Module 2 | Understand: The basics of vulnerability and climate change adaptation
Module 2

Understand: The basics of vulnerability and climate change adaptation

Introduction: This module explains vulnerability and highlights the impacts of climate change in Africa.

It defines climate change adaptation and details available adaptation options. It also provides information about how to respond to the climate crisis through good practices in Community-Based and Locally Led Adaptation. 

What will I learn in this module? 

  • Be able to explain what causes vulnerability.
  • Understand the meaning of climate change adaptation and the various options for adaptation.
  • Have gained a better understanding of Community-Based and Locally Led Adaptation approaches and the principles that underpin them.
  • Understand the value and role of nature-based solutions in climate change adaptation action.

The below infographic provides a summary of the key content in this module:

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Climate change hits poor people hardest

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to achieving a world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and all people live with dignity and security. 

Climate change is already making the lives of the poor more challenging. In 2022, the world witnessed record-breaking extreme weather globally, with mighty floods, vast wildfires, enduring heatwaves, and drought on every continent. But Africa is extremely vulnerable. Between 2020 and 2022, more than 52 million people—some 4 percent of the continent’s population—were directly affected by drought and floods. Temperatures are increasing across all regions of Africa and the continent is warming faster than the global average over both land and sea.

By 2030, climate change is expected to have a significant impact on poverty, mainly by pushing up food prices and reducing agricultural production in Africa and South Asia. The World Bank estimates that even with rapid, inclusive, and climate-informed development, climate change will increase poverty for between 3 million and 16 million people in 2030. Worse, if there are delays in inclusive, climate-smart development, poverty could increase for between 32 million and 132 million people.

Climate change is also expected to negatively impact people’s health in all regions. The magnitude of these impacts will depend on the development choices governments make.

Understanding vulnerability to climate change

Vulnerability refers to “the conditions determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes which increase the susceptibility of an individual, a community, assets or systems to the impact of hazards.” Such factors include things like people’s income, levels of education, where they live, and access to housing and health care. Vulnerability affects the degree to which people and ecosystems can cope with climate change.

Vulnerability is a function of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: How vulnerability relates to exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. Source: National Park Service, 2022.

The three components of vulnerability are explained below.


Exposure, according to the IPCC, is the “presence of people, livelihoods, species or ecosystems, environmental functions, services, and resources, infrastructure, or economic, social, or cultural assets in places and settings that could be adversely affected.” In short, it involves the degree to which people or systems experience, or are expected to experience, climate change impacts.To conceptualize this, think of a house on a riverbank that often floods in heavy rains. The house has a high level of exposure to flooding.

Figure 2: The meaning of exposure: the house is in a place where it is exposed to flooding. Source: EAUFRANCE, no date.


Sensitivity is the “degree to which a system or species is affected, either adversely or beneficially, by climate variability or change.”
To conceptualize this, think of the same house on the riverbank. If it was built of poor-quality materials, it would be more likely to be damaged in the floods and have a higher sensitivity.

Figure 3: The sensitivity of the house depends on the types of materials used to construct it. Source: EAUFRANCE, no date.

Adaptive capacity

Adaptive capacity is the “ability of systems, institutions, humans, and other organisms to adjust to potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to respond to consequences.” This refers to the ability of social systems to: (a) adjust to better respond to the risks associated with climate change, and (b) learn lessons and adjust after a disaster or shock.

Continuing with our example: if the owners decided to move their house to higher ground, away from the riverbank, they would be increasing their adaptative capacity.

Figure 4: The house is no more susceptible to flooding because it is away from the riverbank and built strong on a higher ground.

How climate change risk is determined

Vulnerability affects the level of climate change risk experienced by communities and countries. Figure 5 highlights the interaction between a climate hazard (such as a flood), vulnerability and exposure, to generate climate change risks.

Figure 5: Representation of climate risk as a function of hazard, exposure and vulnerability, based upon the IPCC SREX definition of risk. Source: Viner et al., 2020.

The injustices of climate change

The countries with historically low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the poorest people, have contributed the least to the climate crisis but are most vulnerable to its impacts. This is at the heart of calls for climate justice.

