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Community Based Adaptation emphasises community participation that builds on the priorities, knowledge and capacities of local people.



CBA is a bottom-up approach that places the community at the centre of determining how to respond to the impacts of climate change.  Distinct from costly top-down approaches, CBA emphasises community participation that builds on the priorities, knowledge and capacities of local people. These include aspects relating to the development and transfer of technology to improve adaptive capability and the ascertainment of community vulnerability through assessments of risks that communities face, amongst many others.

The IPCC (2001) defines adaptation to climate change as, ‘adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities’. The IPCC (2001) identifies economic wealth, technology, information and skills, infrastructure, institutions and equity as the principal determinants of adaptive capacity.

Following from this evolution of adaptation, the development community has become an important partner for the climate change community; lending knowledge and expertise based upon past lessons. Indeed, the goals of the climate and development communities often overlap as unsustainable development is not only the underlying cause of climate change, but development pathways determine the degree to which populations are vulnerable to a changing climate (Huq et al., 2006)

Community-based adaptation puts poverty-reduction and empowerment at its core with the goal to enable communities to take action themselves based upon their own decision-making processes.

Climate change adaptation activities developed in partnership with at-risk communities, in order to promote local awareness of, and appropriate and sustainable solutions to, current and future climatic conditions.

Category of the action

Mitigation/Adaptation, Changing public attitudes about climate change

What actions do you propose?

Promotion of climate-resilient livelihoods strategies :

  • Local institutions have access to climate information
  • Local plans or policies support climate-resilient livelihoods
  • Local government and NGO extension workers understand climate risks and are promoting adaptation strategies.



 Disaster risk reduction strategies to reduce the impact of hazards on vulnerable households :

  • Local institutions have access to disaster risk information
  •  Local disaster risk management plans being implemented
  •  Functional early warning systems in place
  •  Local government has capacity to respond to disasters


 Capacity development for local civil society and government institutions :

  • Local institutions have capacity to monitor, analyse and disseminate information on current and future climate risks
  • Local institutions have capacity and resources to plan and implement adaptation activities


 Advocacy and social mobilisation to address the underlying causes of vulnerability:

  • Local planning processes are participatory
  • Women and marginalised groups have a voice in local planning processes
  • Local policies provide access to and control over critical livelihoods resources for all


CASE STUDY CARE Bangladesh – Reducing Vulnerability to Climate Change project (January 2002– March 2004): The goal of the community-based adaptation project was to increase the capacity of communities in the south-west region of Bangladesh to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. It worked in six districts on the coast exposed to sea-level rise, loss of biodiversity, increasing salinity, more extreme rainfall variability, and more intense cyclones. CARE started with a vulnerability assessment and a knowledge, attitudes and behaviour survey, which revealed a very low level of awareness of climate change. However, through local partners, CARE developed capacity to engage with climate adaptation, and promoted livelihood diversity as a practical response. As a result, 270 households started growing vegetables on floating gardens in waterlogged areas, and 1,700 households began rearing ducks – both positive results in flood-prone areas.

CASE STUDY Sustainability study, Turkana, Kenya: In 2005 a study was conducted in Turkana, Kenya, by Foodlinks Resources, in collaboration with Practical Action and other NGOs. It assessed the sustainability of safety nets provided to farmers in view of potential climate change impacts. It found that, before the 1980s, famine occurred every ten years in the region but it now happens every year. The increased frequency of droughts, coupled with lack of access to markets, insecurity and poor infrastructure, leaves more than 80 per cent of the population living in poverty. Foodlinks Resources reviewed the suitability of Practical Action’s Meat Safety Net Programme for reducing livelihoods’ vulnerability to the recurrent droughts. The programme was developed in response to the food aid dependency created through the World Food Programme’s standard distribution of maize and beans. As many animals die during droughts, the Meat Safety Net Programme involves contracting community members to buy the weakest cattle from farmers (for about £8 each). Other people are paid to slaughter the cattle and the meat is distributed to the most vulnerable people. The skins are given to women to sell. The fee paid for each weak animal can be used by farmers to restock their herds. This initiative has proved popular among communities as it is more supportive of livelihoods than food relief. However, ways to create more resilient livelihoods in the long term need to be found.

Source: Foodlinks Resources

Who will take these actions?

The key actors are:

Governments, Local Government, I/NGO , Communities and Individual.

Where will these actions be taken?


What are other key benefits?

The key benefits are:

  1. Generating adaptation strategies with communities and other local stakeholders improves the uptake and sustainability of the process because communities develop a strong sense of ownership and their priorities are met.
  2. Enhancing communities’ awareness and understanding of climate change and uncertainty enables them to create responsive plans and make more flexible and context-appropriate decisions.
  3. Embedding new knowledge and understanding into existing community structures expands and strengthens those structures as well as institutional mechanisms.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Proposal’s costs depending on the nature and type of program that will implements in the community.

Time line

Depending on nature of program.

Related proposals



Huq, S., Reid, H. and Murray, L., 2006. Climate Change and Development Links. Gatekeeper Series 123. London: IIED.

IPCC, 2001. Climate Change 2001: The Third Assessment Report. United Nations.