Through an integrative method for climate change adaptation planning in Lower Mekong Basin communities, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change (USAID Mekong ARCC) Project has broadened the understanding of both scientists and community members on the implications of climate change at the local level.
Recently published in the journal, Climate and Development, by Shelley Gustafson, Angela Joëhl Cadena and Paul Hartman, the research article, entitled “Adaptation Planning in the Lower Mekong Basin: Merging Scientific Data with Local Perspective to Improve Community Resilience to Climate Change,” details the USAID Mekong ARCC framework for merging top-down and bottom-up decision-making approaches to identify local vulnerabilities to climate change threats, and to address these vulnerabilities through suitable adaptation.
Using Chiang Rai Province’s Huai Kang Pla village as a case study, the article conducts a comparative analysis between vulnerability assessments based on scientific projections vs. on-the-ground experiences of community members.
The study found that the community was first and foremost interested in relatively short-term periods of heat stress and irregular rainfall patterns that immediately affect key livelihood activities such as livestock and crop productivity while the science-based analysis focused on longer-term shifts in average temperature and rainfall patterns.
Both viewpoints are of critical importance in developing adaptation plans that address immediate needs while keeping an eye on the trajectory of future changes. Through the merging of the two perspectives, a more holistic understanding of community vulnerability was developed, which provided the basis for designing relevant adaptation strategies.