Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 20

The views expressed in this paper/presentation are the views of the author(s) and do not

necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), or its Board of
Directors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the source, originality,
accuracy, completeness or reliability of any statement, information, data, finding, interpretation,
advice, opinion, or view presented, nor does it make any representation concerning the same.

Public Climate Change Adaptation Works with Local

Resource-based Strategies: The need to make infrastructure
pro-poor by creating “Green Jobs through Green Works”

By Chris Donnges, ILO

Background Paper for Conference on the “The Environments of the Poor”,

24-26 Nov 2010, New Delhi

Executive Summary

1. In the developing countries in Asia and the Pacific it will likely be the poor who
will suffer the most from the changing weather patterns. This is unfair as the poor
have been the least responsible for the global warming which contributes to climate
change. People in different parts of the region will be affected in different ways. Both
urban and rural areas will be hit. In general, climate change will impact on their water
supplies, flood risks, health, crop yields and livelihoods, living conditions and
transport. Although communities have always lived with the consequences of
extreme weather events and have often been successful in adapting themselves,
new plans, programmes and projects to mitigate the impacts of climate change need
to be conceptualized, formulated, implemented and sustained. The international and
national effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change should therefore equally
focus on the poorer communities and help them to adapt themselves to the new
living and working conditions.

2. People will adapt – especially the poor and vulnerable – through changing their
behaviour, including migration and changing their agricultural and livelihood activities
amongst others. Infrastructure development and other public works activities can also
play a major part in local adaptation to climate change. New and additional
investments will be needed to help communities to mitigate the impacts of the
changing climate. Infrastructure sometimes needs to be built to higher standards and
improved designs are needed to better withstand the local impacts of climate change.
Sometimes new assets need to be created to help communities mitigate the impacts
of changing weather conditions.

3. Local infrastructure includes public infrastructure such as elevated roads,

improved small-scale irrigation systems, dikes and other flood protection structures. It
also includes private infrastructure such as higher, stronger and safer housing
facilities. This paper however will not discuss the latter but focus on small-scale
public infrastructure. With regard to these small-scale public infrastructures there are
three main areas for adaptation. The first is irrigation and water and land resource
management in rural areas, so that the variability and intensity of water can be
controlled and the quality of existing land can be improved. The second is flood
control, protection and drainage and water conservation structures both in rural and
urban areas which will need to be designed to deal with the variability and frequency
of water availability. The third is rural transport infrastructure as rural roads need to
be constructed to withstand the increased level of rainfall and flooding.

4. The local institutions and procedures to deal with such changes are often weak
or do not have the capacity to deal with the required changes. Capacity building will
need to be a key component in any programme that seeks to address climate change
at the local level.
5. This paper will discuss and introduce options to make public investments in
infrastructure more pro-poor. It will link public investments, infrastructure works and
climate change adadptation. It will introduce a local resource-based approach to
maximize the impact of such investments on the poor and create additional benefits.
The paper will not deal with personal adaptation to climate change and agricultural
production and other behavioural changes.

6. A local resource based approach to infrastructure development can be a major

contribution to assisting local communities adapt to climate change. The use of local
resources and green technologies by themselves will make a positive contribution to
the environment. The ILO has developed such an approach and demonstrated a
range of tools that can be used in the planning, preparation and implementation of
local infrastructure and other public works. Guidelines and training manuals are
available for capacity building of the public and private sector for the delivery of
infrastructure investments and public works through local resource based
approaches. Activities generally take place within the context of rural development,
urban low-income settlement upgrading and crisis response. There is a need now to
place this work in the context of climate change adaptation. ILO is currently working
on such an approach.

7. This paper will introduce this approach in the context of climate change
adaptation and identify the benefits for poor communities. It will link climate change
adaptation with poverty reduction and employment creation. It will also elaborate on
the local resource-based approach and demonstrate how green jobs can be created
through green works.


8. The climate is changing. Higher temperatures are behind these changes. Some
areas are experiencing longer and more pronounced droughts; other areas receive
more storms and rains and experience increased flooding. Some hard hit areas are
suffering from both: droughts and floods. The affected communities need to adapt to
the environmental, economic and social changes caused by these variations in local

9. This paper assumes that climate change is a reality. It will not try to make an
assessment of evidence demonstrating that climate change is actually happening. It
will also not discuss the reasons for climate change. Its point of departure is that
climate change is a fact and the impacts are all around us. The effects are clear. We
only have to read the newspapers or watch television to see the evidence that the
climate is already becoming more extreme, with storms becoming more severe, heat
waves hotter and more frequent, and rain increasing in volume, duration and density.
Particularly in the Asia and the Pacific region local changes in the climate are

10. Poor people are and will be adversely affected by climate change in a variety
of ways. They are affected differently depending on where they live. People living in
the drought areas of India will suffer different effects to those in the cyclone subjected
areas of Vietnam and the Philippines. Whilst there are several predictions of the size
of the increase in the earth’s temperature it is generally accepted that with the level
of emissions that have already taken place a rise of 2 degrees over the next 20-30
years is inevitable. It is also confidently predicted that this will result in an overall
reduction of agricultural yields, salination of the soil, more and prolonged flooding in
some areas and extended and more severe drought in others. Fishing will be
affected because of the damage to coastal areas. Forest products will be affected.
Health problems, such as diarrhoea and water borne diseases, will become more
severe. In many areas, the access and availability of water will generally decrease.
Taken together this implies that the livelihood of poor people is presently, and will
come, under severe threat. Transport particularly in rural areas will become more
constrained due to more intense rainfall.

11. The recent UN MDG summit in New York (September 2010) concluded that
many countries in the region are making good progress towards achieving MDG 1,
the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Poverty, unemployment,
underemployment, job insecurity, poor working conditions and limited reach of formal
social protection yet remain significant development challenges in Asia and the
Pacific. More than 900 million workers in Asia and the Pacific still live with their
families on less than US$2 per day, with more than 300 million living in extreme
poverty on less that US$1.25 per day. In South Asia, three out of every four workers
are classified as vulnerable, and in East Asia and South-East Asia, the share of
vulnerable workers is over half. Vulnerable employment often goes hand-in-hand with
poverty. In fact, more than 1 billion workers in Asia – over 60 per cent of the labour
force – are classified as being in vulnerable employment. Most of these workers lack
basic social protection against times of economic hardship, family illness, disability or
old age and, in many cases, face severe financial obstacles to obtain adequate
health. Climate change will add another dimension to this. As mentioned above,
progress is being made in the region but the impact of climate change is likely to
jeopardize some of this progress.