Climate change is already having negative impacts around the world. As you learned in Module 1, climate change is expected to lead to drops in agricultural productivity, reduced access to water and increased weather extremes. However, these impacts will not be evenly felt around the globe. 

How climate change impacts different countries depends on each country’s vulnerability. Figure 6 shows the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. You will see that Africa is highly vulnerable. 

Figure 6: Map showing the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Source: University of Notre Dame, 2022.


Figure 7 shows how different countries rank on the Human Development Index, a tool that shows levels of development based on life expectancy, education and standard of living. The higher a country’s ranking, the higher its level of human development. As you can see, many of the countries that have low levels of development (in dark blue) are more vulnerable to climate change.

Figure 7: Human Development Index (HDI) map showing countries according to their rank on the Human Development Index. Source: Our World in Data, 2021.

In Figure 8, you can see that the least developed countries, which are most vulnerable to climate change, are typically responsible for the lowest emissions.

Figure 8: Per capita carbon dioxide emissions in 2021. Source: Our World in Data, 2022.

Africa is vulnerable and prone to extreme climate risks

Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change and climate variability, a situation aggravated by the interaction of multiple factors such as underdevelopment, conflict and scarcity of resources.

Climate change is already causing systemic risks to Africa’s economies, infrastructure investments, water and food systems, public health, agriculture and livelihoods. The risks posed by climate change threaten to undo the continent’s hard-fought development and reverse decades of economic progress.

Factors combine to make Africa highly vulnerable

What makes Africa vulnerable? There are numerous factors. For example, rates of poverty are high among the millions of smallholder farmers and the large numbers of people who live in informal settlements in cities, with low access to basic services. At the same time, large portions of Africa – in particular, the dryland areas that cover three-fifths of the continent – are warming twice as fast as the global average, putting half a billion people at risk. 

With much of the river system dried up in Kenya’s Isiolo County during the drought in 2017, pastoralists living in the Ewaso Ngiro river basin in central Kenya had to dig for water in the riverbed. Credit: Denis Onyodi/KRCS.

Projections estimate that climate change will cause a 2–4% annual loss in gross domestic product (which is a measure of national income) in Africa by 2040. The poor, women, and marginalized or excluded populations will bear the brunt of the impact. 

Even if international mitigation efforts keep global warming below 2 °C, the continent is expected to face climate change adaptation costs of USD 50 billion per year by 2050.   

On top of these challenges, climate change poses additional threats, including:

  • Extinction of species and reduction or irreversible loss of ecosystems and their services, including freshwater, land and ocean ecosystems
  • Risk to food security, risk of malnutrition, and loss of livelihoods due to reduced food production from crops, livestock and fisheries
  • Risks to marine ecosystem health and to livelihoods in coastal communities
  • Increased human mortality and morbidity due to increased heat and infectious diseases
  • Reduced economic output and growth, and increased inequality and poverty rates.

  • Increased risk to water and energy security due to drought and heat.

Figure 9 shows a few of the ways climate change is already affecting Africa’s social and economic systems.

Figure 9: Current and possible future impacts and vulnerabilities for Africa. Source: Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 2016.

Different parts of Africa are affected differently 

Although the entire continent is expected to be affected by the climate crisis, some regions will be more seriously affected than others, due to their level of vulnerability and adaptive capacity. The countries likely to be hardest hit are generally located in western, southern and eastern Africa. 

Below shows how Africa will experience extreme climate change risks in different ways.


  • Mean annual temperatures are increasing at 0.2 °C to 0.5 °C per decade.
  • Under each of the major emissions scenarios, a global temperature increase of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels is likely to be exceeded in the next decade or so. By mid-century, all but the lowest emissions scenarios suggest temperature increases of 2 °C or more.
  • High-emissions scenarios suggest it is very likely that warming will exceed 3 °C by 2100, except in Central Africa where the estimate is 2.5 °C.
  • Modeling suggests the number of days above 35 °C will increase by 20 to 160 days annually, depending on the scenario and region.
  • Life-threatening temperatures above 40 °C are projected to increase by 10 to 140 days annually, depending on the scenario and region.

Heat waves and heat stress will increase drastically in the worst scenarios.


