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 BRACED tries to do exactly that. Throughout 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 building the resilience of vulnerable and marginalised groups through a wide range of activities. Below is a snapshot of lessons that have emerged.

Natural resource management

Livelihoods based on natural resources are particularly vulnerable to climate change. BRACED promotes climate-resilient farming techniques and sustainable agriculture. Activities such as agroforestry, improved water and soil management, and better storage facilities are increasing food supply and dietary diversity, and helping diversify incomes. To move beyond supporting subsistence-based livelihoods towards building resilience over the longer term, projects must ensure that any new activities are resilient to changes in climate and are 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 when households are linked to climate services that help them choose the right investments each season. Improvements to financial services and access to credit and loans, particularly through Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) groups, is being seen across BRACED projects.

Promoting gender equality and empowerment

Enabling vulnerable people and communities to gain more control over decisions that affect their lives, and increasing their access to services and opportunities, enhances their livelihoods and wellbeing. This is particularly true for rural communities, and especially for women and girls within these communities who are often discriminated against. However, challenging and changing social norms – around access to land, information or decision-making – through resilience projects requires long-term, deep engagement with communities.

Using climate information in decision-making

Climate shocks and stresses can be more easily managed with on-time, reliable climate and weather information. But it is often hard for users to access, understand or use information to inform their decisions. Some BRACED projects have helped improve the ways information is translated and communicated, tailoring it to community needs. Building trust that forecasts will be accurate and consistently available has been a central concern for BRACED. Now, a key challenge is ensuring that there is national and international investment in user-oriented climate services, to avoid the service disruptions which erode that trust. BRACED projects have found that better use of near-term climate and weather information may be a more appropriate focus than long-term climate projections. At the local level, understanding basic principles of how the climate is changing – such as the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, and uncertainty about the future climate – is often enough to guide choices for adaptation.

Shock-responsive service delivery and programming

The presence or absence of public services can have a critical impact on the vulnerability of poor and marginalised groups. These groups are particularly reliant on systems of service delivery that offer them skills, healthcare and livelihood support to fulfil their basic human rights and help them succeed economically. In rural areas, remoteness can make coping with hazards more difficult. In urban areas, service is more complicated, often relying on interconnections with parallel systems such as electricity supply.

Strengthening risk governance

BRACED projects are working predominantly at a local level to advocate for changes in risk management and adaptation policy and practice. They have approached advocacy and influence using “insider track” approaches, focusing on influencing through good relationships with governments. These relationships have mostly been formed through strong project impacts and support at the local level being recognised by more senior government levels. The projects 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 the projects have illustrated that the key to success has been to employ a strategy for influencing government policies and plans, working in partnership with all levels of government, and to involve governments in activities from the project implementation phase. These approaches have enabled governments to observe first-hand BRACED successes at the local levels and have led them to adopt BRACED strategies more broadly.

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. This can be done, for example, by budgeting for impact evaluations after programme completion.

Collective learning

Effective learning is critical for resilience programs. 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 knowledge and connections. When exploring different learning approaches, it is important to be clear about the purpose and intended impact, whether it is critical reflection to inform decision-making or exchanging ideas to improve project delivery.

Where next?

BRACED is currently in an extension phase, allowing us to extend our learning about what works to build resilience in fragile places, and for the Knowledge Manager to look deeper into a set of key themes, including the use of climate information, decentralised risk governance, access to markets and financial inclusion, gender and social equality, and resilience-building in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Further evidence will be added to this Resilience Exchange as the extension phase unfolds.