Manila, Philippines - Adaptation is the adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic conditions or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities. Best practices abound now in many parts of the world on community-based adaptation activities to cope with climate change risks. Among these are:

Bangladesh  Floating vegetable gardens allow for seedlings to be grown when land is flooded so that they are ready to plant out when the floodwater recedes. Fish are reared in cages which are anchored in ponds created by monsoon rains when the river is too fast flowing for fishing boats to go out. A variety of rice has been planted that matures before the monsoon rains, and ponds are used for raising ducks and fish. Ducks provide eggs for the market and are more resilient to floods than chickens.

Thailand  Bamboo poles are used in beating back waves that slowly engulf seaside communities. Properly spaced bamboo poles dampen the force of waves and allow for a more natural exchange between the marine and freshwater environments. Erecting bamboo screens made of thousands of poles driven into the seabed has helped restore several hundred meters of land now planted with mangrove saplings along the Gulf of Thailand coast as well as on the island of Phuket.

Bhutan  Climate change-induced temperature increases are causing rapid meltdown of Himalayan glaciers, resulting in unsustainable water level increases in many of Bhutan’s glacial lakes which can be catastrophic for the country’s densely populated valleys.Adaptation measures in place include updating information and raising awareness and prepared response to glacial lake outburst floods through improved early warning systems and engineering and safety plans such as monitoring and lowering lake levels.

Palestinian Territories  Farmers are working with research institutions to conserve remaining local crop varieties, develop new drought-resistant strains and improve farm management systems according to changing conditions. Since the rainy season comes two months later now, farmers plant crops also later to ensure a full harvest. Another method used is growing the same crop of vegetables in different places and at different times to ensure greater availability throughout the year.

Honduras  As a protection from hurricanes, crops are planted under dispersal native trees whose roots anchor the soil. Vegetation is pruned to provide nutrients to the soil and conserve soil water while terracing reduces soil erosion. These methods have proven highly resilient to droughts and intensive rain during El Niño and La Niña events.

Guatemala  To counteract devastating flash floods caused by tropical storms and hurricanes brought about by climate change, communities organize themselves into “micro-watershed councils” to coordinate watershed management among groups of villages. They identify the different demands for water and define priorities for managing and restoring watersheds that meet their development needs. Farming systems have been diversified including terracing of degraded slopes and reforestation is taking place with the introduction of agro-forestry.

Tanzania  Climate change is making water scarcity worse. The adapt, authorities enlist farmers, fishers and residents alike to help decide how to allocate water. Combining a local sense of who needs what, how much water is available and what might be available under climate change scenarios, people are now learning about allocation of river water with the limits of the river?s flow, including to ecosystems in the basin that store water, regulate flows and support livelihoods. Better water governance will reduce pressure on ecosystems and start to make communities and the economy less vulnerable to climate change.

Nigeria  Faced with a falling river water flow due to dam construction, water abstraction for irrigation and climate change, the government and local stakeholders including dam operators and farming, fishing and herding communities agreed on a new management plan to rebuild the natural infrastructure to sustain livelihood and development needs. Resilience is now strengthening with communities acquiring skills to cope with an uncertain future.

Malawi  Climate change-associated decreases in rainfall are causing severe water shortages and exacerbates food insecurity. Adaptation activities include enhancing water distribution, promoting irrigation efficiency, changing irrigation schedules, recycling water, capturing groundwater and rehabilitating existing systems. Attention is also given to water harvesting activities including dam construction, dam and river catchment management and siltation reduction.

Kenya  The country makes better use of its existing institutions for climate change adaptation. It identified Kenyan institutions whose mandate address vulnerability and adaptation concerns and specifies their respective key roles. For example, the drought monitoring center predicts extreme events; the national research and development institutions for technical development and dissemination; non-governmental organizations for awareness-raising. That way, the challenges confront and drives institutional performances including support to community-based coping strategies and disaster risk reduction.

Sudan  Average annual temperatures are likely to increase by between .08 and 1.7 degrees Celsius by 2030 accompanied by increasing rainfall variability and decreasing annual rainfall amounts. Farmers who use traditional rainfall techniques and pastoralists are the most vulnerable. Adaptation measures currently in use include rainwater harvesting, improved irrigation techniques, climate resilient cropping systems, livelihood diversification and incorporation of climate risk information in agricultural policies and practices.

Germany  An enormous off-shore wind farm in the North Sea, a large geothermal plant near Hanover and a 400-billion euro project to generate solar electricity combine to make sure that the country is meeting the challenges of climate change with green high technology on a grand scale. Some refer to it as the beginning of the third industrial revolution.

Against the backdrop of horrifying earthquake and tsunami consequences and amidst unprecedented global attention and intense media coverage on climate change, the 2009 Philippine Climate Change Law is a most significant piece of national legislation that needs effective implementation and enforcement. In the meantime, the man on the street wants to know about adaptation to climate change.

(Amado Tolentino, a Filipino pioneer in the field of environmental law, served as Philippine envoy to Papua New Guinea and Qatar.)


Source: The Philippine Star | 15 May 2011

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