  • The frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events are projected to increase almost everywhere in Africa, leading to more flooding.
  • Observations are variable, but in many areas, there is evidence of a drying trend, especially in parts of North Africa, west southern Africa and central Africa. Models project that this trend will continue.
  • River flood observations suggest there has been some increase in recent decades. Model results vary with scenario and region. These suggest that what are currently once-in-100-year floods could happen as frequently as once in 40 years under low-warming scenarios, and once in 20 years under higher-warming scenarios.
  • The West African monsoon appears to arrive later in the year and rainfall is more intense and erratic.

Droughts are expected to increase in all regions of Africa except the northern parts of East Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Observation and modelling suggest increasing aridity (dryness) in North Africa, west and east southern Africa, and Madagascar.

Changes in total precipitation are small, but more rain is likely to fall in heavy rainfall events in most regions. The effect of increased precipitation must also be considered alongside the prospect of increasing temperatures. The overall picture is one of drier conditions over most of the continent with more droughts but also more flooding.


African sea levels are currently rising slightly faster than the global average, although a little slower in parts of the Indian Ocean coast. They are virtually certain to continue rising by 0.4 m to 0.5 m by 2100 under low-warming scenarios, and 0.8 m to 0.9 m under high-warming scenarios.

Ocean temperatures
Marine heat waves are expected to continue to increase in frequency and intensity, especially around the Horn of Africa.

Cyclones are possibly decreasing in frequency, but high-intensity events will become more common, often associated with very heavy rainfall.

Coastal flooding
Projections suggest that what is currently a once-in-100-year flooding event will recur every 10 or 20 years by 2050, and every 5 years to annually by 2100, even under moderate warming.

Fire weather
Likely to increase throughout extratropical Africa.

Sea levels and marine heat waves are to continue rising. Cyclones are possibly decreasing in frequency, but high-intensity events will become more common with frequent flooding.

As you can see in Figure 10, in an “optimistic” warming scenario, risk and vulnerability to climate change increases in many African countries by 2050. In a “pessimistic” scenario, this extends to almost all African countries.

Figure 10: Changes in risk and vulnerability gap across Africa in an optimistic
and pessimistic warming scenario. Source: adapted from Throw et al., 2022.

How can Africa adapt to climate change?

To deal with the impacts of climate change, Africa needs to adapt. Adaptation involves actions that support households, communities, and countries to respond to the effects of climate change. Such actions support livelihoods, increase income and ensure that wellbeing is protected even when climate change risks arise. An example is the use of drought-tolerant seed varieties for maize production in many countries in East Africa, which has enabled farmers to generate good agricultural produce even when faced with droughts.

The impact of climate change will fall disproportionately on the world’s poorest countries, many of them in Africa. Poor people already live on the front lines of pollution, disaster, and degradation of resources and land. For them, adaptation is a matter of sheer survival.

– Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan addressing the Twelfth Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, Nairobi, Kenya, 15 November 2006.

Adaptation involves adjusting to climate change

As you learned in Module 1, adaptation involves actions that help manage the current and future impacts of climate change. It is a “process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects,” according to the IPCC.

Adaptation involves deciding how to cope with climate change. It includes policy decisions that governments and organizations make to predict how best to adjust to climate impacts. For example, coastal communities at risk of sea level rise can build embankments to hold back the ocean and stop erosion.

Men working on the construction of a levee with sandbags for protection against erosion, on a sandy beach in Ihuru, an atoll in the Maldives islands. Credit: Alain Schroeder/Climate Visuals.


In the Fulani village of Hore Mondji, located in southern Mauritania on the banks of the Senegal River, a women’s cooperative uses solar energy to operate the borehole that supplies water to the market garden. Credit: Raphael Pouget/Climate Visuals Countdown.

Table 1 lists just a few climate change impacts and potential adaptation strategies. The potential unintended consequences of these strategies also need to be considered.

Table 1: Climate impacts and adaptation strategies with potential unintended consequences.

Adaptation strategies are not necessarily easy to implement, or low cost. Some of the main challenges of adaptation are complexity and cost. Adaptation requires trade-offs due to the scarcity of resources.

In some cases, adaptation can have negative effects as well. For example, seawalls do not stop sea level rise. They just block it. Building sea walls in one area can push the problem of sea level rise to a different part of the coast.

