Gebreyes, Million Getnet: Transformative Adaptation and Natural Resource Management Interventions in North Eastern Ethiopia. - Bonn, 2017. - Dissertation, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.
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author = {{Million Getnet Gebreyes}},
title = {Transformative Adaptation and Natural Resource Management Interventions in North Eastern Ethiopia},
school = {Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn},
year = 2017,
month = jan,

note = {This study is motivated by the observation that adaptation to climate change is often presented as a technical problem that requires only engineering and technological solutions. What is missing from current adaptation research is a nuanced understanding of how the state, society and nature interact in adaptation decisions and implementations. Such an understanding is important to unpack the black box of transformative adaptation, which is understood here as adaptation that involves profound systemic changes, which is inclusive of local voices and is based on learning from experiences, experimentation and collaboration among actors. Accordingly, the main research question of this study is “In which way does adaptation with climate risks require action coordination among local communities and the state?” The state and local community actors were chosen because of absence of other active actors on resource management in the study areas. This study uses two case studies of state led interventions in watershed development and irrigation management as a proxy for adaptation practice. Hence, the findings are based on critical realist oriented empirical research work conducted on these interventions in four villages, in the Gubalafto and Kobo Districts of North Wollo Administrative Zone, in Amhara Region, Ethiopia. The data collection methods included individual interviews and focus group discussions with local communities, expert interviews, analysis of official documents from different levels of government offices and field observations. The results of the study showed that for smallholder farmers, livelihood risks have multiple sources, having both material and discursive components. This study identified five risk settings, understood here as category of risk that is underlined by a variety of different factors, which were important for state and local community actors: naturalized risk setting, subsistence risk setting, market volatility risk setting, demographic risk setting and policy failure risk setting. It is important for adaptation interventions to understand the nature of these risk settings and the way their interaction produces livelihood risks. The research assessed the two case studies based on the aforementioned understanding of risk settings and risk perceptions among state and local community actors. The results showed that one could see adaptation action coordination between actors with power imbalance, in our case between the state and local communities, as a struggle between containment strategies of the state and counter-containment strategies of local communities. The state containment strategies included controlling mechanisms of the state to direct collaborative resource management arrangements towards its interest and prescriptions, whereas counter containment strategies included various methods by which local communities resisted the state’s containment strategies and pressured the state to consider their interests and experiences. The state hegemonic ideology dictates what is desirable in terms of both the outcome and process of adaptation. For example, in both case studies state actors at different levels take the government rural transformation program as a non-negotiable development agenda. Hence, state experts at different levels have religiously pushed technical recommendations from national guidelines for soil and water conservation and commercial irrigation agriculture, at times without questioning the local applicability of some of these recommendations. The state’s governmentality strategies bring the hegemonic ideologies to actual projects and programs, which allow them to plan, control and direct the actions of local communities. In both case study interventions, this included using constitutional and party related local organizations, extensive public consultation conferences, strict monitoring, feedback mechanisms, and local by-laws to punish non-compliance. Hence, containment strategies often combine ideological imposition, grouping people in different local organization and coercion in a coordinated manner. However, other actors, in this case local communities, are also not passive subjects of state’s containment strategies. Depending on the level of their social capital and political efficacy, they exert pressure on the state to either influence its action or resist it. Absenteeism during collaborative activities, vandalism on communal resources and outright opposition were some of the forms of resistance. Overall, the study showed that the strong-handed state control over the resource management interventions led to large coverages in program implementations. However, some contest the usefulness of the interventions for adaptation with climate risks as people questioned how conservation gains from resource management interventions could translate into livelihood benefits. In other cases the state intervention actually created more livelihood risks for some farmers. The study also revealed that existing state containment strategies dominate spaces of interactions for decision making towards instrumental use where by the state uses decision-making platforms and processes to direct decisions in its favour, as demonstrated by the way it uses its political influence on two of the dimensions of social learning, deliberation and learning processes. Hence, although the heavy state control on the collaborative process enhanced the coverage of the resource management interventions, it blocked the possibility of developing genuine social capital among local community members and hampered opportunities for learning from past and present experiences in resource management. Therefore, the study concludes that adaptation action coordination, and by extension transformative adaptation, in Ethiopian context would require reforms in power relations between the state and local communities to enable inclusion of citizens concerns in adaptation programs and projects and foster learning from experiences and experimentations.},
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