WHY: Climate change affects the Earth’s entire population in one way or another, and disasters touch around 200 million people each year. The human and economic costs to the global economy resulting from disasters exceed USD 300 billion annually. Poor communities face climate change with great deficits in protection and sustainability, and their vulnerability is amplified by climaterelated hazards. Dependence on scarce natural resources, large poor populations living in isolated areas, and limited capacity to adapt to climate change due to lack of knowledge and resources, along with weak social structures are some reasons why communities are not resilient. Social unrest and conflict only exacerbates vulnerability to climate change. NCA’s Climate Resilience programme is an integrated, pro-active approach to increase the safety and security of individuals who are increasingly vulnerable to climate change and disasters. NCA, and its ACT Alliance partners, focus on unseen, small disasters, which adversely affect poor populations’ resilience and livelihood just as much — if not more — than large-scale catastrophes. Climate change disproportionately affects the rural poor. Thus NCA’s CR programme is tailored to the needs of agrarian populations and fosters their ability to organise themselves to mitigate the risk of climate change and disasters.
WHAT: An active civil society is a key to ensuring that people transition from helpless victims to active citizens. Response to sudden disasters is often provided nationally and has a tendency of being delayed by at least 72 hours. If there are organised and trained civil society structures on the site of the disaster, they can start working immediately and shorten recovery time. Leveraging existing or newly established social structures, NCA supports the formation of community task forces, and uses communitybased methodologies to mobilise people, raise awareness on climate change, and train them to mitigate climate and disaster-related risks. Moreover, NCA contributes to the programme with technical and financial support, whilst local partners link communities with local disaster risk management authorities if they are present. In Burundi, NCA’s partners collaborated with religious and community leaders to establish 82 community task forces, an impressive figure given that the CR programme was new in 2016. Members of these community-based organisations are representative of the community and composed of women, men and youth, state employees and religious and traditional leaders. In Guatemala, NCA partners with three local Committee of Women for Disaster Reduction (COLMRED), made up of 272 members, updated an emergency response plan in cooperation with the Guatemalan Coordinating Agency for Disaster Reduction (CONRED). Thanks to the COLMRED methodology, which prioritises women’s participation, local authorities and men in the community have shown a willingness to engage in different actions that promote women’s involvement in disaster management and resilience.
RESULTS: 114 communities are protected from climate change through the constellation and training of community task forces. The six countries which form NCA’s global Climate Resilience (CR) Programme, Angola, Burundi, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, and Zambia rank near the bottom of the GAIN Index45, which measures a country’s vulnerability to climate change. Communities in these countries now have increased resilience to disasters and climate change in part because of the efforts of community task forces trained by NCA and its partners. NCA collaborated with faith-based actors and other civil society organisations in five of the six countries (all but Guatemala). Religious actors are natural partners for NCA and key collaborators in community-based work, due to their legitimacy and rootedness in the community, existing networks, ability to mobilise, care for the environment and natural compassion. Community task forces carried out a range of activities in 2016, the sum of which will increase the resilience of the community it serves. In Ethiopia, six community task forces worked closely with six Community Care Coalitions, local government structures, which tend to have low capacities and limited resources. Together, they performed a climate vulnerability assessment; created a contingency fund to be used during the recovery and rehabilitation stage after a disaster; and assessed climate data from national meteorological organisations to downscale it so communities could adjust farming calendars. In Angola, where NCA’s partners established 19 community task forces, one person per committee is responsible for disaster risk reduction (DRR). This CR intervention is the first of its kind in the areas where NCA intervenes. Community task forces and local authorities have undergone training on DRR and developing contingency plans. Currently, 10 of these task forces have started developing a DRR plan.