12. In Asia and the Pacific the indications of climate change are evident. An ADB
study has shown that in the period from 1960 to 2008, the number of storms and
floods in Indonesia, Philippines 1 , Vietnam and Thailand has risen significantly (see
Table 1). In the period from 2000 to 2008 the annual number of floods and storms
rose from 23 to 58 in Indonesia and from 34 to 60 in Vietnam. An Oxfam research
study has shown that, globally, the number of people affected by climate related
disasters has almost quadrupled since 1980 2 .

Philippines Thailand Vietnam Indonesia

2000 15 32 34 23
2008 116 38 60 58
Table 1 – Number of floods and storms in South-east Asia
Source: ADB

13. It is unfortunate that the effect of climate change in the developing world will
fall disproportionately on those who have had little involvement in producing the
problem, the poor and the vulnerable. Particularly in the rural areas, these people
depend substantially on the natural world for their survival and are therefore more
vulnerable to changes in their natural environment.

14. In India it is estimated that between 20% and 40% of the total land area is
susceptible to drought. The frequency of drought has increased over the last 50
years. Between 1900 and 1950 there were 6 periods, in the following 50 years there
were 12. In contrast, 4 have already occurred in the first 8 years of the 21st century.
Drought has a massive impact on income in the country. Marginal farmers can
expect a 40% decrease in monthly income. Flooding is also on the increase in India

In the Philippines, the frequency of typhoons increased more than four-fold during 1990–2003.
Oxfam – CRED-EM-DAT Global Natural Disaster Occurrence and Impact 1980 - 2007
as the 2007 floods attest. 50 years ago flooding covered an area of 19 million
hectares; by 2003 this had increased to 40 million, about 12% of India's area.

15. Bangladesh is subject to severe flooding each year. One-fifth of the country is
flooded annually. Estimates suggest that the catastrophic flood of 1998 could well be
repeated on a more frequent basis. This will be due to higher rates of precipitation,
stronger cyclones and higher sea levels. 3

16. The poor and vulnerable mostly live in areas vulnerable to climate change. The
map below shows climate change vulnerability in Southeast Asia 4 . This indicative
map is based on a regional index of climate change vulnerability based on exposure
(multiple hazard risk exposure), sensitivity (human and ecological), and adaptive
capacity of the areas.

Source: EEPSEA



17. Infrastructure development and other public works will be important in the
context of climate change adaptation. Existing infrastructure will be affected and new
and improved infrastructure will help communities to adapt to changing weather
patterns. Forestation and water and soil conservation works may lessen the impacts
of climate change. Rural infrastructure and transport will be particularly badly hit. This

OECD Development and Climate Change in Bangladesh. 2003
Climate Change Vulnerability Mapping for Southeast Asia Arief Anshory Yusuf & Herminia A.
Francisco (EEPSEA). EEPSEA was established in May 1993 to support research and training in
environmental and resource economics. Its objective is to enhance local capacity to undertake the
economic analysis of environmental problems and policies. It uses a networking approach, involving
courses, meetings, technical support, access to literature and opportunities for comparative research.
Member countries are Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR,
China, and Papua New Guinea.
is partly because rural infrastructure may not be built to very high standards but also
because the institutions and procedures to deal with the necessary changes are
weak or do not have the capacity to deal with such changes. In addition, new
infrastructure and improved designs are needed to cope with the local effects of
climate change.

18. There are generally three main areas for adaptation. The first is irrigation and
water and land resource management, so that the variability and intensity of water
can be controlled and erosion can be reduced. The second is flood protection and
drainage and water conservation structures which need to be designed to deal with
the variability and frequency of water availability. The third is improving rural
transport infrastructure to maintain a critical level of accessibility and mobility in rural
areas. Rural roads for example need to be constructed to withstand increased level
of rainfall and flooding. Footbridges may need to be constructed to guarantee safe
river crossings.

19. The infrastructure sector is already a major area for resource allocation in any
country. Vietnam for example in 2008 spent an equivalent of USD6 billion on
investments in infrastructure which counted for 24.7% of total state budget spending
and 7.9% of GDP. Infrastructure spending has a positive impact on both economic
and social development. It is generally accepted that infrastructure and in particular
rural infrastructure can be a vehicle for supporting the achievement of the 2015
millennium development goals if a pro-poor approach is adopted. Infrastructure also
has significant potential for the use of local natural and human resources, to create
decent jobs, to support the local economy, to strengthen local commerce and to
promote transparency and participation. It is therefore vitally important that the
existing investments in infrastructure are protected, or climate proofed, and that new
or rehabilitated infrastructure is built to withstand the impact of the changing climate.
Other non-infrastructure areas of public works such as forestation and soil and water
conservation works offer similar potential benefits.

20. The ILO has been working in the area of sustainable local infrastructure
development and public works for over 30 years through its Employment Intensive
Investment Programme (EIIP) which has been influencing infrastructure investment
policies in many countries towards instituting local resource-based (LRB)
approaches, which lay emphasis on enhancing the flow of investments towards
infrastructure for basic needs, pro-poor development and local economic growth. In
general, the ILO sees the infrastructure sectors as an opportunity to influence
investments for increased impact such as:

• improved targeting (reaching the poor and vulnerable, injecting cash into
local economies);
• improved participation (community involvement and negotiation);
• increased use of local resources (unskilled labour, local contractors and
suppliers, materials and local skills);
• increased sustainability (preserving the long-term benefits of pro-poor
investments through effective maintenance systems).

Today, this approach to infrastructure planning and development is being

mainstreamed in a number of countries as part of government strategies for the
effective provision of social and economic services, social protection and the creation
of employment.
21. The approach also seems to be particularly appropriate for local communities
and governments to cope with and adapt to climate change. Not only can the
approach respond to the technical challenges but in so doing can develop local
capacity, involve local communities and provide income and employment to the local
people. The challenge now is to adapt the existing LRB approach to the new needs
and demands resulting from climate change.

