Sustainable livelihoods and climate change

Submitted by Andrew Maclean | published 30th Mar 2011 | last updated 13th Jan 2020

Livelihoods approaches are based on the understanding that poverty, and the ability to move out of poverty, reflects the (lack of) capabilities and assets available to those affected. This includes material assets such as access to land, other natural resources, financial capital and credit, tools, and inputs into productive activities. It also reflects human capabilities (the knowledge and skills of the family), and social and political factors, such the ability to negotiate fair and adequate outcomes in the market chains within which people buy and sell good and services.

Sustainable livelihoods programmes typically assess the barriers that people face in improving their livelihoods, and design programme interventions to overcome these. Some of these are not directly affected by climate change (for example, people’s power to negotiate fair prices for products and services). However, many are directly affected by climate change, particularly those concerning the ability of producers to produce. For example, when rising temperatures are increase crop water demand and weather is ever more unpredictable; farmers struggle to know when to cultivate the land, sow, and harvest. Rainfall even within the rainy season is becoming concentrated  into more heavy downpours punctuated by dry spells (which alone can reduce crop yield by between 30 and 70 per cent), and heavy, unseasonable downpours are damaging crops. These types of impact are almost universal, but they often have clear potential solutions. Strategies for implementing these solutions need to be rooted in an understanding of how people sustain their livelihoods, and be implemented alongside the existing strategies that aim to overcome the barriers that prevent people from improving their livelihoods.

Source: Introduction to Climate Change Adaptation: A Learning Companion. Oxfam Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Resources


psp review meeting- embu 348 - climate adaptation.

People and information are two critical resources increasingly now being recognized as valuable. Knowledge networking is an effective way of combining individuals’ knowledge and skills in climate change for organizations to meet their adaptation objectives.