Strengthening resilience to climate and disaster
As Japan marks the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami which left almost 20,000 people dead and approximately 45,000 homeless, we are reminded yet again of how shocks such as climate change and disasters impact on the vulnerability of poor people and the urgent need to strengthen their ability to cope.
Can understanding the interlinked nature of the shocks and stresses that poor people face today help reduce their vulnerability? And how could those working to address these issues work better together?
Integration may not be easy, but it makes sense
Against this background, IDS has been promoting a new, integrated approach which draws on the synergies between climate change, disaster risk reduction and social protection in order to better address household poverty and vulnerability.
Known as Adaptive Social Protection (ASP), the approach recognises that greater integration and knowledge sharing among these three communities of practice would allow for policies that help poor people escape poverty and become more resilient in the face of increasing climate-related shocks.
As a concept, ASP sounds simple but so far these communities have worked largely in isolation and there remain few examples of such integration in practice. For researchers working within the ASP Programme at IDS, integrating them more comprehensively may not be easy, but it clearly makes sense.
Learning from Addis – one year on
In March 2011, IDS, the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development and the UN Economic Commission for Africa convened an international workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to address this emerging agenda. 120 policymakers, practitioners and researchers from 20 different countries came together to create a forum for cross-regional learning and to share examples of where integration had worked, where it hadn't and why.
One year on, the ASP Programme is reflecting on the observations and lessons that took place. Social Protection and Resilience to Climate and Disaster is a new IDS programme briefing which summarises the discussions and starts to identify the next steps towards collaboration and joined-up thinking. Recommendations include:
- Recognising where integration is already occurring and learning from it: There is a growing body of pilots and programmes to gain insight from.
- Realising the 'political economy' of the process: Understanding and knowing what integration means for each community
- Not re-inventing the wheel: Integration is not about finding a wholly new system but sharing knowledge and bringing flexibility into the design of existing programmes.
- Adopting a human-centred approach: Integration must engage more fully with the perspectives, priorities and capacities of poor people.
Cyclones, droughts and tsunamis won’t wait for the international community to work things out. In the words of Andrew Steer, the World Bank’s Special Envoy for Climate Change "These three [domains] must talk together, perform together, sing together, and be part of a common process."
Chris Bene, Programme Director writes: "For the 120 participants of the workshop in Addis Ababa, held just a few days after the Japanese tragedy, the event carried some strong feelings. The Tohoku earthquake had been seen in particular as vivid evidence that disaster and climate change cannot be ignored by those practitioners and policy makers who work on Social Protection.
Amongst the important messages that emerged was the recognition that, although it sounds quite 'intuitive' to try to link together the three communities of practice, the road is still long and bumpy. Many institutional, financial and practical challenges exist, which prevent full integration from taking place in many instances. This process requires a better understanding and knowledge of what integration means for each community.
Through its research component, the Adaptive Social Protection (ASP) programme aims to address some of the pragmatic questions that remain. More work is still needed, both at programmatic level – to identify some of these challenges and obstacles, and at the household level – to build a stronger and wider evidence base of the positive effects that integrated programmes can have on the livelihood of vulnerable people."
The ASP Programme is inviting participants of the Addis conference and anyone working in the fields of social protection, climate change adaptation or disaster risk reduction to take part in a special series of email discussions on a range of ASP topics from sharing examples of good practice to debating the potential trade-offs of integration. To register your interest, email email@example.com
Image Credit: Jocelyn Carlin / Panos
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