22. The approach has become increasingly popular as it maximizes the benefit to
local communities of the investments that are made in infrastructure. Income is
generated and employment is provided. Local communities are involved in the
process of planning and delivery of the works. Local contractors are provided with
meaningful and profitable work. Local governments are empowered through a
process which puts decision making in their hands. The use of local materials
reduces cost and provides further income and employment to the communities.
Sustainable maintenance becomes a realistic objective as the local communities feel
ownership of the infrastructure that is created. Finally the LRB approach adopts
environmentally friendly principles and is in itself a green approach for construction.

23. Rural people may not be aware of the overall change in the world’s climate.
However several studies have emphasised that they are aware that the seasons are
changing, that droughts, rain and floods are becoming more severe and frequent and
that as a consequence their daily lives are becoming more difficult. A LRB approach
which is geared to local demand and the actual needs of rural people can respond to
these existing concerns expressed by local people. Infrastructure development and
other public works can help communities to help themselves to adapt to these
changes in local climates.

24. The diagram below shows areas where a local resource-based approach could
be applied in local solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
In Indonesia a recent ILO LRB project successfully demonstrated the application of
environmentally sound and durable technologies for the wearing course of
(re)constructed roads in Aceh Province. Initially the project adopted local standard
practice and used ‘penetration macadam’ (penmac) and ‘latasir’ as a wearing course in
the rehabilitation of the roads. Latasir involved mixing aggregate and bitumen by hand
over an open fire. This practice can be very hazardous for workers, as poisonous
asphalt fumes develop and there is little chance for labourers to work at a safe
distance. In industrialized countries regulations stipulate that this process can only be
carried out in specially designed containers or at a mixing plant. Apart from health
hazards, there are also concerns about the quality of outputs that are mixed by hand.
Although not as poisonous as latasir, the process of preparing penmac also includes
health hazards as it involves the heating of bitumen over an open fire (bitumen is
heated in drums). The two methods also negatively impact on the environment as they
burn wood to heat the substance. Apart from these hazards, there can be quality
related issues in the preparation of penmac as there is little control over temperature
and overheating can easily result in a loss of binding capacity. For above reasons an
ILO LRB project introduced a bitumen emulsion technology (sometimes also referred
to as ‘cold asphalt’). This environmentally-friendly and durable technology has been
successfully applied in other countries and the initial findings on the demonstration
sites in Aceh reveal that this approach produces good quality roads.

Source: Comparative costs and benefits of the local resource-based approach to rural
road development - synopsis of findings from Aceh, ILO 2010



25. The reaction to the recognition of climate change falls into two categories. The
first is to identify ways in which climate change can be reduced or mitigated.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a general consensus that even if these mitigation
measures are successful they will not be enough to halt the changes in climate. The
second category is concerned with adaptation. Given that floods, storms and drought
are to become more serious what can be done to adapt to these increasingly severe
climate related events? This paper deals with the latter issue but recognizes the
importance of the first issue.

26. Local communities and organizations need to be empowered to adapt to

climate change. This is not merely a question of providing them with tools and
technologies. It is a question of raising awareness of the changes that are occurring
and will occur. It means developing planning systems which take into account the
change. Local institutions will need to be strengthened so that they can respond to
the changes. Local communities need access to and help with local resource based
solutions which allow them to effectively deal with the changes that will take place.

27. The most conservative predictions suggest that climate change related
“disasters” will become commonplace and increasingly frequent. It is therefore
necessary to plan for them and, to the extent possible, provide measures to both
reduce, and adapt to, their impact. At the local level, the emphasis needs to be on
placing local communities and civil society at the heart of this adaptation process in
terms of both planning and implementation.

28. Whilst many of the world’s poor and vulnerable may not understand climate
change, it is clear that they are already adapting in several ways to its effect. In Sri
Lanka, farmers are experimenting with rice varieties that can withstand saline
intrusion and cope with reduced water. In Nepal, communities in flood-prone areas
are building early warning systems—such as raised watchtowers—and providing
labour and material to shore up embankments. Communities in Viet Nam are
strengthening age-old systems of dykes and embankments to protect themselves
against more powerful sea surges. In the Mekong Delta, agricultural collectives now
levy a tax for coastal protection and are supporting the rehabilitation of mangrove
areas. In West Bengal, women living in villages in the Ganges Delta are constructing
elevated bamboo platforms on which to take refuge above monsoon floodwaters. In
neighbouring Bangladesh, donor agencies and NGOs are working with people living
on chars—highly flood-prone islands that are cut off during the monsoon—to raise
their homes above flood levels by placing them on stilts or raised embankments. 5
And so on.

29. Governments, civil society, donors and other development partners should
strengthen and support such local initiatives to address local problems caused by
changing climates. An emphasis on the poor and vulnerable is crucial as these
groups are often disproportionately affected by the changing climate. Using local
resources in the process of climate change adaptation may create additional benefits
for such groups including income support through (green) jobs, skills development
and other livelihood support.


30. Agriculture is important in almost all countries in Asia and the Pacific and
irrigation is crucial to the Region’s food supplies. More than 60% of the economically
active population and their dependants, amounting to 2.2 billion people, rely on
agriculture for their livelihoods.

31. Climate change is expected to lead to a higher average temperature as well as

higher and more concentrated rainfall in some areas, and longer and more severe
dry periods in other areas. Such changes will have a severe impact on agriculture
and influence the working of existing and planned irrigation systems. Climate change
will affect the need for irrigation as a result of decreasing demand for water in certain
areas and increasing demand in other areas, including areas that so far were not
dependent on irrigation. An expansion of the irrigation area will often be necessary to
ensure water availability throughout the growing season and to keep crop production
at a certain level.

32. This means that in terms of irrigation, there is a need for more water within
existing irrigation systems, but especially that there is a need to expand the irrigated
area to ensure food production does not decrease as a result of the negative effects
of climate change on rain-fed agriculture. Such an expansion includes large irrigation
systems, but of possibly even more importance are small irrigation systems where
traditional rain-fed agriculture is complemented by supplementary irrigation only
during drought spells. Every irrigation system basically consist of three components:
the water source (generally a river, lake, reservoir or groundwater), the conveyance
system (canals or pipes) and the field level application. In the expansion of the
irrigated area, all three components will need to be looked at in the context of climate
change to ensure that the adaptation measures are sustainable.

