CCPM puts Malawians vulnerable to climate change in the driving seat

The central aim of the CCPM is to help communities identify and overcome the challenges of climate change by ensuring local people are at the heart of the programme. A key method used to achieve this, in the initial phase of the programme, was the Participatory and Vulnerability Capacity Assessment (PVCA).

The PVCA used a series of collaborative and interactive tools to help community members identify the problems they face and support them to develop and implement their own solutions.

A report on the PVCA process has now been published on the CCPM website to allow other people in the field of climate adaptation to learn from this experience and use it to inform similar projects all over the world.

Six CCPM implementing partners worked with the communities between April and October 2018 to conduct the PVCA. The first step was for the CCPM coordinating partner, Trócaire Malawi, to train the partners in the use of nine tools designed to help communities analyse different aspects of their lives.

The partners then conducted inclusive discussion sessions with the communities, ensuring that there was representation from vulnerable groups such as the elderly, young people, and persons with disabilities. They also created ‘female only forums’, to make sure issues could be raised that would not otherwise have come up in mixed groups, ensuring information was gathered on the needs of all members of the community.

Each tool in the PVCA assessment helped the communities in different ways:
• A Historical Timeline tool helped those taking part to construct a history of the community and key weather events such as floods or drought that happened in the past.
• The Daily Time Chart tool provided information on the day-to-day life of different groups within the community.
• The Hazard and Risk Analysis tool explored key issues affecting the community such as drought, pests and soil erosion.
• The Resource Map tool helped communities to catalogue and map assets the community had access to such as rivers, forests, trading centres, and village banks.

The tools helped the communities to collect and analyse extensive data about their lives. However, to ensure the interventions were truly community-driven, once the data was collated and analysed, the partners returned to the groups to present the findings and validate the results.

For the validation process, the partners typically used flip charts to present the summary of findings in the local language. They then hosted an open discussion with the community members on the findings to check they were accurate and to incorporate any further suggestions. The partners helped the participants to develop community action plans relevant to each village’s specific needs upon which the CCPM activities are based.

A clear theme identified from this process is the considerable variation in the impacts of climate change and hazards faced by different communities. For example, communities in Mangochi ranked prolonged dry spells/drought and pests as the most pressing issues affecting them as they felt it had both the greatest impact and occurred most frequently.

While communities in Balaka recognised that flooding had occurred in the past but ranked it low on the hazard list as they felt though the impact of flooding was considerable it was less likely to occur.

Conducting the PVCA enhanced partners’ understanding of the differing impacts of climate change and hazards participating communities face. It also highlighted the communities’ extensive knowledge of the issues and the need to increase awareness on how human activity influences climate change. Finally, the PVCA enabled communities to create focused action plans for climate change mitigation activities which they feel ownership of.

Picture shows CCPM participants in Baklaka during a meeting about the programme.