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Sustainable Livelihood approach for assessing community’s resilience to climate variability and change /A case study from Sudan. Second International Conference on Climate Impacts Assessment (SICCIA) June 28-July 2, 2004 Grainau, Germany. By Dr.Balgis Osman Elasha

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Sustainable Livelihood approach for assessing community’s resilience to climate variability and change /A case study from Sudan

Second International Conference



Impacts Assessment (SICCIA)

June 28-July 2, 2004Grainau, Germany


Dr.Balgis Osman Elasha

PI AIACC-AF 14 Project

The Higher Council for Environment & Natural Resources

(HCENR) Sudan & Stockholm Environment Institute –

Boston Center (SEI_B)

  • Why SL?
  • Sustainable livelihood (SL)
    • conceptual framework
    • Basic definitions
    • SL assessment
    • Connection to adaptation
  • SL and Environmental management measures
  • An example from Sudan case studies conducted by AIACC –AF14 project.
why talk about sustainable livelihoods
Why talk about Sustainable Livelihoods?
  • Urgent adaptation needs of most vulnerable groups
  • Existence of local coping strategies
  • Hard-won lessons from other (non-climate) disciplines (e.g. disaster mitigation, natural resource management)
  • No-regrets options
  • Lack of connection between community needs and the policy process
basic definitions
Basic Definitions

1.Livelihoods are the ways people make a living, including how they distribute their productive resources and the types of activities in which they are engaged

2. Sustainable Livelihood

  • The Brundtland Commission in 1987:Intrdoduced SL in terms of resources ownership, access to basic needs and livelihood security
  • The IISD: “SL concerned with people's capacities to generate & maintain their means of living, enhance their well- being, and that of future generations.
  • The definition used by the UK's (DFID): A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets & activities required for a means of living .
basic definitions cont
Basic definitions (Cont.):
  • Resilience – The capacity of a population to adapt to environmental change such as extreme climatic events and climate variability.
  • Adaptation: is the ability to respond and adjust to actual or potential impacts of changing climate conditions in ways that moderates harm or takes advantage of positive opportunities
  • Coping Strategies – The short-term responses to periodic stress, such as the use of famine foods in drought.
  • Adaptive Strategies –Strategies that require people to reorganize their livelihood systems in response to long-term changes and challenges.
  • Security: The state of a community that can provide safeguards for itself against social, economic and environmental change
livelihood assessment
Livelihood assessment:

Livelihood assessment is a way of looking at how an individual, a household or a community behaves under specific frame conditions.

  • How to understand livelihood systems?

Through analysis of the impacts of coping and adaptive strategies pursued by individuals and communities as a response to external shocks and stresses such as drought, civil strife and policy failures

connection to adaptation how
Connection to Adaptation-How?

The SL approach helps researchers to:

  • Focus on most vulnerable people
  • Assess their vulnerabilities and strengths
  • Tap existing knowledge & ongoing efforts to determine what works
  • Enable community-driven strategies and actions; ensure buy-in and longevity
  • Ultimately… fortify against future climate-related shocks
what types of measures are we considering
What types of measures are we considering?

SL/Environmental Management Measures (SL/EM): like rangelands management, micro-catchments restoration, soil management, etc., each of which involves an array of specific measures (e.g., water harvesting, intercropping, livestock diversification, windbreak construction, reforestation

sudan s project
Sudan’s Project:
  • Sudan AIACC Project “Environmental Strategies for Increasing Human Resilience in Sudan: Lessons for Climate Change Adaptation in North and East African”


  • to prove that certain SL/EM measures increase the resilience of communities to climate related shocks
  • establish that these measures are effective and should be considered as climate change adaptation options that could be included in the planning of national adaptation strategies.
  • to explore what enables them to be effective – i.e., what factors (participatory implementation, local governance, macro-economic policies, etc.) made it possible for the measures to be successful

