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The question of climate change in development cooperation: an inescapable issue

Jonas Bhend, Marion Künzler

03 / 2010

The Climate Proofing Tool in conjunction with the climate change workshops provide the basics to explicitly take into account climate change in managing and planning development projects supported by Bread for all and HEKS. The experiences in four developing countries have shown that climate change as a topic is met with huge interest by the coordinators and beneficiaries of development projects.

The projects analyzed so far strengthen the local communities’ capacity to adapt to changing climatic conditions and contribute to reducing greenhouse gases. Bread for all and HEKS are already working – although implicitly – on the topic of climate change. To take into account how project activities influence the ability to deal with changing climatic conditions is thus not a completely new topic and can be explicitly integrated in the development cooperation of Bread for all and HEKS at reasonable additional costs.

Enhancement of Tool with Climate and Dister Risks

When Bread for all and HEKS decided to climate proof development projects, it quickly became clear that none of the existing tools fulfilled all the requirements for such an analysis. Thus, a first version of the Climate Proofing Tool was developed based on the Community Based Risk Screening Tool – Adaptation and Livelihoods (CRiSTALi).

The information for the climate proofing assessment is collected through consultations with project coordinators and beneficiaries and through a limited amount of literature research. Separating men and women during stakeholder consultations has proven to work well, especially in countries with strong gender inequality. All information can be written down directly in the manual. During the applications in Niger, Ethiopia, and Haiti, additional needs have nevertheless been identified and the tool had to be adapted:

  • The new version of the Climate Proofing Tool includes a section on disaster risk as well. The experience in the field revealed that a distinction between disaster and climate risks is unnecessary and often not feasible at all. Additionally, there is a large overlap between climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, as climate change influences most natural risks.

  • Various new exercises have been added to facilitate consultations with the beneficiaries of the projects.

Due to this changes, the tool was renamed Participatory Tool on Climate and Disaster Risks

There is huge interest by partners of Bread for all and HEKS, development agencies in Switzerland and worldwide. To apply the tool, a previous training is necessary. Thus, users are trained on it in the climate change workshops, organized by Bread for all and HEKS.

Doing the Splits in the Workshops

The format of the workshop has proven of value, but it is also challenging for different reasons:

Having a broad spectrum of participants allows for interesting discussions between producers, project coordinators and local experts. This diversity also poses problems, as the producers often speak only a local language and interpreters are needed. In addition, the topics presented have to be adjusted to the background of the participants.

Contributions of local experts are a key element of the workshop. The experts bring in local information and experiences and know about local specifics. Therefore, the accessibility of the workshop location should be taken into account.

Networking among the participants is a very important aspect of the workshop. We noticed, that before the workshop, project coordinators are often unaware of the possibilities for collaboration with and support from other organizations (e.g. universities, research centers, national and international agencies). Bringing together all actors interested in and working on the topic of climate change and disaster risks helps to promote collaboration.

To cover the range of topics, the four days during the workshop are packed with presentations and exercises. Consequently, the tight schedule of the workshop leads to complaints. Of course, the workshop could be prolonged to five or more days to be able to thin out the daily schedule. Prolonging the workshops, however, would increase the costs and it would get increasingly difficult to motivate the experts to participate for the full time.

Continuation and Further Deployment

One of the major problems of the climate change workshops and analyses is the continuation after the initial assessment and the workshop. The success indicators that have been agreed on with the respective country managers of HEKS, demand that at least half of all projects are analyzed with the Climate Proofing Tool and that at least one-third of all projects should strengthen adaptive capacities. These requirements, however, are at the moment on a voluntary basis. A clear commitment of the management and an accord between HEKS and Bread for all is needed for a successful continuation of the climate proofing efforts.

Due to the unintended but inevitable complexity of the tool, training is needed before the tool can be used. This limits the further deployment of the tool. The tandem of workshop and analysis carried out by a climate consultant from Switzerland during a short visit (normally two weeks) has proven to work well. However, it is slow and rather expensive, thus only a few countries can be visited per year.

«Due to the workshop I realised that our work is very relevant in the context of climate change. We are already conducting research for salt- or drought-resistant rice varieties and thus, adapt to changing climate conditions.» Bobby Pagusara, workshop participant in the Philippines


mudança climática, cooperação internacional, transferência de conhecimentos


Tackling Climate and Disaster Risks in Development Cooperation



For further information: Marion Künzler / Bread for all, In charge of the « Climate » workshops:

Pain pour le prochain (PPP) - Service des Eglises protestantes de Suisse pour le développement, Av. du Grammont 9, CH-1007 Lausanne, SUISSE - Tél. : 021 614 77 17 - Fax : 021 617 51 75 - Suíça - - ppp (@)

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