Changing weather patterns and growing pressure on natural resources are making it increasingly important to prioritize environmental sustainability and durability in the West Asia-North Africa region. The impact of climate change is also becoming increasingly noticeable in countries like Jordan, where it mainly affects the poorest and most vulnerable communities.
There are different ways of adapting to climate change. Resistance allows communities to prevent the direct effects of climate change, for example by building flood walls in coastal communities. Resilience, on the other hand, helps communities learn how to cope with its impacts.
The West Asia – North Africa (WANA) Institute in Jordan in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) are developing systems to help local communities cope with climate change by increasing their resilience. Piloted and developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and partners through the SEARCH project, this conceptual framework helps build ‘social-ecological resilience’. The aim is to strengthen local mechanisms to cope with the shocks and stresses of a changing climate by encouraging changes that will also reduce poverty.
WANA is piloting this framework in a local community in Mafraq Governorate in north-western Jordan. Initial results show that the area has been affected by drought and lower rain- and snowfall, which has reduced agricultural production and made it more difficult for shepherds to graze their flocks. The result is that growing numbers of people are leaving farming and seeking public-sector jobs with stable salaries. Others work several jobs to make ends meet.
- Diversity: Diversifying the economy, livelihoods and nature, for example by giving locals income alternatives to compensate for failed crops after a drought.
- Sustainable infrastructure and technology: Providing adaptable and sustainable technologies to reduce vulnerability, for example building rainwater- harvesting systems to secure water supply in times of drought.
- Self-organization: Participatory governance and local community empowerment.
- Learning: Ensuring that the local community can read climate change data and use it to inform adaptation strategies.
It is our hope at the WANA Institute that this research can prove valuable in determining methods for local communities to not only adapt to the climate challenges of the future, but also to grow and thrive.
Lara Nassar is a senior research fellow at the WANA Institute in Amman, Jordan. As an environmental scientist, she previously worked at the International Union for Conservation of Nature-Regional Office for West Asia, UNDP and GEF.
Interested in more issues related to Jordan? Read the other sections from this chapter: Q&A with Millenium Challenge Corporation & Tackling Water Scarcity in Jordan. You can also read the next article from the report here.