Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Low carbon agriculture in Indonesia


Agriculture plays an important role in the national economy and food security of Indonesia. Increasing food production, while not adversely impacting the climate and local environment, is a challenge to be met. Indonesia has set an economy-wide emission reduction target of 20%. This would require rapid and substantial scaling up of mitigation technologies in agriculture sector as well. However, being a developing nation and vulnerable to a range of climate change impacts, the country also need to focus on adaptation aspects in its response to climate change. Meeting both adaptation and mitigation goals could pose challenge to the country with limited resources necessitating a synergistic approach to the problem. Such a synergistic approach is possible by considering both mitigation and adaptation goals while prioritizing mitigation and adaptation technologies from the context of policy focus. Estimation of marginal abatement costs and cost-benefit analysis of various agro-technologies could provide a means of meeting the both ends. The chapter has identified that there is a huge potential for the country to promote those adaptation technologies that have huge mitigation potential (and vice versa). The major barriers for expanding these technologies have been lack of proper incentives for technology adoption and capacity building of farmers. The best way to enhance the efficiency of a technology is to target it to the specific ecosystem conditions. While focusing on individual technologies, there is a need to consider how these technologies behave in the existing context of knowledge and infrastructure on the ground.

Need for Synergistic Approach to Climate Change in Indonesia

Indonesia is an agrarian economy with agriculture contributing to 13.8% of national GDP in terms of value addition and employs 38% of Indonesian population (The World Bank 2008). The government of Indonesia has made serious efforts to improve the food self sufficiency and nutritional security over the past decade. As a result, the national expenditure on agriculture stood at 21.9 trillion IDR in 2007, which is double the expenditure made in 2001. Despite the rising investments in agriculture, Indonesia is still a net importer of cereals, pulses and sugar and is facing the challenge of hunger and malnutrition with nearly 38% of its children suffering from under weight and malnutrition. Indonesia is classified as ‘serious’ in global hunger index by IFPRI.

As a vulnerable state to climate change impacts

While the above challenges are yet to be fully addressed, the climate change brings another dimension of challenge to the Indonesian agriculture which is due to its vulnerability to the climate change impacts while also contributing to the climate change (Las and Unadi 2010). A short discussion on climate change impacts on Indonesian agriculture is presented in the chapter on ‘Developing adaptation policies in the agriculture sector: Indonesia’s experience Agriculture’ in this book. Past climate observations and available climate change projections indicate that Indonesia is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts (Ministry of Environment October 1999, Ministry of Environment 2011). The historical analysis of climatic data has indicated a significant increase in maximum and minimum temperatures across most of the stations in Indonesia along with associated sea level rise (Ministry of Environment 2011).  Past trends also indicated the presence of changes in precipitation, incidence of extreme temperatures and dry spells associated with a clear influence of decadal cycles of El Nino and La Nina. However, the trends were not uniform across the Island nation. For example, significant reduction in December-January rainfall was observed in parts of Sumatra, Java and Papua while an increase in precipitation was observed in eastern Indonesia including parts of Bali and Nusa Tenggara Barat. Despite the limitations in the availability of good quality projections for Indonesia region, the available projections indicated a similar trend as that of the historical trends (e.g. increased wet days in Bali and Nusa Tenggra). Though conclusive evidence is not yet available on projected negative impacts of climate change on crop production, analysis presented in Indonesian National Communications indicate change in wet and dry spells and seasonal precipitation patterns along with the influence of El Nino could largely pose serious threat to the Indonesian agriculture.

As a contributor of GHG emissions

In addition being vulnerable to climate change impacts, Indonesia also contributes to climate change in both direct and indirect means. As a direct source, Indonesian agriculture contributes to about 6% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the sector stands fourth after land use, land use change and forestry, fuel combustion, and waste sectors (Figure 1). The major contributors of GHG emissions in agriculture sector are rice paddies (Methane emissions to the tune of 34,860 GgCO2e), soil fertilizations (nitrous oxides emissions to the tune of 15,534 GgCO2e), and other minor sources such as emissions from manure piles, biomass burning etc (to the tune of 12,271 GgCO2e) (Suryahadi and Permana 2010).

