Oxfam Entry Page

Submitted by Sukaina Bharwani | published 25th Mar 2011 | last updated 30th Mar 2011

Welcome to your Oxfam entry point into the online learning and sharing resources that weADAPT provides! You are one of the participants taking part in a one month trial during October to build this website and make it work for oxfam CCA practitioners!

Instructions for trial participants

SEI Oxford and Oxfam GB are collaborating to build this user guide for Oxfam staff to link you directly to the tools, data, guidance material and case experience available on weADAPT that may be useful to your work, as well as to point you to other online resources and Oxfam materials were suitable. As we do so we hope you will use this to document and share your own work and learning, across Oxfam and with other organisations, as well as comment on the contributions of others and pose important questions that the rest of us might be able to help you answer.

These are some topics that might relate to what you are working on. Click through the links to explore the content that is currently available. If you wish to provide additional information feel free to edit the respective pages or if you'd like to comment, ask questions or share reflections with your Oxfam colleagues, then why not do so on the discussion page 'behind' this page (see tab at the top of the screen, you will need to be logged in to edit).

Get an intro to / refresher on the basics of climate science

Read the information on this page Climate science, projections and interpretation and follow the links there for additional resources.

The IPCC frequently asked questions document also does a good job of covering the basics.

Use downscaled climate data

To develop suitable adaptation strategies it is important to build up an understanding of what the climate is in the area you are living in and/or working in. This involves using both scientific knowledge and ‘indigenous’ knowledge (accumulated experiential knowledge) of what the climate is in a place / area / region, and what it means for the people living there.

On the scientific side this involves looking at available knowledge and information presented in assessment reports and academic papers, as well as looking at available data – either raw, if you know how to analyze it from scratch, or as presented in useful graphics from which you can more easily interpret relevant messages.

Both observational records (measurements of the historical climate) and downscaled climate projections (indicators of plausible future climates) for stations across Africa are now available from a weADAPT partner in South Africa – the Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG) at the University of Cape Town. This data, together with an extensive (and increasing) collection of guidance documentation to help with interpretation, can be accessed through the Climate Information Portal (CIP).

CIP is targeted at a wide range of users and has been designed to be easy and intuitive to use. If however, having looked at the graphs and the guidance materials in CIP it is still too technical for your liking, then it might be worth befriending a climatologist at your nearest university or the national Meteorological Service to help you make sense of some of the climate data and information that is available for the area where you are working. Or, if you would like to learn more about the climate system, how it works, and how to use climate data and information in facilitating adaptation, then you may like to attend the annual training course run by CSAG and SEI in Cape Town. For details on this contact winterschool@csag.uct.ac.za

CSAG and SEI Oxford are currently working together to think about how to link weADAPT and CIP web services so that users can more easily and seamlessly move between resources provided through each site. One way we are doing this is through running “user labs”, where SEI Oxford and CSAG staff work with organisations on specific adaptation projects currently in their portfolio (whether local, regional, national or multi-national) to see how weADAPT and CIP can be used within the project to support different aspects of the adaptation planning process – be it climate vulnerability and risk assessment, multi-stakeholder engagement and communication, identifying and selecting suitable and preferable adaptation options, etc. The first of these user labs are funded through the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), under the C3D+ programme, and involve working with CIFOR and ENDA (see here for more information or here for user journeys on using climate information and weADAPT).

Review existing climate analyses

We don't expect that everyone can, wants to, needs to deal with raw climate data. In many cases people will rather want to look at the results of analyses that have been conducted by researchers working in the field of climate science. The tricky part is that often this information is both quite difficult to get hold of, and very difficult to understand because it is written in highly technical language. Some climate scientists are working hard to learn to write in more accessible ways for 'non-experts' (although these are still a pretty rare breed), but also there is a new field of climate science communicators emerging that take the very technical material and work it into something that is more easily understandable by people from other fields, including practitioners and policy people.

