Local Climate Adapters Network
The world has much to learn from ‘local adapters’, who keep building resilience and learn to live from one crisis to the next.
s of July 2021, the world has already entered the era of human-induced climate change, which is causing adverse impacts around the world in both poor as well as rich countries. Tragically, many people are losing their lives and livelihoods from these extreme events, which include heat waves, wildfires, floods, cyclones and droughts. At the same time, those who are surviving are now finding ways to adapt to these adverse conditions.
Therefore, the people at the frontline, dealing with the adverse impacts of climate change are in fact gaining experiential knowledge of how to adapt to climate change, even if they may not understand what climate change is. This growing cohort of ‘local adapters’ are an important knowledge resource that needs to be recognised and tapped in order for the rest of the world to learn how to adapt to even bigger adverse impacts of the future.
Building Agency for Local Climate Adapters to Move Forward
It has become evident that it is quite difficult to create models to predict the climate in every region. Therefore, communities and governments always need to be prepared for the worst situation. People on the frontline do not wait for experts to guide them, rather, find local solutions to solve the immediate challenges.
These people constitute hundreds of ‘local adapters’ who keep building resilience and learn to live from one crisis to the next. It is not possible to talk about ‘climate adaptation’ without including them and addressing the ‘inequities’ that come in the way of adaptation, especially for the most vulnerable communities.
Who is a Climate Adapter?
- People who have developed a resilience to adapt and cope with the conditions of human made and natural crisis that create havoc to their lives and livelihoods.
- People who understand that the solution lies in looking after the needs of the whole community and not just their individual families.
- People who keep improving their capabilities towards finding a decent life and security in their community (urban/rural) through their local organisations.
- People who play an active role to address the inequities in their local context and redefine their relationship with the more powerful and influential local actors.
Principles to Identify and Mobilize Capacities of Climate Adapters
- Local people have capacities which can be utilised for the development of the community
- Local people are at the center of their own development
- Relationships build a community. Local leaders utilize the relationships by showing, sharing and building trust
- When people care about something they are motivated to act.
- Story telling and listening conversations are valued over top down decisions
- External actors are limited and driven by far away agendas, not relevant to the local reality.
The Story of Jamila Bakari
Jamila Bakari is one of the many leaders of the Tanzania urban poor federation and a member of the Mshikamano Maji Matitu saving group in Temeke, Dar es Salam. She also runs a small hair dressing saloon and has had an acumen for business since she was a young girl.
Jamila is a ‘local adapter’ and has taken the initiative to improve her individual capacity and the capacity of many other urban poor women in her community and in other cities of Tanzania. They organize and influence other local actors towards meeting their collective aspiration for a decent quality of life and security of tenure in the city they live in.
Through the savings practice, Jamila has strengthened her ability to save, take loans and make repayments, something she had not done before. In the process she has become good at mobilising new communities to save and build from within. “I visit different communities and mobilize savings groups or revive them. People start saving, take loans and use the loan for different needs like paying school fees for their children and for income generation. Without joining a savings groups all those people would have been a burden to Government. By mobilizing them to join the savings groups I have supported Government to address poverty.”
Additionally, Jamila is also mobilizing her community to address some other types of challenges. “I led a cleanliness campaign in our community – by cleaning the environment and unblocking water ways which were blocked by garbage. In that exercise we involved local councilors and our local leaders. The cleanliness done in the settlement helped minimize flooding for two rainy seasons. This made government to relax during that period since people did not experience flooding.”
Jamila, has improved her ability to unite and lead. “Although I was a leader since school and a class monitor and a school head prefect, in the federation, I have been trained to be a leader managing groups and managing people.” Along with savings, Jamila has also participated in doing slum profiling and mapping in her city. “Government did not have information, such as population information, number of households and household income. They now use our information for making development plans and to understand income levels of residents.”
There are countless local adapters like Jamila ready to take the leap for their children, their families and their communities. Can the professionals and experts from the outside give them the space to find their voice and agency? Our daily engagements are a proof of how different local adapters have different levels of power. ICCCAD is committed to helping bridge the gap between these different actors, opening up the space for local adapters like Jamila to shine and be champions.
Gobeshona: Building the Capacity of Local Adapters to Leverage Outside Capacities and Resources
Through the Gobeshona platform, Local Adaptors like Jamila will have the space to share, listen and design new action plans to do what they already do better, so that they can continue to champion the aspirations for a better life for children, youth and other women in their communities. In doing so, they continue the work to transform the relationship with the more powerful actors in their local context especially the men in their households and their community.
- ICCCAD aims to create a network of local adapters to come together to share their stories and solutions through an organized and responsive platform.
- The practice of sharing and learning from each others’ solutions is the first step for local adapters to create new relationships and new types of institutions to do what they already do better.
- Professionals and experts will learn to listen and not second guess what women and communities want or make decisions on their behalf.
- The network aims to create a safe space for local adapters to share so that they can build agency to organize and influence other local actors.
- Attention will be given to how learning takes place among front line local adapters, for example by moving from simple to complex concepts.
By creating networks for people in similar contexts to come together and understand what they have in common, communities learn to engage with new actors and institutions and increase their repertoire of adaptation solutions.
The ideas presented in this article aim to inspire adaptation action – they are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Global Center on Adaptation.
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