Figure 1. GHG emissions (%) from various sectors in Indonesia (Las and Unadi 2010)

Land use changes: The indirect contribution of agriculture to GHG emissions is through demand for land. The growing population exerts pressure on food that in turn exerts pressure on land and other sources forcing intensive cultivation practices such as fertilizer applications and irrigation water pumping. In a scenario of increasing population, the agriculture is expected to produce more food either through vertical expansion (increase in productivity) or through the horizontal expansion (land use changes from forests to agricultural purposes). In Indonesia, both these phenomenon can be seen in the recent past. The productivity levels of Indonesian agriculture have increased over the years and more specifically in food crops such as rice. The rice productivity has more than doubled over a period of 40 years (FAO 2010), mostly due to employment of high yielding varieties, irrigation, fertilizers, and pesticides. At the same time, the cereal demand during the past four decades has also increased from 10 million tons in 1961 to 39 million tons in 2005 (FAO 2010). In order to meet this demand, over the same period, the area under primary crops has increased by 113% and the area under agriculture has increased by 25.6% while the area under forests has reduced by 38% in the last two decades alone (FAO 2010). This partially indicates that agriculture has played a role in converting the land under forests to agriculture in Indonesia. This is in conformity with the trend observed in the Southeast Asia (Figure 2; Prabhakar, 2010; and FAO, 2010) and corroborates to that of the land use change trends presented in the Second National Communication submitted by the Government of Indonesia (Ministry of Environment 2011).
Figure 2. Expansion of area under agriculture with corresponding decline in area under forests in Southeast Asia (FAO 2010).

Changing food preferences: Indonesia is a major non-vegetarian population. With growing income levels, the per capita consumption of animal products is also increasing over the years. As result, the emissions from animal husbandry are significant in Indonesia. The enteric fermentation contributes to the tune of 12,755 GgCO2e of methane annually. As shown in Figure 3, the animal husbandry related emissions have shown an increasing trend since 2003 owing to relative increase in animal population (Suryahadi and Permana 2010)

Institutional arrangements and systemic barriers for mainstreaming climate change adaptation

The importance of various institutions in achieving climate change adaptation in specific and sustainable development in general have been well recognized by various international conventions such as processes under UNFCCC and the Commission on Sustainable Development. Institutions play catalytic role in bridging gaps and linking opportunities with needs so that the agenda of climate change adaptation is fulfilled to its fullest extent (UNFCCC, 2007). However, there are systemic barriers that make these institutions less than ideal in delivering the expected deliverables by them. For example, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, 2005) has identified the weaknesses with many partner institutions to implement result driven development strategies, accountability, and transparency. Similar concerns appear to be the reason behind the slow progress in Millennium Development Goals (United Nations, 2010). These institutional limitations would also effect the adaptation activities since adaptation activities would also have to be financed and managed by the same institutions in most national circumstances.

Panel members discussion the role of institutions in promoting low carbon development in the Asia Pacific Region

In order to overcome some of these barriers, various international (e.g. UNEP Adaptation Network), regional (e.g. UNEP Asia Pacific Adaptation Network), and thematic networks (e.g. University Network for Climate and Ecosystems Adaptation Research of UNU, and Ecosystems and Livelihoods Adaptation Network of International Union for Conservation of Agriculture) have come into existence (Asia Pacific Adaptation Network, 2011; UNU, 2011; IUCN, 2011). These networks have the agenda of promoting collaborative research and understanding on climate change adaptation and link various stakeholders with the opportunities that exist to promote adaptation. Though these networks are largely successful in bringing together various stakeholders and sharing the information across boundaries, their effectiveness in addressing overarching barriers such as limited funds for adaptation (Srinivasan and Al-Amin, 2010) and means to measure progress in adaptation (Prabhakar et al., 2010) have been limited.

Substantive discussions on institutional arrangements for promoting adaptation could be observed under the Conference of Parties (Prabhakar and Srinivasan, 2009). The establishment of Adaptation Fund Board has been one important step in accelerating adaptation actions in resource constrained and highly vulnerable countries (Adaptation Fund, 2011). Nationally, few countries in Asia have established institutional mechanisms to govern adaptation. Notable to mention are the National Council on Climate Change and Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund by Indonesia, climate change resilience fund by Bangladesh, Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change by India, and National Leading Group to Address Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism Fund by China.

Adaptation Fund, 2011: Adaptation Fund established by the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Accessed 17 June 2011 at http://www.adaptation-fund.org.
Asia Pacific Adaptation Network, 2011: Climate Change Adaptation in Asia and the Pacific. Accessed 17 June 2011 at http://www.asiapacificadapt.net/.
IUCN, 2011: Ecosystems and Livelihoods Adaptation Network, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Switzerland. Accessed on 17 June 2011 at http://www.elanadapt.net/.
Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, 2005: Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness: Ownership, harmonization, alignment, results, and mutual accountability. Accessed 17 June 2011 at www.adb.org/media/articles/2005/7033_international_community_aid/paris_declaration.pdf.
Prabhakar, S.V.R.K., T. Kobashi, and A. Srinivasan, 2010: Monitoring Progress of Adaptation to Climate Change: The Use of adaptation metrics. Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management, 2 (3): 435-442.
Prabhakar, S.V.R.K. and A. Srinivasan, 2009: Financing and Governing Adaptation and Promoting Disaster Risk Reduction. Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Hyama, Japan. Accessed 17 June 2011 at http://enviroscope.iges.or.jp/modules/envirolib/view.php?docid=1856.
Srinivasan, A. and A.Q. Al-Amin, 2010: Financing Adaptation in Agriculture and Water Sectors in Asia: An overview. Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management, 2 (3): 427-434.
UNFCCC. 2007: Bali Action Plan. Report of the Conference of the Parties on its thirteenth session, held in Bali from 3 to 15 December 2007. Bonn, Germany: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
United Nations, 2010: Keeping the promise: a forward-looking review to promote an agreed action agenda to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Report of the Secretary-General. Accessed 17 June 2011 at http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N10/238/02/PDF/N1023802.pdf.
UNU, 2011: University Network for Climate and Ecosystems Adaptation Research. UNU, Tokyo, Japan. Accessed on 17 June 2011 at http://isp.unu.edu.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Risk insurance in the Asia Pacific Region: How the processes under UNFCCC can help?