Although adaptation is one of the most effective ways of responding to climate change risks, there are times when the climate change risks are too severe. When adaptation actions are no longer effective in protecting communities and societies, then an adaptation limit has been reached. 

Maladaptation happens when adaptation backfires

Sometimes, actions that are intended to support communities or societies to adapt may be ineffective. Instead, they can backfire and make communities more vulnerable to climate change risks, by increasing their vulnerability or reducing their adaptive capacity. This is called maladaptation. 

Adaptation activities can have a high or low risk of maladaptation. Table 2 highlights examples of low and high-risk adaptation activities. 

Table 2: Examples of actions with high and low risk of maladaptation (adapted from Barnett and O’Neill, 201322 ).

Three key types of adaptation actions

There are three main categories for adaptation options, according to the IPCC: social, institutional, and physical. These should be considered overlapping rather than discrete. They are often implemented simultaneously. Examples given here can be relevant to more than one category.

1. Social adaptation options include behavioral, educational and informational options such as:

  • hazard and vulnerability mapping
  • land and water conservation techniques
  • agricultural practices
  • livelihoods diversification
  • communication campaigns on climate change
CARE’s Growing is Learning project in Tanzania supports women who are farmers to increase their productivity, income and their family’s nutrition. Credit: Vanessa Mwingira/CARE.

2. Institutional adaptation options include economic and policy changes such as:

  • local development plans that include adaptation
  • laws for defining no-building zones in flood-prone areas
  • defining forest-protected areas to preserve water sources in areas exposed to water scarcity
  • national or regional climate change strategies
  • integration of adaptation into sectoral policies
  • financial incentives, including taxes and subsidies.
Presentation of community adaptation plans. Credit: Johanna Mitscherlich/CARE.

3. Physical adaptation options include making changes to the built environment using technology and ecosystem-based services. Examples include:

  • climate resilient infrastructure, such as quality road surfaces to withstand hotter temperatures, and storm-resistant buildings or shelters
  • traditional technologies, such as floating gardens
  • floating houses
  • ecological corridors
  • food banks and distribution of food surplus.
Clare Mukankusi is a bean breeder in Kawanda, Uganda. She leads efforts for breeding drought-resistant beans, an example of a physical adaptation action. Credit: CIAT/Georgina Smith.

Putting communities at the heart of adaptation

People and communities on the frontlines of climate change are often the most active and innovative in developing adaptation solutions. Yet, too often, they lack access to the resources and agency needed to implement these actions effectively. Adaptation efforts must put communities at the forefront. 

Community-Based Adaptation

Community-Based Adaptation (CBA) interventions aim to improve the capacity of local communities and individuals to adapt to climate change. This approach places emphasis on building the adaptive capacity of the poorest and most marginalized people.

In CBA initiatives, organizations, governments and others support communities to act and bring about positive changes in their lives. For example, communities might be supported in changing the time of year they plant crops to better align with changing rainfall patterns or build homes that can better withstand high-intensity cyclones. 

CBA can also focus on preserving natural systems. For example, many communities might work together to protect and conserve a river basin.

CBA aims to:

1. Generate adaptation strategies with communities and other local stakeholders to improve the uptake and sustainability of the adaptation process and develop a strong sense of ownership within a community.

2. Enhance communities’ awareness and understanding of climate change and uncertainty to create responsive plans and facilitate more flexible and context-appropriate decisions.

3. Embed new knowledge and understanding into existing community structures to expand and strengthen those structures as well as institutional mechanisms.

CBA initiatives can be integrated into sectoral projects or implemented as stand-alone projects. While CBA focuses on communities, CBA approaches do not work exclusively at the community level.  CBA is rather a “community-led” or “community-driven” process that supports a rights-based approach. This approach builds on communities’ economic, ecological and administrative interconnectivity, supporting them to work at higher levels as appropriate.

Four interlinked strategies for Community-Based Adaptation 

To build adaptive capacity, the CBA process should incorporate four interlinked strategies, shown in Figure 11.

Figure 11: CARE’s Community-Based Adaptation Framework includes four interlinked strategies. Source: CARE, 2014.

1. Promote climate-resilient livelihoods

Climate-resilient livelihoods refer to livelihoods that are less sensitive to climate change. To support the development of climate-resilient livelihoods CBA can, for example, promote new agricultural techniques to improve soil moisture or drought-resistant seeds in areas that are becoming drier.

