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MdM Seminar Series: "Climate change from the margin: intersecting inequities in adaptation to climate change in the West African Sahel", by Houria Djoudi

Date: 2020-01-15

MdM Seminar Series


Title: "Climate change from the margin: intersecting inequities in adaptation to climate change in the West African Sahel"

Speaker: Houria Djoudi, Center for International Forestry Research

Date: Wednesday, January 15th 2020
Time: 12.30 h
Venue: Room Z/022- Z/023 ICTA-UAB

People and species living in drylands have adapted over millennia to cope with extreme climatic variability. Diverse human populations in the drylands have created behavioural dynamics and social relations that enable reciprocity and mutual responsibility to use highly variable resources. For instance, mobility is a complex socio-ecological mechanism that relies on highly fine-tuned rules and norms to build the strategic exploitation of sporadic water and pastoral resources in an ecosystem characterised by high spatial and temporal climate variability. It allows different social groups to mutually manage and share resources through long-term traditional, negotiated tenure agreements, rights and responsibilities. Mobility is rooted in a broader governance system, and it’s central to the identity of mobile pastoralists. While considerable attention and resources have been made available for the humid tropical forests, there has been a lack of comparable sustained attention on drylands. Local knowledge systems in drylands, the adaptive alliances woven through the coexistences of multiple identities and visions to manage and negotiate the landscape and the future are precious human experiences and knowledge systems, yet they sit on the periphery of the climate change agenda. Furthermore, within and outside the drylands the repertoire of marginalisation in the climate change debate includes those of major groups without social power, women, pastoralists and poor farmers.

Taking deliberately an opposite approach – focusing on climate change from the margin – this presentation will use case studies the West African Sahel to illustrate the profound socio-ecological interactions and environmental and sociological shift happening within drylands systems.  

The analytical approach used in the case studies aligns with theories on gender and climate change to include social differentiation. It relies on intersectionality as a tool to bring together existing concepts (e.g.  vulnerability, adaptive capacity) to critically assess and enrich both common climate change and gender debates and theories. Using an intersectionality approach unveils emancipatory pathways and challenges the dominated narratives on vulnerability research. Through the examination of the intersecting factors and conditions by which power is not only produced, reproduced but also actively resisted, intersectionality calls for a more complex approach to address the system that creates power differentials, rather than the symptoms of it.

Dr. Houria Djoudi is Senior Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia, since 2011. Houria has PhD in Agriculture (University of Giessen, Germany), with specialization in Pastoralism and rangeland management.
Houria’s work focus in socio-ecological systems analysis particularly linking environmental and institutional changes and policy processes, including multi-scale dynamics. Houria has 20 years of work experience in understanding human and ecosystem interaction in different socio-ecological systems in North and West Africa and Central and South-East Asia. Houria’s work has a strong focus on the gendered dimensions of natural resources management and the questions of equity access and rights. In her position at CIFOR Houria’ s work focusses on climate change adaptation, vulnerability analysis and the linkages between adaptation and mitigation. She spent several years of her work at CIFOR based in Mali and Burkina Faso where she conducted several research projects related to Ecosystem based Adaptation, as well as analyzing gender and climate change adaptation. She has sound competencies in quantitative and qualitative research methods as well as participatory approaches, particularly applied to questions of linkages and feedbacks in socio-ecological systems.

Before, working with CIFOR Houria worked in several development projects with the German cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ) in Algeria and in Morocco. Her work in those projects was focused on the sustainability of natural resource management particularly forest and rangelands as well as the improvement of livelihoods of small holders (including pastoralists) in marginalized and mountainous areas in Algeria and Morocco.

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