USAID Adaptation Community Meeting: The Role of Decentralized Governance in Climate Change Adaptation

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Does local-level adaptation to climate change benefit from the devolution of decision-making and resource control to the local level? This question is of increasing relevance as the pressures of global change challenge livelihood outcomes. For the January Adaptation Community Meeting, Dr. Tim Finan and Dr. Mamadou Baro of the University of Arizona share the results of a research case study from rural Mali, where a system of decentralized governance was introduced almost three decades ago. The study draws upon evidence from villages, communes, and regions of south-central Mali to examine the effectiveness of local governance institutions in building community-level resilience to climate change stresses. This research was conducted for USAID’s ATLAS project.


Dr. Timothy J. Finan is a professor of anthropology and a research anthropologist in the School of Anthropology and Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) at the University of Arizona. He has taught and conducted research at Arizona for 37 years, 15 of which were in the capacity of Director of BARA. His academic interests and practitioner experience are focused primarily on themes of vulnerability, adaptation, and resilience and on related topics such as food security, governance, and participatory development. He has published across academic and practitioner development journals and recently co-edited a book on cooperativism and smallholder development in Latin America.
Dr. Mamadou Baro was born in Boghe, Mauritania and grew up in the rural communities of the Sahel. He has a wealth of international development experience, working mostly in Africa for various organizations, NGOs and universities. Dr. Baro managed important Africa regional projects in the areas of climate change, livelihood security, rural credit, land tenure and household resilience. Dr. Baro holds a Ph.D. degree in Cultural & Applied Anthropology with a minor in Arid Land Studies. Since the 1990s, Dr. Baro, currently a Research Professor in BARA, has been one of the leading African advocates for putting poor and marginalized people at the center of the processes of development policy. For the last twenty-five years, he has provided technical assistance on climate change adaption, land governance and poverty, monitoring and evaluation for development and recovery programs in twenty African countries.


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