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The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

An analytical framework

A dissertation submitted to the School of International Development of the University of East Anglia in Part-fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Education and Development September 2011

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

List of Figures and Tables ................................................................................................................... i Abstract ................................................................................................................................................ ii Acknowledgments .............................................................................................................................. iii Chapter 1: Introduction...................................................................................................................... 1 1.1 Research question ................................................................................................................... 1 1.2 Value of the research .............................................................................................................. 2 1.3 Methodology and outline of the research ............................................................................. 2 Chapter 2: Literacy and Literacies, an overview of definitions and theoretical frameworks 4 2.1 Literacy, great divide and benefits ........................................................................................ 4 2.2 The New Literacy Study .......................................................................................................... 5 2.3 Situated perspectives on literacy........................................................................................... 6 2.3.a Material dimension of literacy ......................................................................................... 7 2.3.b Textually mediated access to choices and literacy sponsors and mediators.......... 7 2.3.c Agency and participation in the political space ............................................................ 8 2.3.d Re-contextualization, local and global dimensions ..................................................... 9 2.4 Conclusions ............................................................................................................................ 10 Chapter 3: Adaptation, Vulnerability and Development .............................................................. 11 3.1 The adaptation framework .................................................................................................... 11 3.1.a Climate variability and change (Box1) ......................................................................... 12 3.1.b Vulnerability to climate change (Box 2) ....................................................................... 12 3. 1.c Adaptation practices (Box 3) ........................................................................................ 13 3.1.d The role of institutions (Box 4) ...................................................................................... 15 3.1.e Socio-economic resources/assets (Box 5) ................................................................. 15 3.1.f External resources (Box 6) ............................................................................................. 16 3.2 Vulnerability, Development and Resilience ....................................................................... 16 3.2.a The Vulnerability Development Continuum ................................................................ 16 3.2.b Resilience ........................................................................................................................ 17 3.3 Conclusions ............................................................................................................................ 17

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices Chapter 4: The literacy-adaptation analytical framework .......................................................... 18 4 .1 Which options are available to chronic poor? .................................................................. 18 4.1. a Definition of chronic poverty ........................................................................................ 18 4.1. b Adaptation Practices and poverty categories ............................................................ 19 4.2 What role for literacy in these adaptive options? .............................................................. 22 4.2.a Livelihoods and market exchange .............................................................................. 22 4.2.b Power relations and decision making over uses of assets ...................................... 23 4.2.c Networks and public policy driven adaptation ............................................................ 24 4.2 d Material intervention oriented adaptation practices................................................... 24 4.2. e Institutional modification oriented adaptation practices ........................................... 25 4.3 Conclusions ............................................................................................................................ 26 Chapter 5 Urban poverty, literacy and climate change in Bangladesh, a case study .............. 27 5.1 Chronic poor adaptation to climate change in urban centers ......................................... 27 5.3 Chronic Poor adaptation in Bangladesh urban areas ...................................................... 27 5.3.a Urban chronic poor and exposure to climate variability in Bangladesh ................ 27 5.3.b Urban Chronic poor and literacy in Bangladesh urban centers, what is to be measured? ................................................................................................................................. 28 5.4.a Literacy, years of schooling and adaptation practices in urban environments ..... 30 5.5 Testing of the literacy-adaptation tool and conclusions ................................................. 32 Chapter 6 Conclusions ................................................................................................................... 34 List of References .............................................................................................................................. 36

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

List of Figures and Tables

FIGURE 1 ADAPTATION PRACTICES FRAMEWORK .............................................................................................. 11 FIGURE 2 MAPPING ADAPTIVE CAPACITY THROUGH SOCIAL CAPITAL ............................................................... 15 FIGURE 3 THE CHRONIC POOR, TRANSIENT POOR A NON POOR - A CATEGORIZATION ..................................... 18 FIGURE 4 WORSENING HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDICATORS IN URBAN LOCATIONS ....................................... 29

TABLE 1 ADAPTATION PRACTICES PER POVERTY CATEGORY .............................................................................. 20 TABLE 2 LITERACY-ADAPTATION ANALYTICAL TOOL ........................................................................................... 21 TABLE 3 PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS AGE 6+ BY LITERACY AND EDUCATION ....... 30 TABLE 4 PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION YEARS OF SCHOOLING ............................................................................. 32

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

Climate change is already forcing communities in developing countries to adapt to new, unexpected circumstances, driving those who dont have sufficient coping capacity towards a status of ineluctable vulnerability. The objective of this dissertation is to explore how literacy can influence chronic poors adaptation practices. Firstly, I looked at how literacy and climate change adaptation are theoretically understood, laying the basis to develop a literacy-adaptation analytical tool that comprehends the main nexuses between the two topics. Then I have tested the relevance of the tool applying its findings to a case study utilizing secondary data relative to Bangladesh slum dwellers. The results have shown that literacy has tangible influences over people ability to perform adaptation practices, which can have a relevant impact on chronic poor. In particular literacy exercises influence over a wide range of identified adaptation categories: livelihoods diversification, access to market exchange, benefits from social protection measures, governance modification and transformation of gender inequalities. These findings also inform an important policy recommendation: literacy has to be promoted within a framework of lifelong learning education rather than only through a narrow focus on primary education. The evidence of the wideness of the adaptation categories that can be positively influenced by various literacy practices and the marked pro-poor vocation of these solutions, confirm the initial hypothesis: the promotion of literacy can be an effective no regrets tool for the reduction of chronic poor vulnerability to climate change.


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices


I would like to express my gratitude to my supervisor, Bryan Maddox, for his support, guidance, time and patience; without the very inspiring conversations with him this work would not have been possible. I also would like to thank both Sheila Aikman and Bryan Maddox for making my learning experience during the Master always challenging and never banal.


