Climate change adaptations contribute to social cohesion

THE success story of climate actions, solutions and resilience is based on the mantra adaptation. In this regard, resilience is not only a buzz word, but a product of overall community and efforts and participatory methodologies.

Peter Makwanya

The success of community based adaptation programmes would not only influence climate growth and environmental sustainability, but also community-based livelihoods and infrastructural development to complement and strengthen community best practices. In this regard, adaptation programmes are those critical and sustainable moves aimed at community regeneration, image restoration, transformation and rebuilding.

The success of community driven climate change adaptation programmes are also aimed at poverty reduction and infrastructural development, but would also contribute and influence community fluency, intergration and cohesion in order to complement group efforts, unity and tolerance. The realisation of all the above milestones is premised and grounded in the versatile and empowering communication strategies that are cross-cutting and permeate through strategic social fabric, as well as appealing to the communities’ climate action aspirations and needs analysis. In this regard, the programmes are born out of the communities, driven by the communities with minimum guidance and transformed by the communities.
The only challenges that community participants may grapple with, have more to do with the management of financial and material resources. Big names have fallen by the way side and many projects have stalled due to mishandling of the vital resources. As such, trusted and revered community opinion leaders should also be part of the steering adaptation discourse communities for relevance and accountability’s sake. These are respected but not feared individuals, who are famed for their knowledge, dignity and context specific experiences.

Training in related adaptation matters should not to be taken for granted, especially on fundamental matters of financial management and material handling stewardship. In adaptation programmes of any nature, kind and scope, community members need not only wait to receive without contributing something significant not in size but quality, ranging from versatile ideas, vision, aspirations and values as well as their labour and trust, for complete ownership purposes. Communities need to have a sense of duty and belongingness, so that they invest their total trust and energy to programmes that shape their environment and transform their lives, for the sustainable living and resilience that we all want. Education and awareness must be the best tools to diffuse tensions and mistrusts, so that community participants and stakeholders are bound by the same spirit and cause.

Climate change community adaptations and participations are paramount for the improvement of small-scale projects like small bridges, deep-wells, toilets, small-scale forest nurseries, nutritional gardens, gully and pothole filling, building using locally available materials, compilation of organic manure to improve soil fertility, making fire-guards, livestock restocking and landfills, among a host of many. These are issues that are not normally affected by red-tape and bureaucratic bungling.

Community driven adaptation programmes may not be stronger as compared to local government sponsored ones, which can move at a snails’ pace, can go for years without being completed, needing just a few bags of cement or the tractor would have broken down, needing only one bolt that may never be found while community driven programmes are prompt and spontaneous as well as being very much time framed. In other words, community programmes are locally driven based on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis and Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely (SMART) goal setting. In other words, with resources permitting, its communities that can finish set-targets as compared to other established institutions.

The aspect of cohesion in community adaptations would be influenced by how those in the lead will present themselves, that is if they are constructive, complementary, consultative and engaging, then cohesion not coercion will be realised. But if the community opinion leaders are not somewhat all of the above, then the spirit of oneness and unity will be lost, as a result, threats and coercion will characterise the mark of the beast.

What is also clear is that local communities can provide labour in large and honesty frameworks but very few of them can participate in decision making. As such, some decisions may not be popular with the people but if the people have faith in their opinion leaders, cohesion will be achieved, no matter what.

Current climate change community based adaptation programmes always encourage woman and child-headed families to be on the fore-front.

 Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his capacity and can be contacted on: petrovmoyt@gmail.com


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