A new environment for adapting to climate change

03 Jun 2011

A local farmer harvests sorghum in the SudanA local farmer harvests sorghum in the Sudan. Photo: UN Photo/Fred Noy

Climate change disproportionately affects the most vulnerable communities in the world.

The impacts of extreme weather events and natural disasters hurt poor countries the most where lack of resources and weaker infrastructures leave people less equipped to respond and protect themselves. Read UNDP Chief Helen Clark's remarks on adaptation at the United Nations 2010 Climate Change Conference in Cancun.

Even gradual changes can be a huge additional burden on these countries, increasing the difficulties people face to simply secure food, water and a basic livelihood.

Niger is one such country struggling to adapt to climate change. With 80 percent  of its territory covered by the Sahara desert and the semi-arid Sahel zone, Niger has been hard hit by frequent droughts with a dry season that lasts for 9 months of the year, putting rural livelihoods at severe risk. 

Three years ago UNDP began supporting Niger, along with 19 other African countries, to develop strategies to help prevent some of the worst impacts of a changing climate. The US$92.1 million Africa Adaptation Programme, funded by the Government of Japan, aims to support countries like Niger create a stronger environment to prepare for, and adapt to, climate change.

By sharing knowledge and identifying strategies to manage climate risks, the programme enables governments to both learn from, and provide information to, communities about mitigating the risks of changing environments.

In the Rombou Rural Commune, in central Niger, communities are encouraged to practice alternative crop production, soil fertilization and regeneration techniques, and other adaptive practices.  These help to promote sustainable water management, agricultural, and pastoral practices that help local communities better deal with current and future environmental challenges.

UNDP is working to strengthen countries’ capacities to adapt to climate change and to pursue development that is consistent with climate change mitigation, including through support to developing policies, capacities and strategies to advance low carbon, inclusive and climate-resilient development. 

Talk to us: How do you think climate change is impacting development? What coping techniques do you think have been successful?

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