About soil and water conservation measures, dams and God: adaption to climate change in Ethiopia between different actor-networks and narratives

Research Area:

C


In the last years, “climate change” and related issues have gained more and more “prominence” in debates of environmental governance and global change. Almost every climate related “extreme natural phenomenon” has been associated with a changing climate, and it has become almost common sense that these changes have in some way or the other been induced by human interference with the global climatic system.
In my doctoral research project I am highlighting the topic “adaptation to climate change” and the role that this global concept or, as I see it, “adaptation as a travelling idea”, plays in Ethiopia. This country is often described as one of the countries in Eastern Africa which is most affected by climate change and its consequences. For that reason, adaptation measures are regarded as unavoidable for Ethiopia by the international community. Above that, there is a very high commitment to the topic coming from top-level decision-makers within the Ethiopian government.
In this context, I organized my research by first looking at developments and incidents with regard to the institutionalization of the topic climate change at the national level. The leading questions for the national arena were the following: Which actors are dealing with climate change and climate change adaptation-issues? Which of these have the biggest influence on existing discourses about the topic and why?
In this respect, I focused on the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA, in June 2013 the EPA turned into the Ministry of Environment and Forest, MEF) which is responsible to coordinate national response actions to climate change in Ethiopia. Besides the highlighting of processes that take place at the national level, I also looked at developments with regard to the institutionalization of adaptation-measures at a regional level, namely in Bahir Dar. In this context, I focused on the regional counterparts of the Ministries and the way that they understand the recently developed regional adaptation plans.
In order to comprehend how nationally and regionally debated concepts and understandings ACof “climate change” and “adaptation to climate change” are put into practice on a local level, I conducted one part of my field research in a micro-watershed which is part of the area where the Ethiopian Government - namely the Ministry of Agriculture - conducts a Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLM). SLM is directly supported by the GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit). At this level, the overall aim was to grasp farmers´ perspectives on their changing environment and also how they perceive the SLM-Programme and its effects.The theoretical background of my study is based on concepts stemming from Actor-Network Theory as well as on concepts which belong to Development Theory. My methodological approach involves Participant Observation, semi-structured and open interviews.