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DAPA / / For climate change adaptation, Vietnamese farmers already know what they need.

For climate change adaptation, Vietnamese farmers already know what they need.

A PSROI workshop in Vietnam provided a chance for those directly affected by climate change to decide which adaptation measures were most feasible for their community, taking into account local factors that adaptation planners often miss. Photo by: Neil Palmer.

So why not just ask them about it? Farmers from Ban Long village in Vietnam know exactly what they want the future of their community to look like – and this time, somebody is listening.

The deceptively simple expedient of giving community members a say in prioritizing climate change adaptation options lies at the heart the  innovative Participatory Social Return on Investment (PSROI) method, developed in 2011 by Chase Sova, Abrar Chaudhury, Ariella Helfgott, and Caitlin Corner-Dolloff in a research collaboration between CCAFS, CIAT, and the University of Oxford. PSROI takes a hands-on and face-to-face approach to climate change adaptation planning, and CIAT researchers in Vietnam and Lao PDR have made considerable progress in identifying community level adaptation priorities by talking to the people in the know – that is, the people that live there. Easy, right?

What’s so hard about locally appropriate adaptation planning?

Unfortunately, far too many adaptation interventions end up failures; they are unrealistic, over-generalized, and don’t take into account local subtleties and human variability. And it’s no wonder, really. Small-scale social, economic and cultural landscapes are complex, and any intervention must involve a multitude of stakeholders . An adaptation plan, even a thoroughly analyzed one with solid theoretical underpinnings, can fail for a number of reasons. The lack of a secure source of funding, cultural barriers to adoption, no training on how to implement new technologies, or a lack of a sense of ownership of the project in the community and thus no motivation to ensure its upkeep are just some of the common pitfalls.

PSROI in Vietnam

It’s the “P” in PSROI that really makes the difference: participatory. CIAT’s work in Vietnam has made strides towards participatory adaptation planning that takes local intricacies into account, building on pilot sessions conducted in Kenya and Senegal last year. CIAT has partnered with the Vietnamese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS), specifically the Northern Mountainous Forestry Science Institute  and the Institute of Agricultural Environment  under VAAS, to train staff in the PSROI method and implement joint pilots. Enabling capacity development and establishing how to scale PSROI projects up and out to link with existing programmatic work is a key component of the work in Vietnam and Lao PDR.

Mr. Minh from IAE introduces a PSROI exercise to his breakout group in the first day of the workshop. Individual participants list challenges for the community and local agriculture system and link similar ideas together. Photo by: Adeyemi Ademiluyi

To that end, the partner field team led a three day community workshop in Ban-Long village, Yen Bai province, Vietnam. Partner leadership is an important achievement that ensures the longevity of the project in the area in addition to giving participants a sense of ownership in the process. The workshop had community members broadly identify the challenges they face related to agriculture, coping strategies that could realistically be enacted, visions for the future of their community, readily available assets and a plan for three adaptation interventions, prioritized by their potential to achieve community resilience.

The research team is now finalizing the economic analysis that incorporates community perceptions of costs and benefits related to the adaptation interventions they prioritized. Researchers, planners, and community members will then be better able to understand the implications of the interventions, and pinpoint those which are both appropriate given the community’s assets and high impact in the economic, environmental, and social spheres.

Villagers think PIG (!) for adaptation solutions

During the workshop, the villagers of Ban Long identified a way to diversify their livelihoods and earn the income they need to achieve their multiple adaptation goals: pigs.

Villagers in Ban Long identified intensive pig farming as a good adaptation option for their community; it provides livelihood diversification and income that can be put towards other complimentary adaptation projects. Photo by: Caitlin Corner-Dolloff.

They already have most of what they need to begin an intensive pig raising  facility that would increase local incomes  including practical experience, access to markets, a veterinary service, access to water, a public meeting hall, many small entrepreneurs, and the support of willing workers. One member of the group even volunteered a plot of land so they could get started on the project right away.

The villagers have big plans for what they will do with the extra money from the pigs. They see the project as part of an integrated adaptation strategy, one that helps them plan for future uncertainties. It facilitates other broader goals like improving access to education, constructing an irrigation system, and cleaning up their environment, and it can be “climate-proofed” by the PSROI research team to ensure sustainability. It’s a plan that can be implemented immediately, with the resources at hand and little external support. And best of all it was their idea, which means it’s much more likely to work.


Get more info on the PSROI method by reading this blog by CCAFS team member Chase Sova and CCAFS working paper #16 on community-based adaptation costing by Chase Sova, Abrar Chaudhury, ariella Helfgott, and Caitlin Corner-Dolloff.

 For more information on the PSROI Greater Mekong Sub-region Climate Change Adaptation Planning and Costing Project in Lao and Vietnam (funded by Sumernet-CDKN) contact Caitlin Corner-Dolloff, CIAT Researcher and project leader at c.corner-dolloff@cgiar.org

Post by Caity Peterson, 15 June 2012

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