Training coordination with the University of East Anglia

Our June 2017 courses on (i) Adaptation & Mainstreaming, and (ii) Monitoring & Evaluation for Adaptation will run in the week immediately after the University of East Anglia’s one-week course on Climate Change and Development, run by the UEA School of International Development. Both the UEA and the Garama courses will be held on the campus of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. 

We’ve coordinated with UEA on this training because the courses are complementary, and we wanted to make it practical for participants to attend bot the UEA and Garama courses in a single trip. The UEA course gives a broad overview of all aspects of climate change and development with access to a wide range of expertise. The Garama courses are more targeted at tools and methods and are designed to give people the skills to mainstreaming adaptation into their work and to develop systems for tracking the success of adaptation interventions and measures.

More information on the UEA course can be found here: https://www.uea.ac.uk/international-development/dev-co/professional-training/climate-change.

For more information on the Garama courses, including instructions on how to register, see: http://www.garama.co.uk/training/.

A discount of 10% applies to the Garama courses for anyone registering before the end of March 2017. Participants should register separately for the UEA course – while the timing of the courses has been coordinated, and while Garama staff contribute to the UEA course, the courses are administered separately.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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June 2017 training courses: adaptation & mainstreaming; adaptation M&E

Our next set of training courses will run in the week of 19-23 June 2017, at the Enterprise Centre on the campus of the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, UK. The training will consist of the following courses:

1. Climate Change Adaptation and Mainstreaming for Development Professionals, 19-21 June, £895, including content on:

  • Global climate science and policy contexts, and climate change impacts
  • Understanding adaptation – concepts, definitions, examples and adaptation decision-making
  • Mainstreaming, screening for climate risks and climate risk/vulnerability assessment

2. Monitoring and Evaluation for Climate Change Adaptation, 22-23 June, £595, including content on:

  • Frameworks for adaptation M&E, including the TAMD framework
  • Tracking institutional climate risk management
  • Measuring resilience and adaptation performance

There is a discount of 10% for registration before 31 March, and a further discount of £100 for attendance on both courses.

See For further details and registration instructions, please see: http://www.garama.co.uk/training/.

The above courses complement and immediately follow the 1-week UEA course on Climate Change and Development, which is broader in scope, covering all aspects of climate change, and for which participants should register separately. Follow the link for further information about the UEA course, including details of how to register. Note that Garama is not formally affiliated with UEA, although we have coordinated with our UEA colleagues to give people the opportunity to attend the UEA course and the Garama training in a single visit.

Finally, here are a couple of comments on the Garama training from previous participants:

“Excellent course & plenty of materials and reference to learn from & read. Great mix between theory & case studies which was really great. Nothing specific to be improved. Very satisfied & happy with what I learned & eager to apply. Thanks”

“Excellent course, would highly recommend. Food provided was fantastic.”

Teaming up with participants on the UEA Climate Change & Development course in July 2016, to listen to Professor Tim O’Riordan talk about coastal adaptation in Cley, on the North Norfolk coast.

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Transformational adaptation – when business as usual no longer works

This is the first in a series of blog posts about transformational adaptation by Garama’s Director, Nick Brooks. The series is inspired by a conference on transformational adaptation and agriculture in East and Southern Africa that Garama organised with the DFID-funded Vuna programme in South Africa in January 2017. It follows a discussion paper on this topic prepared for Vuna by Nick Brooks. Download the pdf of the paper here, and read a related Vuna blog article here.

1. A lesson from the past

Deep in the central Sahara, a crumbling mud-brick town sits at the edge of a dry lake bed. This is the medieval town of Germa, in southwestern Libya, one of a string of settlements along the Wadi al-Ajal, a valley defined by the towering dunes of the Ubari Sand Sea to the north, and the black cliffs of the Messak Settafet plateau to the south. Germa is romantic and impressive, but a more interesting settlement lies beneath it.

Under medieval Germa, the remains of large stone buildings represent the town of Garama (yes, we stole the name), the ancient capital of the Garamantian Tribal Confederation, a powerful political force in the central Sahara between about 500 BCE and 500 AD that challenged Roman hegemony in inland North Africa, before being incorporated into the periphery of the Roman empire (Mattingly et al. 2003).

