Power of adaptation


December 9th, 2013

In the last 60,000 years humans have expanded across the globe and now occupy a wider range than any other terrestrial species. Our ability to successfully adapt to such a diverse range of habitats is often explained in terms of our cognitive ability. Humans have relatively bigger brains and more computing power than other animals and this allows us to figure out how to live in a wide range of environments.

Here we argue that humans may be smarter than other creatures, but none of us is nearly smart enough to acquire all of the information necessary to survive in any single habitat. In even the simplest foraging societies, people depend on a vast array of tools, detailed bodies of local knowledge, and complex social arrangements and often do not understand why these tools, beliefs, and behaviors are adaptive. We owe our success to our uniquely developed ability to learn from others. This capacity enables humans to gradually accumulate information across generations and develop well-adapted tools, beliefs, and practices that are too complex for any single individual to invent during their lifetime.

Practical Action followed the methodology of extracting the potential power of familiarization in communities in rural areas by targeting effective members in villages to provide them with knowledge about local possible technologies to challenge poverty. In other words, to adapt with the existing limited resources to reach sustainable development by providing means of improving adaptive capacity and adaptive needs to identify and develop adaptive measures or practices tailored to the needs of the community.

IMG_6784Back to Darfur- the source of my inspiration. If you visit Darfur and especially Shagra (G) village,  remember to look up Nadia Ibrahim Mohammed, who is 33 years old and married with two sons. Practical Action has practical initiatives that tangibly address and improve her adaptive capacity and adaptive needs.

She was recommended by Mr. Mohammad Siddig (North Darfur’s Area Coordinator) in 2006 to be trained as a midwife then was registered as the legal midwife in the village. Later, she has become president of Women Development Association in her village and a member of Community Development Association in Shagra (A –B – G).

In 2009 she worked with Practical Action on the project Greening Darfur. More than 14,000 women were trained by her in making  low smoke stoves and community forest management. She has been nominated to be part of the Active Citizens Programme run by British Council with aim of increasing the contribution of community leaders towards achieving sustainable development, both locally and globally.

For a woman from poor community in a challenging environment with a minimum level of education this is impressive. Her ability to store and deliver knowledge to others is really noteworthy. Now in Shagra- G village, she is always there dealing with her communities’ problems. She is gathering real time local information to adapt the best decisions and actions with the methods of her own experience.

My personal point of view, as we are working in a very challenging development field, is that adaptation is a word that we should dig deep inside, because all the possible solutions are hidden behind it:

  • Adaptation to poverty means we can adjust the resilience of communities to change and find solutions to poverty
  • Adaptation to limited resources means, we can direct targeted community to use them effectively to satisfy their needs
  • Adaptation to Climate Change means, we can reduce projected effects for the environment and for human life.
  • Adaptation to changing economic environment means we can set adaptation plans as better prepared for new opportunities.

Adapting with our problems would be a more effective means of dealing with them in order to reduce adverse impacts and take advantage of new opportunities.

One response to “Power of adaptation”

  1. Mohamed Abuakr Says:

    Dear Sara,

    Thank you for such a wonderful informative blog post. I was wondering who owns the copyrights for that picture of Nadia Mahmoud Ibrahim , and whether or not it’s open for public use/editing .I really love it, and would like to use it for an example cover for the first Sudanese feminist magazine – Ms. Independent Magazine. I’d really appreciate it if you’d help me track its owner to get her/his permission . This is my email address should you need it ( ihamoo911@gmail.com )

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