Raising awareness and supporting resilience building

Introduction

CEDRA was developed by Tearfund to make development programmes climate resilient. It supports assessment of climate risks to current programmes, identification of  adaptation options and organisational change. CEDRA has now been used by more than 70 NGOs, the majority of which are Tearfund partners, across Latin America, Africa and Asia. The CEDRA “tool” itself is one part of a process involving workshops, action plans and follow up activities.

Raising awareness around climate risk

One important lesson from CEDRA is that it has been instrumental in raising awareness of the need to consider climate related risks in partners’ programmes and strategies, across sectors. The start-up workshop often gives a ‘lightbulb moment’ for partners. For example, in Malawi, CEDRA helped villagers understand and take action to combat some of the human-made hazards they face. This resulted in developing plans to plant trees and construct of a flood-control dyke. The local village headman said that ‘CEDRA is an eye-opener on our part as people in Nsanje district,’ said village headman Kachere. ‘It has helped us to develop action plans on the issues of our concern.’ In Bangladesh, Tearfund partners have used CEDRA to carry out exercises with women’s microcredit groups to raise awareness on how to manage climate change.

Uncovering priorities

CEDRA has also played a role in uncovering communities’ views and priorities, and the importance of considering communities’ priorities:  In Bangladesh, rural communities in coastal and riverside areas are regularly hit by cyclones. The community undertook a number of projects to try to cope better with the devastating impact of cyclones. They constructed a cyclone shelter, developed emergency evacuation plans and trained volunteers to help coordinate protecting important assets and evacuating people safely. Gradually, the community’s confidence about surviving a cyclone grew. During a recent CEDRA-led project assessment, villagers confirmed that the project had been helpful. However, it also became clear that the more pressing priority had always been rather different: addressing the day-by-day erosion of their land due to sea-level rise and the consequent loss of livelihoods. Some community members had been aware of this, but before the CEDRA-led project assessment, no one had asked them to input into the initial project.

Building long term resilience

The ultimate goal of CEDRA is to help improve long term resilience. An example from Bihar, India, illustrates how this may happen in practice where a community have become more resilient to the annual flooding, as they have built up greater financial resources and are growing flood-resistant crops. Phudan Devi lives with her husband and five children in a small village. They are subsistence farmers with less than two acres of land, which produces barely enough to support the family. As well as being poor, they belong to a low ‘caste’ or social group and so are marginalised. What’s more, they live in an area that experience regular flooding. Phudan’s family lost everything in a major flood in 2004. Families such as hers do not have savings to fall back on or skills to earn money.

Eficor, a local Tearfund partner, has used the CEDRA tool to help communities such as Phudan’s to adapt, by training and enabling people to prepare for and cope with floods and other disasters. One key element of this is to build up communities’ financial resilience, and particularly women’s, by showing them how to set up self-help groups (SHGs) and by training people so they can pursue alternative livelihoods. Phudan joined an SHG in 2006. She took out a loan of 2000 Rupees (£26) from the SHG and cultivated potatoes on a quarter of their farmland. Her investment produced 7500 Rupees’ (£100) worth of potatoes. She took another loan of 1000 Rupees (£13) and planted vegetables, generating a profit of 2500 Rupees (£32.50). When floods came again in 2007, Phudan’s family and the other 175 families in their community suffered much less damage than in 2004 because they were much better prepared.

Identified challenges

A number of challenges to CEDRA application and outcomes have also been identified. Tearfund’s own review highlights the need to:

  • be clear on what different tools say and do, and how they overlap
  • not only focus on short-term, stand alone projects but also policy and institutional reform
  • provide guidance on what data is available, and where. For example, some organisations implementing CEDRA in Uganda met difficulties accessing meteorological data from regional and national levels. Some advised there was an official fee to access data. However, with the help of Tearfund, organisations could access data from free internet sources such as UNDP’s Climate Change Country Profile, World Bank Climate Portal, and through direct contact with the World Meteorological Organisation.