Ecology and ClimateSustainability
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Livelihoods in Developing Countries Threatened despite Climate Change Adaptation: German Development Cooperation in Demand

DEval examined the relevance and effectiveness as well as the (potential) impact of instruments for managing residual climate risk.

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Bonn, 13.06.2022 – Farmers worldwide are already adapting to climate change. For example, they optimise their irrigation systems to protect their harvests against drought. However, with prolonged periods of drought, crop failures become inevitable and limits to adaptation are reached. German development cooperation supports farmers to manage such risks, which are referred to as residual climate risks. Yet, this support is not always applied in the most effective way to meet the needs of farmers and other target groups, as the evaluation by the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval) shows.

Residual climate risks are those risks that remain after climate risks have been reduced through climate change adaptation and mitigation. These risks threaten people’s livelihoods, especially in the poorest countries and those most vulnerable to climate change. Moreover, these risks can reverse development achievements. Development cooperation already implements different instruments to manage these risks. For example, climate risk insurance compensate farmers for crop losses from drought. If climate change makes the farmland non-arable, then farmers need a non-farm livelihood or to establish a new livelihood somewhere else. DEval evaluated the experience of German development cooperation with these instruments to date.

Germany is a pioneer

The evaluation shows that German development cooperation already has experience in implementing such instruments. Climate risk insurance is a particular focus, but also various instruments for disaster preparedness. “Given that climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying, climate risk insurance needs to be implemented more internationally. Although Germany is a pioneer in implementing this instrument in developing countries, development cooperation has to consider more the needs of the target groups to increase the instrument´s effectiveness,” stresses DEval Director Prof Dr Jörg Faust.  

Needs of target groups not sufficiently considered

The evaluation confirms that the German repertoire of instruments for managing residual climate risks largely corresponds to the goals of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. However, the case studies reveal that the target groups are only partly involved in planning and implementing these instruments. Moreover, target groups assert that some instruments are barely relevant. "In some cases, target groups in the partner countries prefer other instruments. As a result, some of them do not accept and do not use the instruments provided”, explains evaluation team leader Dr Gerald Leppert. In Madagascar, for instance, climate risk insurance is hardly suitable for the people in rural areas. Many of them pursue subsistence farming and lack the necessary financial resources to pay for the insurance premiums. Rather than climate risk insurance, they would prefer to receive training on improved agricultural techniques, access to material equipment and information about climate risks.

Greater attention required on livelihood transformation and migration instruments

People who lose their livelihoods due to climate change often have no other option than to change their livelihoods or migrate. Development cooperation can support them in transforming their existing livelihoods through retraining, or in establishing new livelihoods elsewhere through migration. In contrast to climate risk insurance, however, German development cooperation has only sporadically implemented such instruments until now. DEval recommends German development cooperation to pay greater attention to these instruments in the future, as the existential and irreversible effects of climate change are sure to increasingly threaten livelihoods, particularly in the poorest countries and those most vulnerable to climate change.

About this evaluation

This evaluation module is part of a modular DEval evaluation on climate change adaptation. It examines the relevance and effectiveness as well as the (potential) impact of instruments for managing residual climate risk. It uses qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods, including interviews, workshops, a large-scale survey, and flood modelling. For any questions about this module or the overall evaluation, please contact Dr Sven Harten.

Original Publication: Leppert, G. et al. (2021), Evaluation of interventions for climate change adaptation. Instruments for managing residual climate risks. German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval), Bonn.

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Jelana Vajen

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[Translate to Englisch:] Portrait Sven Harten
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Dr Sven Harten

Head of Competence Centre for Evaluation Methodology / Deputy Director

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