The mud-brick walls of medieval Germa, built on the ruins of ancient Garama, the capital of the Garamantes, the central Sahara’s first indigenous civilisation. Photo by Nick Brooks.

The Garamantes, who made their capital here, are a fascinating study in adaptation to severe climatic and environmental change. Emerging from the cattle herding cultures of the central Sahara, the Garamantes developed urban centres supported by irrigated agriculture and trade, and controlled or influenced a vast area.

The first evidence of permanent settlement and farming in the Wadi al-Ajal dates to around 1000 BCE, and is from the vicinity of Germa. What is remarkable about this evidence, and the subsequent development of the Garamantian civilisation, is that it coincides with the final desiccation of this part of the Sahara, when rainfall in the adjacent upland areas effectively ceased and the remaining lakes (in the Wadi al-Ajal and the interdune depressions of the nearby sand seas) dried up.

As a result of decades of archaeological work by British and Italian teams (e.g.  di Lernia and Manzi 2002; Mattingly et al. 2003), we now have a very clear picture of how the Garamantian civilisation emerged through a long process of adaptation to increasing aridity, and ultimately the effective disappearance of surface water (this happened much later than in most of the rest of the Sahara, which prior to around 3000 BCE was mostly semi-arid savannah, due to the peculiar topography and geology of the Wadi al-Ajal and the adjacent areas). Unable to practice mobile cattle pastoralism in the lowland areas once certain thresholds of aridity were crossed, the inhabitants of this region moved first to transhumance and then to more sedentary cattle husbandry in oasis areas such as the Wadi al-Ajal, complemented by mobile sheep and goat herding in the adjacent highlands. When the surface water finally disappeared, rather than abandon the area or die out, the people who became the Garamantes chased the water underground, tapping the elevated water table under the plateau of the Messak Settafet using underground channels known as foggara, to irrigate the valley floor (Wilson 2006).

Cattle engravings in Wadi Mathandoush, an ancient watercourse on the Messak Settafet, south of Germa. Photo by Nick Brooks.

The above process took some three millennia, but it was neither smooth nor gradual. Palaeo-environmental and archaeological evidence point to multiple periods of rapid climatic and environmental change, coinciding with shifts in livelihood strategies, population distributions, and landscape use. The links between climatic and cultural change in this part of North Africa, and in the Sahara at large, are well established and uncontroversial (unlike in many other parts of the world, where suggestions that climatic and environmental change have shaped human societies are often treated with suspicion or hostility). The study of Saharan prehistory is an object lesson in how global climate change can result in profound changes in local environments and the availability and distribution of resources, which in turn precipitate step changes in how people make their livings and organise their societies.

2. From the Garamantes to the IPCC

The trajectory that led prehistoric Saharan pastoralists to develop the region’s first urban civilisation involves what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2014: 1758) refers to as ‘transformational adaptation’, or:

“Adaptation that changes the fundamental attributes of a system in response to climate and its effects”

This is in contrast to “incremental adaptation” consisting of “actions where the central aim is to maintain the essence and integrity of a system or process at a given site.” Incremental adaptation generally involves the deployment of already familiar measures, perhaps to a greater extent or at a higher intensity than previously, in order to sustain existing systems or practices in the face of intensifying climate hazards, i.e. stresses and shocks such as drought, heavy rainfall or sea-level rise (Kates et al. 2012; Chung Tiam Fook 2015). Put simply, incremental adaptation is about protecting ‘business as usual’ in the face of climate change.

Calcium carbonate crust in an interdune depression in the Ubari Sand Sea north of Germa, indicting the presence of a freshwater lake prior to the desiccation of the region some 3-5 millennia ago. Photo by Nick Brooks.

In contrast, transformational adaptation occurs when changes in climatic or environmental conditions are so severe, or occur so rapidly, that existing systems and practices cannot be sustained, and need to be replaced by alternatives or addressed through processes such as migration. In the prehistoric central Sahara, transformational adaptation involved first the adoption of mobile cattle pastoralism as the environment became more variable and unpredictable in the 5th millennium BCE, and then its abandonment as the region became hyper-arid after about 3000 BCE and people adopted more sedentary livelihoods or shifted to sheep and goats (di Lernia 2002). A further transformation occurred when the surface water disappeared and the population of the Wadi al-Ajal adopted intensive agriculture linked with the development of a more complex and urban organised society in the first half of the 1st millennium BCE (Mattingly et al. 2003; Drake et al. 2004).