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

There is so much inequality inscribed in the production of this book. The main inequality is in the result: voice. I can produce a globalized voice, they cant; I can produce a prestige genre, they cant; I can speak from within a recognizable position and identity, they cant. Grassroots Literacy Jan Blommaert


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

Chapter 1: Introduction
At first sight it is quite easy to see what literacy and the effects of climate change have in common. They are both characterized by inequalities in their distribution and they are both areas of concern when we talk about chronic poverty. The impacts of climate change and climate variability are already felt on the ground. There are evidences (Smit et al., 2001) that these impacts are distributed unevenly among the world population and it is generally believed that the poorest are the most affected by these changes. The widespread concern is that climate change effects, if not managed properly and promptly, will hinder pathways out of poverty (DFID, 2005). Moreover, climate change is believed to worsen the already existing social inequalities, driving those with scarce adaptive capacity into deeper vulnerability (Polack, 2008). On the other hand also literacy is still an unsolved issue. In 2004 the 17% of the world adult population, around 770 million people, was considered to be illiterate, and women living in developing countries representi two thirds of this number (UNESCO, 2011:65). Within this scenario, the mainstream literature on climate change and disaster risk reduction widely recognizes that a lack of education is a determinant of vulnerability to climate hazards (IPCC, 2001; UNISDR, 2004). However, despite the fact that low literacy levels are very often used as proxy of education and an indicator of vulnerability, very rarely the promotion of literacy is utilized as a tool to improve peoples ability to cope with change. Nonetheless, chronic poor are already adapting to climate variations and, presumably, will have to cope with these changes even more in the future. Are their adaptation strategies influenced by their command over certain literacy practices?

1.1 Research question

What role does literacy play in shaping peoples adaptation practices in contexts of chronic poverty? Which theoretical notions can help us exploring the nexuses between literacy, adaptation practices and chronic poverty? Are there any theoretical evidences that the promotion of literacy could be an effective no-regrets adaptation strategy?

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

1.2 Value of the research

This dissertation is grounded on the suggestion made by Tanner and Mitchell (2008) that climate change can be considered as an opportunity for the poorest to develop ways out of poverty, advocating for the promotion of pro-poor adaptation measures (ibid.). As they demonstrate, the climate change discourse provides valid ideological standpoints for the development of a poverty-centered adaptation approach. On one side, there is the instrumental effectiveness driver approach utilized by many donors and the World Bank. Utilizing economic analysis it demonstrates the cost-effectiveness of adaptation in order to protect investments on development. On the other side, there is the equity and justice approach (Paavola and Adger, 2006) that considers the investment in adaptation policies as a moral necessity of richer, highly polluting countries towards the poorer countries, less responsible and most affected by climate change. Hence they recommend that, if we want to develop appropriate pro-poor policies, making adaptation effective for the chronically poor, we will have to go beyond analysis at the broad community level and investigate how the multidimensional aspects of deprivation are influencing the chronically poor adaptation practices (Tanner and Mitchell, 2008:12). Can we consider literacy as one of the multiple deprivations affecting the chronic poor? And, if yes, how this deprivation affects their adaptation capacity? The no-regrets approach theorizes that, as the scenario of the change is mainly uncertain at the moment, it is important to promote adaptation measures that are beneficial, no matter how or if the predicted climate change impacts materialize (Heltbert et al., 2009). The objective of this dissertation is to provide the theoretical foundations to the argument that the promotion of literacy, in a context of lifelong learning education (Torres, 2003), represents an effective no-regret strategy to improve chronic poor adaptation practices.

1.3 Methodology and outline of the research

The objective of this dissertation is to analyze, from a theoretical point of view, the possible interactions between literacy and climate change adaptation in contexts of chronic poverty. I therefore merged significant elements of the two theoretical frameworks, proposing a tool of analysis that can encourage researchers and policy makers to consider the implications of the nexuses pinpointed. The analysis is supplemented by the recognition that chronic poverty, intended as a multidimensional deprivation status, has to be considered and analyzed in its specificity. In order to do so, in Chapter 2 I reviewed the relevant literature on literacy; and then, in Chapter 3, I have explored which factors are believed to shape adaptation practices 2

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices according to the climate change relevant literature. The merging of the two frameworks and the subsequent development of a literacy-adaptation tool of analysis has been explained in the fourth chapter. In the fifth chapter I supported my analysis with a case study located in urban Bangladesh. This study tests the relevance of the nexuses outlined in the literacyadaptation tool of analysis, but also raises questions about the appropriateness of literacy measurements.

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

Chapter 2: Literacy and Literacies, an overview of definitions and theoretical frameworks

Definitions of literacy are not innocent (Barlett, 2008)

In this section I will review the main academic literature about literacy, trying to expose different notions and understanding of literacy, in the context of development. Besides using an historical perspective, I will linger over the concepts that will be used in the following chapter to explore the interactions between literacy and adaptation practices. This chapter is therefore not intended to be an exhaustive literature review, but rather to lay the theoretical foundations for the following analysis.

2.1 Literacy, great divide and benefits

In the 1960s many authors focus their research on the theme of oral cultures versus literate cultures. The most famous are Goody with his Literacy in traditional societies (1968) and The Guthemberg Galaxy (1962) by McLuhan. This current has been called Great Divide because it promoted the idea of profound differences between oral and literate societies, mainly attributing higher cognitive skills to literate societies. This dichotomy reflected other dichotomies that were at centre of some cultural movements of that time (primitive versus civilized or myth versus science) (Brand and Clinton, 2002). These theorists tended to conceptualize literacy as skill learned through a gradual and linear process of personal, cognitive and economic growth and development. Within this frame, any personal gain would have reflected positively on the overall society. This conception of literacy has been later on labeled as autonomous model of literacy, as it would consider literacy as an independent variable capable to trigger positive benefits (Street, 1984: 2). During the same years the idea of human capital started imposing itself in the development scene. Authors like Shultz (1961) argued that for individual educational gains are stocked in the human capital, this capital enables people to gain income, as it was an interest on the stocked goods. The same mechanism is believed to have beneficial effects on the society where the individuals live. Different types of rate of returns are produced by different types of investments in education in different kind of contexts. For instance, Psacharopoulos and Patrinos (2004) suggests that classical patterns of human capital studies are: there is a negative relation between returns to investment and the level of development of the country where the investment is made; secondary education guarantees more personal returns than 4

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices social returns; investment in basic education for women in developing countries is the one guaranteeing higher returns (Shultz, 2002). Also in this case education is considered as an independent variable. This kind of instrumentalist approaches (Unterhalter, 2007) have created strong narratives about the benefits associated to education and literacy and about the linear, positivistic development discourse behind this relation. Both the autonomous model of literacy and the human capital theory have been widely criticized (Street, 1984, Little, 2003; Robeyns, 2006); however they are considered to be still highly influential in informing the mainstream development discourse. To quote some of the most significant and recent critics, the 2006 edition of the UNESCO Global Monitoring Report Literacy for Life (2005) has received harsh criticism just because of its economistic paradigm of development (Robison-Pant, 2008). Anna Robison-Pant (ibid.) reports that while working at the background papers of the Unesco Global Monitoring Report (2005), her major challenge was to problematize the whole concept of benefits within a policy context which was framed by the notion of literacy (and education) as a common undisputed good. Lesley Barlett (2008) also underlines how, even though in one chapter the complexity of the notion of literacy is recognized, the whole document speaks in fulsome prose about the political, economic, social, and cultural benefits of literacy.

