• cynthiaismail

Assessing the impacts of CC adaptation project

Hello, this is Cynthia from Think-team!


In this blog, I would like to share a little bit of my work with su-re.co as a research assistant on my early days. With su-re.co, the first task I was assigned to is making an assessment report on several adaptation projects that su-re.co was involved in. Other than the project reports, the only clue I got is a paper by Eakin et al (2014). This task should be sent back to su-re.co team within five days. Honestly, it took me two days before I decided to start writing. This experience allowed me to get a taste of adaptation projects which are more difficult to quantify their impacts compared to mitigation projects.


A simple heuristic matrix by Eakin et al (2014) could be helpful to assess the impacts of adaptation project based on the adaptive capacity of the targeted communities. This is a proper tool used to articulate the influential capacities that have led to the desired outcomes of a project. The capacities matrix consists of two dimensions: generic capacity and specific capacity.


Generic capacity is related to capacities that are basic human development needs, while specific capacity is defined as tools and knowledge required to anticipate and effectively respond to climatic threats. Thus, generic capacity includes education level, health, mobility, livelihood, and security whilst specific capacity refers to the knowledge and system concerning the adaptive procedure. Although project indicators on one project are not analogous to those of other communities’, it is possible to draw out the essential aspects of generic and specific capacity profiles. The matrix also furcates these capacities for examination at individual actor and system level.


To evaluate the interaction between specific capacity and generic capacity, Eakin et al (2014) suggested 4 classifications as shown below. Firstly, when both generic and specific capacity are at a low level, the target community is classified to be in a “poverty-trap”. In this state, the targeted community suffers from intense stress that erodes human welfare and social structure that would otherwise support effective risk management. Secondly, if generic capacity is low whilst specific capacity is high, the society will be considered as a “safety-first” population. The circumstances of this community lead them to prioritize present day safety and security over investments in generic capacities that might enable future welfare gains. There are typically weak safety nets at the level of governance (“system-level”) of “safety-first” communities. Furthermore, capacity to invest in assistance for household risk management, or build generic capacity, is lacking.


A further classification, the “safe development paradox” is defined when the target society has high generic capacity but low levels of specific capacity. It describes a society with a good level of education or health, but limited ability to cope with the risk and impacts of climate change. At the system-level of the “safe development paradox” community, there may well be very strong safety nets and public investments in risk management and programs to ensure socio-economic stability. Lastly, characterized by high generic and specific capacity, there is the community enacting “sustainable adaptation”. Communities in this domain are characterized by conditions that would most likely lead to a sustainable outcome and potentially, transformative adaptation. In this condition, generic and specific risk management is high at both individual and system-levels, and as such, development and adaptation policies are mutually reinforcing to the benefit of reduced overall vulnerability.


Curious about how we applied into real adaptation projects? You can read the publication which is available here https://www.su-re.co/product-page/climate-change-resilient-agriculture-and-agroforestry


See you on the next blog😊

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