Climate-smart agriculture to combat climatic shocks in Zimbabwe. Credit: Pauline Hurungudo/CARE.

2. Promote disaster risk reduction

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) includes all activities that can help reduce the impacts of disasters, particularly on vulnerable households and individuals. It includes prevention, preparedness, response and rehabilitation measures such as contingency planning, building storage for food, informing communities about safe locations in case of emergency, and developing early warning systems. 

Climate change adaptation and DRR are strongly linked: they both look at climate-related hazards. Climate change adaptation addresses additional gradual effects of climate change, such as sea level rise or temperature rise, while DRR can include non-climate-related hazards, such as earthquakes. 

3. Build local adaptive and organizational capacity

Local adaptive and organizational capacity includes capacity development for local civil society organizations (CSOs) and governmental institutions and local authorities so that they can provide better support to communities in their adaptation efforts. It can include development of local adaptation and contingency plans, and training on climate change for local authorities and CSOs.

Facilitated dialogue about climate-resistant agricultural techniques in Muchava Community, Homoine District, Maxixe, Mozambique, as part of The Southern African Nutrition Initiative. Credit: Tanja Kisslinger/CARE.

4. Address the underlying causes of vulnerability

The underlying causes of vulnerability can refer to poverty, poor governance, environmental degradation, unequal access to and control over resources, limited access to basic services, or gender inequality, depending on the context. These can be addressed through advocacy, social mobilization, and other methods.

Locally Led Adaptation

While CBA provides support to communities, Locally Led Adaptation (LLA) aims to put local institutions and communities in control of the actions that affect them.

It follows eight principles, launched in 2021 (see Figure 12). These were developed by the Global Commission on Adaptation, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), World Resources Institute (WRI), and the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD). 

Figure 12. The principles of Locally Led Adaption. Source: IIED, 2021.

The difference between Community-Based Adaptation and Locally Led Adaptation

Community-Based Adaptation is a set of climate change adaptation activities developed in partnership with at-risk communities to promote local awareness of, and appropriate and sustainable solutions to, current and future climatic conditions.

Locally Led Adaptation refers to climate adaptation in which local communities, community-based organizations, citizen groups, local government, and local private sector entities at the lowest administrative structure are included as decision makers in the interventions that affect them (World Resources Institute).

Nature-based solutions for adaptation

Combining nature-based solutions with community-oriented adaptation approaches is critical for building the resilience of ecosystems on which poor communities rely for their livelihoods.

What are nature-based solutions?

Nature-based solutions support climate change adaptation and mitigation by using natural systems and processes to restore ecosystems, conserve biodiversity, and enable sustainable livelihoods. They are actions that prioritize ecosystems and biodiversity. They are designed and implemented with the full engagement and consent of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.

Examples include planting trees, restoring wetlands, conserving mangrove forests, or switching to regenerative farming practices.

Figure 13 illustrates the concept of nature-based solutions. 

Figure 13: The concept of nature-based adaptation. IUCN, 2020.

What is an ecosystem?

An ecosystem is a dynamic complex of plant, animal and microorganism communities and the non-living environment interacting as a functional unit. Humans are an integral part of ecosystems.

Figure 14: A ‘rich’ ecosystem. Source: Project Pangolin.

What do nature-based solutions for adaptation look like? 

Nature-based solutions may include protecting and restoring forests, rivers, coastal wetlands, mangroves and marshes. Figure 15 shows examples and their associated benefits.

Figure 15: How different nature-based solutions can work together across landscapes to build resilience. Source: Global Commission on Adaptation, 2019.

The role of climate information services

When communities have access to accurate information about weather and climate, it builds their adaptive capacity. For example, when armed with accurate, high-quality data and analyses, tailored to their needs, farmers can plan what to plant and when. Policymakers, such as government ministries and local government representatives, can also use this information to make properly informed decisions. For example, on where to provide food assistance, or on how to design climate change policies. Likewise, if people know about impending extreme events they can prepare in advance.  

Broadly speaking, Climate Information Services involve processes for collating, analyzing, packaging and distributing climate data on variables such as temperature, rainfall, wind, soil moisture, ocean conditions and extreme weather indicators to different groups of people so that they can use it to inform decision making. 