33. An increase in water availability can be achieved by improving the storage in a

specific area, making the precipitation and runoff available over a longer period.
Increasing the storage can be achieved by building large reservoirs, but also by

UN Human Development Report 2006-07
constructing multiple small dams and even on-farm ponds. Groundwater recharge is
also an important means of increasing storage.

34. A decrease in water demand can be achieved by increasing the irrigation

efficiency (the ratio between the water applied to the crop and the water withdrawn
from the source). The irrigation efficiency can be improved in the conveyance of
irrigation water from the source to the field, as well as in the application of the water
on the field, either through infrastructure improvements or through better
management. Also the reuse of excess runoff water from an irrigation system can
result in improvements to the efficiency.

35. Adaptation strategies involve infrastructure construction, improvement and

maintenance, although management changes are also required. For the
implementation of the infrastructural interventions, it is recommended to apply a local
resource-based approach without compromising the cost or the quality of the work.
The application of such an approach has the advantage of not only resulting in the
infrastructure required to improve irrigation, but also in the creation of jobs, incomes
and local capacity.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in India aims to

enhance the livelihood security of the people in rural areas by guaranteeing one
hundred days of wage employment in a financial year to a rural household
whose members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The objective of the Act
is to create durable assets that help strengthen the livelihood resource base of the
rural poor. These assets include works related to irrigation, water conservation
and harvesting, flood control and protection, drinking water and rural

Under the scope of irrigation, several hundreds of thousands of works are carried
out each year. Most of these focus on small schemes whereby small dams and
reservoirs are created or improved (de-silting, deepening and expanding) and
canals are excavated. The projects generally result in a significant increase in
storage capacity, allowing for the expansion of the irrigated area. The resulting
schemes are generally less than 20 hectares in size, and provide the farmers with
irrigation water during drought periods, also allowing a second crop in certain

36. Local participation in planning for the construction of new irrigation schemes or
the adaptation of existing ones is important. Experience and research have shown
the benefits of involving water users in the planning and design process of new
construction or modernisation and rehabilitation, leading to higher efficiencies and
effectiveness, especially in small scale irrigation systems.

37. Especially in the context of climate change, the local communities and water
users are in the best position to describe the impact climate change has had in their
area. Even if they do not fully understand the process of climate change, they have
the most detailed knowledge regarding its impact, whether rainfall patterns have
altered, whether droughts have become more commonplace, and if surface water
storage and groundwater levels have changed. By ensuring their participation in the
design of new and the adaptation of existing schemes, this local knowledge can be
used to develop interventions that take these changes into account.
38. For the construction of dams and reservoirs, local resource-based construction
approaches are extremely suitable. Although large reservoirs are generally beyond
the scope of such an approach, smaller dams and reservoirs can easily be
constructed using local labour and materials. These dams are generally made of
earth, although they may be partially reinforced using gabions and stone or brick

39. For the construction and lining of irrigation canals the approaches are also very
suitable as the work involved mainly consists of excavation and simple concrete and
stone masonry work. Especially in the excavation and widening or deepening of
canals, local labour provides a very flexible means of implementation. In more
remote areas, access by equipment may be difficult whereas labour is generally
locally available.

40. In case of new irrigation schemes, especially where these are small-scale,
community contracting can be applied whereby the focus will lie on the future water
users. Especially in local projects with a direct benefit to a limited number of people,
a community contracting approach has been found to be very suitable. Such an
approach also ensures that the construction complies with local customs and uses,
and that sufficient ownership and skills are developed to ensure proper maintenance
and sustainability. Where required skill levels or equipment are high, or where the
scope of the work is bigger, the use of contractors can be considered. These can be
local petty contractors or slightly larger contractors from nearby villages or towns.

41. Maintenance is a crucial issue in irrigation. Lack of maintenance often leads to

lower efficiencies of water, and can lead to part of the irrigation system no longer
receiving sufficient water for crop cultivation. Involvement of communities and water
users’ associations during construction and rehabilitation generally increases the
sense of ownership and creates the necessary skills for the implementation of proper
maintenance. The most common maintenance activities that can be carried out by
maintenance groups or local enterprises and their required labour inputs are the
clearing of vegetation in the canals, removal of sediment from the canals, and the
repair of earthen or stone masonry canals. Although it is possible to contract out the
maintenance on an input basis, paying for the number of days worked, it is
recommended to use an output-based system where the payment is made based on
the amount of work completed.


42. Agriculture needs fertile soils and water. Water conservation methods entail a
reduction in water use for agricultural practices combined with water storage and
water efficiency measures. Soil conservation involves a set of management
strategies for the prevention of soil being eroded from the surface. The loss of soil
through erosion is one of the most important types of soil degradation. Apart from soil
characteristics, agriculture is dependent on adequate water availability during the
growing season. For rain-fed agriculture this requires that adequate rainfall is stored
in the soil and made available to the crop.

43. Erosion and water availability are thus interrelated. Increased water retention
in or on the soil will lead to reduced water runoff and reduced soil erosion. Where
water retention is lower, erosion by increased runoff will be higher. Low soil moisture
content will also make the soil more susceptible to wind erosion. Water erosion
results in the loss of fertile topsoil and the deformation of the terrain (gullies,
landslides, river bank erosion), leading to a reduction of soil productivity and the loss
of arable land. It also has off-site impacts through the deposition of eroded materials,
resulting in fields and infrastructure being buried or damaged, reservoirs, irrigation
systems and rivers silting up, and water sources becoming polluted.

44. The risk of erosion increases with higher rainfall levels. As the accumulated
quantity of rainfall increases, the capacity of the soil to absorb the water (infiltration)
decreases and surface runoff increases.