Case Studies were employed to explore example where local knowledge (e.g. traditional, indigenous autonomous and informal) and/ or external knowledge (formal, technical, directed) has been applied within a target community in the form of SL/NRM strategy to enable the community to cope with or adapt to climate–related stress. Each Case study will also provide an assessment of the local and national policies and conditions that support or inhibit the measures

sources of information
Sources of information:
  • community groups,
  • local, regional and international NGOs;
  • government agencies;
  • university departments and;
  • bilateral and multilateral development agencies,
pilot case study
Pilot Case study:

Pilot case study

To demonstrate the use of sustainable livelihood framework for measuring the adaptive capacity of local communities to climate change impacts the following pilot case study was being conducted under the umbrella of Sudan - AIACC –AF14 project

Community-Based Rangeland Rehabilitation for Carbon Sequestration and Biodiversity.



a) to sequester carbon through the implementation of a sustainable, local-level natural resources management system that prevents degradation, rehabilitates or improves rangelands; and

b) to reduce the risks of production failure in a drought-prone area by providing alternatives for sustainable production, so that out-migration will decrease and population will stabilize”

pilot cs cont
Pilot CS Cont.
  • Context: Villages in the drought-prone area of Western Sudan
  • Approach: Community-Based Rangeland Rehabilitation
  • Key Actors: Villages within Gireigikh rural council, pilot project
  • Funding: UNDP/GEF
what happened
What happened?

A group of villages undertook a package of SL measures, designed to regenerate and conserve the degraded rangelands upon which their community depends.

  • Community Organization
  • Alternative Livestock and Livestock Management
  • Rural Energy Management
  • Replanting
  • Stabilization of sand dunes
  • Creation of windbreaks
  • Micro-lending for supplemental
  • income generation
what are the outcome of the pilot project results from evaluation report
What are the outcome of the pilot project (results from evaluation report)
  • Community institutional structure created
      • land-use master plans;
      • oversight and mobilization structures
  • Rangeland rehabilitation measures implemented
      • 5 km of sand dunes re-vegetated
      • 195 km of windbreaks sheltering 130 farms
      • Approximately 700 ha improved
      • Livestock restocking
  • Community development underway
      • 2 revolving funds
      • 5 pastoral women’s groups focused on livestock value-adding activities
      • 5 new irrigated gardens and wells
      • Grain storage and seed credit program
primary assessment tool
:Primary Assessment tool

The primary tool employed in this assessment is the sustainable livelihood impact assessment methods for assessing project impacts on target communities.

Objective: To measure the impact of the project intervention on the community coping/adaptive capacity through the employment of a range of data collection methods, a combination of quantitative and qualitative indicators.

  • Community’s coping and adaptive capacities in the face of climatic variability and extremes is used as proxy for its level of coping and adaptive capacity for future climate change

Methods used

  • Use of DFID SL model and notion of the five capitals (natural, physical, human, social and financial:
  • Within the SL framework the project employed the Livelihood Assets Tracking (LAST) system to measure changes in coping and adaptive capacity.
  • Use of word pictures by household to assess their own vulnerability ,coping and adaptive capacity to a climate-related impact.
  • Consultation with communities to develop indicators of community resilience and construct word pictures.
  • Use of stratified sampling methods to ensure representation of a range of individuals and household circumstances
sustainable livelihoods capital assets
Sustainable livelihoods capital assets
  • Natural capital
  • Financial capital
  • Physical capital
  • Human capital
  • Social capital
word pictures
Word pictures:

are descriptions of HH circumstances developed in a participatory manner with the community in question.

-Best case”

“worse case” snapshot.

development of indicators
Development of indicators

Two types of indicators were identified:

1- Short-term indicators include:

- economic - e.g., crop productivity, livestock productivity, local grain reserves;

- ecological - e.g., biomass, soil water balance; and

  • Social - e.g., household wealth and dislocation.

