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Improved Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change for Sustainable Livelihoods in Agriculture Sector

This project was designed to improve the adaptive capacities of rural populations and their resilience to drought and other climate change impacts.


Project background

Bangladesh, due to its geo-physical position and socio-economic context, is highly prone to regular natural hazards and the impacts of climate change. In 2005, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) initiated a project at the request of the Bangladesh government that was designed to improve the adaptive capacities of rural populations and their resilience to drought and other climate change impacts. It also aimed to inform service providers and policy-makers of the learning and findings, in order to improve support to future adaptation processes. The project is implemented under the Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Programme (CDMP), by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), and in collaboration with the Departments of Fisheries, Livestock and Forestry and national research institutes such as Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI). (Community based actions started with: the characterization of livelihood systems; profiling of vulnerable groups; assessment of past and current climate impacts; understanding of local perceptions of climate impacts, local coping capacities and existing adaptation strategies. Based on those findings the project promotes institutional and technical capacity building within key agencies and among farmers associations/groups for demand responsive services needed by farmers to better adapt. The project has developed, and is constantly updating, a menu of diversified good practice adaptation options, which guides field testing of locally prioritized adaptation practices. Participatory extension is key and includes: demonstrations, orientation meetings, field days, farmer field schools, and community rallies.

The related reports provide a summary of the working approach developed and tested to promote community-based adaptation within agriculture. They present lessons learned from the implementation process as well as the details of good practice options for drought risk management in the context of climate change.

Adaptation context

Bangladesh is particularly prone to natural disasters due its geo-physical position and socio economic context. The territory expands through the delta, where the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra, Meghna and their tributaries meet and drain into the Bay of Bengal. This wet environment has created arable land, conducive for agriculture. Its economy is highly agricultural, with 63% of its labor force in the agriculture sector. Agriculture is the single most important and the largest sector of Bangladesh’s economy, accounting for about 35% of the GDP. Bangladesh, in particular its northwestern region, is drought-prone. Droughts are associated either with the late arrival or with an early withdrawal of monsoon rains. This phenomenon adversely affects rice crops, which account for more than 80% of the total cultivated land of the country, and also causes regular damage to jute, the country’s main cash crop. Droughts in March-April prevent land preparation and ploughing activities from being conducted on time, delaying the broadcasting of Aman and the planting of Aus and jute. When droughts occur in May and June, they destroy broadcast Aman, Aus and jute. Inadequate rains in July and August delay transplantation of Aman, while droughts in September and October reduce yields of both broadcast and transplanted Aman and delay the sowing of pulses and potatoes.


The objectives of the project are:

1) Develop a methodology to better understand:

  • how results of climate change impact assessments, based on General CirculationModels (GCMs) and different climate change scenarios can be translated intolocation specific agricultural impact outlooks and livelihood adaptation practices,
  • how such options can be tested and implemented in a participatory way with farmers,
  • how to feed back results to researchers and policy makers in agriculture and theclimate change “community of practice”, in order to facilitate replication of successcases and avoid mal-adaptations.

2) Initiate and facilitate the field testing with farmers of:

  • livelihood adaptation strategies to better respond to disaster and climate risks,
  • improved long-lead climate forecasting, and responses to future climate change projections in agriculture

The outputs and deliverables of this effort include:

  • an in-depth local situation assessment;
  • identification of suitable project entry point activities
  • a participatory project implementation strategy, suitable for replication elsewhere
  • required institutional mechanisms set- in place and/or strengthened ;
  • technical capacity building and training

Project entry points

  • Promoting adaptation to current climate variability and extreme events
  • Launching local interactions on the basis of traditional knowledge and existing local adaptation practices to climate risk
  • Building institutional and technical capacity
  • Addressing longer term issues of climate change through awareness raising
  • Initiating field testing of adaptation options with ‘no regret’ technologies
  • Introducing the concept of probabilistic climate forecasting


Stephan Baas, Selvaraju Ramasamy


2005-2007, Districts: Chapai Nawabganj and Naogaon

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