Risk insurance can provide an effective means of catastrophic risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the developing countries. The ongoing discussions by the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are putting substantial efforts to promote climate change adaptation through international cooperation in the form of providing additional finances and technologies including proposals to promote a global or regional climate risk insurance facility. Case studies from within and outside the Asia-Pacific region provide valuable lessons which could be used for promoting risk insurance by the future climate regime (post-Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012). The analysis of these risk insurance proposals to the Convention and comparison of what they intend to achieve with that of the existing issues within the risk insurance sector in the developing Asia-Pacific indicate that these proposals address some of the major issues that are limiting the spread of risk insurance. However, no single proposal is comprehensive enough to address all the issues and all the proposals lack details in terms of how they can achieve what they intend to achieve. There is a need for the proposals to the Convention to give more thought on how they address the issues such as high base risks, lack of historical data required for designing risk insurance systems, limited awareness in the utility of insurance instruments, keeping the premium prices within affordable levels, encouraging the role of private sector, enabling greater access to reinsurers, and instituting enabling policies to create a proactive risk mitigation environment with an eye on sustainability. A convergence approach wherein the proposals incorporate lessons from on-the-ground experiences from regional, national and local initiatives could provide an effective model for promoting the risk insurance.

.........Not a full article......

The natural and man-made hazards have historically undermined the developmental gains across the world. The Asia-Pacific region is one of the most vulnerable regions to a range of primary hydro-meteorological natural hazards such as storms, floods, and droughts. The data from EM-DAT suggest that the number of hydro-meteorological natural disasters has been increasing at an average annual rate of 217% over the past 40 years in the Asia-Pacific region (EM-DAT, 2010).

 In the region, the total human lives lost due to disasters were 3729 with estimated damage costs of 11.54 billion USD in 2009. Similar increase in the number of catastrophic natural disasters and related losses was also reported by Munich Re according to which both the insured and uninsured losses have been increasing over the years.

Climate change has brought an additional dimension to disaster risks in the Asia-Pacific region as it is projected to exacerbate the intensity and magnitude of various natural hazards such as storms, high-intensity rainfall events, heat waves, floods and droughts. Especially, the projections suggest high probability for an increasing trend in the high-intensity and low probability events (IPCC, 2007; Kunreuther and Michel-Kerjan, 2007). These increased catastrophic risks will further undermine the developmental gains already made in the Asia-Pacific region.

Taking agricultural sector as an example, being one of the highly vulnerable sectors in the region, farming communities are in particular at greater risk due to weather related crop failures. Often, farmers borrow loans from local banks prior to the cropping season. However, farmers, banks, and governments are put at higher financial risk due to increasing frequency of crop failures, and often governments are forced to waive the loans. In case of India, estimates suggest that the government waived off crop loans worth 16 billion USD in 2008 alone (Srinivasan, 2008). Similar incidences are observed across other countries in the Asia-Pacific region (Sompo Japan Insurance Inc., 2010).

Hence, in order to address additional risks brought by the impact of climate change, there is a need to relook at and reframe the current risk reduction strategies especially in terms of development and utilization of risk spreading instruments within the Asia-Pacific region. This working paper reviews the current status of risk insurance and identifies emerging issues and experiences. These issues and experiences are applied to various risk insurance proposals made by the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC for assessing the extent to which they consider experiences to address issues for promoting the risk insurance.

The concept of risk transfer or risk spreading entails that the individual (the insured) risks be reduced by spreading or transferring the risks from the insured to the insurance provider (the insurer) since the insurer is in a stronger financial position than the insured (Njegomir and Maksimovic, 2009). The insurance provider is able to insure the risks of the insured largely due to the fact that the insurer obtains premiums from a large number of insured who are at different levels of risks by making sure that the total amount of premiums collected are far greater than or exceeds the underwriting of risks (termed as law of large numbers). Insurance agencies in turn underwrite some of these risks with reinsurance firms that provides needed buffer against catastrophic event related losses. In sum, the risk insurance scheme functions as part of the social security net through risk transfer mechanism and thereby contribute to build the resilience of vulnerable societies.

