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Community based adaptation and culture in theory and practice. Rachel Berger and Jonathan Ensor. Summary. Definitions Key concepts linking culture and adaptation From theory to practice Implications for practice. Practical Action – who are we?.

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community based adaptation and culture in theory and practice

Community based adaptation and culture in theory and practice

Rachel Berger and Jonathan Ensor

  • Definitions
  • Key concepts linking culture and adaptation
  • From theory to practice
  • Implications for practice
practical action who are we
Practical Action – who are we?
  • International NGO, founded 1965 by Fritz Schumacher, author of ‘Small is Beautiful’
  • UK HQ and 7 overseas offices
  • Focus on reducing poverty through the use of technology
  • Engaging with communities in marginal areas to develop responses to the challenges of climate change
defining community based adaptation
Defining Community-based adaptation
  • A process focused on communities most vulnerable to CC
  • Looking at how CC affects their local environment and their assets and capacities
  • Essentially an action research approach to the impact of CC on livelihoods

(Huq and Reid, 2007)

defining culture
Defining culture

‘the sum total of the material and spiritual activities and products of a given social group...a coherent and self-contained system of values and symbols ...[that] provides individuals with the signposts and meanings for behaviour’

Stavenhagen, 1998

culture and adaptation
Culture and adaptation
  • How does a shared culture alter or limit the options for adaptation?
  • How do individuals within communities respond to the prospect of changes to their lives?
  • What lessons emerge for those working to secure lives and livelihoods in the face of climate change?
key concept 1 culture and change
Key concept 1: Culture and change

‘Improving the well-being of a person can normally only be done through his goals… not to frustrate their realisation’

(Raz, 1988)

The importance of community and identity changes … Responses to the prospect of change varies depending on how and why change emerges.

(Following Kymlicka, 1989)

key concept 2 culture and choice
Key concept 2: Culture and choice

‘Engaging in the same activities will…have a different significance in the life of the individual depending on the social practices and attitudes to such activities’

(Raz, 1988)

‘Freedom of choice is dependent on social practices, cultural meanings and a shared language… the context of individual choice is the range of options passed down to us by our culture’ (Kymlicka, 1995)

from theory to practice 1 building on local cultural norms
From theory to practice: 1Building on local cultural norms

Turkana camp

Camel milking

Northern Kenya – pastoralists lives are built around complex value systems that determine coping strategies

adaptation that fits cultural values
Adaptation that fits cultural values

Farming aloe instead of collecting from the wild

Young men of the warrior age set

from theory to practice 2 local ownership effecting change from within
From theory to practice: 2Local ownership/effecting change from within

Irrigated farming now provides patchy harvests and unreliable returns

Camel herding – a sustainable option for a desert region

looking for adaptation options
Looking for adaptation options

Tree planting improves soil, and provide economic benefits…

...such as fodder for livestock

from theory to practice 3 adaptation as part of culture
From theory to practice: 3Adaptation as part of culture

Bangladesh: River eroded communities have embraced adaptability as art of their response to their harsh environment

adaptability in bangladesh
Adaptability in Bangladesh

Floating gardens– a new technology for this region

Tailoring provides an alternative livelihood

conclusion implications for practice
Conclusion: Implications for practice
  • Changes that are perceived as a threat to culture are likely to be resisted
  • Successful adaptation
    • fully involves communities in the process of developing options, expanding the local cultural ‘context of choice’
    • identifies and builds on, rather than challenges, important cultural markers
  • A successful adaptation approach in one location will not necessarily translate to a different cultural context