Posted on March 1, 2016 by
Climate change makes life even harder for subsistence farmers and marginal populations. In the development field, we need to learn how to address tangible problems that block adoption of improved mechanisms. USAID’s Climate Change Adaptation Activity (CCAA) in Mali — a two-year intervention in the Mopti Region — has such an opportunity.
In conjunction with our partners, the Humanitarian Response and Development Lab (HURDL) and Sahel Eco, we are undertaking an intense study of the socioeconomic barriers that vulnerable populations face in adopting practices that would improve their ability to cope with climate stress and shock.
The study is an in-depth analysis of specific factors that hamper adoption of adaptation technologies, like improved seed or fertilizer. These factors could be cultural — such as marginalization or farmers simply not understanding how to use the new technologies they are confronted with. Specifically, it is important to understand what blocks the adoption of these technologies and approaches, given that the use of these technologies will help reduce vulnerability.
Other projects have examined coping strategies of vulnerable populations to better understand how those populations have handled climate stress and shock — that is not new. What is new under Mali CCAA is that we seek to understand what has and has not worked — and why — at a more granular level than in any previous studies I have seen.
CCAA proposes to use the information we learn from this detailed analysis to link vulnerable population with other USAID and non-USAID activities to overcome those socioeconomic barriers. It builds upon an existing evidence base initiated by several USAID agriculture, Feed the Future, and global climate change investments. CCAA has been strategically designed to overlap with Feed the Future initiatives. The goal is for the activity to learn from those that we propose to serve to help them overcome the barriers that block adaptation, as shown in this graphic.
Understanding what is impeding resilience is critical to building durable development. In my experience, if development professionals do not understand precisely why a population is vulnerable at a real and potentially adaptable level, finding development solutions is impossible. For this reason, I look forward to undertaking and sharing the results of this study with the development community. I hope that by doing so, this work will inspire other projects to undertake similarly in-depth analyses of the barriers their beneficiaries face to adopting new approaches.
Jeff Ratcliffe is chief of party of the USAID Mali Climate Change Adaptation Activity.
Posted on December 23, 2015 by
In this photo, the owner of a small business in Ucayali, Peru,
and an employee work with seeds from the Amazon rainforest. The
business, Pro Mujer Oriente, employs 54 women to make
handicrafts using tree materials.
With the help of the Peru Environmental Management and Forest
Governance Support Activity (Peru Bosques), Pro Mujer
Oriente learned techniques to improve the quality of
their handicrafts and organize their business more effectively. As
a result, they have lowered their costs, increased...
Posted on December 17, 2015 by
On December 12, 2015, the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) for
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change concluded
with 190 countries adopting the Paris Agreement. This historic
agreement sets the path for the next phase of climate action. So
what has concretely changed?
Throughout COP21, I was struck by the delegations’ strong
determination and collective will to arrive at an ambitious
agreement. The conference started off with opening remarks from 150
Posted on December 15, 2015 by
Although the causes of climate change and the roles various
nations must play in fighting it have been hotly debated, data
provide solid evidence that our planet is facing significant
climate challenges that impact our livelihoods, our well-being, and
even our very lives. Addressing climate change requires a two-fold
strategy: mitigation to deal with carbon emissions and
adaption to deal with the effects of a changing
The world has made good progress with common measurements of
Posted on December 8, 2015 by
kicked off in Paris, heads of state from 20 countries who
make up the Climate Vulnerable Forum adopted the Manila-Paris Declaration
, which outlined
concerns, priorities and plans for addressing climate change. The
declaration enumerated how the threats we see in the news everyday
— rising sea levels, cyclones, drought, and others — make these
nations vulnerable to climate change.
While geography influences how vulnerable nations, cities, and
villages are to climate change,...
Posted on December 2, 2015 by
Patrick Rader leads the Feed the Future Uganda Commodity Production and
(CPM), which harnesses market forces and
uses innovative methods to increase the productivity of Ugandan
families. CPM reduces poverty and under-nutrition by increasing the
quantity and quality of coffee, maize, and beans that rural
families are able to produce and sell.
Q. According to the World Bank
, climate change
could push more than 100 million people back into poverty over the
next 15 years, primarily...
Posted on September 25, 2015 by
Today, the United Nations
Sustainable Development Summit opens in New York. More than 150
world leaders are expected to gather there to adopt the proposed
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious document meant
to define the world’s development agenda for the next 15
With 17 goals and 169 individual targets, the SDGs are more
numerous and complex than their predecessor, the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs), adopted in 2000. But they are hugely
important, both individually and...
Posted on September 11, 2015 by
Over the past several years climate change has garnered
increased attention around the globe, as everyone from farmers to
politicians seek out ways to mitigate both the causes and effects
of increased climate variability. The Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) reflect this increased attention in SDG 13, which calls for
urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Goal 13 goes on to include language about strengthening
resilience to natural disasters, integrating climate change...
