Newsletter Issue 19

Newsletter Issue 19
19 May 2011

FAQ Climate Risk Management

There are a lot of questions around climate change, climate change adaptation, and how to incorporate these concepts into RC/RC work, particularly at the community level. The Frequently Asked Questions and Glossary of Terms are designed to frame these issues and address barriers for a variety of users within the RC/RC. Please note that this is a draft and work in progress. If you have comments or your questions are not addressed in the document, please email them to: (referencing ‘FAQ’).

For the RC/RC, climate change adaptation is not just about preparing for climate change projections that tell us what our world is likely to look in the year 2050 or 2100 if no strong greenhouse gas reduction measures are taken. Climate change is already happening and will further accelerate in the coming decades. The RC/RC is going to be responding to disasters all over the world between now and then. That means that the RC/RC is going to be dealing with extreme weather events that happen on timescales of hours to days, as well as the impact of natural climate variability that occurs on timescales of years-decades, combined with the influence of long-term climate change. Because in many parts of the world, our experience of climate change isn’t likely to be one straight path towards those projections, the best way for us to prepare is to become increasingly skilled at managing climate and weather related risks we currently face, as well as those anticipated by forecasts on short, medium and long timescales. This is climate change adaptation for the RC/RC. Some might call it climate risk management. Others might call it climate-smart, or climate-informed disaster risk reduction. The idea is that we are aware the climate is changing, we use forecast information across timescales to anticipate where and how it might change, and we become increasingly skilled and efficient at managing the weather and climate risks we currently face, so that we have the capacity, early warning systems, and community awareness necessary to mobilize ourselves effectively as we experience changing and increasing weather and climate-related risks over time.

Partners for Resilience

On 1 January the Partners for Resilience started their five year programme in nine countries (Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mali, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Indonesia and the Philippines). This is so far the largest civil society initiative in the world that aims to bring together expertise in Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation and Ecosystem Management.

The RC/RC Climate Centre joins the Partners Fore Resilience together with the Netherlands Red Cross, Cordaid, CARE and Wetlands International. The contribution of the Climate Centre will focus on national support and trainings in understanding climate related risks and how this knowledge can be integrated in community based programmes and in the policy dialogue with national governments. The Climate Centre contributes also to the global component of the programme to assure that the lessons learned in the programme are well shared with the global community of practice, knowledge centres and policymakers.

Experts Workshop on Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation for Community-based and Local Adaptation 17-18 February 2011, CARE UK, London

On 17-18 February, Maarten van Aalst attended the Experts Workshop on Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation for Community-based and Local Adaptation in London. Community-based adaptation (CBA) to climate change is a community-led process, based on communities’ priorities, needs, knowledge, and capacities, which should empower people to plan for and cope with the impacts of climate change. In light of the increasing evidence of the stresses that climate change is exerting on the lives and livelihoods of the poorest people in climate-vulnerable regions, and disappointment at the ‘top-down’ nature of much adaptation planning and investment that is failing to reach the most vulnerable, CBA projects and programmes are increasing in number and reach. However, despite this increase in attention to and practice of CBA, there remains a lack of participatory, practical, replicable and relevant methodologies for measuring, monitoring and evaluating the results of adaptation in general, and CBA in particular. In response to this gap, an Experts Workshop on Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E) for CBA and Local Adaptation convened to try to address this need. The purpose of this meeting was to inform the design of an open-source M&E methodology for local and community-based adaptation that can be used by planners, practitioners and researchers across the field. The objective was to develop some comment elements of a good M&E framework for CBA, but it became apparent that approaches for CBA differed too much (particularly the CARE focus on pure CBA as an entry point rather than adaptation as something to be integrated into wider objectives was a big difference). This then led to a 2-track approach:- developing PM&E tool for local adaptation, mainly for stand-alone CBA, but still useful for more general purposes and – minimum standards for general M&E of local adaptation (for learning — beyond business as usual — and also for linking to bigger policy dialogues). A background paper was produced providing a background to the participants of this meeting. Drawing on pre-meeting consultations with meeting participants and a review of literature relevant to CBA and PM&E, this paper reviews the state of knowledge and experiences of M&E for CBA to date, and highlights some of the key conceptual and methodological challenges that participants will address during the meeting. Download here the background paper.

