Resilience Exchange

The climate is changing rapidly. With limited resources and time to build resilience, we must learn what works, how it is working, and how this can be scaled up, if we’re serious about supporting the people who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and disasters. The collective ambition of the 120+ organisations that make up BRACED1 tries to do exactly that. Part way through our journey we’re sharing what we’ve learned, challenging what we think we know, and digging deeper into questions that remain unanswered.

Summary

The Resilience Exchange has been developed around a set of key messages listed below. Click on a key message to explore more about that area of work.

Why is building resilience important in BRACED countries?

The countries covered by the BRACED programme have been disproportionately affected by climate-related disasters including droughts, floods, landslides and storms. These disasters slow down development, exacerbating poverty and hunger. Risk management is getting more complicated as the climate becomes more erratic, and the impacts upon people are increasing. In some of the countries, conflict has a multiplying effect on the challenges.

How does BRACED view resilience?

BRACED understands ‘resilience’ as a set of interrelated capacities that are necessary to survive and thrive in the face of these challenges – the capacity to adapt to, anticipate and absorb climate extremes and disasters. Improvements in these capacities can lead toward transformative changes in systems and relationships that can ensure longer-term resilience.

How does BRACED view resilience?

BRACED understands ‘resilience’ as a set of interrelated capacities that are necessary to survive and thrive in the face of these challenges – the capacity to adapt to, anticipate and absorb climate extremes and disasters. Improvements in these capacities can lead toward transformative changes in systems and relationships that can ensure longer-term resilience.

Development and resilience

Development and resilience are closely linked. Resilience features in four major international frameworks agreed in 2015 and 2016: the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the World Humanitarian Summit framework.

The BRACED programme

To support those who are most vulnerable and marginalised, it is essential to work in partnership with communities and other resilience practitioners to address identified risks and vulnerabilities. However, there are limits to what can be achieved working simply at the local level. Resilience building within BRACED also relies on action by others, often at the national and international level. Many BRACED projects have formed strategic partnerships to link the efforts of organisations working at different levels.

The BRACED programme

To support those who are most vulnerable and marginalised, it is essential to work in partnership with communities and other resilience practitioners to address identified risks and vulnerabilities. However, there are limits to what can be achieved working simply at the local level. Resilience building within BRACED also relies on action by others, often at the national and international level. Many BRACED projects have formed strategic partnerships to link the efforts of organisations working at different levels.

BRACED activities to build resilience

BRACED partners are attempting to build resilience of vulnerable and marginalised groups through a wide range of activities, and lessons are beginning to emerge.

Natural resource management

Livelihoods based on natural resources are particularly vulnerable to climate change. BRACED aims to promote adoption of climate-resilient farming techniques and increase the sustainability of agriculture. Activities such as agroforestry, improved water and soil management and storage facilities are increasing food supply and dietary diversity, and helping diversify incomes. To move beyond supporting subsistence livelihoods towards building resilience over the longer term, projects must ensure that any new activities are resilient to changes in climate, economically viable and socially acceptable.

Supporting local economic development and access to financial services

An increased and stable income, supported by access to appropriate financial services, can help build people’s capacity to manage hard times, particularly if they are linked to climate services that help households choose the right investments each season. Financial services such as loans should be sustainable in the face of climate shocks and take into account effects on economic development.

Supporting local economic development and access to financial services

An increased and stable income, supported by access to appropriate financial services, can help build people’s capacity to manage hard times, particularly if they are linked to climate services that help households choose the right investments each season. Financial services such as loans should be sustainable in the face of climate shocks and take into account effects on economic development.

Promoting gender equality and empowerment

Enabling vulnerable people and communities to gain more control over decisions that affect their lives, as well as increasing their access to services and opportunities, enhances their livelihoods and wellbeing. This is particularly true for women and girls, but also many rural communities. However, challenging and changing social norms – around access to land, information or decision-making – through resilience projects requires long-term, deep engagement with communities. All projects, whether they are gender sensitive or explicitly trying to bring about gender transformation, must take into account local customs and issues such as gender-based violence.

Using climate information in decision-making

Climate shocks and stresses can be more easily managed with on-time, reliable climate and weather information. However, information is often hard for users to access, understand or use to inform decisions. Some BRACED projects have helped better translate and communicate this information, tailoring it to community needs. Building trust in forecasts and their continued provision has been central to BRACED; now a key challenge is ensuring user-oriented climate services are invested in at national and international level to avoid service disruptions that erode that trust.

Using climate information in decision-making

Climate shocks and stresses can be more easily managed with on-time, reliable climate and weather information. However, information is often hard for users to access, understand or use to inform decisions. Some BRACED projects have helped better translate and communicate this information, tailoring it to community needs. Building trust in forecasts and their continued provision has been central to BRACED; now a key challenge is ensuring user-oriented climate services are invested in at national and international level to avoid service disruptions that erode that trust.

Shock-responsive service delivery and programming

The delivery of development and resilience projects can be severely affected when a shock or stress – such as a drought, flood or conflict – requires emergency redirection of resources, which can erode project progress. Contingency funding for local crises can be used to help protect development gains, particularly when it is based on forecasts and helps people prepare for foreseeable extreme events. Flexible funding could help agencies embed resilience in their programmes and into the systems in which they are working.

Strengthening risk governance

BRACED projects are working predominantly at local levels to advocate for changes in risk management and adaptation policy and practice. They report that it takes time, persistence and meaningful engagement with government to secure its buy-in. There is no one correct entry point with government, but projects may need to work with national agencies in parallel to strengthening local Disaster Risk Reduction plans. Working with regional institutions can also support scaling-up of effective local practices.

Strengthening risk governance

BRACED projects are working predominantly at local levels to advocate for changes in risk management and adaptation policy and practice. They report that it takes time, persistence and meaningful engagement with government to secure its buy-in. There is no one correct entry point with government, but projects may need to work with national agencies in parallel to strengthening local Disaster Risk Reduction plans. Working with regional institutions can also support scaling-up of effective local practices.

Evaluating progress and supporting collective learning.

Evaluating progress

Measuring the progress of a resilience programme is challenging, complex and resource-intensive. Different evaluation approaches and methods are needed to understand changes in resilience at the intervention, project and programme levels. Evaluations need to be useful to practitioners, their partners and the communities in which they are working. Appropriate timing of evaluations is crucial, with some interventions likely to produce an impact only after the main project activities are concluded – a reality that should be taken into consideration in project, programme, and evaluation design. For example, to budget for impact evaluations after programme completion.

Collective learning

When designing activities to support learning, a range of approaches is needed to accommodate different learning styles and priorities, and the timing of learning activities is crucial. Flexibility to accommodate serendipitous learning – including budget and incentive structures for doing so – can enable project teams to discover valuable new connections, knowledge and insights.

Collective learning

When designing activities to support learning, a range of approaches is needed to accommodate different learning styles and priorities, and the timing of learning activities is crucial. Flexibility to accommodate serendipitous learning – including budget and incentive structures for doing so – can enable project teams to discover valuable new connections, knowledge and insights.

Where next?

BRACED is still being implemented and results are tentative. A new edition of the Resilience Exchange will follow in 2018, building on these themes and adding new ones. Taking advantage of additional time for results to emerge – and for reflection on them – this subsequent Resilience Exchange will take a more critical look at how to build resilience, challenge our assumptions, and delve deeper into what has been learned for the benefit of a global resilience community.