Risk transfer has been widely advocated as one of the best means of risk mitigation across the world (Arnold, 2008; Siamwalla and Valdes, 1986; Swiss Re, 2010) due to several advantages it provides:
·         Promotes emphasis on risk mitigation compared to the current response-driven mechanisms.
·         Provides a cost-effective way of coping financial impacts of climate and weather induced hazard events.
·         Supports the climate change adaptation by covering the residual risks uncovered by the other risk reduction mechanisms.
·         Stabilizes rural incomes and hence reduce the adverse effects on income fluctuation and socio-economic development.
·         Provides opportunities for public-private partnerships.
·         Reduced burden on government resources for post-disaster relief and reconstruction.
·         Helps communities and individuals to quickly renew and restore the livelihood activity.
·         Depending on the way the insurance is designed, the insurance mechanism can address a wide variety of risks emanating from climatic and non-climatic sources.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Some considerations for mainstreaming climate change adaptation in disaster risk reduction at community level

The New Climate Risk Management Project (NCRM) has provided valuable lessons and experiences to the local NGOs that have not yet started working in the area of climate change adaptation and mainstreaming climate change considerations into their local risk reduction initiatives. From this perspective, climate change adaptation and mainstreaming climate change considerations into local initiatives is still at a nascent stage for many of these NGOs. This project in a way provides an entry point for these NGOs to start thinking about implications of climate change for them and for the constituency that they are addressing while also providing an entry point to the local governments and other stakeholders that they engage with. As a result, the project has helped in spreading the word of ‘what needs to be done in a change world’ though in a modest manner.

There are several successes that the project has achieved despite of the reason that both the concept and content of the project are new to both the implementing agency and the agencies and communities that they have collaborated and engaging with. These successes were well documented in the project evaluation report preceding this section. The report clearly indicate that the community engagement process in itself proved to be an essential prerequisite for any climate change adaptation program or project due to the reason that the communities are the first impacted and they are the first responders to these climate change manifestations.

One of the first observations one would easily make while implementing or guiding somebody implementing these kinds of projects is that there is no ‘reliable’ local information for either educating the community members or for designing adaptation interventions at the first place. Educating local communities about global climate change would make little sense to the local communities if the information doesn’t connect them to the reality that they have been observing around them. Hence, the first intervention would be to strengthen the existing risk reduction measures without even asking ‘how much more need to be done’ since the existing interventions themselves needs a fillip to take care of the ‘current observed climate variability’. This may raise a question of whether or not ‘tightening the existing systems’ would suffice to be eligible for a project to be termed ‘climate change adaptation project’.  The answer depends on how the context of adaptation is defined within the project. Probably taking a win-win route would be much easier for these projects, a route in which the activities implemented hold good for the current climate and for the future climate.

Assessing the activities implemented in this project, the project includes both kinds of activities, activities that hold for a future climate change (e.g. floating vegetable gardens that hold good for any level of floods) and for the current floods (e.g. raising the homesteads). Raising the homesteads above the historical level could be a safe approach but may not be termed as ‘climate proof approach’ in absence of reliable climate change impact predictions since nobody can tell if 2 feet above historical floods would suffice and for how long. One of the limitations is that there are cost implications as well. Raising the homesteads from 2 feet above historical flood level to 4 feet above historical flood levels costs more which means additional financial burden for the implementing agencies and for the communities who share the costs.

While it has been a challenge for the implementing agencies to implement these projects, it becomes even more challenging when the local governments consider these projects as ‘out of their mandate’. It is often hard to make them believe that there is a value to integrate the idea of raising homesteads within government driven programs or to introduce training programs on floating vegetable cultivation since they consider these are outside their mandate. The limited resources with the local governments make it even more difficult to find any engaging point with them. The best one could expect is to invite a government official to distribute project benefits to the beneficiaries. The challenge is how to move from this point of engagement to the point of even more stronger engagement such as joint implementation of projects? The project has certainly helped in engaging the local governments to the first step.

