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Participatory Learning and Action 60. Community-based adaptation to climate change

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It is now become clear that, for poor people, climate change adaptation approaches based on local knowledge and strategies are bound to be more successful than top-down initiatives. The articles in this issue on participatory learning and action focus on the recent approaches to adaptation to climate change utilizing the priorities, knowledge and capacities of local people. Community-based adaptation draws on participatory approaches and methods developed in both disaster risk reduction and community development work and sectoral-specific approaches. This resource describes how community-based approaches to climate change have emerged, and the similarities and differences between the relatively new field of CBA and other participatory development and disaster risk reduction approaches.The document observes that shifts have occurred in the scope and focus of participation with emphasis on sub-national, national and international decision making downplaying local decision-making. The emphasis now leans to policy processes and institutionalisation, issues of difference and power, assessing the quality and understanding the impact of participation, rather than promoting participation. Participatory Learning and Action reflects these developments and recognises the importance of analysing and overcoming power differentials which work to exclude the marginalised. This issue is divided into three sections:

the first contains reflections on participatory processes and practice in community-based adaptation to climate change. These include participatory vulnerability analyses, disaster risk reduction frameworks, and Farmer Field Schools and case studies which provide a source of experience and lessons for CBA practitioners
the second focuses on participatory tool-based case studies. These describe a participatory process with an emphasis on the use of a particular participatory tool, such as participatory video or participatory mapping. They also reflect on the strengths and limitations of these tools
the third looks at participatory tools, step-by-step descriptions of how to facilitate a particular tool in a community, for example, rain calendars and mental models of the drivers and effects of climate change.

The report also presents two tips for trainers. These are:

communication maps which are a participatory tool to understand communication patterns and relationships. It provides a simple and effective way to plot and understand how children communicate with the people in their lives
tips on using a tool called Rivers of Life, where participants reflect on personal experiences that have motivated them in their personal lives. The symbol of a river is used to reflect on key stages in their lives, reflecting experiences, influences, and challenges.