3. Transformational adaptation in the 21st century

Most of today’s adaptation interventions involve incremental rather than transformational approaches (Chung Tiam Fook 2015). Indeed, many do not even go as far as incremental adaptation, instead addressing the so-called ‘adaptation deficit’, or the gap between current practice and what is sustainable under existing conditions (Burton and May 2004). A key question for adaptation in the 21st century is where, and when, the limits to incremental approaches might be encountered, meaning that transformational approaches will be necessary. This might occur as a result of the local manifestations of climate change being so severe and/or rapid that societies simply cannot adapt, or of relatively small changes meaning that systems or activities that are already marginal are no longer viable (Kates et al. 2012).

Our prehistoric Saharan analogue suggests one type of change that might require transformational adaptation, namely a transition to hyper-aridity. Such a transition might already be underway in the US Southwest, and is suggested – at least as a possibility – by climate projections for parts of North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, and parts of southern Africa. According to the United Nations Statistics Division(1), Tunisia, Israel and Jordan already use 69.7%, 79.7% and 92.4% of their annual total renewable surface water resources every year, through runoff capture and abstraction from non-renewable aquifers. Projected changes in temperature and rainfall mean that total renewable surface water availability may decline below current usage in the latter half of the 21st century. Clearly, current water management regimes and agricultural systems would not work under such a scenario, and different economic and production models would be required in the event of such an eventuality. In southern Africa, climate projections indicate severe drying in the far southwest, while a 2005 study by Thomas et al. raises the possibility of a shift to hyper-aridity in the Greater Kalahari region, as fossil dunes that are currently stable become mobile due to changes in rainfall and wind regimes and the disappearance of vegetation. Such a transition would place the viability of existing agricultural and livestock systems in doubt, potentially requiring a shift to new activities and/or the abandonment of certain areas. Aridity is likely to intensify in many other parts of the world, including parts of southern Europe, Australia and Central Asia.

Increases in aridity will be driven as much by changes in temperature and evapotranspiration as by changes in rainfall. However, aridity is not the only impact of higher temperatures. A recent paper by Pal and Eltahir (2015) concluded that the combination of temperature and humidity in the region around the Arabian/Persian Gulf is likely to approach or exceed the limits of human survivability within the 21st century, making it physically impossible for people to live there in the hottest months.

The other obvious context in which transformational adaptation might be required is sea-level rise, which will increase disaster risk, potentially to the point at which the costs of defences or reconstruction become unfeasible, leading to the abandonment of coastal areas. Ultimately, sea-level rise will simply wipe out some coastal areas, as they disappear under rising waters. The intrusion of salt water into coastal aquifers due to sea-level rise and subsidence resulting from the abstraction of groundwater will lead to changes in coastal ecosystems and challenge coastal agriculture.

A combination of rising temperatures and declining rainfall may make certain crops unviable. A modelling study by Rippke et al. (2016) identified areas in which nine existing sub-Saharan Africa crops, under current management regimes, might become unviable due to climate change, starting in the 2020s for the most at-risk crops. This study suggested replacing existing crops with alternative crops as a ‘transformational adaptation’ measure that was feasible in most (but not all) contexts.

The above examples suggest the existence of thresholds of change beyond which existing systems and practices are existentially challenged. Climate vulnerability and risk assessments (VRAs) need to start considering what these thresholds might be, and where and when they might be breached. However, such thresholds are not fixed, and might be ‘pushed back’ by incremental adaptation measures, meaning that transformational adaptation can be delayed or avoided. Modelling studies might also be overly simplistic in their representations of what is viable and what is not, particularly when it comes to agriculture. For example, smallholders deploy a host of measures to produce crops in highly marginal environments that might be technically ‘unviable’ by the criteria used in modelling studies.

