Climate change | Blogs

  • Solar Power Cart: One stop solution for post cyclone energy need

    Ananta Prasad

    November 3rd, 2015

    We tend to think of development, not in terms of evolution, but in terms of creation. ~ EF Schumacher

    Based on a trolley (3-wheeler) this new innovation of a Solar Power Cart “Soura Ratha” can produce up to 1KW green energy which will provide hassle free power supply in emergency situations. On the eve of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Day and Odisha Disaster Preparedness Day, the first prototype of the Soura Ratha is publicly displayed at the Exhibition unveiled by the Chief Minister Mr. Naveen Patnaik here at Bhubaneswar. It is noted that during disaster, once charged, this innovation can provide emergency energy for continuous 72 hours.

    IMG_5824 (Cópia)It was the occasion of National Day for Disaster Reduction, 29th October when the team Energy, Practical Action, Odisha decided & influenced its partners to demonstrate a model of Solar Power Plant on wheels, the first of its kind in the state. The Solar Power Cart so developed was displayed b state level function at Bhubaneswar, which was inaugurated by the Honourable Chief Minister of Odisha. The project was taken up in collaboration with Climate Parliament and sponsored by Odisha Renewable Energy Development Authority (OREDA) & Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA). The design & development partner was Desi Technology Solutions, a private firm who had been partnering with Practical Action since long

    The cart is designed to meet the energy requirement in the inaccessible disaster prone areas in specific & as required by the community in general. It is proposed to be placed at the Cyclone Shelters already built by OSDMA and operate from there as per local need. The idea is that the solar panel and the battery bank along with the appliances would be loaded on a hand pulled cart and can be taken to various unreached areas and provides energy solution such as illumination, water pumping, clear water logging by pumping out the stagnate water in emergency, charging of mobile phones, running emergency communication equipment etc.

    Designed technically to serve at the Cyclone shelter centres, it is well equipped and first of its kind innovation. The senior officials from state administration appreciated the initiative during their visit today and this may be considered for a larger level implementation in the state. This has technically be designed to be stationed at Cyclone Shelter centres which the government can plan to take it forward.

    IMG_5782 (Cópia)“Accessing energy and power for basic needs like charging mobiles or emergency lights or using water pumps for water was always a challenge post disaster. Even during Phailin in 2013, there was complete power back-out in most of the places in Ganjam District for more than a week. To address this issue and to be well prepared before disaster, this new innovation will be much helpful and ideal,” adds Mr Sanjit Behera, Energy Expert from Practical Action.

    In addition this Solar Power cart has additional features such as the movability is not dependent on any fuel and it’s a hand pulled cart easily installed and can also be dismantled as and when required. This is a compact solution loaded with appliances and can provide services like Illumination, water pumping, charging of mobiles, laptops and charge lights etc. This has an indigenous and futuristic design which can work both in Solar and grid power. “Though it has scope to further modification, but it is of low cost looking at its usage and needs easy maintenance,” said Mr Behera from Practical Action.

    Now the cart had been displayed at a state level annual science exhibition organised by Sri Aurobindo Bigyan Parishad where more than 500 students & parents from all across the state participated and learnt about the cart, the real use & utility of solar energy for humankind. The cart is also roaming around the city educating the masses about its usage and use during emergency.

    This innovation has also been featured in different publications such as The Hindu, The New Indian Express, The Pioneer, The Orissadiary and many more.

    Written By Sanjit Ku Behera.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Reflecting on technology in the lead up to COP21, Paris

    Aaron Leopold

    October 16th, 2015

    These videos outline the background to the UNFCCC meetings held recently in preparation for the vital COP21 climate change talks in Paris at the end of November.

    Technology needs assessment

    Over the past year developing countries have been identifying their priority technology needs, to provide a basis for a portfolio of environmentally sustainable technology development.


    The opportunities of decentralised renewable energy


    In depth technical paper to facilitate detailed planning

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Knowledge for Life

    Colin McQuistan

    October 13th, 2015

    An ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory” EF Schumacher, Small is Beautiful

    IDDR2015 sm

    Today is the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) a celebration of efforts to reduce disaster risk worldwide. The theme selected by UNISDR is “Knowledge for Life”, to celebrate the contribution of local knowledge to building resilience within communities. But we must not forget that 2015 is a critical year for several other reasons.

