In January 2018, ASSAR – one of the ACDI’s largest and most collaborative research projects – drew to an official close.Involving 17 organisations and over 150 researchers and practitioners working in the semi-arid regions of six countries in Africa, and India, this five-year project used transdisciplinary scientific research, capacity building and stakeholder engagement to improve the understanding of the barriers and enablers to effective and sustained adaptation.
In this highly reflective and content-rich article, Lucia Scodanibbio summarises (as much as a single article can) ASSAR’s insights, achievements, challenges and learnings. She also describes her personal experience of managing such a multi-faceted and complex project.
With a strong focus on understanding the factors that enhance or diminish people's vulnerability and wellbeing, and the responses they take to deal with both climatic and non-climatic stressors, ASSAR focused on the most marginalised. In particular, we sought to shift the adaptation narrative from centering mainly on infrastructural, technical solutions to forefronting and addressing some of the barriers posed by power structures, patriarchal norms and governance disconnects.
The changing climate in northwest Ghana puts farming livelihoods and food security at risk. Now a project with multiple strands — from youth engagement, to mobile phone apps, to community outreach centres — is empowering farmers with the knowledge they need to innovate and adapt.
Theatre of the Oppressed is a powerful tool for bringing alternative voices into the climate change arena. Brendon Bosworth and Daniel Morchain write about theatre's potential to humanise climate change and promote solutions that put people first.
Lucia Scodanibbio, ASSAR's Project Coordinator, reflects on what we know (through the findings and experiences of multiple consortia), and what we collectively need to do to address the world's climate challenges.
The imminent approach of the end of the ASSAR project has called for visits to the regional teams, to take stock of what has been achieved, plan exit strategies, agree on final outputs and give each other one last hug. ASSAR's project coordinator, Lucia Scodanibbio, reflects on a week with the West Africa Mali and Ghana teams.