Sustaining or hindering resilience strategies? The role of Middle Classes I

By Claudio Cecci

The first session organised by the EADI Working Group on Sustainable Development, Vulnerability and Resilience, has been organised in two separate debates. The first one is the prestentation of the paper “Official Development Assistance for Adaptive Capacity – The Effect of Training in Informal Urban Settlements in Ethiopia” by Stefano Moncada (presenter), Hilary Bambrick, and Marie Briguglio. The second has focused on future activities of the WG.

Stefano Moncada has emphasised the widespread acceptance in the literature that changes in climate will severely affect developing countries and the enhancement of adaptive capacity has been widely identified as an essential policy response. However, there is still a high degree of uncertainty as to what the determinants of adaptive capacity are at the local level, and which development interventions are capable of enhancing it.
The context of the research is an informal urban settlement in Ethiopia, characterised by extreme poverty, poor sanitation and high climate-sensitive risks, where a bio-gas sanitation project funded by ODA recently took place. The development intervention also included environmental and sanitation training, provided to some of the 200 beneficiaries of the project.
The study finds that the bio-gas and sanitation development intervention had positive effects on key determinants of coping strategies, such as health indicators, affecting basic livelihoods and long-term adaptive capacity, but that these effects were greatly enhanced among participants who had received training.
The debate that followed the presentation has involved several particpants. Questions have related to the capacity of the project to improve the living conditions, the definition of resilience in the case of the biogas sanitation “plant” and the linkages between the action (training) and the increasing income of the beneficiaries.
In his reply, Stefano Moncada has answered properly all questions by showing the limits of the micro-action but emphasizing the very low cost of the project as compared to the important results in terms of welfare and participation/involvement of beneficiaries.

In the second part of the session, the participants (several of them being members of the WG) appreciated the two meetings that have been organised: in Rome (jointly with the 2013 EADI Directors meeting) and in Bonn (in this EADI GC2014).
This way of organising the contacts has been considered difficult to sustain, because it requires that members to move from their places. Exchanges should be increased  by means of mail communications and possibly by means of web conferences.
As a conclusion, it has been decided to invite all members of the WG to share their activities within the network. This should relate to publications and works in progress. It has been highlighted that sharing progresses and doubts might improve the quality of results and increase the capacity of the WG of benefiting the participants. It has been confirmed the aim of the WG of presenting the results to future occasions at EADI meetings.


Claudio Cecchi is Professor of Applied Political Economy at SAPIENZA University of Rome.