The following recommendations appear to be valid for implementing climate change adaptation projects:
1) Climate change adaptation cannot be isolated from any other development efforts. Both development and adaptation are closely interlinked, particularly at the local scale we experienced.
2) There is limited knowledge amongst local communities on what climate change is, why it is happening and how to respond to it. While improving understanding of climate change amongst local communities might be important, communities are interested in understanding how to cope with, and adapt to, change – of which climate change is just one part.
3) Good progress has been made so far in Faridpur and this progress has established a good point to move forwards from. But local governments and NGOs could play a even greater role in promoting local adaptation initiatives by close closely collaborating with each other.
4) Local actions could be more closely based on thorough or ‘scientific’ climate change vulnerability assessments for which the knowledge and tools be made available.
5) Gender aspects could also have been better addressed by the local initiatives, bearing in mind the strong involvement of women in the self-help groups being formed for promoting rural entrepreneurship.
6) While the emphasis of the initiatives was on enhancing incomes and livelihoods, more can be done to promote access to resources such as land, health, education, communication facilities, and energy sources. More effort in these areas is needed. 

Scaling up innovating local practices: Role of private and public partners in Bangladesh

One of the important problems plaguing the social development in Bangladesh has been the poor penetration of private sector and life-transforming low-cost and climate-friendly technologies. The reasons for poor penetration of low-cost technologies are listed below:

1.       Poor purchasing power of rural communities which has acted as disincentive for the private sector to see rural areas as market areas for their produce which in turn hindered in producing suitable products.
2.       Poor education and skill levels of rural communities which couldn’t be directly utilized by the private sector to establish rural industries those could produce low-cost climate friendly technologies.
3.       Poor incentives from the government: Though there has been several developmental programs implemented by the national and local governments, these are often based on technologies that are already available, suffer from poor reach through hierarchical government systems and often have been far from successful in addressing local needs. In addition to government’s own initiatives, the support to private sector in innovating and spreading low-cost climate-friendly technologies has been far from sufficient.
4.       Lack of mechanism that identifies and promotes local innovations.
This project aims to address some of the above issues through the approach of identifying and deploying low-cost climate friendly technologies in rural Bangladesh. The approach has been based on the fact ‘seeing is believing.’ The project provides several lessons for developmental workers, private sector and government to learn and improve the existing practices in low-cost technology development and diffusion. From the experience of this project and review of other experiences in Bangladesh and elsewhere, we derive the following recommendations for consideration of different stakeholders in low-cost technology development and diffusion.

·         Recognize the potential of low-cost technologies: There is a huge potential for low-cost technologies in terms of spread and revenue generation in Bangladesh. With more than 70% of people living in rural areas who are eager to get out of poverty, any low-cost climate-friendly technologies that addresses the local needs would be quickly be adopted.
·         Promote appropriate technologies: The project has shown that the technologies with income generation potential will have more potential than those technologies and tools that aid in day-to-day life. Some of such technologies include bio-energy (e.g. bio-gas plants where households can sell excess biogas to their neighbors), food production (e.g. floating cage fisheries), and food processing and preservation (e.g. solar driers).
·         Scaling up in adoption: Scalability of a technology is an important aspect to be considered. A technology that is low cost, in the socio-economic context of rural Bangladesh, easy to use, and efficient can be easily be scaled up in adoption. A simple scalable characteristic of a technology alone may not be sufficient since there needs to be some enabling environment and achieving economies of scale are crucial to maximize this potential.
·         Collaboration for Reaching Economies of Scale: Economies of scale refers to the phenomenon of reduced unit cost of a product with increasing production. A simple example of Grameen phone in Bangladesh tells us the story of the potential of converting high cost technologies into low-cost through the economies of scale. Several of technologies promoted today suffer due to the reason that the proponents of these technologies have failed in reaching the economies of scale. Economies of scale can be reached by expanding the production in tandem with a vigorous marketing strategy that can impress potential adopters of the benefits of technology so that the breakeven point can be quickly reached. The production process should consider usage of local materials and the using the abundant rural labor. We see that many technologies showcased by the Change Maker have high potential to be scaled up soon reaching economies of scale. For such a thing to happen, it is imperative that various stakeholders work together which can set an appropriate enabling environment for enhanced adoption of the technology.

