Resilient risk governance: experience from the Sahel and Horn of Africa

Resilience programmes often aim to provide services that help build assets and minimise the impact of shocks and stresses on people’s lives and livelihoods. But little is known about the way local risk governance systems and institutional arrangements mediate people’s access to these services and therefore lead to improved resilience.

Key messages

  • Evidence related to how ecosystem, financial and climate services can strengthen resilience at the local level is growing in the Sahel and Horn of Africa. There is less evidence regarding the importance of governance systems in mediating access to these assets.
  • Institutional arrangements have implications for the delivery of services and how people access them. 
  • Ecosystem services are often delivered at the local level and governed by complex institutional arrangements. Actors, including governments, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations, often overlap.
  • In many cases, national governments deliver climate services, often bypassing local governance structures. Therefore, while access to and use and application of weather and climate information and services in Africa and elsewhere are increasing, end-users continue to face challenges in receiving and applying these services.
  • The formal financial sector is largely absent. Financial services are more often provided informally through women's savings groups or reciprocity within social networks. Increasingly, non-governmental organisations and private sector actors are delivering financial services in places that are vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events.
  • This report offers a conceptual framework for resilient risk governance and a way forward for researchers and practitioners to build a greater body of evidence on its role in delivering resilience outcomes.

Climate Resilient Planning Toolkit

This toolkit, developed through the Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) programme, is designed to develop and deliver health, education, water and sanitation hardware interventions that are more resilient to climate extremes and disasters. It provides a generic framework to help users:

  1. Assess if resilience in a specific service delivery project should be treated as a high, medium or low priority.
  2. Identify how the different components of basic service delivery systems might be vulnerable to a range of climate extremes and disasters.
  3. Think through measures that can be taken to mitigate risks to service delivery.
  4. Establish a plan to follow up on integration of resilience in the service delivery project.

The toolkit can help project, technical and field staff of implementing agencies who plan and manage service delivery projects in developing country contexts. With early planning, the impacts of disasters can be reduced through preparation and minimising risk to people and equipment. Some hazards can be avoided entirely by building infrastructure out of harm’s way.

Below you will find the downloadable toolkit, which consists of three booklets. These include:

  • Booklet 1: guidelines that explain the tool and how to fill in the worksheets.
  • Booklet 2: worked examples to illustrate how other organisations have used the toolkit.
  • Booklet 3: worksheets that you can fill in straightaway.

The changing role of NGOs in supporting climate services

This report examines the evolving role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the production, communication and uptake of climate information. In particular, we focus on NGOs’ roles as knowledge brokers and intermediaries and how these contribute to the overall effectiveness of the climate services value chain in developing countries.

Key messages:

  • Climate services play a key role in supporting the resilience of people and communities but continue to be inaccessible to large numbers of climate-vulnerable people. Through programmes like BRACED, NGOs are increasingly taking on intermediary roles, helping users to acquire, understand, value and consider climate information within their decision-making processes.
  • There is a risk, however, that NGOs will make uncoordinated attempts to move into the climate services sector, while national meteorological and hydrological agencies are also being tasked to be more user-driven.
  • To maximise the potential of NGOs to contribute positively to climate services, we propose five areas of interaction and engagement to help to address these risks. These are: improving knowledge sharing; enhancing coordination on planned activities; enhancing collaboration across systems and scales; focusing on knowledge co-production; and emphasising learning processes. These areas require new actions from not only NGOs, but also national meteorological and hydrological agencies, national and local governments, and international funders.

Measuring subjective household resilience: insights from Tanzania

In this paper, the feasibility and utility of a subjective approach to measuring household resilience is explored. Subjective measures comprise of a person’s self-evaluation of their household’s capability and capacity to respond to climate extremes or other related hazards. To date, most quantitative approaches to resilience measurement rely on objective indicators and frameworks of assessment. More recently, subjective methods of resilience measurement have been advocated in helping to overcome some of the limitations of traditional approaches.

While subjective measures may hold significant promise as an alternative and complementary approach to traditional, few standardised quantifiable tools have been tested at scale. With this in mind, a nationally representative survey was carried out in Tanzania to explore perceived levels of household resilience to climate extremes and to assess the utility of standardised subjective methods for its assessment. The focus of the study is primarily on flood risk, examining a range of self-assessed resilience-related capacities and patterns of resilience across socio-demographic groups.

Survey results show that most of the population perceive their household to be ill prepared to respond to (66%), recover from (75%) and adapt to (61%) extreme flooding. Factors that are most associated with resilience-related capacities are advance knowledge of a previous flood and, to a lesser extent, believing flooding to be a serious community problem. This suggests further investment in early warning and awareness-raising regarding extreme flooding could be warranted. Somewhat surprisingly, although most socio-demographic variables – such levels of education, livelihood type and rural/urban locality – show weak associations with perceived resilience-related capacities, almost all exhibit statistically significant differences –with the exception of a household’s wealth.

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Increasing people’s resilience through social protection

This paper from the BRACED Knowledge Manager draws from existing evidence to highlight how social protection programmes and systems can contribute to building the anticipatory, adaptive and absorptive capacity of vulnerable people who are exposed to climate shocks and disasters.