Global Community Safety and Resilience Forum Damascus, Syria

On 27-31 March 2011, Madeleen Helmer attended the third Global Community Safety and Resilience Forum in Damascus, Syria. This meeting was hosted by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. A successful part of the programme was the market place where National Societies and IFRC delegates presented their work and priorities: great and inspiring wealth of actions. Also visible here was the fruits of the Preparedness for Climate Change programme. Many National Societies had climate related materials to be presented. A CCA workshop focused around questions related to National Societies being well connected to climate change related actors and policies in their countries and having the capacities to address climate related risks in their national programming. The CCA workshop was the very well attended, highlighting the interest in the subject. The vast majority of National Societies expressed that climate change is relevant for them and that it should be integrated in their work. On the last day 50 trees were planted around the offices of the Syrian Red Crescent office, well introduced by the Uganda RC, who reminded us of the decision at the IFRC General Assembly in Nairobi to have a 100 million tree planting campaign, one for every volunteer, to contribute to climate change solutions. Later, Madeleen facilitated a plenary discussion on the tree planting campaign. Agreed was to have a side event at this year’s General Assembly on tree planting. At the end of the session 1,2 million trees were pledged by National Societies present.

The Fifth International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA), Dhaka, Bangladesh 28-31 March 2010

The Fifth International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA), organized by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS), took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Dhaka, Bangladesh from Monday, 28 to Thursday, 31 March 2011. The conference was themed “Scaling Up: Beyond Pilots,” focusing on the need to spread CBA knowledge and practical lessons horizontally across communities and vertically across levels of governance and action. Over 390 participants, representing over 190 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), branches of government, international organizations, and academia were in attendance. The conference began with an inaugural speech by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and included daily morning and afternoon plenaries, numerous daily technical sessions, a poster session, and British Council-sponsored short film presentations, to be posted on the Climate4Classrooms website. Plenary and technical sessions covered topics such as: agriculture, local resilience and climate prediction services; communicating knowledge about CBA; bridging local, sub-national and national levels in adaptation; gender; health; funding and funding architecture; supporting adaptive capacity; the economics of CBA; CBA tools and toolkits; and synergies between disaster risk reduction, ecosystems, wider development projects and CBA. Additionally, prior to the conference, 300 of the participants took part in multiple three-day field trips to locations around Bangladesh illustrating CBA. Recurring issues raised at the conference revolved around its theme of scaling up successful CBA projects. These issues included the importance of: understanding power-relations dynamics between genders, between local peoples, and between communities and other levels; incorporating youth and children into CBA project design and projects; communicating non-ambiguously with stakeholders at all levels; scaling meteorological prediction services down to levels more useful for dispersed rural populations; and integrating CBA with other developmental and environmental projects. Based upon work presented and collaborations agreed upon at the conference, a book will be published through Earthscan summarizing key advances and insights from the CBA context. Maarten van Aalst and Pablo Suarez both chaired plenary sessions during the conference, Suarez on communicating knowledge on CBA and van Aalst on Institutional Capacity dimensions of scaling up CBA. The work of RC national societies at community level continues to inspire innovation among organisations engaged in climate change adaptation. Go here for the conference report.

Climate Training Kit

Last December the Climate Centre started to develop and design an online tool for climate risk management training resources aiming to provide inspiration for RC/RC colleagues to set up their own climate related trainings for Red Cross staff, partners, volunteers, communities, etc. The resources can be used as inspiration for climate related trainings, or split up for insertion into relevant topic related trainings. The aim is to further develop and operationalise the guidance produced in the RC/RC Climate Guide in 2007, through the development of an interactive set of products like games, films, exercises, PowerPoints with notes and experiences of other RC/RC National Societies. The products will be tested within different meetings, so guidance on how to effectively use the products can be provided by the Climate Centre team. The tool kit is scheduled to go online on from June 2011 onwards. If you are interested to use the products beforehand, you can contact

Trainings with German Red Cross delegates and partners

The Climate Centre has been invited by the German Red Cross to assist in training their field delegates and core staff in their bilateral National Societies partners in how to incorporate climate change adaptation into ongoing and future programming. Climate Centre staff participate in the three trainings workshops in Asia (Dhaka in April), Africa (Nairobi in May) and Latin America (Lima – in the autumn), respectively. These workshops present an opportunity to use, test and refine some of the training modules being developed as part of the ‘Climate Training Kit’ (see above). It is also a platform for discussions and mutual learning regarding specific opportunities for adding climate change concerns into DM, DRR and health programming, and for discussing the new local funding and partnership landscape for climate change adaptation.