2- Longer-term resilience indicators which are more qualitative, aimed at capturing intangibles such as the level of economic, ecological and social stability within a system or community

preliminary list of generic indicators includes
Preliminary list of generic indicators includes:
  • Land degradation (slowed or reversed);
  • Condition of the vegetation cover (stabilized or improved);
  • Soil and/or crop productivity (stabilized or increased);
  • Water supply (stabilized or increased);
  • Average income levels (stabilized or increased);
  • Food stores (stabilized or increased);
  • Out-migration (slowed, stabilized, or reversed);
productivity of natural assets
Productivity of Natural Assets
  • Average production per unit area of rangeland
  • No. of animals per unit area of rangeland Yield from main crops
  • Production of vegetables and fruits from women gardens
physical assets
Physical assets
  • Management of water wells Maintenance of water pumps
  • Grain stores (capacity and accessibility)
  • Grain mills (capacity and accessibility)
  • Energy conservation techniques (improved stoves)
  • Effectiveness of management systems applied to pasture, water, livestock etc…Availability of spare parts
financial assets
Financial Assets
  • Income generating activities
  • Income levels and stability
  • Revolving funds /amount of credit granted to individuals
  • Savings
  • Accessibility of vulnerable groups to credit (women, poor and Kawahla
human household assets
Human (household) Assets
  • Ownership of assets
  • Skilled labors
  • Housing type
  • Access of marginal groups to education, training and extension services
social assets indicators
Social Assets indicators
  • Organizational set-up (local village committees)
  • Role of village committees in the decision making process.
  • Membership to organizations Sharing of responsibility
access to services
Access to services
  • Extension
  • Health
  • Education
  • Training
  • Veterinary services
policies and institutions
Policies and Institutions
  • Government institutions and polices in relation to:
  • Taxes
  • Market prices
  • Incentives
  • Land tenure
  • Local level institutions
  • NGOs
  • Changing government policies
  • Out-migration by skilled people
  • Encroachment by other tribes into the project area
  • Pressures on rangelands by intruding nomads
collecting data with wps
Collecting data with WPs

Approach to survey/interviews:

  • Use household circumstances during signal event as basis of comparison; compare with circumstances during recent or hypothetical event
  • Use assessment sheets (one for each capital) as basis of interview questions. For example:
      • “During the signal event (e.g., 1984 drought), what level of food stores did you have (in months)? Were they sufficient? If not, how great was the deficit (in months)?
      • During the recent drought (post-SL activity) , what level of food stores did you have (in months)? Were they sufficient? If not, how great was the deficit (in months)?
  • On assessment sheet, record number associated with interviewee responses to questions
  • From these responses, assemble word pictures for each interview
resulting word pictures
Resulting Word Pictures

A word picture of household’s access to natural resources (natural capital)

Adapted from Bond and Mukherjee (2002)

Preparation of a livelihood assets status framework matrix:CASE STUDY ASSESSMENT SHEET: Natural Capital
  • Chances of marginalized groups (women, poor, kawahla tribe) increased significantly particularly with regard to:
  • access to grazing land
  • access to credit
  • access to social services
  • access to training
  • participation in decision-making
policies and institutions48
Policies and institutions

The micro-policies in the project area were influenced by the following bodies:

  • (a) Committees- Sustainability of activities
  • (b) NGOs (SECS &CARE International)-Awareness
  • (C) Traditional leaders: The Traditional administration played major role in natural resources management for very long period in different parts ofSudan particularly in traditional areas (Social security , Nafir etc..)
  • Tapping the SL Approach: What can it do for adaptation?

Using this as a tool in adaptation assessment can help to:

  • Enable national planning processes to effectively consider the most vulnerable groups; articulate unique local vulnerabilities
  • Identify locally-relevant resilience-building options
  • Build understanding of micro- and macro-level enabling conditions for adaptation
  • Build local adaptation awareness and engage local NGOs (potential adaptation project implementers