Key messages: 

  • The increasing prevalence of climate-related extreme events is becoming an additional factor that exacerbates vulnerability and undermines efforts to reduce poverty. Social protection is a key policy tool to help people manage a range of risks to their livelihoods and wellbeing, including climate shocks.
  • Social protection can build anticipatory capacity by linking social safety nets with mechanisms to prepare and plan for climate extremes and disasters. It provides beneficiaries with the capacity to absorb shocks and meet their basic needs in times of hardship. If future risks are accounted for and adequate support is provided, social protection can play a role in building adaptive capacity in the long-term through sustainable livelihood promotion.
  • To ensure programmes can effectively reduce vulnerability to climate risks several factors need to be considers to make it ‘adaptive’ or ‘shock-responsive’. These relate to designing flexible and scalable programmes, ensuring the support provided reduces current as well as future vulnerability, and putting in place targeting, financing and coordination mechanisms that facilitate cross-sector responses to different types of risks.

Cultivating climate resilience: the Shea value chain

The economy of Burkina Faso is growing but is seen alongside high levels of poverty and a heavy reliance on the climate-vulnerable agriculture sector.

This Working Paper outlines the importance of Shea in Burkina Faso both as a commodity for exporting and in providing subsistence for local communities. Although as a crop it is relatively resilience to a changing climate and is beneficial to the overall resilience of the ecosystem – through maintaining soil fertility and biodiversity of flora and fauna - the Shea tree is considered a vulnerable species, largely at risk from human practices.

Measures such as soil and water conservation and management are being adopted to improve Shea tree conservation and management. Research and development focused on domestication and isolation of more adaptable varieties of Shea are being turned into on-the-ground applications. Furthermore, Organic and fair trade certifications sought by international brands in the cosmetic industry contribute to establishing appropriate rules for the safeguard of the resource and biodiversity in general, and the minimisation of negative environmental impacts during the production phases.

In parallel to this, the Burkina Faso government have adopted a framework of national and international laws aimed at protecting Shea trees as well as developing initiatives that support local communities through agro-forestry and other projects.

Through a combination of value chain development, environmental management and measures targeting social groups, a comprehensive adaptation and resilience strategy is being developed in the Shea value chain in Burkina Faso, which include the communities who are engaged in the value chain.

The strategies do now, however, tackle potential obstacles to effective climate risk management in the agriculture and forestry sector, particularly there is a lack reliable climate and weather information necessary for planning in advance.

While Shea production has what it takes to improve the resilience of local communities involved in different stages of the value chain, and measures are in place to reduce the risk of human practices, diversification of the crops cultivated by farmers is essential to ensure climate resistance and resilience of the ecologic and socio-economic system as a whole in Burkina Faso. More broadly, efforts that promote economic diversification are imperative in the light of a national agenda for sustainable development.

Climate resilience and financial services: Lessons from Ethiopia, Mali and Myanmar

This paper aims to answer three research questions for each of the three contexts assessed: 

  • What is the availability and use of financial services?
  • How can financial services contribute to building climate resilience in terms of managing climate- related risks and exploiting climate-related opportunities?
  • How can policy-makers support the development of financial services to build climate resilience?

Drawing from the findings of the analysis, the authors recommend strengthening the financial infrastructure, engaging with domestic financial service providers and telecoms companies and improving capacity, financial literacy and trust in the financial system amongst vulnerable groups. 

This paper is also supported by the BRACED policy brief 'Banking on resilience: Building capacities through financial services inclusion'.

Banking on resilience: Building capacities through financial services inclusion

This BRACED policy brief looks at experiences in Mali, Ethiopia and Myanmar in helping to build resilience to climate extremes and disasters through increased financial inclusion. 

Key policy messages are:

  • Financial services inclusion helps build climate resilience and nontraditional financial services are better able to reach the most vulnerable, but action is needed on the demand and the supply side.
  • A more transparent regulatory framework for these services can help promote inclusion and growth in the sector (and so competition and flexibility), alongside protection for users and improved physical access for the most vulnerable.
  • Support to service providers is needed to build capacity, financial literacy and trust of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in the banking system.

This policy brief is supported by the BRACED working paper Climate resilience and financial services: Lessons from Ethiopia, Mali and Myanmar

Gender and Resilience: From Theory to Practice

One year into the implementation of the Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) programme, this working paper reflects on progress in linking gender equality and resilience within development projects. It draws on the preliminary paper ‘Gender and Resilience’ also produced by BRACED's Knowledge Manager in 2015, which examined how non-government organisations (NGOs) who are funded under the BRACED programme have integrated gender dimensions of resilience to climate change and disasters in the design of their project activities. 

This follow up paper builds on three case studies of BRACED projects in Myanmar, Burkina Faso and Uganda to reflect further on the realities, challenges and successes of early implementation of their activities. The three case studies have been written by practitioners and reflect on their own gender-sensitive practices. Their experiences are compared in this paper with the aim to inform other organisations implementing resilience-based programmes on the lessons and promising practices to mainstream gender equality.