Transformational adaptation as defined above (i.e. abandoning or replacing existing systems on the grounds that they are not viable under climate change) is not a panacea, and should not be proposed as a universal solution. Nonetheless, it should be on the radar of planners and decision-makers, and should be explicitly considered in VRAs and the design of adaptation strategies. Climate projects suggest a warming of around 4°C by the end of the century, relative to the pre-industrial average. This warming is very similar in magnitude to the warming that occurred between the end of the last ice age, some 21,000 years ago, and the beginning of the current interglacial period around 10,000 years ago. But it is happening some hundred times faster. The world of the past 10,000 years has looked very different to that of the last glacial period. It is inconceivable that a similar warming, over a much (indeed, ridiculously) shorter period, will not reshape the face of the Earth in ways that we have only begun to comprehend. Transformational adaptation may not be needed everywhere, but in some places it will be absolutely essential to our survival.

Subsequent articles in this series will discuss, among other things, examples of transformational adaptation, the relationship between transformational adaptation and transformational change (e.g. in institutions and governance), the timescales associated with transformational adaptation.

(1) https://unstats.un.org/UNSD/MDG/SeriesDetail.aspx?srid=768

References

Burton, I. and May, E. 2004. The Adaptation Deficit in Water Resource Management. IDS Bulletin 35.3, Climate Change and Development.

Chung Tiam Fook, T. 2015. Transformational processes for community-focused adaptation and social change: a synthesis. Climate and Development. DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2015.1086294.

di Lernia, S. 2002. Dry climatic events and cultural trajec- tories: Adjusting Middle Holocene pastoral economy of the Libyan Sahara. In F.A. Hassan (Ed.), Droughts, food and culture: Ecological change and food security in Afri- ca’s Later Prehistory (pp. 225–250). New York, NY: Kluwer.

di Lernia, S. and Manzi, G. (eds.) 2002. Sand, Stones and Bones: The Archaeology of Death in the Wadi Tannezzuft Valley (5000–2000 BP). Centro Interuniversitario di Ricerca per le Civilta` e l’Ambiente del Sahara Antico e Delle Zone Aride, Universita` Degli Studi di Roma and Department of Antiquities, Libya, pp. 281–302.

Drake, N., Wilson, A., Pelling, R., White, K., Mattingly, D., Black, S., 2004. Water table decline, springline desiccation, and the early development of irrigated agriculture in the Wadi al-Ajal, Libyan Fezzan. Libyan Studies 34, 95–112.

IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Barros, V.R., C.B. Field, D.J. Dokken, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L.White (eds.)]. Cambridge.

Kates, R. W., Travis, W. R. and Wilbanks, T. J. 2012. Transformational adaptation when incremental adaptations to climate change are insufficient. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109: 7156-7161.

Mattingly, D.J., Reynolds, T., Dore, J. 2003. The Archaeology of Fazzan: vol. 1, Synthesis. Department of Antiquities, Tripoli and Society for Libyan Studies, London, pp. 327–373.

Pal., J. S. and Eltahir, E. A. B. 2015. Future temperature in southwest Asia projected to exceed a threshold for human adaptability. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2833

Rippke, U., Remirez-Villegas, J., Jarvis, A., Vermeulen, S. J., Parker, L., Mer, F., Diekkrüger, B., Challinor, A. and Howden, M. 2016. Timescales of transformational climate change adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2947.

Thomas, D. S. G., Knight, M. and Wiggs, G. F. S. 2005. Remobilization of southern African desert dune systems by twenty-first century global warming. Nature 435: 1218-1221.

Wilson, A.I. 2006. The spread of foggara-based irrigation in the ancient Sahara. In Mattingly, D.J., McLaren, S., Savage, E., al-Fasatwi, Y. and Gadgood, K. (eds.), The Libyan Desert: Natural Resources and Cultural Heritage, pp 205-16, London: Society for Libyan Studies.

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Updated programmes for July’s courses

This is just a quick update to alert you to the updated programmes for the following courses:

  1. Climate Change Adaptation & Mainstreaming for Development Professionals, 4-6 July 2016: Download provisional course programme here.

  2. Monitoring & Evaluation for Adaptation, 7-8 July 2016: Download provisional course programme here.

We still have places on these courses. To register, download and return our registration form, or contact us. Both courses will be held at the Enterprise Centre on the campus of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK.

More information on the courses is available here and here.

Dune_mobilisation_header

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Adaptation, mainstreaming and M&E training in July – exciting new venue!

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The enterprise centre at UEA, where we are holding the July 2016 training. 