As Enabler: Government should play a role of enabler, by providing enabling environment for promoting the actions of the private sector in reaching out to the rural market places. Enabling environment could be created by:
·         Establish incentive mechanisms:
o    Tax benefits for climate friendly and low-cost technology producing firms and entities including rural groups.
o    Subsidies for climate friendly technologies for consumers (especially those focusing on farmers groups and for those technologies that have income generating potential)
·         Promoting public-private partnerships where government supports research and development of low-cost technologies while private sector focuses on scaling up and reaching out to the rural markets.
·         Establishing a technology fund that can be used for providing grants and low interest loans to institutions and individual innovators for showcasing the low-cost and climate friendly technologies.
·         Revisiting the rural development programs for local innovation: The current rural development programs are designed in such a way that there is only a one-way flow of information and it often see the rural communities as ‘receivers’. The capacity development aspect of rural development is mainly focused on simple ‘use’ of ‘a’ technology with no emphasis on how to promote local innovation. The potential for paradigm shift here is to introduce educational and training programs that can help generate local innovations.
·         De-regulation: Governments often fail to see the full potential of markets by putting in place several regulations. The experience from elsewhere has proved that the de-regulation and open market conditions help in spreading the technologies through private sector.
·         Create Rural Tech Institutions: Currently, there are no public owned research and educational institutions that engage in developing and diffusion of climate friendly low-cost technologies in the country and there is a very high need for establishing such an institute at the national level that identifies and improves the local innovations and links public with the private sector entities.
·         Rules and Regulations: Certain rules and regulations within banking industry have become hindrance in adoption of technology. One such rule that hindered the uptake of technology was the condition of income generation for issuing loans to biogas plants. The banks could issue loans both for biogas plants and cattle, where cattle alone can be considered as income generating component. Excess cattle could have helped the loanee to generate excess biogas and sell to the neighbors.  The combining of bank loans with other government developmental programs could be another way of improving the rural energy security through biogas plants where bank provide loans for biogas plant while the developmental programs of the government help in obtaining improved cattle breed.
·         Coupling with innovative financing programs including Microfinance: Diffusion of climate-friendly technologies be effectively coupled with the microfinance programs offered by banks and other microfinance institutions. Income generating technologies such as solar driers and biogas plants could be effectively promoted. In addition, obtaining loans require one to mortgage certain assets. Since most of the rural poor are devoid of ‘mortgagable assets’, obtaining loans for initiating an income generating activity becomes a difficult proposition. There is a need that banks recognize the importance of promoting adoption of climate friendly technologies and provide special provisions for these sections of people. One of the ways is to provide group loans and to design loan projects that fully engage low-cost and climate friendly technologies.

·         Be a catalyst: NGOs play a catalytic role and can fill the gaps that government and private sector cannot effectively fill. Most effectively, developmental agencies should help governments and private sector with understanding the local needs, help uptake of local wisdom and innovations into government run research and developmental programs and educate communities about various ongoing initiatives for development.
·         Have better understanding of local needs: Since NGOs work closely with the local communities, the main role expected from these developmental agencies is to have better understanding of local needs in terms of technologies and identify strategies to organize communities to take benefit from the private sector and government initiatives.
·         Technology targeting through promoting participation: NGOs should help communities identify appropriate technologies by educating them and help choosing the one that is suitable to their socio-economic conditions. Here, NGOs play an important role in converting the unfelt needs into felt needs which is necessary in initial technology acceptance.
·         Combining technology demonstration with facility to uptake: The often missing component in the ongoing technology demonstration activities is the missing facility for the potential adopters to uptake the technology. It is advised that NGOs should bring together the technology provider and financer together and design a package that helps in easy diffusion of technology. The design factor here could consist of organizing communities to accept group loans in order to buy a technology that helps in group income generation.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Climate change adaptation in Asia: Livelihoods and poverty

The full paper can be downloaded from here: http://pub.iges.or.jp/modules/envirolib/view.php?docid=5099

Climate change will have significant impact on rural livelihoods and poverty undermining the developmental gains made by countries in Asia, as is evident from the literature reviewed. The review suggests that these impacts will vary widely from region to region and communities within a region and country depending on the existing vulnerability and preparedness. While several evidences could be found for livelihood impacts of climatic variability, the same is not true in case of identifying and differentiating impacts of climate change from variability. There is a clear dearth of literature in areas of projected livelihood impacts and poverty implications at regional, national and sub-national scales. The literature is even scantier when it comes to assessing projected impacts for specific sub-sections of society such as rural land less labourers and those secondary livelihoods dependent on agriculture sector. Several adaptation practices have been suggested in the published literature largely aiming at stabilizing livelihoods with largely qualitative attribution for adaptation effectiveness in terms of livelihoods and poverty reduction. Approaches such as community based adaptation, livelihood and economic diversification, providing access rights to natural resources and migration has gained prominence. There is a clear dearth of literature employing tools for assessing quantitative livelihood and poverty reduction benefits of adaptation practices on the ground.

Asia is predominantly an agrarian society as is evident from 58% of its total population living in rural areas out of which 81.8% are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods (FAOSTAT, 2011). In addition, agriculture employs 24.7% of total population in these countries and contributes to 15.3% of total value added GDP (FAOSTAT, 2011; World Bank, 2011a). Asia also has high levels of rural poverty compared to the urban poverty, with relatively higher poverty incidence in the 8 least developing countries in the region (FAOSTAT, 2011). Though the Asia has emerged as an economic power during recent decades, there is still a considerable gap in progress in developmental indicators when compared to rest of the world (World Bank, 2011b). In terms of developmental indicators, Southeast Asia is the third poorest region in the world after Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, and ranks poorly in terms of labor productivity, access to food, maternal health, and forestation (United Nations, 2009). Consequently, as large proportion of rural population dependant on agriculture, agriculture has been identified as a key driver of economic growth in the region (World Bank, 2007).

