BOOK LAUNCH – Participatory Adaptation Handbook

Participatory Adaptation Handbook

By Stephen Law (Environmental Monitoring Group)

Adapting to changes in our climate and the uncertainty that this brings, is a reality we all have to face. But like most environmental impacts, it is communities who are already marginalised or vulnerable, who are most at risk. And for communities at risk, the best and most sustainable outcome is one where they have become the agents of their own change.

The new publication “Participatory Adaptation Handbook : A practitioner’s guide for facilitating people centred adaptation to climate change” is a valuable contribution to the existing literature on the subject, and is based on years of practical experience, collaboration and learning.

Although styled as a “manual”, this is not a step-by-step recipe for facilitating community groups. The book recognises that each situation presents its unique challenges, and demands a specific response from the facilitator. Nevertheless there are broad principles that apply – from initiating an adaptation process, to taking action, to reflecting and learning – and the book expands on all of these and more, providing suggestions and guidance to the would-be facilitator.

The Manual comprises 5 sections. Section 1 gives an overview of climate science and discusses some of the broad principles that apply to a community-driven development processes in the context of climate change adaptation. Section 2, the heart of the Manual, outlines key elements in any adaptation process, accepting that this seldom a linear affair. Section 3 provides three case-study examples, while Section 4 outlines just a few of the more useful participatory tools that facilitators can use. Section 5 wraps up with a few concluding paragraphs, a glossary of terms and references for further reading.

Accompanying the Manual – or as a resource to be used on its own – is by a set of 34 facilitation cards entitled “Experiential Learning for Adaptation”.  Each card describes one participatory workshop activity which could form part of a comprehensive adaptation process. Each card outlines the objectives of the exercise, the materials needed, and guides the facilitator through a step-by-step description of how that activity should be run. The cards are colour-coded for easy to reference.

Both publications is available for download:

Participatory Adaptation Handbook

Facilitation Cards

Alternatively you can order printed copies for R 100 plus postage from Indigo development & change or the Environmental Monitoring Group. Please contact Estholene Moses ( or Raziyah Johnston (

The publication was made possible by grant funding from the Volkswagen Foundation, and contributions from practitioners and academics from the University of Hamburg, CSAG/ UCT, Indigo development and change, Environmental Monitoring Group, CSIR, Hawassa University and the Adaptation Network.