    2015 has been a landmark year for global negotiations aimed at placing planetary wellbeing on a sustainable trajectory. In Japan in March, governments met to discuss Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and agreed the Sendai Framework for DRR[1]. In September in New York, the member states of the United Nations (UN) met to agree the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)[2]. The final mile of the marathon 2015 negotiations will take place in December, when the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) aims to deliver a global climate agreement.


    These processes must recognise the value that local knowledge can make to solve global problems. This is in spite of the fact that many indigenous communities are not responsible for these problems. In a recent special report[3] the causal links between climate change and extreme weather events such as heat waves, record high temperatures and heavy precipitation were documented. Inaction to tackle climate change has resulted in the greatest impact being felt by the poorest and most vulnerable.

    Today, as we examine the potential for indigenous knowledge, it is a good time to recognise the wealth of information often overlooked by established science and especially policy makers. Local indigenous knowledge has taken generations to evolve, respects local carrying capacities and is strongly linked to local culture. As a result it is seldom written down and therefore rarely interfaced with scientific based enquiry. We need to make more of the potential to link indigenous with scientific knowledge and the development of technologies is one crucial area.

    Blog IK diagram

    Transferring existing technologies will not be enough. More systemic, locally designed technologies will be required that respond to local challenges. These must integrate local knowledge and build on traditional skills. Transposing technology from elsewhere can lock in risk. For example infrastructure designed in temperate climates may not work in the tropics, materials will vary and local skills to maintain will differ. Practical Action has worked for 50 years with communities in South America, Africa and South Asia to better understand the development challenges they face, central to this work has been valuing indigenous knowledge through the evolving concept of technology justice.

    • More than 226 million people are affected by disasters every year. Over the last 40 years, most of the 3.3 million deaths caused by disasters occurred in poorer nations.
    • In 2000-2010, over 680,000 people died in earthquakes. Most of these deaths, due to poorly-built buildings, could have been prevented.
    • Only about 4% of official development assistance was invested into pre-event risk management, for every dollar spent on preparedness the returns are considerable.
    • Between 2002 and 2011, there were 4,130 recorded natural hazards, in which more than 1.117 million people perished and a minimum of US$1,195 billion was recorded in losses.




    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Multi-faceted poverty and contextual intervention: Tale of Ranjit

    Mokhlesur Rahman

    October 12th, 2015

    Poverty is a multi-faceted problem:

    In recent development discourse, poverty alleviation programmes acknowledge poverty has multi-dimensional aspects. Impact evidence from around the world demonstrates the same. Thus, development interventions need to understand those aspects when designing solutions. Therefore, it is not surprising, while agriculture inputs support work for someone, light engineering may work better for someone else. And some others may find cattle rearing or small trading are more suitable for their livelihood than any others. Over the last 6 years, the Extreme Poverty Programme of Practical Action, Bangladesh has learned how to design development interventions in this context. The learning has been guiding us to identify and develop appropriate solutions for poverty alleviation in the context of river erosion.

    Solution never goes through liner line:

    In my last blog post, I tried to convey how skills training can play an important role in reducing poverty at an individual level and can support reducing disaster risk and vulnerability at the community level. Similarly, in another blog, I stressed how local led technology and agricultural inputs support to river eroded poor people help to drive out of poverty. To add to these, I am going to focus on how light engineering can also help people to challenge poverty and move towards self-reliance.


    Ranjit is repairing a cycle in his shop

    Tale of Ranjit:

    Ranjit Ray is a youth of 24. He lives with his mother and brother at Hudur Bazar in Rajpur union of Sadar Upazilla of Lalmonirhat district in Bangladesh. The family has been living on the embankment since 1994. In early 2013, Ranjit was selected as beneficiary and give training on light engineering. Subsequently, in May, 2013, he also received training on repairing rickshaw-vans. After his training, he rented a small shop adjacent to his village Hudur bazar at the rate of BDT100/per month. Since, then he has been running it. Now, it is going well and on average, he earns BDT300 (US$ 3.80) per day.


