Climate Resilience

This programme departs from NCA's two former climate related programmes into a new programme called "Climate Resilience". The former "Climate Change Mitigation" programme will not be carried forward, although access to energy may constitute an activity under other programmes. NCA is evolving its approach to climate from adaptation to resilience. NCA seeks to improve preparedness, response and recovery through community structures such as community task forces.


1. Problem analysis
2. Methods and intervention strategies
3. Strengthening civil society
4. Added value
5. Integration of gender equality and youth in programming

1. Problem analysis


The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) synthesis report launched in November 201424 notes that impacts from global warming are already evident: with poorer yields, sea level rise and extreme weather events. The unequivocal message is that we must act on climate change now. Communities face climate change with great deficits in protection and sustainability, as a high level of vulnerability is combined with climate related hazards. Lack of resilience is caused by a number of factors, including: dependency on natural resources, large poor populations living in marginal areas, and limited capacity to adapt to climate change due to lack of knowledge, resources, weak social structures and inadequate infrastructure. The IPCC notes that violent conflict exacerbates vulnerability to climate change.

The IPCC presents overwhelming evidence on the scale of the negative effects of climate change, which will in the coming years be more evident in African contexts, some of which have until now not been as hard hit. These impacts have the potential to irreversibly damage the natural resource base on which rural communities depend, with significant consequences for the right to food. As rural livelihood systems come under increasing climatic stress, patterns of migration and urbanisation will also gain considerable momentum, causing both internally displaced people to gravitate towards urban centres in their own country and sending climate migrants across borders. Limited participation by rights holders in government decision-making is also noted when it comes to climate issues, combined with weak organisation and mobilisation of rights holders in climate change and risk mitigation measures. This is a challenge at the community level as well as at national and international levels. At the international level the right to self-determination is challenged by the lack of voice in the negotiation on global climate change protocols.

25. or
26. Countries’ vulnerability to climate change and other global challenges in combination with its readiness to improve resilience leaves the following NCA countries with the very lowest rankings: Somalia, Burundi, Afghanistan, DRC, Ethiopia, Mali, Haiti, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia and Pakistan.

The GAIN index25 provides an overview of those countries most affected by creating an index ranking vulnerability and readiness to respond to climate change. Many of NCA’s countries26 are now at an extremely high risk.

The root causes of the problems are contextual, with significant variation between and even within countries. Common factors can be seen, including: poverty, resource depletion, access to land, population growth and global warming. Within countries the poorest are the most vulnerable. They are at high risk whether it is in a rural, semi urban or urban setting. Within communities the effects of climate change are disproportionate, affecting those with less resources the most.

Key duty bearers are national and local government institutions, private corporations, resourceful civil society actors, the military, insurance companies and the UN. Rights holders and social structures (religious institutions, schools, community-based organisations, village committees, networks) also have obligations for contributing to addressing the issue of resilience to climate change within their sphere of influence.

2. Methods and intervention strategies

The programme will replicate methods previously used in NCA’s Asian and Central American programmes and scale up the use of intervention methods focusing on mitigating risk and managing crises globally alongside the organisation and mobilisation of communities for community-based task forces. These will be new initiatives in many African climate programmes and a prerequisite to move from vulnerability reduction to increasing resilience for communities.

Evidence-based, climate-smart agriculture should be applied in order to continuously improve the results of the programme and lead to more resilient agricultural systems. Reforestation will be prioritised with the potential for multiple benefits to communities, as it can simultaneously provide livelihoods, prevent erosion and mitigate climate change through carbon absorption. The core working methods are

  1. Community Based Adaptation (CBA),
  2. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), and
  3. (Community Based) Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM).

Adaptation refers to adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts. It refers to changes in processes, practices, and structures to moderate potential damages and includes some general components: observation, assessment, planning and implementation. ‘Community’ in the CBA refers to the community conducting and owning the approach.

DRR is the concept and practice of reducing risks related to disasters, such as loss of life or property. There is an internationally recognized need to lift disaster management in climate change adaptation work. The impact of a disaster (both sudden and slow impact), or the effect it has on society and the environment depends on the choices we make: how we grow our food, where and how we build our homes, what kind of government we have and even what we teach in schools. Each decision makes us either more vulnerable or more resilient to disasters.

CBDRM is a systematic approach to using administrative decisions, organisations, financial assets and capacities to implement policies. This approach also uses the strategies and coping capacities of society and communities to lessen the impacts of natural disasters. Unlike disaster risk reduction, which focusses on the preparatory phase, CBDRM comprises all forms of activities to resist, absorb and recover from the effects of a hazard/ natural disaster.

