Community-based adaptation: can it be a solution?

March 27, 2012

Bothina Osama

Bothina Osama
Middle East & North Africa regional news editor, SciDev.Net

T Cannon, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Terry Cannon, Institute of Development Studies, UK

“Community-based” is the keyword for any solution you may think of on local level, this is how Terry Cannon, a researcher at the Institute of Development Studies in the UK described his view in finding a way to improve the integration of disaster risk management (DRM) with climate adaptation, in the context development.

Cannon pointed out that these three issues are difficult to separate, “if we are putting plans for development we have to work on disaster risk reduction, and this will lead us to climate adaptation”, so the three issues have to intersect in many junctures.

He maintained that the link between DRM and adaptation to climate change has improved in the last five years but the problem is that they are not linked to development, nor are the funds. The agencies operating at the community level especially NGOs, and the donors that support them, still find it difficult to integrate work on adaptation and on disaster risk reduction with development.

Therefore as community-based adaptation and community-based disaster risk management expand rapidly with adaptation funds flow in larger quantities, there is a danger that separate silos will continue with a lack of clarity of where funding will fit.

Cannon raised that community assumed to be valid locus of interventions, but the continued mismatch between people’s priorities and DRM have to stop, and culture and belief systems that are still largely ignored have to be engaged.

This blog post is part of our Planet Under Pressure 2012 coverage — which takes place 26–29 March 2012. To read news and analysis from the conference please visit our website.

Floating out of flood disasters

December 15, 2011


This blog article has been produced for Eye on Earth Summit 2011 by SciDev.Net Conference Service, which maintains all editorial independence.

In his speech at the Eye on Earth summit this week (12–15 December), former US president Bill Clinton highlighted how houses on stilts promoted by the movie star Brad Pitt can help prepare for natural disasters.

If hurricanes like Katrina was to hit areas where these houses are built, most of them would withstand the flooding, he said.

“For me, prevention is a very important part of disaster preparation and response,” he said.

Some of the amphibious houses of New Orleans also inspired an ambitious architectural project on so called ‘lift houses,’ which built its first pilot houses in Bangladesh last year. The idea is that when the floods hit, the houses would simply lift up on stilts and float until the floods subdue. Another similar idea, ‘tsunami safe(r) house’ originated from MIT’s Senseable City Lab following the devastating 2004 tsunami and was later implemented in Sri Lanka. In this case the houses were designed to suffer minimal damage in the floods.

The Bill Clinton Foundation was involved in post-disaster relief efforts, such as after the Haiti earthquake, which fits with one of the key themes of the summit  disaster management.

But just how much better planning  based on greater access to environmental and societal data  may help cut losses varies from disasters to disaster, he said. Better early warning systems can help, but disasters such as last year’s earthquake in Haiti should also prompt everybody to look at their building standards.

“We are now rebuilding all the houses with hurricane and earthquake resistant buildings, and we’re trying to make them more energy efficient and more energy independent so if there is another natural disaster that paralyses the grid, they would still be able to light their homes at nights so the children can study and parents can work, or do whatever they want to do.”

He also said research has shown that in the New Orleans area, where much of the natural vegetation forming the wetlands was cleared over the past 30 years of coastal over-development, vegetation could had cut the water speed by half and potentially cut damages casued by Katrina by a whopping 90 per cent.

Mićo Tatalović

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