Action Research on Community Adaptation in Bangladesh

Action Research on Community Adaptation in Bangladesh (ARCAB) is a long-term action-research project that is learning from and supporting vulnerable communities in Bangladesh as they adapt to human-induced climate change. ARCAB shares this learning with other developing countries. The project plans to follow how communities adapt to floods, droughts, cyclones and sea level rises at 20 climate-vulnerable sites in the country during the next 50 years or more.

Participants study a map in Bangladesh. Photo: Isabelle Lemaire

Theory of change

Climate change is likely to hit first and hardest among the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the poorest and most vulnerable developing countries. These communities struggle to cope with current climate hazards, and these will be compounded by human-induced climate change.

ARCAB aims to find the communities at risk — starting in Bangladesh — and help build their adaptive capacity. We focus on Bangladesh both because its large, poor population faces multiple dangers, and because it has led the world in addressing climate change through community-based adaptation; Bangladesh can teach other developing nations the next steps.

The ordinary one-to five-year funding cycle doesn’t allow an effective response to climate change impacts, which unfold unpredictably over 50 or 100 years. This project takes the long view, planning activities that set the stage for decades of work.

Our programme of iterative 'action-research' — learning, applying the lessons, and learning more — is designed to track the long and uncertain course of climate change.


Adapting to climate change requires learning by doing — producing both impacts and definitive knowledge. We’ve gathered an action-research consortium that partners top practitioners with world-class researchers, as well as local leadership in Bangladesh.

We look forward to joining hands with ARCAB as a platform to learn from each other and institute the body of knowledge generated through this collective partnership to critically engage in the community-based adaptation initiatives at both local and global levels.
- A.K.M. Musha,
Concern Worldwide Country Director

Reaching the poorest and most vulnerable communities requires strong, trusting relationships that must grow over time. The only shortcut is to work through intermediaries like NGOs who
have already built these relationships.

National and international ‘research partners’ will collaborate with ten NGO ‘action partners’ that offer global reach. Together, we will seek knowledge and solutions that are applicable worldwide.

ARCAB’s ‘action partners’ are ActionAid, CARE, Caritas, ChristianAid, Concern, Islamic Relief, OXFAM, Plan International, Practical Action and WaterAid. These NGOs are working with local organisations and communities at 20 vulnerable sites around the country.

The list of ‘research partners’ starts at the regional level with Bangladeshi universities attached to each field site; moves through nine national institutions that lead thinking on specific areas such as agriculture or hydrology; and is capped by ten international institutions, including IIED, Imperial College London and Columbia University. These international partners will help design studies to the highest standards and will funnel in graduate students to form the front-line research corps.

For more information contact: Saleemul Huq

Time frame: 2010 onwards

Cost: £100,000 for the first year (to develop
monitoring, evaluation and baseline design)