We are running our Climate Change Adaptation & Mainstreaming for Development Professionals and Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) for Adaptation training courses from 4-6 and 7-8 July respectively. These will be held in Norwich, UK, but we are changing the venue from the rather low-key Garama office to the much more glamorous Enterprise Centre on the University of of East Anglia (UEA) campus. The Enterprise Centre is UEA’s newest building, and “Britain’s greenest and one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe.” The Centre is run by the Adapt Low Carbon Group, and the building offers a great environment for training.

The course coincides with UEA’s Short Course on Climate Change and Development, run by the School of International Development (4-11 July). On Monday 4 July UEA’s school of Law will run a one-day workshop on Climate Refugees: Beyond the Legal Impasse. We are doing our best to facilitate some interaction with the participants in these two events, and to arrange for participants on the Garama courses to attend a lecture (the nature of which is to be confirmed) on the former course.

As usual, the aim of these courses is to provide participants with a knowledge of the approaches, tools and methods used to mainstream climate change into development work, and to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of climate adaptation interventions. By the end of each course, participants should be able to undertake mainstreaming activities or address adaptation M&E in their work, and design mainstreaming / M&E systems in their own organisational contexts.

The Adaptation & Mainstreaming course also provides participants with an up-to-date understanding of global climate change science and policy contexts, impacts, frameworks for assessing climate change risks, and current thinking on adaptation (including incremental versus transformational adaptation).

The M&E course addresses the assessment of climate risk management processes/capacity, resilience, and the long-term impacts of adaptation interventions, drawing on the experiences of IIED’s Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) framework, the UK’s International Climate Fund (ICF), and other funds and frameworks.

Both courses are delivered by Garama’s Director, Nick Brooks.

Costs are £895 for the Adaptation & Mainstreaming course, and £595 for the M&E course. We are offering a £200 discount to anyone registering for both courses. Costs do not include accommodation (see here for accommodation options), but do include lunch, refreshments, one evening meal (per course), access to all training materials, and a certificate of completion.

Further information about the courses is available here. You can find instructions on how to register, and download a registration form here.

Please contact us if you require any further information.

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Measuring adaptation success

By Nick Brooks, Director, Garama 3C

As the amount of money being spent on adaptation grows, governments, donors and international aid agencies are increasingly keen to develop ways of measuring whether adaptation interventions are working. This presents them with a number of challenges. For a start, how can we measure the success of measures to help people cope with climate hazards that will continue to evolve beyond the lifetime of the average development intervention? How can we measure changes in such abstract concepts as resilience or vulnerability, again to hazards that will continue to evolve for decades (and centuries)? And more fundamentally, what criteria should we use to judge whether adaptation is successful?

Back in 2013, the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group criticised existing approaches to the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of resilience interventions (read also ‘adaptation’), stating that

“Current results frameworks on resilience [adaptation] are not outcome-oriented and risk emphasising spending over results.”

Since then, not much has changed, with most of the large climate funds focusing on the measurement of outputs (i.e. goods and services delivered, activities undertaken, people receiving support) rather than outcomes (short-term changes resulting from an intervention) or impacts (longer-term changes to which an intervention contributes). While some results frameworks seek to measure resilience in terms of standard development indicators (e.g. of nutrition, climate-related losses, etc.), they fail to grapple with how changes in these indicators should be interpreted in the context of changing climate stresses and shocks. In short, these frameworks lack coherent approaches that link adaptation and resilience-building activities with changes in people’s ability to cope with and adapt to evolving climate hazards in the shorter term, and to changes in human wellbeing in the longer term. One major donor recently told me that they were struggling to make the conceptual link between their climate spending and their regular development spending, and needed to work harder to demonstrate the relevance of the former to the latter.

And there’s the rub. Donors are spending more and more on climate-related interventions on the grounds that addressing climate change is vital to securing desired development results (1), but they are struggling to make the link between climate and development (the latter now represented by the SDGs) when it comes to their programme and fund-level results frameworks.

This shouldn’t be difficult – at least conceptually. The ultimate aim of adaptation and resilience-building is to maintain or improve human wellbeing in the face of climate change that might otherwise undermine it. Adaptation success ultimately will be measured in terms of indicators of human wellbeing and ‘development outcomes’, interpreted in the context of climate information/data. The latter is vital if we are to understand whether or not adaptation-related interventions have (individually or collectively) delivered real benefits.