2.2 The New Literacy Study

The New Literacy Study (NLS) is a school of thought that includes those thinkers that, in reaction to the Great Divide, developed the theory of literacy as a social practice. This reaction can be seen as a part of the poststructuralist (Deridda, Focault) reaction to the structuralism of the Great Divide. The most eminent representative of the NLS school is Brian Street, who in 1984 denounced the ethnocentrism of the autonomous model of literacy, proposing a more culturally sensitive ideological model. According to Street literacy cannot be extrapolated from the social contest where it operates. It is not literacy as an isolated power that shapes societies, on the opposite literacy practices are shaped by the power relations and ideologies already present within the societies. Because this approach generates from an ethnographic perspective on literacy, then the first aspect that is underlined is the multiple and contextual nature of literacies (Collins, 1995). The ethnographer rather than looking at literacy as a deficit or a need of a society, will try to discover which literacy practices people are already engaged in (Street, 2001: 1), many people labeled illiterate by the users of an autonomous model of literacy might be discovered to use different and significant literacy skills (Doronilla, 1996). The division between oral expression and literacy therefore disappears in front of the eyes of the ethnographer. One key concept generated by the NLS, in accordance with poststructuralist 5

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices views on the society organization, is that literacy often functions as a hegemonic power over societies, and its used to exercise and maintain control (Collins, 1995). That why Street talks about the ideological model of literacy as opposite to the autonomous one, as a neutral literacy cannot exist since ideology, power relations and contestation are

organically embedded within the literacy practices. Two of the key concepts of the NLS that are more pertinent to our analysis are the notions of literacy events and of literacy practices. Shirley Brice Heath describes a literacy event as any occasion in which a piece of writing is integral to the nature of the participants interactions and their interpretative processes (Heath, 1983:50). Brian Street instead describes literacy practices (Street, 1984:1) as a way of focusing on the social practices and conceptions of reading and writing. This approach has tremendously enriched the literacy debate, providing many new insights to literacy practices. One inestimable result is that it has informed and empowered the authority of ethnographic research in the field of literacy. As we will see in Chapter 4, the ethnographic investigations on literacy are particularly important within this dissertation as they provide evidences of how literacy practices shape daily life performances in terms of livelihoods, social networks and participation in the public sphere.

2.3 Situated perspectives on literacy

Even if the contextual nature of literacy that is promoted by the NLS will be at the core of this research, however in order to analyze the role of literacy practices in climate change adaptation I will need analytical tools to expand beyond the context. Some authors have demonstrated that is possible to explore the consequences and utility of literacy as a technology, and its role in progressive forms of social change (Maddox, 2007) without slipping into an autonomous model conception of literacy. This perspective is crucial within my analysis as, as shown in Chapter 3, individuals and households adaptation practices are influenced by many factors: external global dynamics; national, regional and local institutions and issues of governance and agency.

As Brandt and Clinton (2002: 338) suggest, the NLS has created its own, tacit great divideone that assumes separation between the local and the global, agency and social structure, and literacy and its technology. Therefore within this new dichotomy some aspects of literacy, like its technology, its materiality or thing status (ibid.) and the relation between local and global or wider contexts (Collins and Blot, 2003), became taboo. This rigid and partial vision on literacy has been criticized by scholars that, still building on an 6

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices ethnographic approach to the literacy research, claim as crucial the recognition of adding a very important dimension to the localism described by NLS, which is the agency of people in shaping and make use of literacy (Barton and Hamilton, 1998). Within this approach a particular attention is given to the modalities in which literacy is used to mediate interactions between people, suggesting that literacy is inherently useful in processes of social organization and life management (Maddox, 2007).

2.3.a Material dimension of literacy small everyday texts like lists, reports and online chats help construct the infrastructure that shapes our lives (Kell, 2011:613) Where do we start our analysis of the role of literacy in adaptation practices? Brandt and Clinton (2002) suggest, drawing on Latour, that text has a materiality, a thingness, that transcends the local and that has to be the focus of literacy studies. Literacy in these terms has trans-contextualized and trans-contextualizing potentials, in other we shall look at the ability of texts to travel, integrate and endure and to create meaning across contexts. The reality of texts as mediators of daily practices will be therefore one of the pillars of my analysis (see the analytical tool in Chapter 4).

2.3.b Textually mediated access to choices and literacy sponsors and mediators Is important to understand that often when literacy, or a specific literacy practice, is not available at individual level other resources are mobilized in order to make things happen (Kell, 2008). Fingeret (1983) argues that literacy practices are performed within social

networks, taking the shape of an exchange of resources: literacy mediators will offer their service to have something in exchange. However these exchanges involve power relations and can be empowering or disempowering. Brand and Clinton (2002) use the term literacy sponsors to refer to those institutions and people that make the learning and the use of literacy practices possible, for example the government, religious institutions, office workers and so on. These people or institutions detain the power to let other people access to information and often represent interests that differ from the ones of the client they serve.

Literacy mediation is a crucial concept within this dissertation as it is a characteristic of the textually mediated relationships between institutions and individuals or households; having full control over these processes might make the difference between a successful adaptation practice and a unsuccessful one. In addition to that, one characteristic of the chronic poor is indeed their limited citizenship (CPRC, 2008) it is however possible to

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices assume that they might be particularly exposed to abuses in their relationships with the institutions, therefore the dynamics that regulate these encounters are very crucial.