Heat Wave

Heat Wave

Deepen your understanding. Find links to supporting scientific research, important publications, and tools

Understanding climate hazards, vulnerabilities and impacts in Africa

EXPLORE the tools provided by the IPCC Interactive Atlas, the ThinkHazard tool and the INFORM Climate Change Products to help you identify four or five climate hazards and vulnerabilities. Here, you will learn about the different types of hazards, and the types of vulnerabilities that are determining risk posed by these hazards. You will also be able to explore how these hazards and vulnerabilities differ across different geographies. 

READ about the latest climate change adaptation trends in the State and Trends in Adaptation 2022 Report: Africa, from the Global Center on Adaptation. 

READ about the effects of climate change in different parts of Africa from the Climate Action Tracker. This will highlight how different parts of the continent are affected by global warming and how this is manifested through different climate change risks. 

READ an article on the differentiated vulnerabilities to climate change in Uganda. Here, you will learn about how climate change generates different types of vulnerabilities for different groups of people, and how this affects their daily lives. 

READ the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report chapter on the impacts of climate change and adaptation pathways in Africa. Here, you will learn about the options available to African countries and communities. 

READ a highlight of regional initiatives responding to climate change in Africa.

READ an explanation of the difference between adaptation and mitigation, where you will learn about the different characteristics of mitigation and adaptation in different contexts. 


READ more about maladaptation here. You will learn about the different definitions and causes of maladaptation. There are also different examples of how maladaptation has occurred in different contexts across the world. 

READ about some guiding principles for avoiding maladaptation.

Community-Based Adaptation

READ about the CBA framework here, where you will learn: 

  • What Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) is and why we need to accelerate adaptation action 
  • The importance of locally led approaches to adaptation including CBA, which considers gender and ecosystems
  • What CBA looks like in practice.

Locally Led Adaptation

READ about the principles for Locally Led Adaptation. These emphasize the importance of (for example): devolving decision making to the lowest appropriate level; addressing structural inequalities faced by women, youth, children, the disabled and elderly; the importance of funding; and building a better understanding of climate risks. 

WATCH the following videos to understand LLA principles. 

(a) Youth Adaptation Dialogue: Role of universities and students in Locally Led Adaptation (1:06:19). This video is a recording of a webinar that had some young people as panelists talking about locally led adaptation. It will introduce you to the principles of locally led adaptation, and also highlight the role of young people in advancing it. 

(b) Anchoring Event: Locally Led Adaptation (1:59:16). In this video, which is also a recording of a webinar, you will learn about the importance of international collaborations and financing in enabling locally led adaptation. You will hear from people working on adaptation speaking about their experiences on locally led adaptation and how the principles can be operationalized. 

Nature-based solutions

READ the Waterways to Resilience report by WWF. With interest in nature-based solutions increasing, the report focuses on the evidence, both from Africa and globally, on their ability to effectively address five key water challenges – water scarcity, degradation of water quality, flood risk, stormwater and urban floods, and coastal erosion and floods.

Adaptation Good Practice Checklist

READ the Adaptation Good Practice Checklist (AGP), which provides guidance on actions and criteria that help to ensure adaptation results in quality, impactful and long-term climate resilience for the most vulnerable people. The nine practices in the AGP checklist define the range of activity areas that are needed for adaptation to climate change. 

Climate Information Services

READ the CARE CIS report, which presents a synthesis of CARE’s engagement in and learning from CIS work in Africa and Asia, supporting agriculture decision making and early warning early action systems towards climate resilience among climate-vulnerable communities.

LEARN about Climate Information Services and how they contribute to increasing climate resilience and how to implement CIS programs in this online course on the Basics of Climate Information Services.

Bright Spark

Bright Spark

Read case studies, watch videos, and listen to podcasts about young climate leaders to get fired up for your own climate change actions!

Case studies

Participatory Scenario Planning in Ethiopia

In 2020 and 2021, Participatory Scenario Planning (PSP) enabled people to prepare for floods, and to pre-position resources. CARE Ethiopia continues to mainstream PSP through many of its projects, as the approach works as an effective bridge between the technical Ethiopia National Meteorology Agency data and national/regional forecasting and brings it down to the local level, using and blending with indigenous forecasting and information systems.  