45. Climate change is expected to significantly increase erosion in most parts of

Asia. This will be especially significant in countries that are already facing high levels
(more than 10% of their land area) of moderate to severe erosion such as India,
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines and Thailand. Mean annual precipitation in many
countries is expected to increase, with the main increase expected to come from
more intensive precipitation. At the same time, drought periods are expected to
become more severe and longer in duration in various regions in Asia, making rain-
fed agriculture more dependent on moisture stored in the soil and groundwater.
Increasing temperatures will also result in higher water demands by the crops,
leading to higher water stress. The expected decrease in soil moisture availability
and the foreseen increase in soil moisture dependency for rain-fed agriculture will
therefore result in a greater need for increasing water availability and storage by
limiting runoff. In central Asia where precipitation is expected to decrease as well as
become more focused in intensive rainstorms during the winter season, the
conservation and storage of water will be required to ensure sufficient water during
the growing season. But also in other areas where drought risks are expected to
increase, storage of water in surface reservoirs or groundwater aquifers will make it
possible to provide supplementary irrigation to crops when required.

46. To avoid a decrease in crop yields as a result of climate change, soil and water
conservation measures will be required. Soil conservation measures aim to reduce
erosion by water and wind, reducing loss of topsoil and loss of arable land due to
terrain deformation, while water conservation measures aim to increase water
infiltration and storage, making it available to the crop and for personal consumption.

47. Although the objectives of soil conservation and water conservation are slightly
different, the required measures are very much the same, and are aimed at reducing
and slowing down runoff, or redirecting it. Some of the soil and water conservation
measures also result in a decrease of wind erosion. The measures can roughly be
divided into vegetative measures, soil management measures and physical
measures, although these are often combined.

48. Of the three types of measures mentioned above, vegetative and soil
management measures tend to be the cheapest to implement with low skill
requirements and more immediate returns to the investments made. Experience with
these measures already exists within the countries, and can easily be built upon and
improved. However, with the increase in high intensity precipitation events and
increased runoff volumes, these measures are likely to prove insufficient to
significantly reduce water erosion in many areas. Areas with higher and more intense
rainfall will require other intervention measures such as contour banks, which may be
combined with diversion ditches and waterways to ensure the safe guidance of runoff
water away from the field and down the slope.

49. Contour banks, diversion ditches and waterways can be linked to surface water
storage or groundwater recharge for use in drought periods or the dry season. This
can be achieved through the construction of dams and check-dams in the waterway,
or by building percolation ponds and guiding the runoff water there. Such
groundwater recharge and surface water storage can then serve for household use
as well as supplementary irrigation during drought periods. Gully erosion will also
become more significant due to climate change, with increased runoff volumes. The
construction of check-dams will help stabilise such gullies, as well as provide water
storage and groundwater recharge. In the case of riverbank protection, high water
flows will increase due to more and more intensive rains. More and stronger river
protection works will therefore be required to protect against the loss of arable land
and against damage to infrastructure, creating loose stone layers or gabion walls at
sensitive points.

50. With the increased need for soil and water conservation measures, including
physical structures, an opportunity exists for promoting the use of local resources in
the implementation of these measures, thus resulting in the creation of employment
and skills development, as well as achieving reduced erosion and greater water
availability. Many of such measures are also by nature employment intensive, as
their design and location generally make the use of equipment uneconomical or even
impossible. The use of local resources also tends to make such measures more cost-
effective and leads to better maintenance and greater sustainability.

51. The introduction of soil and water conservation measures should focus on the
benefits for those that have to implement and maintain them, and should ensure a
participatory approach that results in the acceptance of the proposed measures in
order to ensure greater sustainability.

52. The implementation of soil and water conservation measures tends to be very
labour intensive, with labour costs easily forming 70% of total costs.

53. One vegetative measure that is widely applied in public land and with a longer
term view, often to protect underlying areas and infrastructure against flooding,
sedimentation and landslides, is vegetation planting also often referred to as bio-
engineering. This may involve the planting of sturdy grasses, but can also involve
shrubs or even reforestation.

54. Contour banks and contour trenches can be developed at field level, where
fields are small and fragmented. Construction is relatively simple and is generally
limited to earthwork, although it may also involve the use of stones and rocks. The
required skill level is also low, making the work suitable for unskilled labour with
some very basic training and supervision. Diversion ditches also involve simple
earthwork, including the excavation of a ditch and the formation of an earthen bank
on the downhill side. Where artificial waterways are created to guide the water
downhill, they will need to be protected against erosion. Check-dams are also often
constructed in waterways to slow down the water flow and reduce the risk of erosion.
Such check-dams are also used in gully control and may be built of timber or
bamboo, loose rocks, gabions, stone masonry or in extreme cases even concrete.
Generally use will be made of local materials and labour. Small dams tend to be
made of earth with a clay centre, although stone masonry and concrete dams are
also quite common. Subsurface dams tend to be made with plastic sheeting, stone
masonry or concrete. Apart from cement, reinforcement bars and plastic sheeting,
the materials are generally locally available. Percolation ponds are basically
excavated depressions in the land. This involves soil excavation and subsequent
transportation away from the pond. Materials are generally not required, and all
works can be done by local labour. Especially where the location of the pond is
remote or difficult to reach, the use of heavy machinery will not be viable. River
protection measures are mostly made using gabions or simple rock facing along the
river edge. In other cases woven twigs or bamboo may be used. The rocks are
generally obtained locally, although some transport may be involved. With some
basic training, the placing and filling of gabions can be carried out by unskilled

55. An important aspect in the planning and implementation of soil and water
conservation works using local labour is the estimation of the amount of labour
required and its organisation. In such labour-based works, task-based remuneration
systems are generally applied, whereby each individual or group of individuals is
given a certain amount of work to complete, based on which the payment is made.
Such task-based systems are extremely useful in soil and water conservation works
where soil excavation and transport of soil or other materials form the main type of
activity. In the determination of appropriate tasks and suitable remuneration levels,
productivity rates are used. These define for different activities the amount of work
that can be completed by one person in one workday, for instance the number of
cubic metres one person can excavate. These productivity rates are defined for
different types of activities, different types of soils (hard-soft), different excavation
depths and different transport distances.

56. Required skill levels for soil and water conservation works are generally low,
making the use of unskilled local labour possible. Nevertheless, capacity building will
be required at different levels, including farmers and community members, local
contractors and local authorities.