One example of literacy mediation present in the ethnographic research of Kathrin Jones (2000) sums up the relationship between the focus on the material dimension of text and the role of mediation needed to perform specific literacy practices that are informed by a global agenda. She looks at rural Welsh families and their literacy encounters with the farming bureaucracy. At the centre of the analysis there is the text (the form to be filled by the farmer), as a material piece of evidence of a global bureaucratic agenda (the European Union policies), imposed on the local context with the consequence of producing disembedded local relations. If these texts are obviously disempowering, on the other hand people are capable of re-contextualizing these external influences, through their agency, bureaucracy mediators (government officers) play a crucial role in shaping these processes. As Liezl Malan (1996) puts it literacy mediators intervene between local and dominant discourses and their agency is invested with varying degrees of social power. In these, and other similar studies (Kell, 1996; Malan, 1996; Collins & Blot, 2003) we see how three very important elements interact: the text itself, the access to opportunities that are mediated by texts, the role of mediators within this process. Katherine Kell (2008), through a meticulous research of the uses of text within development interventions, invites to re-conceptualize mediation across larger social units. She shows how agency is inexorably linked with the transferability of texts and the availability of proper mediation.

However, not always mediators play a positive role. Within the discourse of literacy and inequalities, some studies explore the role of texts, mediators and the exercise of state power. Barlett et al (2011) show how material texts (legal documents) are interpreted differently by the state officers according to the gender, the perceived ethnicity and the social capital of the holders; her analysis shows how literacy practices are not liberation per se, on the contrary agents of the state use them as a mean of exploitation.

2.3.c Agency and participation in the political space As will be illustrated in Chapter 3, a wide participation of the people into public decision making is regarded as crucial for the reduction of the vulnerability to climate change and variability. Furthermore, household or community level inequalities are considered to be underlying causes of vulnerability (Mc Gray et al, 2007). I argue, utilizing the ethnographic observations in this field, that the relation between peoples literacy practices, their agency and their interaction within the public sphere has to be explored. Even if this relation is not linear (as we have just seen in Barlett et al. account), certain literacy practices within certain 8

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices contexts reveal to be transformative. One of the examples might be the women use of literacy and numeracy to manage home accounting, as described by Maddox (2001, 2005) that can represent a concrete threat to patriarchy, even though it might not be sufficient per se to radically transform power relations.

Paulo Freire (1970) has been the main advocate of the idea of literacy as a tool for social transformation. His work has inspired generations of educators that utilize critical pedagogy to engage students to learn literacy through the acquisition of consciousness about their status and the power relations that regulate their lives. These notions have been utilized in different interventions involving grassroots organization that in certain cases have produced very powerful literacy practices for the participation in the public space Doronila and Cueva Sipin (2005); but have been also criticized for having questionable political results, mainly due to the inadequate preparation of the teachers (Barlett, 2008).

2.3.d Re-contextualization, local and global dimensions As we have seen above the ethnographic research help understanding that part of the global influences take the shape of texts when they land into local contexts. Brandt and Clinton (2002) talk about globalizing connect, they describe it as a local literacy practice that has far reaching implications and uses outside the local context (Reder and Davila, 2005). The issue of globalization is relevant to the analysis of the role of literacy in adaptation practices for two main reasons. The first one is that climate change is per se a global phenomenon, not only because it happens globally but, especially, because it involves global actors and agendas. Therefore what is happening, and will happen more in the future is that policy driven adaptation practices will probably be internationally determined and then will land locally shaped into texts (policies, laws, but also forms to be filled or notes that announce relocations). The second one is that chronic poor are more and more exposed to a double exposure (OBrien and Leichenko, 2000), the vulnerability to climate change is often accompanied by the negative impacts of economic globalization. Global contexts are becoming so important into peoples lives that we have to ask: which are the implication for literacy?

Bloomaert (2004, 2008) demonstrates how texts which might be functional within a context, lose meaning and function when moved across context, specifically looking form a northsouth perspective. According to him, this dynamic reflects the unequal power relations across contexts. In other words, a text written in what is, in a hegemonic way, considered to be a periphery, when transferred in the so-called centre it will be regarded as inferior, rather than different. This because of the hegemonic evaluative rules utilized in the centre. In this 9

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices framework peripheral voices, unless they conform with the global literacies rules, are disqualified from being heard. Bloomaert analysis gives us the tools to analyze the global literacy inequalities. Kell (2005, 2008, 2011), instead, looks at recontextualization but at a micro level. Her ethnographic research reveals that the shift across context of material texts does not always produce a loss of meaning; however her work confirms the importance of looking at the trajectories of the material texts in order to understand how meaning, identities, power relations and literacy interact.

2.4 Conclusions
In this chapter I have tried to illustrate the richness of the understandings of literacy in the academic literature, but also I have tried to outline which of these concepts will guide my analysis. The core concept that will inform this dissertation is that literacy is far more than a skill or a technology; it is instead a social practice that can powerfully shape the outcome of other social practices. Trying to avoid to present literacy as an autonomous entity, I will nevertheless attempt to pinpoint its potential value in shaping adaptation processes. In order to do that, my investigation will be strongly informed by the concept of literacy practices, by the centrality of the materiality of texts, by the concept of literacy mediation and by the nexuses between literacy and global inequalities. .


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

Chapter 3: Adaptation, Vulnerability and Development

Very often literacy rates or investments in education (Brooks et al, 2005) are utilized, in the framework of the climate change discourse (Chapter 1), as proxy for social or contextual vulnerability within a community. Which concepts of the climate change adaptation might help us framing our understanding of the role of literacy in adaptation practices?

3.1 The adaptation framework

The starting point of my analysis is that is crucial to understand what people are already doing to adapt to climate change and variability in order to plan appropriate interventions and promote enabling environments (Agrawal 2010, Roy et al, 2011). This particular perspective pays appropriate attention to peoples agency within this process, recognizing their preferences and innovative role in proposing adaptation practices (Roy et al, 2011). Furthermore, it does concentrate on peoples capacity rather than their vulnerability (Twigg 2010.

My analysis will be based on the flowing adaptation framework (Figure 1).