The combination of Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and DRR could be considered a first step, with the development of a full system as the aim. There are situations where CBDRM and DRR could function without CCA. That said, working with disaster mitigation alone without considering the risk of climate change does not create community resilience. This goes for both sudden and slow onset effects of climate change.

The theory of change clearly shows that both structural and competence-building (non-structural) interventions are needed for a community to have the capability for resisting, absorbing and recovering from climate change. For simplicity’s sake, these interventions have been grouped into three categories: competence, social structures and structural interventions.

Competence includes training and skills-building, access to and dissemination of downscaled climate information, performance and usage of feasibility studies including: risk assessments, environmental impact assessments and baseline studies. These are considered “must do” activities, as they form the contextual knowledge base upon which the country programme is designed.

Social structures are the owners of the climate resilience programmes. These are civil structures with whom NCA cooperates in the communities, such as religious organisations or institutions, civil society partners, schools and networks. These structures represent the implementation platform of the programme, upon which essential resilience functions such as community task forces, community DRR centres, land management plans, resilience funds, ecosystem management and budget monitoring are based.

Structural interventions are the physical measures, including infrastructure that reduce the impact of hazards and create resilience in structures or systems. The programme will focus on mitigation structures that can resist floods and hurricanes, measures that that can help communities to manage and recover from drought and cold spells.

3. Strengthening civil society

Ownership and participation: It is considered a basic right that the communities will own, facilitate and maintain climate resilience initiatives. To ensure local ownership, NCA will emphasize participation at all stages and levels of the programme by CSOs (such as voluntary networks, village committees, farmers’ cooperatives or informal networks), and government task forces (where such exists). NCA will aim to strengthen these, and where necessary work with local partners to establish new networks or CSOs.

Dialogue to influence local or national government authorities (advocacy): National and local governments have the overall responsibility for implementing climate resilience initiatives. With a deficit in knowledge and resources necessary to fulfil this duty, NCA will encourage constructive dialogue between social structures and local authorities as a means to ensure community participation in decisions that affect them. In some contexts, broader campaigns mobilising rights holders and religious leaders may be an effective way to influence government authorities. NCA will also explore the potential for the application of budget monitoring as a methodology to ensure that government and emergency assistance funds are applied according to intension.

Networking and bridge building: NCA will aim at initiating joint climate resilience initiatives with government authorities, including training of government staff if feasible. This is especially important in fragile states, where NCA partners can act as a bridge between civil society and government. NCA will further facilitate links between various organisations engaged in climate resilience initiatives, and link relevant resource organisations to NCA core partners as part of competence development. Climate resilience measures are often uncontroversial politically. Therefore, dialogue around these issues may provide a space and opportunity for improving the legitimacy of civil society, with positive side effects for other issues.

4. Added value

NCA has an added value due to our distinctiveness as an organisation. Faith-based and other community organisations that we partner with are in general among the first responders to disasters, being able to mobilise volunteers at short notice through a moral obligation. These organisations also have an outreach with presence in remote and vulnerable communities. Faith- based institutions often have legitimacy and the potential to advocate on behalf of communities. NCA’s partner-based approach ensures legitimacy in local communities and the application of pre-existing local knowledge.

Furthermore, several faiths have theological reasons for focusing on climate related issues as part of taking care of the environment. NCA is part of a broad ecumenical network with focus on climate issues and participates in the climate change and DRR Community of Practice of the ACT Alliance. NCA has a facilitation role in capacitating faith-based and value-based organisations at the local level as well as local communities.

Finally, NCA has an added value contributing with competence and transfer of knowledge. In particular accompaniment for training and certification in DRM and CBA of staff and partner organisations, experience sharing, access to the international arena and networking between organisations. NCA’s strong local presence allows us to reach those communities and individuals that are highly vulnerable but difficult to reach due to low local capacity and high levels of corruption. In this programme NCA will play the roles of facilitator, challenger, monitor and catalyst.

5. Integration of gender equality and youth in programming

Climate change and disasters do not discriminate, but variations in socioeconomic conditions lead to different outcomes with the result that the most vulnerable suffer more than others. Women are the hardest hit by climate change; climate events and disasters, therefore, tend to reinforce and increase gender inequality.

The programme will utilise three intervention areas to ensure equal gender involvement and impact:

  1. Gender sensitive risk assessments, conducted by a gender neutral working group,
  2. Gender transformative functions where monitoring and early warning systems will be designed and managed by women, and
  3. Synergies with other programmes that will further counteract the imbalance in socioeconomic pre-conditions.

Climate resilience is vital in order to secure a safe future for young women and men. In the new programme youth will become more active citizens within the following intervention areas:

  1. Both male and female youth are central in community task forces and will be active members, and
  2. Youth will mobilise communities and be vocal advocates for justice in climate conventions.

Read also about our results in our Global Report 2015