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Foreign Aid and Adaptation to Drought: A Case Study in Rufiji, Tanzania.

By Nicholas Cloutman Parker


The negative effects of climate change will likely fall disproportionately onto the world’s poor – and especially those who rely heavily upon locally-sourced natural resources and who lack capital to invest in responding to change. With the potential for large amounts of climate change adaptation funds to flow to Least Developed Countries (LCDs) in the near future, empirical research is needed to explain how policy interventions can reduce climate change vulnerability across different contexts. I present a comparative case study of an aid-supported decentralized natural resource management and livelihood diversification project in a drought-sensitive farming community in Rufiji, Tanzania. Using household survey and group and key-informant interview data from the aid-project village and a nearby, control village, I tested to see if the aid project had a significant impact on household drought sensitivity and coping capacity; and tested for relationships between different household asset endowments and drought sensitivity and coping capacity. The results showed that while the project increased measures of social capital and livelihood diversification attempts in the aid-project village, the capacity to reduce drought sensitivity and increase adaptive capacity among farmers in both villages was limited by a lack of complementary capital and social infrastructure—e.g., improved roads and transportation, and market networks. I focus on the importance of fostering multi-level approaches to climate change adaptation policy in developing countries, and the potential role of aid in bridging between traditional, large-scale infrastructure projects (led by the state) and local conservation and livelihood development projects (led by local governments and NGOs)

Topics: Natural Resource Management, Drought, Climate Change Vulnerability, Adaptation
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