There is very sparse published literature on past and projected future impacts of climate change on livelihoods and poverty. In general, the available literature suggest that unmitigated climate change impacts in the future could result in significant impact on the regions prospects for sustained development in terms of income generation, food security and poverty reduction (ADB, 2009). Climate change will not have uniform impact on a population within a country but rather depends on location, socio-economic conditions and level of preparedness (Begam et al, 2011). A review study undertaken by the Asian Development Bank has indicated significant economic costs due to climate change impacts mostly on agrarian and related sectors in the East Asia. The negative impacts are pronounced after 2050 due to severe negative impacts on rice production, the principle and staple food crop grown in this region. These negative impacts on agriculture productivity would have significant impact on the aggregated household welfare, livelihoods and poverty in the region (Zhai and Zhuang, 2009).

Available literature suggests the need for identifying and promoting technologies and policy options that will provide both mitigation potential as well as sustained income generation potential in a changed climate (Bhandari et al., 2007; Rosenzweig and Tubiello, 2007; Paul et al., 2009;). Interesting examples seem to emerge on how some practices provide completely unexpected livelihood benefits which otherwise may not be captured in a standard evaluation frameworks, as in the case of introduction of traditional flood mitigation measures in China could positively impact the local livelihoods leading to both reduction of physical and economic vulnerabilities of communities (Xu et al., 2009). Significant amount of literature has stressed for the greater role of local communities in decision making (Alauddin and Quiggin, 2008) and in prioritization and adoption of adaptation options (Prabhakar et al., 2010; Prabhakar and Srinivasan, 2011). 

Defining adequate community property rights, including solving the issues such as land tenure, reducing income disparity, exploring market based and diversified off-farm livelihood options, moving from production based approaches to productivity and efficiency decision making based approaches, and promoting integrated decision making approaches were suggested (Merry et al., 2005; Brouwer et al., 2007; Paul et al., 2009; Niino, 2011; Stucki and Smith, 2011). There is considerable stress in the literature on low cost options and the need for scaling up of the same, considering the vast majority of population living below poverty line in some of the least developed countries such as Bangladesh (Iwasaki et al., 2009; Rawlani and Sovacool, 2011). Greater understanding is required on linkages between local livelihoods, ecosystem functions, and land resources for creating positive impact on local livelihoods and poverty reduction in areas with greater dependency on natural resources (Paul et al., 2009). Keeping in view the interconnected nature of the problems across geographical , social and political scales, an emphasis on increased regional collaboration in scientific research and policy making was suggested for reducing climate change impacts on water, biodiversity and livelihoods in Himalayan region (Xu et al., 2009).

    ADB, 2009: The Economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia: A Regional Review. Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines.
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Community based adaptation in Bangladesh: Some lessons to take home

Visiting rural communities in Bangladesh has always been like ‘homecoming’ for me. But I seem to learn something new every time I visit. This time was no different. I, along with 25+ participants of the CBA5 conference, visited the Gopalgang area in Southern Bangladesh. Historically, the Gopalgang area is highly vulnerable to hydro-meteorological disasters, flooding and water logging.

We travelled to the flood prone char lands of Gopalgang. These are inhabited islands of silt formed in the middle of a river as it changes its course and where local communities have raised their homes above the historical flood levels. They’ve been trained on cultivating crops on floating beds - beds of bamboo rafts 1.5m x 2m in size, stuffed with manure and made with water hyacinth - and have formed small self help groups to promote micro savings and rural entrepreneurship. Here, the local research center of the Bangladesh Centre for Adaptation Studies (BCAS) has been researching interesting ideas that allow communities to adapt to the climate with the use of ‘technologies’ like raised houses. BCAS has also been promoting low cost and small-scale energy technologies like solar power and smokeless stoves for local communities.

Figure showing the floating vegetable gardens that have become a panacea for all problems posed by the recurring floods in Bangladesh

Figure showing a floating house concept that BCAS is experimenting in its field laboratory

The day after our visit to the field we discussed our experiences and the take-home messages from our trip. There was some clear agreement on some of these messages - irrespective of the country that the participants represented. In fact, many participants felt that what they had seen in the field was strikingly similar to the situation in their own countries - issues such as the lack of education, access to health care, and other livelihoods and communication facilities. The group felt that these issues could offer an entry point for mainstreaming climate change adaptation initiatives.

The lack of access by local communities to natural resources – like land – was also another point of consensus. These resources could have otherwise provided a sense of security and source of income to communities.
The participants were impressed by the way the local communities were facilitated to form self-help groups for promoting entrepreneurship and channeling collective savings for enhancing their income and security. But there is clearly more work to be done.