Box 4 Box 6 Institutions Box 1 Climate change and variability Box 2 Physical and social vulnerability to climate change and variability Box 3 Adaptation practices External Resources

Box 5 Socio economic resources/assets

Figure 1 Adaptation practices framework

Source: adaptation from Argawal (2010) and Roy et al. (2011)


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices As my analysis will show in Chapter 4, literacy, as a individuals, households or communities resource (box 5, Figure 1), does not have only an influence in shaping peoples adaptation practices, but it also shapes peoples relations with the institutions (box 4, Figure 1) and their relations with the external resources (box 6, figure 1). We will therefore acknowledge the significance of the processes related to climate variability and change and the vulnerabilities associated to it (box 1 and 2, Figure 1), but we will concentrate our analysis on the adaptation practices and the institutions, looking at how this choices are taken and performed according to the socio-economic assets (boxes 3, 4, 5, Figure 1).

3.1.a Climate variability and change (Box1) The international scientific community agrees on the fact that climate is changing, the warming of the globe is considered to be a fact (IPCC, 2007). However climate predictions are also characterized by a significant degree of uncertainty (Ensor and Berger, 2009), while climate models can predict with a certain confidence the raising of the global temperatures, they are still incapable of giving us more detailed information. Many researchers have shown how local communities have already a strong perception of anomalies in the weather (ibid.). Given our attention to peoples adaptation practices we will focus more on the effects of the anomalies in the climate variability in the medium and short term, rather than on the long terms effects of climate change. This because the latter are not only not yet fully predictable; but also relatively comprehensible and relevant to peoples lives.

3.1.b Vulnerability to climate change (Box 2) The concept of vulnerability to climate change has been theorized in different ways. There are two main, somehow conflicting, conceptions: outcome vulnerability and the contextual one (Adger, 2006; Brooks, 2003; OBrien 2007; Kelly, 2000). Some authors, whose views are rooted in the positivistic science and environmental economics (OBrien et al., 2007) theorize vulnerability as the result of the exposure of a certain community or area to a certain hazard. This approach, that can be labeled outcome vulnerability, has its main focus in quantifying the losses related to climate change and it has a scarce consideration of the influence of social issues in the framework of climate change. This vision tends to inform technical adaptation solutions, for instance in the provision of weather forecasting information (Tanner and Mitchell, 2008) and, in the field of


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices education stressing the need for awareness rising trainings or the inclusion of climate change knowledge in school curricula (IPCC, 2001; UNISDR, 2004). The second and most relevant to us, approach is the so called contextual vulnerability, also called starting point vulnerability (Ensor and Berger, 2009). Within this vision vulnerability is the state of a given community or area that makes it exposed to climate hazards (Brooks, 2003; Wisner, 2004). This state does exist independently from the hazard and, being related to socio-economic conditions present in a society, is mutable in the time and often it is not distributed evenly. Within this vision, changes in climate are considered to occur in the context of political, institutional, economic and social structures and changes, which interact dynamically with contextual conditions (OBrien et al, 2007), socioeconomic systems therefore can determine peoples ability to cope with the impacts of climate change (Chambers, 1989). A crucial point is the understanding that the potential disastrous effects of climate hazards are not natural phenomena, but rather social constructions, a result of the resources availability and the architecture of entitlements (Adger and Kelly, 1999) to access those resources (Kelly and Adger, 2000). This approach therefore provides the theoretical grounds to reveal that the poorest communities are the most vulnerable to climate change, and that the shocks caused by climate change are already hindering the development efforts (DFID, 2005, Scott, 2008). This concept of vulnerability provides a very important framework for the formulation of policies oriented towards the identification of social and institutional tools to address vulnerability. Also, recognizing that vulnerability is a complex phenomenon involving a multiplicity of factors, it encourages a multidisciplinary approach (OBrien et al., 2007) within the policy making process. As we will see later in this chapter (3.1.c) and in Chapter 4, social networks and collective action (Adger et al., 2003, Pelling and High, 2008) and good governance (in terms of enhancement of accountability and participation in public decision making) are believed to play a very important role in the reduction of vulnerability to climate change.

3. 1.c Adaptation practices (Box 3) The adaptive capacity of a certain community, social system or area has been described in many different ways; we will use Brookss definition: The ability or capacity of a system to modify or change its characteristics or behavior so as to cope better with existing or anticipated external stresses (Brooks, 2003: 8).


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices This ability is excised through a number of adaptation practices that can be both physical and behavioral. There is a growing recognition that people are already adapting to the impacts created by climate change (Smithers and Smith 1997, Pelling and High, 2005, Agraval, 2010, Chatterjee, 2010, Moser et al, 2010). When there is no public policy that respond to climate hazards by promoting adaptation measures (planned adaptation), people engage in so called autonomous (or spontaneous) adaptation practices. (IPCC, 2001; Smith et al, 2010). Autonomous adaptation practices need some conditions in order to be successful. Some authors assess how the agents assets (such as education, access to information and financial resources, social networks) have an influence on the adaptation choices and outcomes (Brooks, 2003). While other authors focus on the key role of the authorities (Argawal, 2010) to create enabling environments. It is therefore important to analyze the practices, their agents and the wider political and economical contexts1.

In the following chapter I will therefore explore the role of literacy - that can be considered (Chapter 2) as a prerogative of individuals, households and communities - in shaping individual, households and collective adaptation practices (Moser et al, 2010). I will

furthermore look at the nexuses between literacy practices and social capital. As Pelling and High (2005) have suggested there are two main, and opposed, scopes for the mobilization of social capital in the framework of adaptation. On one side social capital can support the organization of material interventions (such as the community mobilization for the construction of river banks or drainages). In this case people mobilize their own already existing social capital (Chatterjee, 2011). On the other side, social capital is invoked as a driving force to lead processes of institutional modification, such as democratization of the use of natural resources or broad political participation. In this case the latent social capital capacity needs to be developed. As in the development and adaptation continuum (3.2.a), all these adaptation practices can be ordered according to how directly they address a particular climate hazard.

The construction of specific adaptation practices will be therefore dependent on the socioeconomic resources (box 5, Figure 1), the institutions (box 4, Figure 1), and the social and physical vulnerability to a specific hazard (box 2, Figure 1).