And this is where it does get a bit tricky. So let’s take a step back.

Most development professionals working on climate change issues appreciate that we ‘do’ adaptation in order to secure the development outcomes we want in the face of climate change that might otherwise mean these outcomes are not achieved. The classic narrative of successful adaptation that you will hear from development practitioners is one in which intended development results are achieved, and people’s wellbeing and prosperity increases, despite that fact that the climate is becoming generally nastier. This is a narrative in which adaptation effectively neutralises the negative impacts of climate change.

Of course, in a deteriorating climate this is precisely what we want to achieve. However, we must also recognise that this is just one of many possible adaptation narratives. We should also acknowledge that this might be a somewhat utopian goal, and accept that sometimes adaptation will be palliative. In other words, things might not get better, but adaptation might prevent them getting worse. Even this might be optimistic in some circumstances, over some timescales. For example, development indicators might tell us that aspects of human wellbeing are deteriorating, but we then have to ask ourselves whether the deterioration would have been even greater in the absence of adaptation interventions. Whether such a scenario represents ‘successful’ adaptation is, of course, a matter for debate. But it would be foolish to ignore the benefits of interventions that at least reduce the negative effects of climate change, even if they do not eliminate them entirely.

Climate information is vital to the development of narratives of adaptation effectiveness. Without it, we don’t know how the climate hazards addressed by our adaptation and resilience interventions are evolving. If we don’t know how climate hazards are evolving, we can’t say anything about adaptation to them. For example, indicators representing aspects of human wellbeing that are affected by climate might improve over time. However, this might simply be the result of a reduction in the frequency and/or intensity of those hazards. Conversely, wellbeing indicators might exhibit a deterioration. If this occurs as climate hazards are reducing we know something is seriously wrong, and we should probably rethink our approaches to adaptation and resilience. However, if climate hazards are becoming significantly worse, we need to ask ourselves what would have happened without the adaptation interventions – would the situation have been worse still?

By thinking about possible trends in climate hazards and indicators of human wellbeing, we can identify a number of simple adaptation narratives (Figure 1). In terms of trends in climate hazards there are three broad possibilities: hazards might decline, remain constant (i.e. varying around a flat mean), or (most likely in a changing climate) intensify. Similarly, when we measure trends in human wellbeing using appropriate indicators, we might find that wellbeing is increasing, unchanged, or declining – again, three broad possibilities.

Adaptation-success-matrix

Figure 1. A matrix of possible adaptation narratives, based on trends in indicators representing aspects of human wellbeing affected by climate, and trends in relevant climate hazards (represented by appropriate climate variables or indices)

This gives us nine possible narratives linking the evolution of climate hazards and human wellbeing (Figure 1). At the extremes we have cases in which wellbeing improves despite intensifying climate hazards (the classic ‘successful adaptation’ narrative), and in which wellbeing declines despite improving climatic conditions (‘maladaptation’). In between these extremes we might see improved wellbeing against a backdrop of unchanging climate hazards (better resilience), declining wellbeing against in same constant climatic context (reduced resilience/increased vulnerability), and a number of other variations.

The most difficult cases to interpret are those in which human wellbeing declines against a background of worsening climate hazards, and in which wellbeing improves but against a background of improved climatic conditions. In the former case, we need to ask whether the decline in wellbeing would have been greater without intervention. In the latter case, we must ask whether intervention was redundant, or whether it amplified gains in wellbeing that occurred at least in part due to an improvement in climatic conditions.

To interpret such problem cases we need some sort of ‘counterfactual’ that tells us what would have happened in the absence of adaptation/resilience interventions. This may be based on qualitative information, for example derived from participatory work with the beneficiaries of interventions. Beneficiaries might be asked whether things would have been even worse without the support received via the intervention. In some (likely limited) cases, counterfactuals might be constructed using statistical relationships between climate-related variables and wellbeing/development indicators. For example, where there is a good historical correlation between rainfall anomalies and variations in crop yields or household incomes, this correlation might be used to ‘predict’ expected anomalies in yields or incomes during periods of climatic stress. These predicted or modelled anomalies can be compared with actual observed/measured anomalies. If a predicted deficit in yield or income is greater than the actual deficit, it might be concluded that adaptation has reduced the negative effects of the climate stress in question, provided this interpretation is supported by other evidence such as beneficiary feedback.