Participatory Scenario Planning in Ethiopia. Credit: CARE/World Vision.

Where the Rain Falls

In this CARE project, 1300 households were surveyed in eight different countries (Guatemala, Peru, Ghana, Tanzania, Bangladesh, India, Thailand and Vietnam), where people overwhelmingly perceived climatic changes happening today in the form of rainfall variability. In seven of the eight countries, more than 80% (sometimes as many as 90%) already perceived at least one change relating to the timing, quality, quantity and overall predictability of rainfall. These include delayed onset and shorter rainy seasons; reduced number of rainy days per year; increased frequency of heavy rainfall events; and more frequent prolonged dry spells during rainy seasons. In eight research sites, the households whose livelihoods were mainly dependent on agriculture reported that rainfall variability negatively affected food production and food consumption.

Without water there is no life: a case study from Zimbabwe

This case study highlights communities’ experiences of climate change, and the effects of climate change on availability of water. It also describes the work done by a project to help communities adapt to climate change.


LISTEN to these podcasts by Future Climate For Africa to hear stories about climate change and how it is impacting Africa. 


WATCH this video (6:46) about Participatory Scenario Planning (PSP) in an Info-Act project in Vietnam. You will learn about the use of a PSP exercise. You will also learn about how it is conducted and what participants and other stakeholders think about its benefits. 

WATCH this video (1:49) about a campaign to encourage people to invest in nature. This campaign is titled Time #fornature

Cool Down

Cool Down

Your last stop. Here, you have space to test your knowledge (with a short quiz) and consider how you can apply what you have learned to your own climate action.

Test your understanding

You have learnt a lot and have many red hot ideas. Test your knowledge with a quiz and give yourself space to cool down and reflect on what you have learnt. Use this section to take stock of how you will put your skills into action.

1 / 5
Vulnerability is a function of which three elements?
Correct answer: b) Exposure, Sensitivity and Adaptive Capacity

Explanation: Vulnerability is a function of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. It refers to “the conditions determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes which increase the susceptibility of an individual, a community, assets or systems to the impact of hazards.”

2 / 5
Using drought-tolerant seed varieties for maize production is an example of which type of climate action?
Correct answer: b) Adaptation

Explainer: Adaptation efforts in Africa involve actions that support households, communities, and countries to respond to the effects of climate change. Such actions support livelihoods, increase income and ensure that wellbeing is protected even when climate change risks arise.

3 / 5
The IPCC classifies adaptation options into three main categories. Which of the below is correct:
Correct answer: b) Social, Institutional, Physical

Explanation: There are three main categories for adaptation options, according to the IPCC: social, institutional, and physical. These should be considered overlapping rather than discrete. They are often implemented simultaneously. 

4 / 5
…................ is a set of climate change adaptation activities developed in partnership with at-risk communities to promote local awareness of, and appropriate and sustainable solutions to, current and future climatic conditions. Select the missing term.
Correct answer: b) Community-Based Adaptation

Explanation: Community-Based Adaptation is a set of climate change adaptation activities developed in partnership with at-risk communities to promote local awareness of, and appropriate and sustainable solutions to, current and future climatic conditions. Locally led adaptation refers to climate adaptation in which local communities, community-based organizations, citizen groups, local government, and local private sector entities at the lowest administrative structure are included as decision makers in the interventions that affect them.

5 / 5
Which of the following is not an example of a nature-based solution?
Correct answer: c) Resurfacing roads

Explanation: Nature-based solutions support climate change adaptation and mitigation by using natural systems and processes to restore ecosystems, conserve biodiversity, and enable sustainable livelihoods. They are actions that prioritize ecosystems and biodiversity and are designed and implemented with the full engagement and consent of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.

You have now completed this module

Your quiz score is 0 correct answers out of 5 questions.

Reflect and prepare for your climate adaptation action

Consider the following questions about vulnerability and adaptation. 

  1. What are some of the main causes of vulnerability to climate change in your community or country? (List 3-5).
  2. Based on what you have learned about adaptation, what types of actions could help improve the adaptive capacity of those most vulnerable to climate change?  
  3. Which nature-based solutions might be included in actions to improve adaptive capacity?