Bear in mind there are 2 aspects to analysing climate change. The one is analysing records of observed climatic conditions (i.e. usually data collected from weather monitoring stations, but sometime from ice cores, satellite images, etc.) to look at how the climate has naturally been varying in the past and to try and detect an anthropogenic climate change signal in the later part of the last century up until today (well not quite today because it takes a while to get the data from where it is collected to the researcher). The other aspect is using climate models to project possible future climatic conditions and explore how climate changes might evolve for the globe and for specific regions and locations. This is the part that involves a fair amount of guess work (e.g. emissions scenarios), assumptions and lots of computers operated by smart people... and gets heavily debated within the scientific community to make sure nothing TOO silly or crazy gets done / released / published. Because this scientific community is now in the spotlight and under lots of pressure to produce 'useful' information quickly many of these debates and contentions are spilling over into the public (and political) sphere, so one has to be a bit careful and assess the quality and suitability of the information you come across based on what you intend to use it for.

Oxfam is particularly starting to consider climate factors relevant to their projects in the following countries:

  • Southern Africa - South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia
  • East Africa - Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia
  • West Africa - Mali, Niger
  • East Asia - Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam
  • South Asia - Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal
  • Latin America & Caribbean - Peru, Guatemala, Haiti, Bolivia, Caribbean

So let's try and build up a set of links here to climate information that is already available on wikiADAPT and other sources for these countries:

The following were created as part of support to Sida, but as basic overviews of climate change in different countries might be useful:

Review impact studies

Various efforts are underway to catalogue the impacts of climate change that have already been observed and to model likely future impacts of climate change, across regions and sectors. Go here to see a list of some of the impact studies that might be relevant to Oxfam's current climate change adaptation efforts: Impact studies

Assessing vulnerability

Impact studies often only to look at (bio)physical factors and do not address the social (including economic and political) factors that make individuals, households, communities, organisations, etc. differentially susceptible to the negative consequences of these changes, based on their exposure and ability to deal with such changes.

Ideally you should try and look at these in light of various vulnerability assessments that have been done for these areas (maybe you have done one yourself), as these tend to give a sense of the other challenges that people face, which may be compounded by these climate change impacts. Here are links to some material on methods for assessing and mapping vulnerability:

Here is some information specifically on gender dimensions of vulnerability to climate change: Gender and Climate Change

Communicating around climate risks

For a set of wiki articles reviewing the fundamental concepts of risk communication and principles of communicating effectively, both in terms of the process and the content, and various examples of different risk communication approaches and techniques that have been used in a variety of climate adaptation projects, click through to: Risk communication in the context of climate change

See what planning and decision-making tools are available

You may be looking for a tool that has been developed to help you choice suitable adaptation measures and plan for their implementation and evaluation. Here is some introductory information on decision screening, with an overview of some different tools and methods: Decision Analysis (Decision-Screening). And here is information on weADAPT work underway developing one such tool, called the Climate Adaptation Options Explorer (ADx): Decision-support for Adaptation

Find other Oxfam specific information

Policies, learning companions, case studies

Review other regional/country specific examples of programming

Here we are hoping that by sharing our own work we can encourage people from other organisations to share programme specific examples of their work, including project documents (project plans etc), i.e. not just glitzy case studies that are aimed at media, so that we can all learn from each other, find synergies and try to avoid the negative aspects of repetition.

Find other information on wikiADAPT

If the links above haven't directed you to information you want, why not:

  • visit the Main Page (home page) of the wiki and select from a list of topics there
  • browse the full list of all the article titles on this wiki
  • type a keyword or 2 into the search box on the left hand of the screen (the tech team are currently developing a really super dooper search function that will 'intelligently' return a composite page of various pieces of information tailored to your query, with links to related content specific to your search... so watch out for that later this year or early next year!)

If your browsing and searching doesn't throw up what you are looking for, why not look for it elsewhere and come back and add suitable content and relevant links to the wiki, so that colleagues who are looking for that same material can find it more easily the next time! That's how we hope to collectively build up a really extensive knowledge base for supporting climate adaptation.