The role of social protection in climate change adaptation

Social protection should also address ecological resilience, which contributes to long term climate change adaptation. Agroforestry, shown in the picture, is one technique that contributes to ecological resilience Pic: S. Sthapit, Ecoagriculture Partner

The most common type of “social protection” that farmers have access to either provides relief from deprivation through cash transfers or through weather indexed insurance. The paper I presented at the Planet under Pressure for the conference session “Building capacity for climate change adaptation and poverty alleviation: the role of social protection” offers a unique take to social protection. Click here to view the presentation from the conference session (PDF).

The paper firstly integrates literature on adaptive capacity with social protection, which is not commonly done. This is important because on the one hand, understanding adaptive capacity that includes assessing asset base, institutions, knowledge, innovation, and governance helps to understand the components that can make social protection effective. On the other hand, to understand social protection, such as “promotive social protection” that enhances income and capacities, it is important to know what kind of adaptive capacities people have.

By providing a case study from Zambia (the paper also includes a case study from Honduras), the presentation stressed that social protection should not only promote income and capacity, and hence promote social protection, but also address ecological resilience since it contributes to long term climate change adaptation. The way in which ecological resilience has been built in Zambia is through agroforestry and particularly planting trees that improve soil condition, which has minimized the impact of droughts and thus benefitted the surrounding community.

To read more, please view the working paper (PDF) written by scientist from us here at CCAFS, the Worldagroforestry Center (ICRAF), and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).


Moushumi Chaudhury

Moushumi Chaudhury is a social scientist and science officer with the global CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security ( Her research focuses on developing approaches, tools and strategies aimed at enhancing linkages between the knowledge co-produced by researchers, farmers, community organizations, development practitioners and others, and actions that lead to sustainable agricultural practices that enhance livelihoods and resilience to a changing climate. Her expertise and experience includes conducting research and policy analysis on climate change adaptation and mitigation, early warning systems, renewable energy, ecosystem services, gender, and the MDGs for various international research institutes and UN agencies. She can be contacted at:

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