Livelihood Resilience Policies And Practices In A Climate-Change Affected World

    • By,
      Taj Ud Din Malik – Research Assistant, Kautilya

The impact of the projected climate change on many livelihoods is not clear, but there is significant evidence that livelihoods sourced from natural resources are adversely affected. The rising pressure on the sources of livelihood presents a new challenge to governments and other stakeholders to assist the vulnerable populations in maintaining their livelihood. Securing the livelihoods of vulnerable populations is a complex and dynamic policy challenge that is interlinked with social, political, economic and ecological factors at the world, regional, country, and local scales.

While the efforts at an international level are striving to achieve set targets, the local adaptation measures that stem from the joint interventions of governments, non-government organizations and vulnerable communities are found to be making significant contributions to secure exposed livelihoods to climate-change events. The latest assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that adaptation planning and implementation continue to gain momentum and there is an upward trend in public and political awareness of climate impacts and risk in 170 countries. The exploratory projects and local adaptation strategies are being implemented in various sectors that result in improving agricultural productivity, food security and livelihoods. A growing body of literature reveals that outcome-based adaptation measures that include construction of embankments, irrigation schemes and housing infrastructure improvements, can go a long way to mitigate livelihood vulnerability. The Participatory policy-making processes are also considered to be a profitable way to employ diverse public opinions and views in a single practice or policy.

The National Adaptation Program for Action (NAPA) that enables the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to outline the priority adaptation actions is based on the participatory policy-making to ensure last-mile delivery of policies connected at the grassroots level. The Vietnamese government, with support from the International Development Association (IDA) took a community-led development approach to secure and extend the livelihood avenues of women, enabling their access to the market through public, private, and cooperative enterprises and participation in value chains. The vulnerable ethnic minorities nestled in hard-to-reach areas of the provinces of Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Son La, Lao Cai, Hoa Binh and Yen Bai have constrained livelihood opportunities with limited access to healthcare, education and markets. The initiative organized small and marginal producers into Common Interest Groups (CIGs) around livelihood activities such as agriculture, livestock, forestry, fisheries and handicrafts. The entire set of activities of the initiative ensured that everything begins and concludes with these people. The project has worked wonders and after its implementation in 2010, there are 11,178 CIGs that have been established till 2018 with an investment of $29 million. A total of US$42 million worth of products and assets has been generated, and more than US$24 million worth of products have been sold.

The Government of Kenya has been successfully progressing in forwarding opportunities for people’s participation in climate change policy and planning processes. Solar Freeze entrepreneurial initiative has been launched in 2015 in partnership with the other incubators, international donors, and small and marginal landholding farmers that are considered to be very vulnerable to any events of climate change. The innovative practice has helped marginal farmers to minimize their post-harvest loss by 90% and has motivated them to grow cash crops. This has also served the double benefit of an increase in household income and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from food waste. The initiative also works on gender development and 80% (3000) of the beneficiaries of this initiative are women. Women and youth between the age group of 18-29 are imparted training related to maintenance and repair of renewable energy equipment, climate-resilient farming, and products through the solar freeze’s ‘Each One, Teach One- Train and Earn’ component. The vulnerable communities have started earning their livelihood in a manner that reduces agricultural carbon emissions and improves their food security.

The rural areas are highly prone to stress from climate change. In this backdrop, schemes for rural adaptation building are very important. The Government of India launched the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) that consists of three basic elements with the potential to advance pro-poor climate action (a) Social protection with the help of provision of minimum wage labor, (b) Development of small-scale infrastructure (c) Decentralized, ‘community based’ planning. The scheme acts as an alternative source of income, helps in building the adaptive capacity of a vulnerable population. The scheme also acts as a safety net, by providing any adult member of a household registered under the scheme with 100 days of no climate sensitive wage labor a year. This provides households with a menial but essential source of additional income to help them tide over the impacts of climate change.


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*The Kautilya School of Public Policy (KSPP) takes no institutional positions. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views or positions of KSPP.