Role of Agricultural Cooperatives in Mitigation/Adaptation to Impact of Climate Change and Natural Disasters
Rural institutions have a vital role in mitigating the impact of natural disasters and climate change on rural people. As democratic, participatory organizations of rural poor, based on the principles of social cohesion, self-help and equity, agricultural cooperatives can be highly effective in preparing the rural poor to respond to the threat to life, property and livelihoods from natural disasters and climate change. As village-level providers of formal and informal education, agricultural cooperatives can also be channels for timely communication of disaster early warning information to rural people as well as training them in adaptation strategies in response to the impact of natural disasters and climate change on rural food and livelihood security.
In addition, agricultural cooperatives have and can play a crucial role in promotion of farm practices that contribute towards climate change mitigation as well as adaptation. Adaptation to climate change for small-scale agricultural producers involves livelihood diversification. Agricultural and rural cooperatives can link small and marginal farmers and other rural poor with larger rural/urban/international markets through value- addition, thereby creating off-farm livelihood opportunities for vulnerable rural poor.
Agricultural and rural cooperatives can also help harness traditional rural knowledge on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
FAO project experience in Bangladesh and the Philippines on livelihood adaptation to climate change and reducing rural poor vulnerability to recurrent natural disasters shows that an active role by local farmers’ organizations, cooperatives, local governments and NGOs is vital.
FAO Natural Resources Management and Environment Department http://www.fao.org/nr/clim/clim_en.htm
FAO Climate Change and Bioenergy Unit (NRCB) http://www.fao.org/nr/dep/nrcb/nrcb_en.htm
Disaster Risk Management Systems Analysis http://www.fao.org/nr/clim/abst/clim_080302_en.htm
Developing Institutions and Options for Livelihood Adaptation to Climate Variability and Change in Drought-prone Areas of Bangladesh http://www.fao.org/sd/dim_pe4/pe4_061103_en.htm
Climate variability and change: Adaptation to drought in Bangladesh. A resource book and training guide http://www.fao.org/nr/clim/abst/clim_070901_en.htm
Hazard risk preparedness in agriculture: Good practice examples from south and south-east Asia http://www.fao.org/nr/clim/abst/clim_070501_en.htm
FAO-NEDAC Regional workshop on “Role of agricultural cooperatives in response to the impact of natural disasters and climate change”; New Delhi. (Download Report)
In addition to a range of recommendations, the workshop also issued a statement:
NEDAC STATEMENT ON THE ISSUE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
NEDAC and its member organizations …
- recognize the adverse impact of climate change on small farmers and mankind and their ability to respond in terms of sustainable resource management and livelihoods
- recognize the role and potential of agricultural cooperatives in efficiently implementing programmes to cushion the impact of natural disasters and climate change
- recognize the ability of governments to develop and implement policies necessary to modify people’s behaviour towards sustainable consumption patterns and goods production to promote ecologically healthy lifestyles
- support initiatives of small farmer cooperatives, governments and community organizations aimed at awareness building on the issue of climate change and at building capacities to respond to its catastrophic effect;
- collaborate across boarders, faiths, and ideologies in order to promote awareness and generate support to address the causes of climate change.
Assessment of impact and formulation of livelihood rehabilitation proposals for victims of December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand
The December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami severely affected livelihoods of millions of small-scale coastal fisher folk and farmers in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. NEDAC, with funding from the Dutch NGO Agriterra, and in collaboration with FAO, assessed the tsunami’s impact on members of agricultural cooperatives, in particular fisher folk and small farmer households in the four countries in order to formulate livelihood rehabilitation proposals for affected cooperatives’ members.
In India, a joint NEDAC, FAO and NCUI (National Cooperative Union of India) mission visited the tsunami-hit southern coastal state of Tamil Nadu in July-August 2006. The mission objective was (i) to assess the impact of the tsunami on agriculture cooperatives; (ii) to identify gaps in assistance provided to affected households or individual members of agricultural cooperatives and (iii) to formulate a Rehabilitation Action Plan for tsunami-affected households as members of agricultural cooperatives.
The tsunami affected 376 villages with more than 125,500 households, damaging 11,750 ha of fertile farm land in 13 districts of Tamil Nadu. The coastal districts of Cuddalore and Nagapattinam suffered maximum damage with large-scale destruction of fishing boats and damage to fertile land, devastating local livelihoods in more than 120 villages. A large number of people were physically disabled by the disaster. The NEDAC-FAO-NCUI team travelled to Cuddalore and Viluparam districts.
The NEDAC-FAO-NCUI team held discussions with all stakeholders including cooperative leaders and members to determine priority rehabilitation needs. Livelihood rehabilitation proposals for tsunami-affected cooperatives were formulated and discussed at a national workshop in Cuddalore in November 2006 which was attended by local cooperative leaders, managers, cooperative officials and representatives from the NCUI national office in New Delhi, the National Institute of Cooperative Management, the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Thailand and NEDAC.
The rehabilitation proposals were re-examined for technical aspects, revised and finalized after discussions with local cooperative officials during a subsequent NEDAC-FAO-NCUI mission to Tamil Nadu in April 2007. A total of 27 livelihood/activity proposals were submitted by nine cooperatives with a total funding request for Rs 12,720,000 (US$326 154). Some of the beneficiaries/cooperatives agreed to meet the full annual recurring costs and others agreed to bear 10 percent of the assistance requested.
The proposed livelihood rehabilitation activities complement the medium and long-term tsunami rehabilitation work under way by the government and multilateral agencies such as the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development which focus on rehabilitation of physical, agricultural and fisheries infrastructure (http://www.tn.gov.in/tsunami/) which were not adequately focused on small-scale rural self-employment generation based on activities other than farming and fisheries.
The NEDAC-FAO-NCUI proposals involve beneficiary organizations in monitoring and evaluation of the proposed livelihood activities as the agricultural cooperative banks are in direct contact with the Self Help Groups on a regular basis.
In 2006, a mission comprising officials from Co-operative Development Department, Sri Lanka, FAO and NEDAC along with local cooperative officials visited affected coastal province and districts in the country for discussions with affected cooperative members and leaders on the tsunami’s impact on livelihoods and assessment of priority needs for formulating livelihood rehabilitation proposals. A total of 23 proposals were finalized with a total funding request for US$777,899
A mission comprising representatives from Co-operative Promotion Department (CPD), Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC), the Co-operative League of Thailand (CLT), the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and NEDAC along with local cooperative officials visited the affected coastal areas in Phang-nga and Trang provinces in south Thailnad in March 2006 for discussions with cooperative leaders and members on the impact of the tsunami on livelihoods and assessment of priority needs for rehabilitation. A total of 12 proposals were finalized with a total funding request for US$340,565 and submitted to Agriterra.