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices poor

Figure 2 Mapping adaptive capacity through social capital

As we will see in the following chapter, some of these elements will be utilized in the framework of our analysis together with Tanner and Mitchell (2008) classification of analysis, adaptation choices done accordi to the poverty category (Chapter 4). according

3.1.d The role of institutions (Box 4) Institutions here are defined broadly, as we will see that formal (local government, nongovernmental organization, etc) and informal institutions (churches, social networks, community based organizations), public and private bodies and civil society, all play important roles in determining peoples ability to perform adaptive practices. Moreover very often it is trough local institution that external resources (box 6, Figure 1 are channeled to 1) the communities. Argawal (2010) confirms this interaction with his study of the influence of institution in adaptation practices and conclu concludes that local adaptation always occurs within an institutional context, and most of the times ongoing adaptation practices involve the adaptation interaction of stakeholders at different level (households, civil society and public institutions). These transactions are often textually mediated, as shown in Chapter 2, and will require different literacy practices according to the nature of the stakeholder involved.

3.1.e Socio-economic resources/assets (Box 5) economic When talking about socio socio-economic resources I will hereby refer to households and fer individuals and communities assets, capabilities and entitlements. The link between these factors and vulnerability and resilience in the context of climate change has been widely discussed by many authors (Moser, 1998; Adger and Kelly, 1999; Brooks et al, 2005). It is Kelly, important to notice that these elements are meant to characterize a household or an individual condition; they therefore could differ from the physical or social vulnerability of the 15

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices wider community. The attention to the household unit of analysis is justified by the fact that this dissertation focuses on chronic poverty (Hulme et al., 2001). On the other hand, it is recognized that also within the household there can be significant differences in the distribution of assets, especially according to gender and age (ibid).

These assets strongly shape the adaptation practices and the ability to perform them. As Prowse and Scott (2008: 39) suggests assets are vital elements of any pro-poor adaptation strategy. II will argue in the following chapter that literacy practices are very relevant assets within the adaptation discourse.

3.1.f External resources (Box 6) As anticipated in Chapter 2 (p. 9) the context of adaptation to climate change is characterized by the involvement of a number of international actors and the commitment of the mobilization of resources that shall address this issue in the future. Even if the mechanisms that will govern the allocation of the adaptation funds are far from being clear, there will be tangible possibilities for poor people to benefit from these measures. However it is very important to make sure that those benefits will reach the poorest communities and that their priorities are met (Tanner and Mitchell, 2008).

3.2 Vulnerability, Development and Resilience

I will add two more concepts to the adaptation framework, as they are strongly related to it and will be utilized in the following chapters. 3.2.a The Vulnerability Development Continuum It is widely recognized that developing countries are the more vulnerable to climate change (IPCC, 2001), therefore there are attempts to integrate adaptation measures within the development discourse. On one side, it is believed that the adverse effects of climate change are going to hinder the development progresses towards economic and social development of many countries; on the other side, many people advocate for the prioritization of the most vulnerable and poor areas in directing adaptation efforts (Pavoola and Adger, 2006). Mc Grey et al (2007) propose that there is a continuum between development and adaptation; on the one hand of the continuum there are the classic development activities, that can reduce the overall vulnerability but do not target a specific climate change hazard; on the other there are adaptation activities strongly targeted at reducing the negative impacts of specific hazards (and that would not normally be addressed within the 16

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices development framework); between these two ends there are various forms of activities that place different degrees of emphasis on vulnerability reduction and addressing climate related hazards.

3.2.b Resilience The concept of resilience is highly debated and contested, especially because it is utilized in a number of different disciplines (Manyena, 2006). Echoing the definition given within the Hyogo Framework for Action, for the purpose of this dissertation we will refer to the definition suggested by Twigg (2010). A community or system can be defined resilient when it able to: anticipate, minimize and absorb potential stresses through adaptation or resistance; manage or maintain certain basic functions during disastrous events; and recover after an event. This definition of resilience poses attention on what community can do for themselves based on their capacity rather than their vulnerability and needs when a disaster strikes. Therefore building resilience can be considered as a systematic approach to improve the existing adaptation practices (box 3 in Figure 1) aimed at risk reduction and management (Twigg, 2010).

3.3 Conclusions
As anticipated in the introduction, the focus of the dissertation is to analyze the interaction between one asset, literacy, and all the other elements composing the adaptation practices framework. Within this chapter I have described all the elements of the framework and how they are generally understood to relate to each other. In the following chapter I will unpack the adaptive practice box and its relation with literacy further, looking at it through a chronic poverty lens.


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices poor

Chapter 4: The literacy adaptation analytical framework literacy-adaptation

The objective of this chapter is to merge the two theoretical frameworks described in meworks Chapter 2 and Chapter 3. On one side, it has been shown that literacy is far more than a skill, or a technology; it is instead a social practice that has multiple shapes and applications (functionings). Literacy is not only an individual requisite, as it can be performed through mediators and collectively, and texts mediate human interactions of various nature On the , nature. other side, it has been explaine that peoples resilience and adaptation to climate change explained depends on a number of factors: on the nature of the hazards and the clarity of the predictions; on the overall physical and social vulnerability to the hazard; on the role of the institutions and external resources that can facilitate the creation of enabling environments; lastly and more significantly to us, on the socio economic resources (assets) of a certain socio-economic household or individual.

4 .1 Which options are a available to chronic poor?

4.1. a Definition of chronic poverty When talking about poverty we will refer to the body of literature that recognizes the multidimensional aspects composing human wellbeing, going beyond the income or consumption paradigm (Moser, 1998: Tanner and Mitchell, 2008: Hulme et al, 2001; Moser and Satterthwaite, 2008). In the framework of this dissertation we have used the categories , of poverty as theorized by Hulme et al. (2001) (see Figure 3 below), where two main dimensions are taken in consideration: time and expenditure expenditure.

Figure 3 The chronic poor, transient poor a non poor - a categorization

Source: Hulme et al. 2001


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices As we can see, chronic poor are those experiencing the deepest level and duration of poverty. The Chronic Poverty Research Centre of Manchester has estimated that there were between 320 and 443 million chronically poor people in the world in 2007, the majority living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (CPRC 2008). Most of them live in insecure environments and have few assets or entitlements to cope with shocks and stresses (CPRC 2008: vii).

The concept of asset vulnerability utilized in the chronic poverty literature to describe insecurity in the wellbeing of individuals, households and communities, including sensitivity to change (Moser, 1998) has obvious resonances with the adaptation practices framework identified in Chapter 3.

