The Role of Institutions in Livelihood Adaptation Arun Agrawal and Nicolas Perrin
Research Questions • What are the major classes of adaptation practices used by the rural poor? • How do rural institutions assist households in adopting and pursuing these practices? • What kinds of support can external interventions provide to assist rural institutions, communities, and households?
Stocktaking of the existing conceptual literature on adaptation • History of thinking about adaptation • Evolutionary biology, cultural ecology, systems analysis (engineering and ecology) • Definitions of adaptation • ‘‘adjustments in a system’s behavior and characteristics that enhance its ability to cope with external stress’’ • ‘‘adjustments in individual groups and institutional behavior in order to reduce society’s vulnerability • Proactive or reactive, autonomous or planned
Adaptation in relation to climate Stern Review, 2006
Adaptation in relation to climateMajor themes in existing writing • Relatively high level generalizations OR • Highly specific empirical work and case examples
High level generalizations • Relationship between vulnerability = f(exposure, sensitivity, adaptive capacity) and adaptation • Adaptive capacity and adaptation practices • Adaptation and mitigation relationship • Reinforcing, neutral, negative
Specific empirical work and case examples • examples of adaptation: local cases • Costing of adaptation strategies at the national to regional level • Creation of regional or national level adaptation plans (NAPAs, AIACC)
Gaps in existing work on climate adaptation • Absence of middle range theories • comparative work at the local level even with the recognition that all adaptation is local • Theoretically informed and policy relevant • Institutions and their role in adaptation, especially at the local level • Historical continuities in relation to risk and adaptation practices
Led to a focus on • Institutions and their role in development • Theoretical basis for empirically informed (broadly comparative) and policy-relevant research • Drawing upon historical work on adaptation at local level by rural households and communities
Types of risks that climate change and variability pose • Greater volatility and risks • Lower incomes and returns • Stress on institutions and social relations • Historical dimension to these impacts • Historical repertoire of responses and coping strategies
Classes of coping strategies • Five major classes • Mobility • Storage • Diversification • Communal pooling • Exchange • Three kinds of roles • Other responses: Intensification, involution, specialization,
Role of local institutions • Three roles: • --Structure risks, variability, output; • --Constitute the incentive structure for household • adaptation practices and joint action at community levels; • --Mediate external interventions unfold.
Types of external support • Information • Technological improvement • Financial mechanisms (can be coupled with risk sharing) • Leadership/lowering of barriers to joint action • Institutional regulation/promotion
Two new projects designed for next year based on current work • Investigation of relative costs of local adaptation strategies in specific social and ecological contexts in five countries • Investigation of how interventions to promote adaptive capacity can be coupled with post disaster interventions in regions with high exposure and for populations with high sensitivity (