Book summary: Enhancing Adaptation to Climate Change in Developing Countries Through Community Based Adaptation

12 February 2018

IIED's Saleemul Huq contributes to a chapter in a new book, 'Enhancing Adaptation to Climate Change in Developing Countries Through Community-Based Adaptation', published by the African Centre for Technology Studies and partners. 

Enhancing Effectiveness of Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change: unlocking some nuts and bolts

Enhancing Adaptation to Climate Change in Developing Countries Through Community-Based Adaptation

Joanes Atela, Saleemul Huq, Cosmas Ochieng, Tom Owiyo, Victor Orindi (Eds.)
African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), 2017 – Book, 235 pages

Community-based adaptation (CBA) is gaining traction as a powerful and effective tool to help vulnerable communities cope with the impacts of climate change.CBA as an approach champions local knowledge, resources and institutions as a more sustainable foundation for adapting to climate change and building resilience over the longer term.

Empowering communities to use their own knowledge and decision-making processes to take action on climate change gives a strong sense of ownership and helps ensure local priorities and needs are met. A growing community, galvanised by IIED's annual CBA conference, is seeking to find ways to further enhance the effectiveness of CBA in policy and practice.

This new book sets out the latest evidence on the socioeconomic, institutional and investments options needed for effective CBA. The book tackles four key aspects of CBA: concepts, evidence, institutions, and investments for upscaling.

In a video interview available below and on IIED's YouTube channel, Huq talks through these four areas and gives his thoughts on what needs to happen to drive CBA into the heart of the climate change policy discourse.

Concepts: Huq explains how CBA is emerging as a form of adaptation and what distinguishes it from other approaches. While certain policy interventions sit with higher levels of authority and national governments, the practice of CBA shows how communities can share knowledge to build adaptive capacity, helping the most vulnerable build resilience to the escalating, inevitable and unavoidable impacts of climate change.

Evidence: Here, Huq talks through the current evidence on how CBA is working in various contexts, driven by an expanding network of thousands of communities that are developing ways to deal with the impacts of climate change and sharing that knowledge with each other across the globe.

Institutions: The book aims to unpack the institutional settings needed for effective CBA – such as local norms, cultural practices, national adaptation policies and global adaptation frameworks. Huq describes this broad institutional landscape, stressing that for any adaptation intervention to be successful, it must be strongly rooted in the views of the most climate vulnerable communities whether these be villagers in rural areas or those living in households in urban slums.

Investments: The final section underlines that private and public investments are critical for scaling up CBA. Huq sets out the financial frameworks needed to encourage investment, explaining that current disbursement – heavily skewed towards mitigation rather than adaptation actions – needs to be more evenly balanced.

Looking ahead, Huq discusses the challenges and opportunities for pushing CBA up the climate change policy agenda. He sees action needed as falling into two areas: "We need to push for greater recognition, firstly at the global level with funding availability – not enough is going to adaptation. And within funding available for adaptation, the bulk tends to go to big projects at the national level, with very little flowing down to the local, most vulnerable communities.

"Secondly, governments need to take account of the views of the most vulnerable communities, to adopt a more participatory approach when adaptation planning and making investments. Only with a more bottom-up approach will investments flow to those who need it most. We are making progress on both these fronts – but progress needs to be much faster."

The preliminaries and first chapter of the book are both available online free of charge: preliminaries (PDF) | chapter one (PDF)

Enhancing Adaptation to Climate Change in Developing Countries Through Community Based Adaptation, edited by Joanes Atela, Saleemul Huq, Cosmas Ochieng, Tom Owiyo, Victor Orindi (2017), available to purchase from the African Centre for Technology Studies, 235 pages, hardback (ISBN: 9966-41-195-X). For more information, email