4.1. b Adaptation Practices and poverty categories Tanner and Mitchell (2008) describe how people belonging to different poverty groups (utilizing the categories described by Hulme et al., 2001) have different adaptation choices. The table below (Table 1) is an adaptation form the one proposed by them. I have divided the public policy driven adaptation practices into two categories: social protection and governance, referring to the two categories proposed by Pelling and High (2005) already discussed in Chapter 3: material intervention and institutional modification. This two categories give us the opportunity to explore two different ways to approach the institutions that, as we will see shortly, require different literacy functionings.


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

Table 1 Adaptation practices per poverty category Aggregate category Specific poverty category

Chronic Poverty Always Poor Usually poor

selling last assets sending younger children to work migration crime

Transient Poverty Churning Occasionally poor poor

seasonal migration less risky production working multiple jobs and longer hours diversify livelihoods

Non-Poor Never poor

investments in multiple financial assets buy droughttolerant seeds or new technology diversify livelihoods

Autonomous adaptation

sending younger children to work Livelihoods crime migration to more exposed location reduction of nutritional intake N/A

Market exchange

micro-savings, micro-credit, microinsurance Cattle insurance

weather index insurance cattle insurance microsavings, micro-credit selling assets

weather index insurance microsavings, micro-credit selling assets

crop insurance farm and domestic insurance price hedging

Public policy driven adaptation (Box 4 & 6, Chp 3)

social pensions Social Protection material intervention cash for work assisted migration conditional cash transfers democratization of natural resource management; right to adaptation/redist ribution promotion of health and nutrition services

subsidized seed banks cash for work community restocking schemes democratization of natural resource management promotion of health and nutrition services

community restocking schemes improved remittance schemes improved climate information (seasonal forecasting) irrigation schemes; ecosystem rehabilitation

employment assurance schemes improved remittance schemes; improved climate information (seasonal forecasting)



Governance institutional

Adapted from Tanner and Mitchell, 2008

How literacy, and what kind of literacies, can empower or limit the exercise of these options? I have utilized the above adaptation-poverty framework to develop a literacyadaptation analytical tool (Table 2) that summarizes the most relevant nexuses between literacy and adaptation practices, proposes policy and pedagogy possible implications and related theories.


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

Table 2 Literacy-Adaptation analytical tool Adaptation practice Category Role of literacy in adaptation practices Mobility/migration related literacy Bookkeeping related literacy and numeracy Livelihoods Skilled work related literacies Access to information about new technologies, climate related innovations Implications for pedagogies and policies Integration of literacy and numeracy teaching within livelihoods trainings Teaching of literacy in the workplaces Livelihoods related primers/curricula contents Focus on lifelong learning and non-formal education Bookkeeping related literacy and numeracy Market exchange Reading and composing contracts for selling and buying assets Marketing goods related literacy Independent control or positive literacy mediation over insurance documents Independent control or positive literacy mediation over the completion of bureaucratic forms Social Protection Independent control or positive literacy mediation over the documents produced within aid/disaster relief projects Command over communication with institutions: reading writing letters, minutes of meetings Access to laws, government documents, newspapers, political documents; Access to the web Explicit consideration of literacy in the planning of aid/disaster relief programs Integration of literacy within risk and adaptation awareness programs Ethnographic enquires Literacy mediation Integration of literacy and numeracy teaching within microfinance programs Focus on lifelong learning and non-formal education Ethnographic enquires Marginal returns Theories and methods Ethnographic enquires Marginal returns

Integration of literacy within programs aimed at raising critical consciousness Integration of literacy within rights based programs Teaching of literacy and ITC related skills Critical analysis over the teaching and use of hegemonic languages (multilingual contexts) Focus on quality education and lifelong learning

Ethnographic enquires Social reproduction theories Critical pedagogies Grassroots literacy


Bookkeeping related literacy and numeracy to gain control over household assets; Gender Inequalities Reading and composing contracts to reclaim rights over property; Collective use of literacy within gender awareness raising;

Gender sensitive primers/curricula; Gender sensitive pedagogies, teacher/learner relations; Integration of literacy teaching in gender awareness raising programs; Reflect/Mahila Samakya; Focus on lifelong learning

Social reproduction theories; Ethnographic enquiry Critical pedagogies

Note: By positive literacy mediation I mean a situation where the mediator shares the same agenda with the beneficiary of the mediation


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

4.2 What role for literacy in these adaptive options?

4.2.a Livelihoods and market exchange As we have seen, the relation between education, literacy and development is highly contested (Chapter 2). Moreover, the nature of the relation between education and chronic poverty is not obvious and poorly researched (Rose and Dyer, 2005). The first thing that we notice looking at the livelihoods options available to chronic poor (Table 1) is that they are not many. This is because in a context of extreme scarcity of assets, the adaptation options and the economic interests might conflict violently. For example, in order to prevent or respond to a shock a family might be forced between sending their younger children to school or reduce the family food intake. These actions instead of reducing vulnerability make it worst in the medium or long run. This phenomenon is known as maladaptation (Sattethwaite et al., 2007). In this context being resilient is particularly important, as livelihoods are often on the edge (Ellis, 2003). Literacy plays a significant role in maintaining the fragile livelihoods of chronic poor. When talking about literacy and livelihoods it is very important to recall that there are literacy practices involved in a large number of economic and productive activities. Chronic poor are often managers of a complex portfolio of economic activities and an ethnographic eye on these practices can tell how texts mediate most of them. As Maddox (2001:148) reports when observing literacy mediations in a bazaar in Bangladesh what is relatively rare in the bazaar and in other types of rural economic activity is the non-use of literacy. Selling assets very often involves the production of official documentation as running small businesses requires some form of record keeping; the same is required when asking for a formal or informal credit. However these functionings are frequently very different from the ones taught within the formal schooling system or in adult education primers (Rogers, 2005). These literacy functionings are particularly interesting for two main reasons: one is that they are often performed by people who consider themselves (and within the statistics officially classified as) illiterate and they are mainly learned outside the formal schooling system (Maddox, 2001, Rogers et al., 2007). They therefore disclose that illiterate are often not passive people with a deficit, they are rather active performers of agency, that through the literacy practices that they enact, pinpoint the goals that literacy programs shall attain. When people are not able to perform these micro-literacies (Maddox, 2001:141) they have to use mediators. As we will see later, the role of these mediators is far from neutral as they carry their own agenda. The second reason of interest is that these located expertise literacy functionings, even though might not be enough to allow individual or household social mobility, can build their 22