57. The maintenance and sustainability of soil and water conservation measures
will greatly depend on the degree of acceptance of these measures by farmers and
communities and their perception of the benefits, especially in terms of productivity
and water availability. The implementation of maintenance works can also be a
source of employment and income for a small group of people. These can be hired
by the maintenance committee to carry out all the required maintenance work against
a fixed fee per year (performance basis) or on a needs basis (time-based or task-


58. Since earliest times people have lived along flood plains as these areas are
often ideal for farming and offer opportunities for fishing as well as for transport along
the river. Flooding is not something new and people have learnt to live with it. In fact,
many of the major cities and concentrations of populations in Asia live in flood plains
and some countries, such as Bangladesh, consist almost entirely of flood plains.

59. Increased rainfall leads inevitably to increased volumes of water in streams

and rivers. This can lead, in turn, to flooding at vulnerable locations and sometimes
to damage to existing riverbanks and to flood protection works including levees and
dikes. Where the bank is overtopped, rapid flow over the top of flood protection dikes
can lead to progressive failure and collapse causing major flood damage and death
in the surrounding areas. Even where the water level is not too high for the bank:
greatly increased volumes of water will lead to a river or stream flowing much faster.
Even in areas where rainfall is less as a result of climate change the rain may fall at
greater intensity leading to greater risk of flash flooding. Sea levels are also rising.
As the poor live and depend disproportionately on marginal lands, they are often the
most vulnerable to these impacts.

60. Unexpected flooding can and does lead to catastrophic destruction of buildings
and infrastructure. High-density “slum” settlements in urban areas are often close to
rivers and other watercourses. They are also often in low-lying areas. This makes
them liable to flooding during monsoon seasons simply because of poor drainage.
Low lying agricultural areas are particularly at risk of flooding during the monsoon
season. Some, but not all, have built their houses with stilts or on raised plots.
Flooded roads and paths can make villages completely isolated. Where a village is
not higher than the surrounding flood plain, increased rainfall leads to increased
frequency of flooding and the village paths turning into mud. Catastrophic floods can
and do lead to major loss of life. On a smaller scale, however, flooding can lead to
health problems in affected areas. Flooding can overwhelm the limited sanitation and
water supply facilities available in urban and rural low cost areas. This can lead to
sullage and sewage contaminating the clean water sources leading to an increase in
disease such as dysentery, cholera, typhus and diarrhea.

61. Where uncontrolled flooding takes place, crops are destroyed and fields could
be scoured by fast flowing water. Loss of a family’s crops can be devastating. Urban
and rural small-scale industry and other livelihoods are affected by damage to
workshops and other worksites. Flooding can damage equipment so that repair or
replacement is beyond the financial means of the owner. Roads and paths are
vulnerable to flooding in a number of ways. At its most basic; flooding will close a
road and either stop traffic completely or force vehicles to take a lengthy detour. Both
can lead to economic losses.

62. Many different types of flood control systems and structures have been
developed to protect people and property from flooding. The main types include
dykes and floodwalls, storm drains, river training and bank protection, channel
improvement, flood mitigation reservoirs, flood bypasses, flood refugees and storm
shelters and the raising of houses or entire communities. Some of these measures
work by ensuring that the floodwater stays out of populated areas and gets to the sea
in the fastest possible time without causing damage. Others are intended to ensure
that the affected population can get above flood water level until the flood recedes in
the normal course of events.

63. Many of the above flood control techniques have been used, in various forms,
since ancient times. Whilst they may have worked well so far, and can keep water
away for most of the year, they cannot necessarily handle the increasingly severe
floods being experienced. With climate change flooding will become worse and more
of these structures are needed and should be of better (climate proofed) quality.

64. In the case of local flooding, local people are often aware of the source of their
problem and may be better able than the technician who comes in from outside to
identify the best course of action. With help communities will also be able to prioritize
the best solutions to a range of problems. New schemes to protect flood communities
from the effect of the increased flooding need not be large schemes to keep water at
bay behind massive concrete and steel structures. In most developing countries this
is simply not an option especially in rural areas on flood plains. Acceptance that
flooding is going to occur and finding a way to limit the effect on the population by
adaptation is a better way forward.

65. Where storm drains do exist they are frequently blocked with vegetation and
rubbish. Cleaning and other simple maintenance is straightforward enough for local
communities to be able to organize for themselves. As with all other infrastructure the
importance of effective operation and adequate maintenance cannot be over
66. Flood control is an area in which a local resource-based approach can be used
effectively. The finished flood control infrastructure will limit the effects of climate
change no matter how they are planned, designed and built. The benefits of the local
resource based approach are in adding value during the construction process
especially in providing paid work. By using more labour rather than more machines
the approach has an inherently smaller environmental footprint. Some of the basic
local resource based approach techniques to be used in setting up such schemes
include the use of gabions, labour based earthworks, participation and community

67. Gabions are used as large building blocks to shape the structure required.
They are stacked in the same way as bonded dry stone masonry, providing a firm
and coherent part of the structure. The walls normally have a plane outer face,
preferably built to a batter for appearance and to increase resistance to overturning.
Gabions are ideal for local resource based works on flood mitigation. The
construction of many of the types of flood control includes the building or heightening
of earth dykes and the construction of raised areas using solutions such as flood
refuges or even whole villages. The only economic way to do this is by using
surrounding natural materials on the flood plain itself. Use of earthmoving equipment
is one option for the earthworks but this does little to provide work for the community
itself. Many communities see the lack of paid work bringing money into the
community as a significant factor in their continuing poverty. Paying them to do the
earthworks means that the community gets the double benefit of the flood protection
itself and a cash income.

68. Participation of communities in planning and other decision-making is a key

component of the local resource based approach. In flood control it is particularly
relevant, as the community knows better than anyone what the results of the problem
are and may even be well aware of the cause. Effective community planning
necessitates sitting down with the communities in a process that is itself carefully
planned. The use of community contracting is well suited to local resource based
works especially where the works are localised as in many of the flood mitigation
activities described in this chapter. They are especially useful as they enable
communities to take responsibility for the building or reconstruction of their own
assets whilst being paid to do it. Items such as floodgates, spillways and sluices
must, of course, be built using competent contractors. Where the work includes
ditches, earthworks, gabion work simple masonry and similar activities then local
resource based methods can be used with the added benefit that local people gain
economically from the work.