Climate Centre at CDKN ActionLab (Oxford, 3-7 April 2011)

The Climate and Development Knowledge Network, as part of its mission to support decision-makers in designing and delivering climate compatible development, organized an event in Oxford University called “CDKN ActionLab”: a cutting-edge, action-oriented programme, focused on celebrating and stimulating innovation at the intersection of climate change and development. Maarten van Aalst and Pablo Suarez joined the event, and actively engaged in the discussions about how to address the humanitarian consequences of climate change. Pablo led one of the sessions: a game-based participatory activity where players simulate individual and collective decisions about disaster preparedness given forecasts of changing climate conditions. Please contact Pablo Suarez at for more information.

IFRC Disaster Risk Management Continental Meeting (Americas), February 2011

The goal was to improve planning and coordination within the Americas region and between partners. Lisette Braman held a presentation about the Climate Centre and about Early Warning, Early Action. She presented the seasonal forecast that was issued in October 2010 for November 2010-January 2011 season (the season that had just been completed), and then circled all the areas that ended up getting flooding during that season (virtually all blue areas forecast with high confidence to have above-normal rainfall on the map) the discussion addressed the question what might they have done differently to prepare if they had taken advantage of the advanced lead-time/warning. For more information, please contact Lisette Braman:

Health risk management in a changing climate: A global approach to building local capacity

With financial support of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Climate Centre has started a Health and Climate Change programme in East Africa and South East Asia late 2009. The programme is being implemented successfully with the Vietnam, Indonesian, Kenya, and Tanzania Red Cross Societies. The programme provided the Red Cross Red Crescent with a unique opportunity to implement operational activities with a very strong learning component, addressing and preparing for the health effects of climate change. To our knowledge this is one of the first projects of its kind, especially from the perspective of a humanitarian organisation. This is reflected both in the interests shown in the project by other organisations and the enthusiasm by regional and national staff engaged in the project who feel that they are part of ground-breaking work. The programme established good insights for the next steps. The tools developed so far are already being put to use in other parts of the organisation. For more details on the progress report please contact the secretariat:

Assessing adaptive capacity of Pacific island communities

A study of the adaptive capacity of Pacific island communities to climate change is currently being undertaken by the Institute of Applied Science (USP) in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Red Cross in the Pacific with financial support from the Australian Commonwealth Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE). The Pacific islands face increasing challenges exacerbated by climate changes of slowly rising sea levels and, more intense extreme events (cyclones and droughts) that will threaten freshwater resources and the food supply. Given the Pacific islands’ special vulnerability to climate change and their long history of adapting to change, the study of adaptive capacity is especially important for the Pacific. The adaptive capacity of local communities in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Samoa, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Palau and Fiji will be assessed in a range of sectors critical to adaptation including water supply and sanitation, food security, relocation and coastal protection. The assessment will be based on the seven adaptive capacity factors identified collectively by the partnering organizations including:

  • Human capital
  • Social capital/community cohesiveness
  • Belief systems/worldviews/values
  • Resources and distribution
  • Adaptation options
  • Information/awareness
  • History of dealing with climate stresses

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report asserts that “current knowledge of adaptation and adaptive capacity is insufficient … for rigorous evaluation of planned adaptation options.” In the Pacific we need to analyse past climate change adaptation projects through such a framework, being cognizant that IPCC guidelines often are developed by those with a Western development framework. Pacific socio-cultural hallmarks of kinship and reciprocity and past responses to extreme events need to be considered as part of adaptive capacity. It is being increasingly recognized that successful environmental management requires a strong local community focus, one using participatory methods that encourage adaptation to belong to the community and combines the best of traditional knowledge with an international best-practice approach appropriate for the Pacific context. This project will develop an appropriate Pacific adaptive capacity analysis framework and apply it to the identified case studies of completed climate change adaptation projects. Field work is taking place in March and the individual case studies will be written in April. USP will be collating the findings for inclusion in a regional report on climate change in the Pacific being funded by the Australian Government. For more information, please contact

Asia Pacific Youth Leaders Exchange Forum

The Asia Pacific Youth Leaders forum held in Hong Kong in December 2010 provided a platform for Red Cross Red Crescent youth leaders to share experiences and ideas in a wide array of humanitarian and movement issues such as climate change, HIV/AIDS, Strategy 2020 and youth leadership. The event gathered people from 10 National Red Cross Societies including Cambodia, Fiji, Malaysia, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, China, Singapore, Thailand and the Republic of Korea. One of the key workshops was on climate change. As Kyrus Siu, one of the organizers of the event explained “as more and more climate related disasters happen every year and the burden of these disasters is affecting both directly or indirectly humanity. No matter where you live, people suffer from the consequences of climate change. As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, we need to gear up and gain a better understanding to tackle this global issue”. Up to 120 people joined the climate change workshop to talk about the increasing risks and the ways to address them within the Red Cross Red Crescent. Download here the report of the event. For more information, please contact the Hong Kong Red Cross or email:

