Adapting our action to climate challenges

Published on Tuesday 11 July 2023

The populations assisted by our teams in Global South countries are the most vulnerable to climate change. Although our NGO has developed tools to reduce its carbon footprint, our priority is to implement measures to help communities adapt and become more resilient to climate hazards. 

According to the most recent report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), between 3.3 and 3.6 billion people live in “contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change”. Most of these children, women and men live in the Global South. Adaptation to climate change is therefore a key challenge for organizations that seek to assist populations in the most vulnerable situations.

Reducing our environmental impact is not enough

The environment and the climate have become central issues for the humanitarian community. They are one of the pillars of our 2022-2025 strategy. Last year, we presented our teams’ ongoing efforts in this field: a carbon inventory and a strategy to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Our teams also deployed a tool to assess the environmental impact of our programs, known as NEAT+ (Nexus Environment Assessment Tool).

Our NGO is therefore implementing measures to ensure that our action has very low impact—or a positive impact—on the environment and the climate.

But simply mitigating the negative environmental impact of our programs is not enough.

Over the last decade, population displacements due to extreme weather events were twice as frequent as those caused by armed conflicts.¹

Helping communities to withstand shocks 

Communities, and especially the most vulnerable people among them, need help to cope with current and future climate conditions and their impacts. Measures must be taken to help these communities adapt and become more resilient.

Our NGO mainly carries out programs in low-income countries, where services and infrastructure have been undermined by economic development issues, conflicts or natural disasters. These countries are also the most vulnerable to climate change, even though they bear very little responsibility for global emissions.

In response to this situation, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL must make climate change adaptation an integral part of its strategy, to ensure the sustainability of its projects and help communities increase their resilience.

Adaptation in action 

For years, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has implemented programs, projects and activities to counteract the impacts of climate change in the countries where we work. This strategy involves capacity building for the most vulnerable communities to increase their resilience and ability to adapt.

To achieve this, our teams carry out the following activities:

  • Strengthening agricultural, pastoral and fishing systems to help vulnerable populations involved in “Food Security and Livelihoods” (FSL) projects to cope with climate shocks;
  • Setting up secure, sustainable water resource management systems in areas exposed to drought or flooding with community and state actors involved in “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene” (WASH) projects;
  • Designing, building and rehabilitating more robust housing through “Reconstruction and Shelter” projects.

Drawing on its extensive experience, our NGO is seeking to develop its “Adaptation and Resilience” expertise in two areas:

1. Integrated management of water resources. This optimizes social and economic well-being in an equitable manner, without compromising the continuity of vital ecosystems.

Examples: reusing wastewater for agriculture or drawing up community water management plans in areas suffering from water stress.

2. Agroecology. This approach aims to build a foundation for sustainable food and nutrition security by conserving natural resources, fostering social acceptability and achieving economic performance through improved yields.

Examples: optimizing the management of pastureland or using drought-resistant varieties of crops.

Both these approaches are vital to achieve economic well-being and sustainable ecosystems.

During 2022, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL carried out several projects to enable communities to adapt to climate change. As per our mandate, these approaches were initiated during the emergency response phase. 

Preserving surface water reserves in Myanmar 

Every year, over 24,000 Rohingyas in the Pauktaw area suffer from water shortages due to the depletion of seasonal surface water reserves at the end of the dry season. This period, which previously extended from mid-April to mid-June, now varies widely from year to year. 

To ease these shortages, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has installed systems to pump water from villages located a few kilometers away. Thanks to this response, coupled with awareness campaigns on water use during periods of water stress, each inhabitant now has access to a minimum of 7.5 liters of water per day. 

Our teams are now working on longer-term solutions to reduce surface water losses, to minimize the need for emergency pumping. 

Water resource management for agriculture in Iraq 

Managing natural resources and combating climate change are central issues in Iraq.  

In the north of the country, water scarcity and lack of soil management have resulted in higher soil salinity. This process prevents local populations—who have returned to their home areas since the end of the conflict—from resuming their farming activities. SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is working with affected communities to set up a multi-sectoral approach to identify, manage and protect their water resources.  

The goal is to help these communities adapt their farming and domestic water use to climate change, and reduce their impact on water resources, the environment and the climate. To achieve this, our teams are calling on local scientific and technical expertise.