Browse by Theme: Climate Change

Human-induced climate change is modifying patterns of extreme weather, including floods, cyclones and droughts. In many cases, climate change is making these hazards more intense, more frequent, less predictable and/or longer lasting. This magnifies the risk of “disasters” everywhere, but especially in those parts of the world where there are already high levels of human vulnerability.

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Pastoral communities in the Borana and Shinile zones of Ethiopia have been changing and adapting their livelihoods to changing environmental conditions for centuries. Recurrent droughts have been a major issue throughout history in the Ethiopian lowlands, and strategies to cope with, and adapt to these droughts are embedded in communities’ traditional social structures and resource management systems.

Despite the sense of determination, pastoralists’ ability to adapt is constrained by many factors including increasing land degradation; conflicts over scarce resources, which limit movement and destroy assets that are key for adaptation (especially in Borana); limited access to information (including that on weather, climate change, markets, as well as pest and disease outbreaks); limited education, skills and access to financial services and markets required to diversify their livelihoods; inadequate government policies, capacities and coordination; demographic pressures; and social and gender inequalities and marginalization, which reduce the voice and adaptive capacity of the most vulnerable.

Enhancing the adaptive capacity of pastoralists will require community-based and community-led interventions, but will also require tailored support from NGOs, donors, and governments and this study explores the issues and options facing all stakeholders.

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Climate change has already impacted on innumerable communities, exposing them to increasing hazards and making them more vulnerable; and we can expect this to become more marked, and for some communities catastrophic, in coming years. In order to plan effective adaptation actions, scientific climate change analysis is vital for broad context. However, at the local level, the most relevant information and knowledge often already exists or can be generated through local stakeholders’ own analysis. Local knowledge also has a credible authority for informing and influencing policy. So this Handbook, which presents a new participatory methodology for Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis, is very timely. Its focus on the community level is sharp and salutary. It stresses that communities are not homogeneous.

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In 2006, a particularly severe drought hit the Greater Horn of Africa, plunging some 11 million people into crisis. The pastoral areas on the Ethiopia–Kenya–Somalia border were badly affected, with livestock losses of up to 70% and the mass migration of pastoralists out of drought-affected areas. This HPG Policy Brief argues that such catastrophic effects can be averted if pastoralist livelihoods are supported with timely and appropriate livelihoods-based interventions.

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"The Sahel has long been vulnerable to drought, impoverishment and food insecurity, as the droughts of the mid-1970s, 1980s and 2005 show.

Over the past 20 years, IIED has run a major programme of work in the Sahel that aims not only to demonstrate the fragility of human and environmental systems, but also to show the remarkable energy and innovation that local people can draw on to adapt and survive in an often hostile setting.

Beyond Any Drought makes clear people’s vulnerability stems from a combination of political, economic and social forces, as well as the impacts of highly variable rainfall.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms the likelihood of higher temperatures for the region over the next few decades.

Current predictions of changes to rainfall in the Sahel are less certain, with forecasts ranging from a drop of 20% to a 20% rise. In either case, more heat will increase evaporation from soils, rivers and lakes, and reduce the value of whatever rain does fall.

For a region already suffering from poverty and drought, such predictions are unwelcome news. Finding ways to help strengthen resilience in human and environmental systems is thus key to helping people adapt to the challenges ahead."

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