An example of the ILO local resource based approach to storm drainage in Dolores,

Dolores is a town next to the sea in East Samara Province in the Philippines. The population were
concerned about a five-hectare stagnant pond area which leads to flooding during the monsoon and during
typhoons. The pond was also believed to be a source of Schistosomiasis and other disease in the urban and
peri-urban areas through affected by runoff.

Before any work was undertaken an environmental assessment was undertaken which showed that there
were no bio-diversity issues in the swampland.

A one-kilometre long drain was built from the swamp area to the sea. This drained the swamp and provided
improved storm drainage in the areas of town through which it passed. The municipal engineer’s office
undertook physical planning and technical design. The drain was concrete lined and included both open and
covered sections depending on its location.

Community contracts were used with communities responsible for the works in their parts of the town
where possible. Women took a leading role at all levels in both the planning and building of the scheme.

69. Rural transport can be defined as the movement of people and goods in rural
areas by any conceivable means, for any conceivable purpose . Until recently rural
transport was often understood as rural roads. However rural roads merely provide
the opportunity for movement. Rural transport also includes the means by which
people and goods are transported. This includes travel by motorised vehicle, non-
motorized means of transport or on foot. Rural transport is a complex activity as trips
are made for distinct purposes and trips may or may not be made on a road and
different means and combinations of transport are often involved.

70. At the most basic level is domestic transport, comprising the collection and
local transport of water and firewood and food for domestic consumption. Agricultural
travel and transport represents another distinct group and relates to trips to the fields
for different cultivation activities, movement of farm inputs, the collection of the
harvested crops, and crop marketing. Finally there is travel to services and for social
purposes which includes trips to the dispensary and the hospital, travel to markets,
travel by children to school and travel within and outside the village associated with
visits to family and friends or to meet social obligations .

71. Poor rural transportation is often a major constraint to social and economic
development in many countries. The key issue is mobility, which can be defined as
the ease or difficulty for people to travel and transport. If there is no road access or if
the road is in poor condition, as is the case in many developing countries, rural
transport services cannot reach the people and any means of transport available to
rural people is rendered ineffective. Mobility is poor in such a scenario.

72. There is no doubt that transport is a key element in the process of economic
and social development. Improving transport is important for reaching many MDGs.
Rural transport (infrastructure and transport services) is also a determinant for
accessibility, which can be defined as the ability, the level of difficulty, of rural people
to reach, use or obtain facilities, goods or services. Lack of access is clearly a
fundamental characteristic of poverty.

73. Climate change is expected to make rural transport more difficult and
consequently impact on rural mobility and accessibility. This will have socio-
economic implications for the rural poor.

74. Access to water is basic to all rural households. If there is no well or tap in the
village water has to be collected from a stream or river. This involves considerable
time and effort and adds to the time utilised by families every day. Often water is
carried on rough tracks and trails. Access to health services is also critically
dependent on accessibility. Again the poorer the country the more limited is the
distribution of health centres or clinics. Where there is an emergency or an imminent
birth the quality of access can be a question of life or death. Rural transport, or the
lack of it, has been shown to be one of the factors in the levels of absenteeism from
school. If no means of transport is available, it is the girls who are less likely to attend

See C. Donnges: Improving Access in Rural Areas, ILO 2003
See J.Dawson and I.Barwell. Roads are Not Enough: New Perspectives on Rural Transport Planning
in Developing Countries. 1993
as they will have to walk to school and the parents fear for their security. Lack of
rural transport also has economic implications. Farmers who have a surplus that they
can sell need to find a market. If traders cannot effectively access the village, farmers
will be obliged to take the produce to market. If the produce is perishable then there
is the risk that it will be spoiled either in the transportation itself or due to the time
taken to reach the market.

75. It is clear that the contribution of rural transport to improving access for the
rural population will be compromised by the impact of climate change. The daily
household travel burden will increase due to greater distances required to access
water in the dry seasons. Travel in the wet seasons may become more difficult. Many
children, particularly girls already have more difficulty attending schools because of
more limited transport options. Access to health clinics as well as access to markets
could be disrupted due to the effect of the road infrastructure. The overall effect could
be an increase in isolation of the rural population.

76. Rural roads are a main element of rural transport. Rural road planning and
design has become a well understood and well developed science over the last 30
years. With the effects of climate change becoming more and more understood, it is
clear that the planning and design of rural roads will need to make projections of the
level and frequency of rainfall in line with the predicted impact of climate change. The
key problems to be addressed will be:

• Difficulty of construction caused by seasonal and flood and drought intensity

• Problems of drainage both off and on pavement
• Raising of embankments
• Increased cost of adaptation measures
• Maintenance

77. Future planning of rural roads is going to be more difficult. Roads will have
higher cost due to the adaptation measures that will need to be put in place. Within a
fixed budget, selecting the most beneficial roads will therefore become more difficult.
The life cycle cost of the roads will also be greater due to the need for heightened
maintenance. The main enemy of rural roads is water. In the design of rural roads
the key issue is therefore to ensure that precipitation is taken away from the surface
and edges of the road as quickly and as efficiently as possible. It is predicted that
many areas will have more intense and more frequent levels of rainfall. This is likely
to have an effect on required design standards. Roads in flat areas which are prone
to flooding are the most at risk. Serious consideration will have to be given to the
level above the surrounding terrain to which the road needs to be raised. Another
serious problem in designing roads for the impact of climate change is where the
road has to pass a waterway. Simple structures designed to bridge the waterway will
need to be designed for the predicted increased flow so as to avoid scouring of the
structures and eventual failure. Again this will increase the cost. All roads should
receive both routine and periodic maintenance. Routine maintenance, whilst
inexpensive can prolong the life of the road and delay the time when periodic
maintenance is required. With climate change routine maintenance becomes more

78. Assessing the impact of climate change on rural roads is relatively simple
compared with that of the impact on rural mobility and rural accessibility. This is
because rural roads are fixed and one can make reasonable assumptions of the
effect of increased flood levels, frequent and more intense precipitation and even
drought. However mobility is concerned with people, with transport services, with
market forces and with a range of issues such as the changes in agricultural
practices and the resilience of local communities. The impact of climate change is
more difficult to predict in this case. Transport at the village level is mainly carried out
on foot. This partly because of the lack of any other means of transport but also
because transport services cost money and villagers have a limited budget.
Nevertheless improvements can be made at the village level to improve the mobility
of the people. The provision of simple walkways either within the village or to
services in the vicinity of the village can improve rural mobility.

