The World Risk Report 2019 included Fiji and Cambodia in its top 20 most at-risk countries due to their high exposure to climate-related hazards. The Mekong River that runs in the middle of Kratie province is susceptible to climate change effects such as temperature rise and changing rainfall patterns, making the area highly flood-prone.
Households in Kratie’s Prek Prasop district live with seasonal floods, and to cope with it, they have built their houses on stilts. Between 1996 to 2017, severe floods have affected more than half a million residents in Kratie province.
On the other hand, Fiji’s location in the Pacific Ocean is prone to sea-level rise, tropical storms, and cyclones that can trigger flash floods, erosion, and landslides.
For both countries, it is crucial to strengthen their adaptive capacity and resilience to cope with climate change threats.
Researchers used two general methods to collect data, eliciting local knowledge and gathering scientific data through remote sensing (RS) technology and field surveys.
Researchers employed semi-structured interviews, in-depth narrative interviews, and focus group discussions with participants when gathering local knowledge.
For a scientific flood risk assessment, researchers collected the following data: topographic and hydrological data, land use information, farming systems, socio-economic conditions, and local water management systems.
The study identified four types of growing risks posed by climate change:
- risks across space,
- risks across time,
- risks across assets, and
- risks across livelihood.
To mitigate risks would need a correlated adaptation strategy such as mobility, storage, diversification, communal pooling and market exchange. The goal of climate adaptation strategies is to achieve a “secured livelihood” in post-disaster environments in the context of rural communities.
A “secure livelihood” in the study involves the intersection of food, water, and energy. Security of these basic needs is also linked to socio-cultural security.
During interviews and group discussions with participants, researchers found that participants demonstrate thorough knowledge and understanding of the local flood flows, extent, and community impacts.
The information they provide is more detailed than the data supplied by hydrology and remote sensing approaches at a local scale.
Hence, researchers suggest that it is vital to use local knowledge and scientific data when formulating climate adaptation planning and strategies.
The study also presents various local climate adaptation practices and coping strategies that individual households and communities apply during and after disasters. It gives examples of household and communities short-term coping and long-term adaptation practices.
Regarding external interventions, like relocating communities, an example cited in the study demonstrates that sometimes interventions without proper local consultations can fail and contribute to communities’ maladaptation.
Understanding local cultures, values, and norms and consultation with local communities are essential when planning climate adaptation strategies.
To read the entire study, click the link below:
Neef, A., Boruff, B., Bruce, E., Ngin, C., Pauli, N., Davies, K., . . . Weber, E. (2020). Climate change adaptation in disaster-prone communities in Cambodia and Fiji. APN Science Bulletin, 10(1). doi:10.30852/sb.2020.1142