Communities apply CRiSTAL and take action in reducing vulnerability to climate change

The devastating aftermath of tropical storm Agatha in Central America, underscored communities’ vulnerability to climate change impacts in the region.

Parque National Pico Bonito, Honduras

It resonated as an urgent reminder for communities and politicians to prioritize vulnerability reduction in decision making. From 25-28 May, Fundación Vida, local NGOs, and the communities of Playa Grande and Aceituno, with the support of IUCN’s Water and Nature Initiative (WANI), met in the Honduran municipality of Alianza, to assess the impacts of climate threats such as floods, droughts, and storms, on their livelihoods (particularly agriculture and artisanal fishing). Together, these groups identified several steps for reducing the impacts of climate threats and strengthen the capacity to deal with them.

The work team was trained in the use of CRiSTAL (Community-based Risk Screening Tool - Adaptation & Livelihoods). This tool supports the decision-making process by helping project planners and administrators identify actions that promote adaptation to climate change.

By identifying current climate threats, key capacities and livelihood resources as the basis, measures are proposed for reducing vulnerability and adaptation. The tool sets out a logical, easy-to-apply process for better understanding the links between climate-associated risks, livelihoods and the activities of a development project or initiative.

Managing natural systems sustainably helps reduce vulnerability and safeguard the primary source of vital resources (water, soil, food, medicines, biodiversity, etc.). Well-managed ecosystems support those resources and provide environmental goods and services that sustain populations and their economies. Watersheds, floodplains, wetlands, coastal and marine ecosystems are valued as “natural infrastructure” for climate change adaptation.

In comunidad Playa Grande, some of the measures suggested to move forward towards reducing vulnerability were the establishment of irrigation systems and crop diversification, strengthening of local emergency and fishermen committees, as well as a programme for managing residues throughout the watershed. Communities from Aceituno decided that a good storage system for basic crops, grass silage, improvement and maintenance of the drinking water system, increased awareness on residue management, and reforestation along riverbanks, will increase the communities' capacity to deal with climate threats.

For more information, please contact:

Diana Rojas Orjuela, Water Management Unit Officer, IUCN Mesoamerica and the Caribbean Initiative:

Work area: 
Climate Change
Disaster Risk Reduction
Climate Change
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