    Ranjit is repairing a rickshaw

    With this income, he repaired his house at a cost of BDT 2000 (US$25) and leased 10 decimal of land for BDT 12,000 (US$ 152). He has ensured access to safe drinking water and installed an improved latrine. At present, he also has good clothes to wear and can obtain better food. Social acceptance has been increased within his local community. He dreams of establishing a small business for spare parts. To materialize his dream, he has started saving from his income. Looking back to his past, he finds the training was very effective and changed his life.  In his words,

    “If every young person had vocational skill development training and tried to utilize their own skills, s/he would become self-reliant. I am grateful to OVA and Practical Action, Bangladesh for bringing such change in my life.”



    Poverty has structural as well as functional concerns. Being a development professional, we cannot bring or expect change in structural spheres overnight. It takes time. However, we certainly can bring some changes in functional areas. Our development interventions provide evidence to claim ‘the vicious circle of poverty’ can be prevented! We should keep trying to do that!

    1 Comment » | Add your comment
  • Volunteerism, Community Services and Story of Abdul Khaleque

    Mokhlesur Rahman

    October 4th, 2015


    Volunteerism has a long history in Bangladesh. It was mostly local led and initiated by local youths. It was very much context, time and location specific. Different local youth clubs took different initiatives like building bamboo bridges, road construction in remote areas, providing non-formal education teaching in a school, organizing drama and sports competition etc. However, since the emergence of development organizations in Bangladesh, volunteerism had been practiced widely for addressing different local and national problems. Even there are some cases of success (like in disaster management), but mostly NGOs facilitated volunteerism is a failure attempt. This write up is focused on narratives of an individual volunteer- Abdul Khaleque who has been providing volunteer services to his community and can be considered to be a successful volunteer.


    Khaleque measuring the water level

    Khaleque measuring the water level

    Mohammad Abdul Khaleque (38) lives in Belkuchi Upazila of Sirajganj District. He is from a poor but large (8) family. In 1997, when his father died, he left only 10 decimal of land and a hut for all the family members. In the following year, his mother also died. Therefore, they were in a very miserable situation. As in the meantime, his only one sister got married and other four brothers started living separately. Therefore, after death of his parents, he started living with one his brother’s family. Due to poverty, he could not continue his schooling after grade seven. When he was 21, his brother and other relatives arranged for his marriage and he got married and started living with his wife separately (not with his brother’s family). He used to earn his livelihood by selling manual labour but it was not easy for people like him who always get affected erosion of Jamuna river. There was no adequate job round the year. Thus, his family suffered from a shortage of food.

    Skilled Volunteerism:

    After starting the V2R (Vulnerability to Resilience) project in Sirajganj District in 2009, he was selected as a Skill Volunteer (Livestock) to provide support for building resilient community. To provide appropriate support, he got 18-day training (15-days-long basic technical training on livestock health services and 3-day training on disaster preparedness and response) in 2010. As input support, the project also provided basic equipment to perform the duties of a Skill Volunteer (Livestock). Similarly, under TAM TAM project, he has also been selected and trained up as a ‘Gauge Reader’ (water level measuring) on August 2014 by Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) of Bangladesh Water Development Board. He also got equipment support for disseminating the Flood Early Warning. Therefore, as a volunteer, he collects water level reading 5 times daily and send to the FFWC. FFWC gives message to all enlisted community.   Still today, he continues with these activities.


    Khaleque is providing livestock services as paravet

    Family livelihood:

    For his livelihood, he provides livestock treatment services to community people. In the meantime, because of good services, people started calling him from 7-8 neighboring villagers. Providing services on livestock, every day on an average he earns BDT400-500 (approximately USD 5-6). Through this income and confidence gained working for community, he managed to save some money and make assets. As of today, he built a ten shed house spending BDT 1,75,000 and has taken mortgage of 66 decimal land by BDT 75,000. He also purchased 2 cattle by BDT47, 000 for fatting. For safe drinking water, he installed a Tube Well and set up a latrine for sanitation.

    He told me:


    Khaleque is at his medicine shop

    “I am grateful to V2R Project that enlightens my life. Now, my children are going to school regularly. I have built linkage/networking with Government and Non-government agencies and departments to improve quality of services. I have established a medicine pharmacy in my house.”      

