Journal Article

IDS Bulletin Vol. 39 Nos. 4

Video-Mediated Approaches for Community-Level Climate Adaptation

Published on 1 September 2008

It is generally recognised that the poorest sectors of the global population tend to be most sensitive to climate variability and change (UNDP 2003).

Numerous pro-poor adaptation initiatives are under way at multiple levels, yet the prevailing discourse and practice linking vulnerability and adaptation is commonly plagued with generalisations, offering limited examination of the dynamic and differentiated nature of poverty (Tanner and Mitchell, this IDS Bulletin, ‘Entrenchment or Enhancement’).

Inequities in the patterns of flow and use of information remain a fundamental challenge of modern times (Lievrouw and Farb 2003). This is particularly relevant in the realm of communitybased disaster risk management. The poor often face severe constraints that impede proper use of available information about climate-related risks (Patt and Gwata 2002), and there is evidence that participatory approaches to community-level risk management can significantly improve the benefits of using climate information (Patt et al. 2005). Most success stories are derived from pilot projects, and the imperative is now to accelerate the process of replication and dissemination of best practices.

A major challenge for the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement and other humanitarian organisations is how to scale-up successful adaptation pilots. Clearly it is not feasible to dispatch technical experts to every location with poor people threatened by climate risks. It is necessary to ensure that a wider range of users can access and utilise the information available for climate risk management (Ziervogel and Downing 2004), yet evidence from the fields of development and poverty reduction suggests that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is unlikely to work, given the complexity of factors that can cause and entrench poverty (Klein et al. 2007; Mitchell and Tanner 2006).

Community-level adaptation initiatives need to provide information and knowledge in a form that is accessible and useful to local decision-makers. This requires treating the end-users of information not merely as a target audience but as partners in co-learning. Thus, care must be taken so that processes and products reflect their own contributions (Roncoli 2006). Propoor adaptation needs to overcome the onedimensional view of poverty that prevails in much climate change work, drawing from development studies in understanding categories of poverty (such as the ‘chronic poor’, ‘transient poor’ and ‘never poor’ types presented by Jalan and Ravallion 2000), and tackling the specific challenges and opportunities presented by climate change in a way that adequately addresses the complexity of local poverty.

Audiovisual technologies are increasingly affordable for capturing, processing, storing and disseminating information. Videos and other communication tools, if combined with participatory approaches, may help extend the benefits of available information to all those who could take advantage of it, in a way that is sufficiently tailored to local needs and constraints (Figure 1). While other disciplines, such as the health sciences, have been dedicating considerable efforts to developing and evaluating intervention strategies that involve the use of video tools, adaptation research and practice has yet to take audiovisual tools into serious consideration.

The making of and discussion about a video can provide an ideal mediation space to bring together the multiple stakeholders needed to address climate change in a way that emphasises the differentiated nature of poverty for the policy and practice of adaptation. Participatory video is a particularly relevant methodology, which aims at involving a group or community in shaping, creating and filming their own film, from storyboarding to interviewing and camera operation (Pink 2004; Lunch and Lunch 2006). Participatory video establishes trust and treats local knowledge with respect, and is increasingly used in community development and anthropological research. It has the potential to create spaces for transformation by providing a practice of looking ‘alongside’ rather than ‘at’ research subjects (Kindon 2003). This is fully aligned with the growing recognition among disaster risk reduction scholars and practitioners that end-users of information need to be co-producers of new knowledge (Wisner et al. 2004).

This article makes a case for more comprehensive development, use and evaluation of audiovisual tools in order to scale-up climate adaptation in a pro-poor way. The next section offers an overview of the experiences from the health sector in the use of audiovisual media. Case studies from Argentina, the Bahamas, Indonesia and Malawi led by the Red Cross are then described, followed by an outline of the possible uses of video-mediated approaches for climate risk management. The final section sets out conclusions and recommendations.

Related Content

This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 39.4 (2008) Video‐Mediated Approaches for Community‐Level Climate Adaptation

Cite this publication

Suarez, P., Ching, F., Ziervogel, G., Lemaire, I., Turnquest, D., Suarez, J., M. and Wisner, B. (2008) Video-Mediated Approaches for Community-Level Climate Adaptation. IDS Bulletin 39(4): 96-104

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Pablo Suarez
Fiona Ching
Gina Ziervogel
Isabelle Lemaire
Diane Turnquest
Janot Mendler de Suarez
Ben Wisner

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies