636.1 "Adaptation from below” to climate change: Lessons from field surveys in Benin

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 9:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Edwin ZACCAI , IGEAT, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB Brussels), Brussels, Belgium
Marie-Ange BAUDOIN , IGEAT, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB Brussels), Brussels, Belgium
Adapting to climate change in developing countries is often seen in international policy through the lenses of increasing funds. It is true that financing adaptation raises essential and controversial questions of responsibilities about who should pay for the damage induced by excessive GHG emissions. However, even if those questions would be adequately fixed, how will developing countries deliver the financing support to the populations in need for it ?

In those countries institutional instruments such as National Adaptation Plans (NAPAS) are considered as privileged vehicles of such aid. Support is also delivered with the collaboration of various NGO’s, be it international, national or local. However, altogether there are very few intermediary agents able to provide villagers with technical support, not to mention the political context, often to weak to deal with new impulses to be given.

After a project of several years, including field survey in Benin (West Africa), we would like to present both empirical work and analyses on the realities of "adaptation from below" to climate conditions, including insights on its potential to be extended in the context of further climate change.

The field survey includes observations in South Benin on how agricultural villages do try to cope with the actual climate variability. First, by mapping factors of social vulnerability, we present results relating to endogenous strategies of adaptation. Second, we analyze the profile of local aid “projects”, with a view on their potential contribution to adaptation to climate change. Third, and more generally, we check the actual support that those villagers receive in these matters, from local, national, and eventually international sources of funding.

We conclude by stating that the weakness of transfers from the international or national spheres to grassroots realities remains an essential component of any policy on adaptation to climate change in developing countries.