    In future, he plans to continue and expand the livestock treatment activities and medicine pharmacy. He will buy motor cycle for providing services to more people. Even he started working as volunteer but now people know him as livestock Paravet. He feels so proud for it and happy with present life.


    Once upon a time when volunteerism was community led and it had its own mechanism for existence. However, while NGOs started applying customized volunteerism (like driving their priorities, paying certain portion of the expenditure and asking contribution for others from community) has polluted the spirit of volunteerism. However, there are still some good examples where NGOs support for developing skills of the community volunteer and linking with income earning opportunity. Abdul Khaleque is one such volunteer who received training and supports for developing his skills to earn his bread. Till today, it has been working!

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Knowledge systems, chains and grids

    Rob Cartridge

    September 28th, 2015

    Last week I was pleased to attend the launch of the Climate Knowledge Brokers (CKB) manifesto at DFID. It’s a really handy guide to the role of knowledge brokers, how they should go about their tasks and why they are so important. Whilst the launch of the manifesto has conveniently arrived ahead of COP21 (the 2015 Paris Climate Conference), I think the models and lessons from this document have wider importance for knowledge brokers across all sectors.

    In particular, the necessity to understand the needs of the audience is one of the main items highlighted by the CKB. This seems a straightforward observation, but it’s easily forgotten because the links between knowledge ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ are rarely as simple as they appear on paper. I found this recognition particularly relevant to our work: the ‘chain’ between the creators of knowledge and those that will find it useful is complex. It’s also full of gaps, with actors often possessing neither the will nor the way to pass knowledge on.

    courtesy of Jerry Manas

    courtesy of Jerry Manas

    For knowledge brokers like Practical Answers, we must act effectively in both directions: communicating the needs of our consumers to our suppliers whilst formatting, contextualising and organising information to make knowledge accessible and appropriate for our users. A great point raised during the meeting, and an approach that we strive for in Practical Answers, was that constantly asking questions is the key to success in knowledge brokering!

    The CKB have also previously talked about a ‘Climate Grid’: a network of brokers, working in a co-ordinated way (digitally and offline) to make sure marginalised communities get access to the knowledge they need.  But I wonder if it’s better to see the whole process as a knowledge system, albeit a complex and ever-changing one. It was clear at the meeting, for example, that people who are running large programmes for DFID are both knowledge creators and knowledge users. A chain, focussed on brokers, tends to underestimate the other influencing factors in the whole knowledge system. When it comes to climate change, everyone is exposed to messages from a whole host of actors beyond formal knowledge brokers, including the media, the private sector, scientific organisations, governments and their community: not to mention special interest groups and lobbyists. In such a complex system, it’s vital to understand these gaps, dynamics and needs to provide knowledge that those on the front line of a changing climate can use.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Dams to fight poverty in North Darfur

    Awadalla Hamid Mohamed

    September 9th, 2015

    Sail Gedaim Water Harvesting Dam: An integrated approach to water resource management in North Darfur

    Over the past six months, Practical Action and its local partners have been busy designing and constructing a new water-harvesting dam in El Fashir  North Darfur. This is one of three dams to be constructed as part of the Wadi El Ku Catchment Management Project, a three-year project implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Practical Action, with funding from the European Union.

    Sail Gedaim damThe primary purpose of the 775 metre long earth dam is to divert water from gullies and to spread it across as wide an area of agricultural land as possible upstream, while ensuring water is also diverted and spread downstream. By thus slowing and spreading the flow of water, a greater area of land will be irrigated increasing the level of water retention which will increase agricultural productivity while also ensuring higher levels of ground water recharge.

    A range of potential sites for the dam were identified and an area named Sail Gedaim, north-west of Zamzam village and 7km south of El Fashir town, the capital of North Darfur state, was selected. A technical study and design of the dam was carried out by technical specialists from the Water Harvesting Centre at the University of Nyala, South Darfur.

    The selection of the final dam site and the design of the dam were made in accordance with the key principles of an integrated water resource management (IWRM) approach. Three of the most important IWRM principles used were as follows.