Participants had the following take-home messages which could help to sustain and enhance local efforts:

1) Adaptation cannot be isolated from any other development efforts. Both development and adaptation are closely interlinked, particularly at the local scale we experienced.

2) There is limited knowledge amongst local communities on what climate change is, why it is happening and how to respond to it. While improving understanding of climate change amongst local communities might be important, communities are interested in understanding how to cope with, and adapt to, change – of which climate change is just one part.

3) Good progress has been made so far in Gopalgang and this progress has established a good point to move forwards from. But the visiting CBA participants felt that local governments and NGOs could play a greater role in promoting local adaptation initiatives.

Understanding community strengths and weaknesses is an important fist step to climate change adaptation

4) Local actions could be more closely based on thorough or ‘scientific’ climate change vulnerability assessments.

5) Gender aspects could also have been better addressed by the local initiatives, bearing in mind the strong involvement of women in the self-help groups being formed for promoting rural entrepreneurship.

6) While the emphasis of the initiatives was on enhancing incomes and livelihoods, less has been done to promote access to resources such as land, health, education, communication facilities, and energy sources. More effort in these areas is needed.

All of these areas require more attention if adaptation efforts are to be truly ‘sustainable’.

How can we measure adaptation: monitoring and evaluation as an entry point?

There has been growing interest in measuring progress in adaptation. This has partly been driven by the Bali Action Plan adopted at the Conference of Parties 13, which stressed the need for prioritising and incentivising adaptation actions. Without knowing how effective adaptation actions are it is impossible to prioritise and incentivise them.

The importance of measuring adaptation actions in some way has been evident during the formal and informal discussions at the CBA5 conference held in Bangladesh this week. Most of these discussions have focused on integrating a ‘metric’ — a system of measurement consisting of a unit and a scale — into some kind of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework. Such integration makes sense because a stand-alone system of measurement may not do justice to this important topic and may not have long-term sustainability. Also, many of the donor agencies, local implementing agencies and governments involved in current community-based adaptation interventions already have internal M&E systems in place to measure their own effectiveness.

In a session on adaptation frameworks, most of the frameworks presented had certain points in common. Most of them identify the principles on which adaptation is planned and implemented; have a set of determinants that underline the adaptive capacity; are built based on the principles of adaptive management; and make sure that there is multi-level and cross-sectoral interaction.

It was clear from the session that the frameworks should be a ‘guide post’ with built-in flexibility rather than a rigid column and row-type evaluation sheet that may not be able to capture the diverse impacts of adaptation actions. It was also agreed that the frameworks need to capture overlap between different domains of decision making such as adaptation, development and disaster risk reduction. The speakers reiterated the need for moving beyond an asset-based approach to more social and institutional approaches that instill a sense of learning and evolving as the understanding on climate change impacts and strategies continue to progress.

The frameworks also agree in terms of using participatory processes, and the need for capturing the overall change as a goal. Climate change impacts and adaptation interventions often have a broad range of consequences that are both quantitative and qualitative in nature and may or may not be measurable. One tool for capturing change that has been explored with great success is participatory video. Participatory videos are captured by local communities and shared with different stakeholders to make a case for interventions or as a compelling report on impacts of project interventions. Participatory video involves local communities, provides a creative means of expression and promotes accountability, while also being compatible with other forms of M&E systems.

There are some problems with the current M&E proposals. Most appear to be ‘academic’ in nature, making the following assumptions: that it is easy to estimate base lines and establish adaptation targets at levels where adaptation is important; that tools exist for measuring adaptation and M&E and they just need to be brought together; that local actors are capable of choosing what is right and wrong and have the information to make these choices; that integration across scales is simple and straightforward, which doesn’t appear to be the case. There will be a steep learning curve for using these frameworks and constant backup from the academic community will be needed, which may make them difficult to implement in the real world and will probably limit their spread. The frameworks may not necessarily provide donor agencies with a means to compare across different geographical scales and it could be difficult to decide how much money to invest in what project.

It is important to note that there are also limitations in choosing M&E as an entry point for integrating adaptation metrics. This system would not take into consideration the option of prioritising adaptation actions before they are implemented (ex-ante). M&E could help in scaling up pilot schemes to regions with similar characteristics. But what about areas where no pilot interventions are made where a fresh entry is required? There is a need to think about how to (re)design these M&E frameworks so they can be used for ex-ante stages of the project cycle. And what about developmental projects that may have adaptation co-benefits? There is a risk that project managers may not evaluate these projects using M&E frameworks designed for ‘adaptation’ projects. A single and integrated M&E framework that considers environmental, disaster, climate change and developmental domains of decision making may be the best approach.

Original article: IIED Website