Posted on September 2, 2015 by
Insecurity of land tenure and property rights is cited as a
precipitating, if not primary, cause of contemporary global poverty
and inequality. Research from a range of sources including the
World Bank, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization,
OECD, civil society organizations, and academic institutions show
that strengthening land and property rights goes hand in hand with
the realization of development objectives related to poverty
alleviation, food security, environmental...
Posted on August 28, 2015 by
“With less than 5 percent of world population, the U.S. uses
one-third of the world’s paper, a quarter of the world’s oil, 23
percent of the coal, 27 percent of the aluminum, and 19 percent of
the copper… [and] a child born in the United States will create
thirteen times as much ecological damage over the course of his or
her lifetime than a child born in Brazil.” –
Dave Tilford, the Sierra Club
Despite the publicity that climate change, biodiversity loss and
sustainability have increasingly...
Posted on August 21, 2015 by
As Eileen Hoffman observed in last week’s
on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1, the
seventeen SDGs are interconnected and must be pursued concurrently.
Poverty alleviation, food security, sustainable economic growth,
gender equality — each goal contains
ambitious targets, but it is the commitment to resilience and
inclusivity enshrined across all the goals that weaves them
together into a vision of the global agenda for the next 15 years
Scanning the goals in the context of...
Posted on July 16, 2015 by
“I really don't know why it is that all of us are so
committed to the sea, except I think it's because in addition to
the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships
change, it's because we all came from the sea. And it is an
interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the
exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the
ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in
our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the...
Posted on June 8, 2015 by
As we approach summer here in the United States, many families
have already started planning that dream get-away vacation to the
beach. A trip to the beach melts away our worries as quickly as
waves crash on the shore. For many people around the world though,
these same waves both provide and threaten livelihoods.
More than a billion people around the world make their homes in
low-lying coastal areas, and with good reason: rivers and lakes
provide clean water for cooking, bathing, agriculture,...
Posted on June 5, 2015 by
I will always be impressed as to how 4,000 inhabitants
established their community on Hinnavaru—a paragon of desert
islands in the Maldives. Hot sand, dust, and scarce vegetation
combine to provide scant shade beneath the unrelenting equatorial
sun. Somehow, every single vista on this island is overwhelmed by
the Indian Ocean. On a recent visit, I felt trapped. The only thing
preventing the ocean from swallowing the island up is a meter or
two of elevation above the water level.
Posted on May 29, 2015 by
In this photo, the owner of a small business in Ucayali, Peru,
works with an employee to create a product using seeds from the
Amazon rainforest. The business, Pro Mujer Oriente, employs 54
women to make handicrafts using tree materials. The
Peru Environmental Management and Forest Governance Support
, or Peru Bosques Project, supported Pro Mujer Oriente
to establish partnerships by participating in national trade fairs
and to improve the appearance of its products. With...
Posted on May 13, 2015 by
Carlos E. Quintela leads the Mozambique Coastal City
Adaptation Project—a five-year, $15 million effort to help
municipal authorities in Mozambique understand and apply urban
climate adaptation solutions, and increase local capacity to adapt
to climate change. Today, Carlos joins other climate
and development experts at the National
in St. Louis, Missouri.
Q. Some people still talk
about climate change as if it is a future threat, rather than
something we are facing now. Is this...
Posted on April 22, 2015 by
Chemonics launched its first development project in 1975, just
five years after the first Earth Day rallies in 1970 sparked the
modern environmental movement. Since then, the company has
implemented more than 200 projects in biodiversity conservation,
natural resource management, climate change adaptation, and related
areas. Certainly, Chemonics’ commitment to building healthier
human-nature interactions was a draw for me when I joined the
Although I’m a historian of Latin America by...
Posted on November 20, 2014 by
"Whose gonna stand up to the big machine?"
Stand up to fossil
Who's gonna stand up and
save the earth?”
This was the final refrain of
the youth delegation at the World Parks
. It was sung in front of several thousand odd people,
to by and large a strong ovation. Youth, primarily from
northern/western countries, played somewhat of an outsized role at
the Congress’ large plenary presentations, which supported the
strong theme of IUCN in its organization of the Congress...
Posted on August 12, 2014 by
The count of African countries supposedly increased by one in
June, when a Virginia man planted a flag in the disputed territory
of Bir Tawil and claimed himself king of “North Sudan.” He based
his claim on the doctrine of terra nullius, "land not
under the sovereignty of any state." The
was something of a novelty piece, and despite
posing a challenge to the region’s previous soi-disant ruler
the claim is dependent on legal recognition from the United Nations
and other entities...
Posted on August 4, 2014 by
The fifth Resilient Cities 2014 conference in Bonn, Germany was
organized by Local Governments for Sustainability, an association
of 1200 cities, towns, and counties in 84 countries. The conference
brings together city mayors, academics, international
organizations, and donor agencies alike, and is one of the few
opportunities that exist for city managers and experts to get
together and discuss urban climate change adaptation.
I attended the conference
wearing two hats— as a USAID project manager...