Community-based adaptation in practice: insights from coastal communities in Bangladesh

Mr Md Masud All Kamal1

1The University Of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia


The community-based participatory approach has long been applied in diverse areas of development. Though the effectiveness of such bottom-up approach is contested, this approach has been adopted in managing the risks associated with climate change that labelled as a community-based adaptation (CBA). The proponents of this approach hold that it has the potential to build adaptive capacity of the most vulnerable of a community to deal with climate change. In so doing, advocates of the CBA approach claim that it incorporates local knowledge and preferences in planning and implementation of CBA projects. In addition, such adaptation initiatives mobilise the local community to build capacity for collective action and self-reliance. In Bangladesh and other developing societies, numerous community-based adaption projects are being implemented mostly by non-governmental organisations. This research explores why and how individuals and communities respond to externally induced collective action efforts induced by community-based adaptation projects in rural coastal areas of Bangladesh that intend to build adaptive capacity. This paper uses a qualitative research approach, and concludes that there is a deep disconnection between objectives of CBA projects and agendas of local community members who directly and indirectly participate in those projects.


I am currently a PhD candidate and have published several articles/book chapters in the field of climate change and disaster risk management. My current research focuses on the influence of planned community-based adaptation in strengthening the adaptive capacity of communities vulnerable to climate variability and change.

Participatory Politics: Social Innovation for Climate Adaptation at the Local Scale

A/Prof. Wendy Steele1, Prof  Jason Byrne2, Prof Jean Hillier1, Dr Diana MacCallum3, A/Prof Donna Houston4

1Centre for Urban Research, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia,

2University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia,

3Curtin University, Perth, Australia,

4Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


At the heart of socially innovative responses to climate change and adaptation at the local scale are the knowledge and practices that underpin participatory action. This involves developing shared understandings and making new connections both in terms of ideas and skills, but also between diverse people, groups and things (i.e. communities, neighbourhoods, sectors, nature, technology, art). This ARC funded research is concerned with responses to climate change and variability at the local scale.  It critically investigates social innovations around climate adaptation by governments, groups and NGOs and the diverse ways of building and bridging the knowledge base at the local scale. This paper reports on findings from participant interviews and focus groups that frame social innovation for adaptation at the local scale as a participatory politics. Creatively participating in local adaptation initiatives enables us to re-imagine our experience of and responses to climate change, laying the foundation for new possibilities of socially innovative and transformative change.


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