Since 2012, Centro Humboldt has been working in coordination with the Mayor’s Office of Bluefields, located on the Southern Caribbean Coast of the country, particularly on issues related to strengthening the capacities of the local structures of the National Disaster Prevention and Response System, with the El Bluff Community being one of the sites selected to work with the Community Committee for Disaster Prevention and Response (COCOPRED, in Spanish), given that its geographical conditions and economic activities represent a high level of risk.
In November 2014, Centro Humboldt began the implementation of the Project Facilitating Climate Change Positioning and Methodologies in the Southern Caribbean Coastal Autonomous Region, within the framework of the Local Governance Program promoted by Global Communities with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
As its name suggests, the project implemented by Centro Humboldt was aimed at developing a useful methodology to help build climate-resilient communities. As a first step, an alliance was formed with a local university named Bluefields Indian & Caribbean University (BICU) and a local NGO (BlueEnergy). The main objective was to share knowledge with local actors and develop a methodology for the implementation of local climate change adaptation plans, flexible enough to be adjusted and replicated in other territories. In this case, the methodology developed by Centro Humboldt was validated in El Bluff Community, but replicated within the municipality by partners in communities of different ethnicities and world views: Ramas, Garífunas, Creoles and neighbourhoods located in the urban sector of the city.
Although this project was completed in November 2016, the Local Planning component was completed in November 2015 with the approval of the Local Climate Change Adaptation Plan of El Bluff community. To facilitate the local planning process, 5 stages were defined: coordination and preparation, assessment, canvassing, proposal and approval.
The preparation stage was aimed at establishing a channel of dialogue and communication with local authorities and actors; establishing a Monitoring Committee, which had the role of ensuring the planning of the process; defining which actors would participate, review, adjust and validate the methodology and toolbox; and defining roles and responsibilities of all the people and sectors involved in the whole process. Prior to continuing to the next stage, during the initial coordination, the work of gathering, reviewing, processing and analysing available community information, was important as a preamble to the visit to recognise the risk areas within the community and the development of the base map. The Monitoring Committee was involved in all stages of the process.
The second stage was the assessment, in which a community resource self-mapping system was developed, identifying and prioritising threats, identifying risk areas and applying a participatory assessment of vulnerabilities and capacities. Then, the main livelihoods of the community and the dynamics of how they develop over time and the variations they have suffered in recent years were selected. As an integral part of this stage, the ancestral knowledge of the population was recovered, taking into account that this is a multi-ethnic and multicultural community.
During the canvassing, the third stage of the process, Centro Humboldt used a Regional Climate Model to generate future projections of the community’s temperature and precipitation conditions. This information was presented to the local actors to guide their objective image in the medium and long term. Using the information gathered in the diagnostic stage, they worked on a zoning proposal based on land use planning and began to identify actions aimed at achieving their resilience, taking into account some issues, such as: What do I have to adapt to? What do I have to adapt? Why? How? And what limitations and opportunities do we have? With this information, the next stage, the proposal, was taken forward.
At the proposal stage, a matrix of action plans was developed, establishing intervention strategies for the protection of families and the sustainable development of the community. This matrix was very simple and contained prioritised programmatic axes by sector and livelihood, in addition to having clear objectives and proposals for adaptation measures, as well as timelines, stakeholders, roles and external support required.
Once this stage was completed, we moved on to the last: approval. At this point, the people who participated in the process of developing the plan, led by the Monitoring Committee, had the responsibility to review and validate the document collectively drafted. Then, the Monitoring Committee convened a community assembly to present the final product, which was approved and then presented to the highest authority in the municipality: the Municipal Council. The objective of this action was to influence the authorities to incorporate into the Annual Municipal Investment Plan (PIAM, in Spanish) some of the actions prioritised in the local adaptation plan.