuable. In addition, gender-disaggregated results can feed into gender-sensitive adaptation strategies.

Involving external stakeholders

PACDR module 4 on adaptation strategies is a good moment to involve external stakeholders. While broadening the scope for adaptation strategies, this has a side-effect of creating awareness among these external stakeholders. It can also be a first step for advocacy towards local or regional decision makers. If PACDR is used in several villages of the same area, the reports can form a strong basis for advocacy campaigns.

Coping strategies as a basis for adaptation

The analyses conducted in different countries show that community members have already developed various ways to cope with the negative impacts of changing climate patterns. Coping strategies which are found to be both effective and sustainable can be regarded as valuable adaptation strategies. They should be kept and applied. Yet, new and further reaching adaptation strategies must be developed to better respond to new and increasing risks. The characteristics of adaptation strategies are that they focus on enhanced resilience beyond mere survival. They are more community-based then household-oriented, proactive and preventive instead of reactive in times of crisis, and they are sustainable (they can be repeated year after year and produce sustainable results).

Adaptation strategies often mentioned by rural communities include:

  • trainings on specific agricultural activities (e.g. composting, natural fertilization, cultivation of adapted crops),
  • common management of pastures,
  • change to more locally adapted crops (and animals),
  • drought tolerant and early maturing varieties/species,
  • water management (flood prevention, irrigation, water conservation),
  • storm protection (wind breaks, improved buildings)
  • crop insurance schemes,
  • afforestation / reforestation
  • diversification of agricultural production and livelihoods,
  • long-term community planning – including the consultation of experts and other stakeholders, and
  • weather stations and early warning systems or climate services.

Agroecology, climate change and disaster risk

Climate change adaptation measures in rural contexts are often in line with agroecology principles and methods. Just as agroecology should include climate change scenarios, there is a need for advocacy so that climate policies consider the potentials of agroecology for both climate change adaptation and mitigation.

We are convinced that agroecological practices can reduce the impact of climate change and the risk of disasters:

  • Improved soil quality and structure increases the water infiltration rate and reduces short-term runoff;
  • Maximized soil cover, a cornerstone of agroecology, reduces soil temperature, evaporation and erosion;
  • Many agroecological practices work with high crop diversity, which can increase resilience in case one crop fails;
  • Agroecological methods can contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gases by increasing soil carbon sequestration, reduction of fossil inputs as well as the emissions of greenhouse gases like N2O;
  • Farmers’ self-reliance and innovative capacities are strengthened through farmer-to-farmer learning. This increases the fundamental adaptive capacity of farming communities (see also here).

Learn more on how the PACDR reveals agroecological practices as a solution to climate change.