    1. Widespread consultations with all key stakeholders were held. The needs and usage patterns of different water users upstream and downstream of the proposed site were taken in to consideration. At the same time, key technical, government and policy bodies were also consulted, namely the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Physical Planning and the Ground Water and Wadis department. These diverse consultations ensure all relevant voices and needs are integrated into the design and function of the dam.
    2. The dam is designed to ensure equitable access to water. The dam is designed to improve access to water for agricultural purposes for more than 20 villages upstream and downstream of the dam. As part of the planning process, it was agreed with local leaders that land irrigated by the dam would be fairly divided up between all members of the community.
    3. The long-term impact and sustainability of the dam has been taken into consideration. It was through community consultations, in the form of Practical Action’s Participatory Action Plan Development (PAPD) approach, that the idea of constructing a dam was identified as a priority by all of the nearby 20 communities. As it reflects their own development priorities, the community willingly contributed financial resources, unskilled labour and locally-available raw materials to the construction of the dam. A community dam committee was established that is responsible for dam management and maintenance. This committee includes members from upstream and downstream communities and is gender balanced. Over the coming months the committee will receive managerial and technical training.  In terms of environmental sustainability, a social and environmental impact assessment was carried out prior to construction of the dam to study and document the positive impacts of the dam, such as, increasing soil moisture contain, improving soil features such as soil aeration and to promote greater biodiversity. In addition, the study identified solutions to address potential negative impacts of the dam.

    Darfur opening ceremonyConstruction of the dam was completed in July 2015. The total cost of the dam was a little under US $300,000. Given the dam is expected to irrigate more than 4,000 feddans of land (1,680 hectares) which is farmed by approximately 11,000 households (66,000 people), it represents exceptionally good value for money, especially given an expected lifetime of more than ten years if well managed, operated and maintained. It is also anticipated that the dam will provide seasonal agricultural employment opportunities for IDPs living in the nearby IDP camp in Zamzam, while also providing crops and vegetables for thousands of inhabitants of El Fashir town. To ensure further value for money, locally available raw materials (sand, soil, rocks) were used wherever possible. (Large quantities of soil were extracted for the construction of the earth embankment from a nearby village called Umroawaba, which suffers from acute seasonal water shortages, which in turn presented the opportunity to dig a new hafir (reservoir) for the village.)

    Following the first rains this year, many farmers reported that water had reached areas that have not been irrigated for over 20 years.

    From my point of view, dam technology applied above will change the life of thousands of Darfurians who are seriously affected by ongoing conflict. That is the reason behind the promotion of Technology Justice in Practical Action’s programs.

    4 Comments » | Add your comment
  • Today’s Earth Overshoot Day

    Margaret Gardner

    August 13th, 2015

    Today 13 August is Earth’s Overshoot Day – the day when we have used up all of the ecological resources available for the year. From now on we – as a planet – are in ecological deficit –using up resources we don’t have. And what’s worse according to The Guardian the pace at which we gobble up resources is getting quicker – with this year’s Earth Overshoot day 6 days earlier than last.

    And our response?

    I worry we’ve turned to the ecological equivalent of a payday loan – continuing to squander resources irrespective of the cost, long term implications, and hugely high impact inflation. Fracking, oil exploration and drilling in the Artic, food waste – in the UK retailers and consumers throwing away between 30 and 40% of all food, etc.

    We experience ourselves not as part of nature but somehow separate from it – or at worst dominant, scarily in control of our ecology with the faith that technology will somehow bail us out.

    Why does this matter?

    Climate change is already hitting the poorest people hardest. They live in the main on some of the most marginal and therefore vulnerable land.

    In April I was in Zimbabwe talking with farmers struggling with increasingly erratic rainfall. Crops yields were poor as the rain came late after the crops had already ripened and wilted. John Siambare Practical Actions Field Officer explained ‘this year crops planted using conventional farming techniques died before they did anything’

    We at Practical Action can work with farmers to help them cope – through

    Irrigation scheme Zimbabwe 2015

    Irrigation scheme Zimbabwe 2015

    agroecological farming techniques that maintain moisture in the soil, crop diversification, food preservation, solar irrigation etc. And to help build peoples resilience – if you don’t know what environmental change is going to throw at you – and one of the biggest impacts of climate change is increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather – how can you plan – you just need to get as good as you can at responding to change.