2011 Internships

In the coming 5 years, Partners for Resilience (PfR) provides a unique opportunity to globally progress towards addressing vulnerability to climate change, disasters and environmental degradation. In order to show what we collectively achieve, we will need to be able to paint convincing ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures. We are able to tap into skilled interns who are able to assist us with baselines and mechanisms for monitoring over time. Interns from Columbia University/IRI students assist in the Partners for Resilience programme with projects like working on forecast verification and thresholds, and bringing climate, weather and forecast info into the DRR work. This academic partnership will enable the PfR Alliance to work with global high-quality partners to assist with gathering the local information – for local, but also national and global linking and learning. In addition, this allows the local – global – local innovation and learning to be shared in the global arena. For more information please contact Lisette Braman (

In addition, the Climate Centre has an established relationship with King’s College London (KCL), in particular with globally recognised researchers teaching the prestigious ‘Disasters, adaptation and development’ masters programme. The KCL students identified to support the Partners for Resilience programme have a social science/geography background with a focus on disaster risk. The intention is to focus the relationship over the next 5 years to enable progressive research and documentation of the linking and learning as well as monitoring and evaluation components of the PfR. For more information please contact Knud Falk (

Georeferencing Red Cross DREF data

Three Boston University students have completed the first phase of the important work of georeferencing the DREF database for about 10% of national societies, including all of East Africa, Indonesia and the Philippines. They are mapping the exact location of past DREFs to enable future analysis of patterns involving the links between forecasts and disasters. For more information please contact Pablo Suarez (

IFRC Map Room Now Available in Spanish!

The IFRC Map Room, produced by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), provides global forecasts ‘in context’ for precipitation (rain and snow) on the 6-day and 3-month timescales. By ‘in context’ we mean that rather than just giving you a forecast for 400 mm rainfall, the map room provides a sense of whether that forecast is normal, above-normal or below-normal for a given place during that particular time of year. We are pleased to announce that the Map Room is now available in Spanish. There are a few ways to access the Spanish version:

  • You can go to it directly;
  • From the English version you can get to it by clicking ‘Español’ in either the top right-hand corner of the page, or on the bottom of the left-hand blue side bar. (In web browsers already set to Spanish, the Spanish version of the map room should come up automatically).
  • The map room is also accessible through DMIS, now with both English and Spanish options.

The IRI is continuing to make improvements to the IFRC Map Room. If you have suggestions or questions about the Map Room, please send them to the Help Desk at

Diana Londoño: fruitful exchange of human resources with the Colombian Red Cross!

Diana Londoño is the National Coordinator for Climate Change in the Colombian Red Cross. Currently and for 3 months, she is working at the Climate Centre as a consultant on the Communication Module of the Climate Training Kit, a new strategy that seeks to gather all the available guidance resources on climate risk management and climate change online. The Communication Module itself is aimed at enabling National Societies to access all relevant tools and information, including an overview of how the topic has been communicated by RC/RC members on a virtual platform. It also promotes the effective ways to guide the National Societies to work with communities and partners in benefit of the most vulnerable communities. The experience Diana acquired in awareness/adaptation/and risk reduction projects implemented by the Colombian Red Cross and also through other meetings and workshops that she attended with other National Societies, provides her with a broad view on climate change education and communication strategies and the Climate Centre is very grateful to be able to tap into her knowledge and experience. All the information, tools and new ideas will be included in the Communication Module of the kit. Please contact her for further information at: diana.Londoň

Departure health specialist Lina Nerlander

Since July 2009 Lina was the Climate Centre’s Health Specialist, working to address the effects of climate change and climate variability on health. Per 1 May 2011 Lina left the team to join the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in Atlanta as an Epidemic Intelligence Officer. This is a two year fellowship with a chance to really develop good technical skills but also get into the field to investigate outbreaks and do operational research. Lina will work mainly with reproductive health / maternal and infant health. She looks forward to gaining skills in a new area of public health and health but still one which touches upon water, sanitation, nutrition, health systems etc. Lina always preached that climate change is not a separate topic but a consideration to integrate into other programmes – she now hopes to be able to practice what she preaches as these populations are some of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The Climate Centre team is very grateful for Lina’s input, enthusiasm and skills that helped us to put the climate change and health connection firm on our agenda and strengthen the cooperation with the health workers within the RCRC movement. The Climate Centre hopes and trusts that Lina will recognize her footprints in the years to come when we continue to build on her work.

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