Response, Recovery, Resilience – how dryland communities manage climate shocks
Drylands under pressure
Many of the most pressing adaptation challenges facing Africa are concentrated in the drylands.
They cover two-thirds of Africa, are home to half a billion people, are warming at up to twice the global average, and they are contain enormous natural and human assets.
Climate variability and change will increase the negative effects of natural and environmental hazards, risks and shocks on the lives, livelihoods and food security of communities in these drylands.
Focusing on the first responders to any shock – in local communities – is an essential part of food security early action in Africa’s drylands.
Time for early action
Governments, development agencies and communities must invest in ‘anticipatory actions’ to better prepare, adapt and respond to climate shocks at the intersection of agri-food systems, climate action, governance and humanitarian action.
- Draw on the assets and knowledge of local and indigenous pastoralist communities and their networks;
- Invest early to counter risks to land, livestock and livelihoods;
- Use predictive evidence and data on risks and impacts to guide decisions;
- Design for long-term resilience as well as for shorter-term response and recovery outcomes; and
- Build transformative anticipatory and adaptive capacities of communities and others to manage climate shocks.
Inspired by communities
Communities in the drylands of East Africa have dealt with shifting horizons of droughts and natural disasters for generations. Over time, these pastoralist communities have built strong networks and collective action, flexing their livelihoods, proactively reacting to risks and opportunities while stewarding landscapes and biodiversity and producing livestock and other products for urban markets.
Their first-hand knowledge should be placed at the centre of climate adaptation and risk mitigation interventions.
As Africa looks ahead to manage future droughts and other climate shocks, here are some strategies, actions and solutions used by dryland communities as they practice the three R’s – Response, Recovery, Resilience – in the face of climate variability and unpredictability.
The key messages and images below were distilled from our interactions with community elders and others living and working in drylands. They remain a work in progress.
Communities respond to anticipated or immediate shocks by acting early on forecasts, de-stocking their herds, tracking market prices, buying essentials and tapping trusted relationships.
Early action - early warning
Early action - forecasts
Early action - early sales
Strategic mobility - trust relationships
Communities recover from shocks by replacing lost animals with drought or heat tolerant breeds such as these cattle. Photo: Julie Ojango
Communities use customary social protection systems like ‘dabare’ or ‘busa ganofa’ to help family and friends recover and rebuild their livelihoods. Photo Samuel Derbyshire
Relationships - for voice and influence
Relationships - to manage comunity resources
Relationships - for water management
Relationships - for fodder and grazing management
Capacity building - for risk management
Capacity building - for scenario planning
Communities build resilience and adaptive capacities through Participatory Scenario Planning that combines meteorological and traditional seasonal forecasts to inform local decisions. Photo: CARE International
Capacity building - for rangeland management
Communities build resilience through participatory rangeland management efforts in which owners and users of pastoral rangelands negotiate and implement use of resources. Photo: Roba and Davies
Capacity building - for early warning early action
Communities build resilience through community-centred ‘early warning early action’ projects that empower local people to anticipate, respond to, absorb, recover from and mitigate shocks. Image: Ben Mountfield
Capacity building - to trigger early action
Communities contribute their local knowledge in early warning systems, shaping anticipatory actions so they are locally relevant and triggered at the right time and place. Image: Flaticon.com