In order to develop the above narratives and counterfactuals we need good climate information/data that tells us how relevant climate hazards are evolving. Climate information is therefore vital to the development of successful results frameworks, particularly for tracking adaptation performance in the long-term. Such tracking is increasingly of interest to national governments, an increasing number of which are developing national systems for tracking how successfully they are responding to climate change. While donor programmes tend to operate over much shorter timescales, the establishment of mechanisms for tracking climate hazards, human wellbeing and – by extension – adaptation performance is vital for learning ‘what works’ in terms of programme contributions to longer-term impacts.

(1) For example, the UK has recently upped its spending on non-domestic climate change programmes from around £3.8 to £5.8 billion over a 5-year period, with the increase in spending coming from within its overseas aid budget.

For further discussion of the use of wellbeing indicators and climate information to evaluate adaptation performance, see the following Briefing Note from IIED, written by the author of this blog post as part of the IIED’s ‘Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development’ (TAMD) project. More general guidance on Adaptation M&E is provided in other TAMD publications, available here.

The issues discussed here are addressed in more detail in our 2-day Monitoring & Evaluation for Adaptation training course, held regularly in Norwich, UK. Further details of our training courses are available here.

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July training dates

We have confirmed the dates of our July training courses. Our 3-day Adaptation and Mainstreaming course will run from 4-6 July. This will be followed immediately by our 2-day Monitoring and Evaluation for Adaptation course from 7-8 July. Both courses will be held in Norwich, UK.

If you don’t want to wait until July, there are still places on our Spring courses (as above), which will run from 14-18 March.

Further details of all our courses are available here.

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Next training courses

This is a very quick notice to say that our next Adaptation and Mainstreaming course will be held in Norwich from 14th-16th July 2016, followed immediately by our Monitoring and Evaluation for Adaptation course on 17th-18th.

We intend to run these courses back-to-back again in the first (4th-8th) or second (11th-15th) July.

Please see our training pages for further details.

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A quick update

We were hacked, so apologies to anyone who expected to read about our work on climate change adaptation but was met with a series of dubious adverts for dodgy training shoes. Hopefully this issue has been resolved.

Meanwhile, we are considering dates for the next set of training courses, namely our 3-day Climate Change Adaptation and Mainstreaming course, and our 2-day Monitoring and Evaluation for Adaptation course. The intention is to run these back-to-back sometime in early 2016. We are also considering dates for our 2-day course on Climate Change and Migration. All these course will be held in Norwich, UK, but they, or versions of them, can be delivered anywhere.

If you are interested in our courses feel free to drop us a line and let us know which periods work for you. This will help us identify dates that are suitable for the largest number of potential participants.

Finally, apologies for the fact that this blog has been a bit quiet of late. This has been due to some absences over the summer, and an otherwise very heavy workload. Right now we’re getting stuck into two long-term DFID programmes – the Climate Smart Agriculture Programme (CSAP) for East and Southern Africa, for which we’re leading on M&E and log-frames amongst other things, and the International Climate Fund Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (ICF-MEL) programme, for which we’re heading up one of three outputs (reviewing and refining the ICF’s Key Performance Indicators). In addition, we’ve been very busy delivering tailored training courses to ITAD, ODI and the Government of Mozambique. Right now our Director is in Jakarta talking about the Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) framework at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Climate Change Finance and Sustainable Development.

Watch out for a Garama-penned blog post on measuring resilience on the ODI website soon.

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Adaptation, mainstreaming and M&E courses

We still have some places left on our February training courses – the 3-day Adaptation and Mainstreaming course (9-11 Feb) and the 2-day Monitoring and Evaluation for Adaptation course (12-13 Feb), both of which will be held in Norwich, UK. Further details and information on how to register are available here.

You can download the course programmes here:

We intend to repeat these courses in mid-July 2015. If you require any further information about these or other training courses, feel free to email us.

See our previous two posts for more details about some of the recent work that will be covered by the courses, particularly the Adaptation M&E course, and what the courses intend to achieve.

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