79. The major impact of climate change will affect those who have the least
resources to deal with it, the rural poor and vulnerable. Certainly resources need to
be provided by the government for the improvement of rural transport to at least
sustain the current level of access in rural areas. However it is also clear that rural
people will need to become more involved in the planning and implementation
measures. This requires a major effort on the part of government to improve the
capacity of local planning systems, supporting NGOs working with local communities
and providing information to local communities not only on the likely impact of climate
change but also on innovative measures that have taken place to adapt to climate
change. Simple measures such as well constructed footpaths and providing simple
footbridges can be very effective. With climate change the transport burden carried
by many rural households is likely to increase. Flooding in settlements is likely to get
worse making domestic transport activities more difficult.

80. As for transport services out of and into villages, the situation will largely
depend on measures taken to climate proof the rural road network. If the roads are in
poor condition, private operators are likely to curtain their services. Public transport
services in the rural areas of most countries are limited and may become even more
so if the roads are impassable for longer periods.

81. Climate change adaptation of rural transport will cost money. Raising the
levels of roads in flood prone flat areas will significantly increase the cost of
construction or rehabilitation. To mitigate the effects of climate change on the
infrastructure, maintenance will need to be a priority. Given the limited funds
presently spent on rural road maintenance this will require a major increase in the
recurrent budget.

In Cambodia it is estimated that US$10 million of investment will be required to construct

water gates and culverts for newly rehabilitated road networks developed without
factoring in increased risks of flooding.

In Bangladesh, the Government estimates that raising an 800 kilometre network of

roads by between 0.5 and 1 metre to counter sea level rises will cost US$128 million
over a 25-year period

UN Human Development Report 2007

82. A local resource-based approach focuses on the use local labour and
materials and emphasises the use of local capacity in the whole process of the
development physical infrastructure. Road rehabilitation and maintenance has of
course been the main sector where this approach has been used in recent years.
Given the knowledge of local people of the changes that will take place they are well
placed to participate in the planning, design and implementation of the works
required. The local resource-based approach is based on an optimum use of local
resources. This may be in the use of labour for much of the work in constructing,
improving, rehabilitating and maintaining rural roads. It may also be in participatory
planning for the solution of the access problems created by climate change or in the
use of local materials in the implementation of works.

83. As an example, in flood prone areas roads need to be built above the flood
level. However the flood levels are becoming unpredictable. The design can no
longer depend on records of past floods but will need to respond to the increased
flood levels caused by climate change. This will require the involvement of the local
people. The actual construction of roads can be carried out through labour-based
methods, optimizing the use of local skilled and unskilled labour. Labour-based
methods inject often much needed cash into the local economy which triggers a
multiplier effect.

84. In relation to road, track and trail infrastructure, the LRB approach has been
well developed and provides detailed guidance on how this should be planned. It also
shows how the majority of the activities can be implemented using manual labour.
The ILO has over several decades of experience in using local resource-based rural
road improvement and maintenance and has built up a wealth of information on this
subject. A recent ILO publication “Building Rural Roads” presents a set of technical
solutions and work methods commonly applied in a number of countries where the
use of local resources is given serious consideration when building rural roads.

85. In relation to mobility issues the LRB approach should focus on the types of
transport services that could be provided from the community, how to reduce the
burden of domestic transport and how to regulate transport services. In relation to
sustaining rural access it can provide local communities with a planning procedure
which allows them to define their access needs and ways to prioritise and cost
possible solutions to the problems. 8


Climate change contributes to poverty and vulnerability

86. Rural areas will be particularly badly hit by climate change. In the developing
countries in Asia and the Pacific it will likely be the poor who will suffer the most from
the changing weather patterns. This is unfair as the poor have been the least
responsible for the global warming which contributes to climate change. The poor
depend substantially on the natural world for their survival and are therefore more
vulnerable to changes in their natural environment. Climate change will impact on
poverty and increase vulnerability in the region. It may jeopardize some of the recent
achievements made in reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and in
particular MDG 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
Local communities and organizations need to be empowered to adapt to
climate change
87. Local institutions and communities need to be strengthened so that they are
able to understand and respond to climate change. Awareness raising at this level is
of critical importance. The emphasis needs to be on placing local communities and
civil society at the heart of the adaptation process in terms of planning and
implementation. The key to effective implementation of climate change adaptation
programmes will be the capacity of both the private and public sectors. Capacity

A section 3.5 on Forestry Works will be added in the final version of this document.
building efforts to ensure that there are sufficient skills at this level will need to be
integrated in adaptation programmes.
Infrastructure and public works need to be seen as part of the adaptation
88. Infrastructure and public works will play a major role in both mitigating and
adapting to climate change. It is one means to help communities to adapt to a
changing climate. Communities and local institutions should be assisted with the
funding, tools and techniques to help them to adapt. The work on infrastructure will
comprise two main components: climate proofing of existing infrastructure and
developing new infrastructure to respond to changes in local climates. For adaptation
through infrastructure works much of the onus needs to be on local interventions
involving local communities.
Public investments in these sectors should seek to optimize the use of local
resources to maximize benefits to the rural poor and vulnerable.
89. Local resource-based approaches for infrastructure development would
provide specific benefits which could further contribute to the economic and social
development of the poor and vulnerable. Such approaches emphasize local
participation during the identification and planning and the use of local resources
including labour, local materials and local enterprises during the implementation and
maintenance of local infrastructure. Investing in infrastructure and public works
generates assets which helps communities to adapt to climate change. At the same
time such investments can be used to generate income and create jobs. These jobs
can be qualified as green jobs. Sectors where infrastructure and public works play an
important role both in terms of adapting to climate change and at the same time
generating employment through local resource-based methods are: irrigation, soil
and water conservation, flood protection, rural transport and forestry. The ILO has
many years of experience in applying local resource-based approached in these