    But ultimately climate change is catastrophic and we will get to a stage where adaptation is impossible and land where people now live no longer viable.

    If the increases in consumption continues as now – in 2 to 3 years Earth Overshoot day will be in July, 5 years after that in June.

    Time to change our ways?

    Fritz Schumacher, Practical Action’s founder, in his book ‘Small is Beautiful’ , talked about moving to a world where we look to maximise wellbeing with minimum consumption. Small is Beautiful was published in 1973. The time for change is now.



    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • A Progressive Approach to Climate Compatible Development

    co-author Francis Muchiri

    Sustainable development will increasingly be judged on emerging metrics such as climate compatibility and gender-sensitive approaches.

    Climate change is a collective challenge facing the world today, and any effective solutions to slow down or mitigate its effects will need collaboration at all levels. It continues to manifest itself through natural shocks that are increasing in intensity and frequency: raging floods, extended and unpredictable droughts, compromised eco-systems and so on. The effects of climate change have a direct bearing on industry, industrialisation, food security, human migration trends, production systems, availability of water, and overall poverty levels, with the greatest negative impacts being felt by the most vulnerable groups.

    Because of the diffuse nature of its effects, conversations around climate-compatible development should take into account the diversity of efforts required: from the broader policy level, right down to the communal level, that will lead to greater impact. Kenyan women selling charcoal in Bondo market

    Women in both rural and urban areas face barriers (social, economic and political) that limit their ability to cope with the impacts of climate change. However, there is a danger in singling them out as passive victims or recipients to the benefits of adaptation or mitigation activities. Any collective efforts need to engage women alongside men and any other groups, as potential actors or agents for change. Information on the effectiveness of gender-sensitive approaches has not been quantified and analysed to produce clear evidence on the need for engendered approaches in climate compatible development. The lack of segregated data makes it difficult to demonstrate the link between gender, adaption and mitigation activities. Indeed, the impacts of climate change are experienced differently according to age, sex, location, and economic activity. It further has a composite effect on education, employment and the health sector, among others. We need to ask ourselves whether ongoing interventions incorporate strategies that ensure equal participation of both women and men.

    This presents a unique opportunity; to provide the required benchmarks on the effectiveness of gender-sensitive climate compatible development to create frameworks for future planning, investment and resourcing. Successful implementation of these interventions will require a demonstration of equity, where everyone benefits from, and is able to contribute to these measures regardless of their social status, locations, gender, occupation and so on.

    Evidence produced from Practical Action’s program implementation over the past 50 years has shown that community initiatives and interventions will neither be effective nor sustainable unless there is equitable buy-in and contribution from both men and women. Based on complete projects that integrated gender-sensitive approaches, there exist prospects to demonstrate how and to what extent engagement of both women and men in adaptation and mitigation efforts has contributed to the achievement of specific objectives, while improving their livelihoods.

    Susan Asiko lives in Kibera. She found herself in an unfortunate position when her only source of livelihood as a domestic worker came to an abrupt halt. After months of living from hand to mouth, and many times sleeping on an empty stomach, a neighbour introduced Susan to the briquette making business. With minimal education, Practical Action provided both business and technology support that has empowered her to manage her enterprise and make business decisions effectively. From an initial investment of Kshs. 200, she has been able to grow her business, producing an environmentally-friendly fuel for household use, and see her children through school. Her enterprise is meeting a number of varied goals: it is making use of available waste material, reducing reliance on ineffective biomass at the household level within her locale, and limiting the pollution generated from unclean fuels here. It might seem like a drop in the ocean, but because she was able to access relevant training, she can now make her individual contribution towards mitigating against the effects of climate change. How much more can be done to build an army of Susans?

    Practical Action through its consulting arm, Practical Action Consulting, is collaborating with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) across three regions (Latin America, Eastern Africa and Southern Asia) to manage Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)’s learning study dubbed “Gender Equality and Climate Compatible Development: Drivers and challenges to people’s empowerment”.

    The study will manage the production and dissemination of high quality evidence on gender-sensitive approaches to Climate Compatible Development (CCD) including how and to what extent they can contribute to increasing women’s ability to engage in adaptation and mitigation efforts in ways that affect the long-term impacts. The findings from the three sub-national studies will be used to substantiate the benefits of gender equality within the development and adoption of policy decisions and the subsequent design and implementation of appropriate development programmes in the case study countries and beyond.

