ELLA Policy Brief: An Integrated Approach to Improving Adaptive Capacity: The Adapta Sertão Experience

ELLA is the Evidence and Lessons from Latin America programme


Community-based adaptation (CBA) is a fairly new approach where communities are empowered to find their own adaptation solutions, without relying excessively on government interventions that may be too slow to address their quickly changing needs. However, successful CBA is difficult to accomplish; attempts frequently fail to integrate action across public, private and civil society sectors. Though still at an early stage, the Adapta Sertão approach seems to be succeeding in identifying and overcoming key barriers through partnership building and diversified interventions to address the multiple needs of farmers in Brazil's semi-arid region. Development professionals with similar dilemmas in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa could take advantage of this Brief's reflexion on a successful pilot project that is rapidly expanding, as they consider how to improve adaptive capacity in their own countries.

Key Lessons:

  • Adapta Sertão shows how adaptive capacity in the semi-arid can be strengthened by changing farming methods and disseminating efficient and low-cost technologies starting from those which improve both water supply and use.
  • Public policies promoting access to technology and finance, commercialisation and technical assistance are fragmented. By using partnerships and establishing links between these policies through local actions, a systemic approach to climate change adaptation can be achieved.


Cesano, D. ELLA Policy Brief: An Integrated Approach to Improving Adaptive Capacity: The Adapta Sertão Experience. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2011) 6 pp.

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