Communities are key to unlocking what is needed
Communities are key to unlocking what is needed

How can poor countries adapt to a changing climate?

Climate change threatens development and is fast pushing the poorest communities beyond their capacity to respond to climate variability and disasters.

Communities and governments are key

Communities themselves are the key to unlocking what is needed for adaptation to climate change. They are aware of the changes that are happening in their own contexts, and how this is impacting on their livelihoods.

National governments must focus on adaptation towards the needs of their most vulnerable communities, and the international community must deliver the resources to support them.

What communities are doing

To cope with increased flooding:

  • upgrading national flood early warning systems;
  • building new homes and schools on raised foundations;
  • building platforms for emergency flood shelter;
  • integrating flood risks into governmental and budget planning;
  • creating a community-based action plan for responding to flood.

To cope with lower, more erratic rainfall:

  • upgrading national meteorological systems and medium-term forecasts;
  • researching, testing and growing drought-tolerant crop varieties;
  • installing efficient, low-cost irrigation systems;
  • installing rain-water harvesting systems;
  • spreading water-conserving farming practices.

To cope with more severe hurricanes:

  • upgrading hurricane early warning systems and community awareness;
  • planting a mangrove ‘bio-shield’ along the coast to diffuse storm waves;
  • changing building regulations to reinforce new infrastructure.


How Oxfam is helping

Oxfam supports communities and organizations around the world that are already developing the tools and techniques that can be used to adapt to climate change. From Pakistan to Bolivia, read stories of how Oxfam is working with these communities:

Climate Change Adaptation in Pakistan

The coastal district of Badin, on the Indus river delta in Pakistan, was once home to one of the world’s earliest settled civilizations. Now this district is waterlogged with salt water from the intruding sea.

In 2008, Oxfam in Pakistan undertook community-based research to better understand the implications of climate change in the region.

>> Read more (pdf)

Rescuing the Past: Using Indigenous Knowledge to Adapt in Bolivia

The flooding that devastated the Amazonian department of Beni in 2008 was the worst in at least fifty years, affecting 118,000 people.

The Kenneth Lee Foundation, supported by Oxfam, is working with communities in Trinidad to build modern camellones, based on this ancient system and drawing on scientific understanding of water management.

>> Read more (pdf)

Jasmine Rice in the Weeping Plain: Using Adapting Rice Farming to Climate Change in Northern Thailand

Yasothorn, one of the 10 poorest provinces in Thailand, is part of the legendary ‘Weeping Plain’. The Plain’s dry conditions have historically made it suitable for growing the world-famous fragrant jasmine rice.

Oxfam has been working with local organization, Earth Net Foundation, since 2004 to promote organic agricultural practices and fairtrade marketing.

>> Read more (pdf)

Read more

Download the report: Climate Change adaptation: Enabling people living in poverty to adapt