    The one-year study will look at the adoption and meaning of ‘gender-sensitive’ approaches to Climate Compatible Development in different urban contexts, and also build understanding of the roles both men and women play in climate change related initiatives. It will also explore the socio-economic, political and cultural factors and conditions which either support or constrain gender responsive policies; strategies, approaches and actions; and the existing barriers in effective participation of women in decision making for activities around disaster risk reduction, post-disaster recovery, adaptation and mitigation in varied settings.

    In Kenya the CDKN Project will evaluate, through a gendered lens to CCD, the five-year Comic Relief Funded project titled People’s Plans in to Practice: Building Productive and Liveable Settlements with slum dwellers in Kisumu and Kitalewith part of its strategic focus on ‘People Living in Slums’. The project was implemented jointly by three partners; Practical Action, Kisumu Urban Apostolate Programme (KUAP) and Shelter Forum in collaboration with the defunct Municipal Councils of Kisumu and Kitale, commencing in 2008 and closing in December 2013.

    The overall aim of the project was to improve the well-being, productivity and living conditions of poor people living in informal settlements in Kenya and the East African region, 80% of who were women and children. It aimed at ensuring their inclusion in the planning and development processes of the Local Authorities; and by improving access to clean water, better sanitation, waste management, drainage, supporting secure land tenure and affordable housing.

    The CDKN study will document efforts made by development agencies to integrate gender into climate compatible development whilst identifying gaps that exist both in programming and policy at national and county levels. This will inform subsequent design and implementation of appropriate urban development strategies in cities and towns experiencing similar challenges.

    No Comments » | Add your comment
  • Learning from 2014 Karnali River Floods in West Nepal

    Sumit Dugar

    August 5th, 2015

    As part of Zurich’s flood resilience program, the post event review capability (PERC) provides research and independent reviews of large flood events. It seeks to answer questions related to aspects of flood resilience, flood risk management and catastrophe intervention. It looks at what has worked well (identifying best practices) and opportunities for further improvements.

    The Karnali region in Nepal experienced major flooding in August 2014, causing 222 deaths and severely affecting more than 120,000 people. The challenge now is to recover, build resilience and to prevent similar damages and loss during future disasters.

    Urgent Case for Recovery: What we can learn from the August 2014 Karnali River Floods in Nepal is a post event review evaluating flood events, impacts, response and recovery to understand what happened, what could have been done differently, and opportunities for building flood resilience in Nepal. The post event review conducted by ISET International, ISET-Nepal, Practical Action Nepal and Zurich examines two rivers and two districts in the area affected by the floods -the Karnali and Babai Rivers in Kailali and Bardiya districts in West Nepal.

    While the early warning systems saved many lives, these lives have been irrevocably changed with the widespread loss of livelihoods, property, and critical infrastructure. The challenge now is to prevent such damages and loss from future disasters and develop local resilience. A common misconception is that building resilience is an expensive, resource heavy process. However, critical gaps in the disaster management system can be fixed with inexpensive and simple solutions.

    Problems seen in the 2014 floods – such as unwieldy response procedures and lack of information – hamper response to all disasters, including the recent earthquakes. Decision-making processes should be improved, more reliable data gathered, and aid needs to get to those people who need it most. In the end, it comes down to finding ways to become ‘resilient’ to disasters. Resiliency means risk mitigation and preparation, not just picking up the pieces and starting again after every new catastrophe. This is also the focus of Zurich’s flood resilience alliance program.

    Schematic of Karnali and Babai Basin

    Schematic of Karnali and Babai Basin

    Focusing on the disaster management landscape as a whole, including disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response and recovery, this post event review evaluates the flood events, impacts, response and recovery to understand what happened, what could have been done differently, opportunities for action, and identify opportunities for improving flood risk and disaster management as a whole in Nepal.

    The bigger picture that emerges from the 2014 floods in Nepal can be applied more universally: long-term thinking and addressing chronic problems that increase hazards should be part of the picture to get beyond relief efforts. Much work is still needed to save individuals, families and entire communities from the devastation of floods.

    No Comments » | Add your comment