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices resilience to shocks. Resilience, especially in the case of the category of usually poor and the churning poor (see Figure 1) might significantly contribute to diminish the chances to drop back in a lower category and increase the possibility to improve their conditions by accumulating other assets. Maddox (2010) explains that chronic poors acquisition of basic literacy and numeracy skills in the framework of adult education classes in Bangladesh has shown benefits in daily life management of livelihoods. These marginal returns, even if causing minimal economic returns as measured in the classical economic way, trigger tangible benefits. These daily micro-literacy events have in fact a massive importance in strengthening the fragile stability of the few livelihoods assets available to chronic poor. In addition to that, in the framework of pro-poor adaptation is crucial to: on one side to empower existing livelihoods (addressing the root causes of vulnerability, see Chapter 3) and, on the other side, to increase people capacity to adapt their livelihoods in the face of changing conditions (Eriksen and OBrien, 2007). This is why diversification becomes crucial. It has also to be taken into account the evidence that chronic poor are not prone to take on risky behaviors to modify their situation (Wood, 2003). Migration of some member of the household is a typical way of diversifying livelihoods. The role of literacy and education in migration can be crucial. To quote one example, when migration is performed towards urban centers mainly young educated male will be sent, reaffirming and strengthening gender inequalities (Khotari, 2002). The above mentioned ethnographic studies help us in understanding of how, in a context of limited resources and multiple risks, the control over the micro-literacy and numeracy events that are central to many economic transactions might be crucial to preserve, expand or diversify livelihoods. Additionally, the studies highlight the critical role literacy has over decision making in contexts of literacy inequalities.

4.2.b Power relations and decision making over uses of assets This category is not originally included in the adaptation-poverty framework (Table 1). However, households gender inequalities over the decision making processes are to be considered an important underlying cause of vulnerability (Roy and Venema, 2002; Brody, 2008); in addition to that, adaptation policies, in order to be pro-poor, have to be gender sensitive (Polak, 2008). I suggest that a focus on literacy inequalities makes it imperative to exploit the transformative potential of the use of literacy empowerment to address adaptation. Literacy inequalities are often present within the same household, and this is signaled by the strong correlation between low literacy rates and high dependency rates (CPRC, 2008). These inequalities strongly influence the power over the making of decisions that can be crucial for the destiny of the households livelihoods. As mentioned in Chapter 2, 23

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices some literacy practices, such as the literacy and numeracy that allow the control over the family bookkeeping, can have a transformative effect on the gender relations (Maddox, 2005). The focus on gender inequalities can inform a number of transformative pedagogies (Aikman and Unterhalter, 2005) in both the formal and the informal literacy education sector.

4.2.c Networks and public policy driven adaptation The concept of social capital is widely utilized in the context of climate change (Adger, 2003). One aspect that is generally recognized (Moser and Satterthwaite, 2008) is that the capacity of a household or a community to make demands and work in partnership with a number of different stakeholders (local authorities, national or international Ngos, financial institutions) can reduce significantly their vulnerability. The distribution of losses through the support of networks, at many levels, is one of the adaptive practices most used. An in-depth research done by Chatterjee (2010) in Mumbai slums has shown that, after a flood, most of the households have utilized local networks (mostly money lenders, informal establishment and local traders) and networks within the ward and the city (religious organizations, employers, friends and family) to acquire economic assistance and recover. Noticeably, over the 18% used national and global networks as well. This example confirms that networking is crucial when it comes to adaptation (Pelling and High, 2005, Moser and Satterthwaite, 2008 STHH). What could it be the role of literacy in shaping these options? The first observation is that often the (power) relations within or across social networks are mediated by literacy events. When these events involve stakeholders of different nature, then text will need to have certain characteristics that make it transferrable, form a context to the other (Chapter 2). The second consideration is that activities oriented at material interventions might require different literacy functionings than activities oriented at the modification of the institutions2.

4.2 d Material intervention oriented adaptation practices As Chatterjee (2010) describes, people living in the poorest areas of Mumbai show to have a wide spectrum of stakeholders/networks, from local to global scale, on which they can rely to reduce their vulnerability on the face of climate hazards events. We can assume that the
We hereby refer to the categories proposed by Pelling and High (2005) within the Mapping adaptive capacity through social capital, discussed in Chapter 3.


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices relations established with money lenders and local traders will probably require literacy and numeracy functionings similar to those described in the livelihoods and market exchange section of this chapter. However there are a number of more formal relationships which are more likely to be mediated by bureaucratic texts. For instance, the access to the social protection measures (Table 1) that the government or other relevant organizations might make available, would probably require at least one person to fill in one form and declare its status. In this case, issues of literacy mediation and all the power related issues attached (Chapter 2) play an important role. Bureaucratic texts are the embodiment of the power relation that occurs between the state and the citizen; they often force the officers representing the state on the field to act as translators (Jones, 2000) for the citizens. This mediation service is not neutral, it might be positive but it also might leave a very small space for the citizen agency. This lack of control might be problematic in cases of conflicting interests or agendas between the mediator and the citizen (Barlett et al., 2011). Furthermore, in the context of policy driven adaptation practices made available through aid agencies, literacy issues and literacy practices might influence the outcomes. Kell (2005, 2008) and Aikman (2001) investigated on the role of literacy within development interventions. Kell suggests that development projects might be considered as communities of practice (Kell, 2005:177) that create their own literacy events. Within these interventions, text, such as lists, plans and invoices are central to the construction of agency of individuals (Kell, 2008:892). She notices that the beneficiaries agency can be empowered through the mediation process. Therefore, not all the individuals need to be literate in order to make things happen. However, to make this process work it is essential an explicit consideration of the role played by literacy (Aikman, 2001). The way in which

considerations about the literacy practices are taken into account when designing and, especially, when implementing a development (or an adaptation) intervention will tell much about how power relations are considered and challenged. 4.2. e Institutional modification oriented adaptation practices This is a very crucial field because of its transformative claim, but it is also generally undervalued (Pelling and High, 2005). According to the CPRC, one of the characteristic of chronic poor is their exclusion from the political sphere, their lack of representation and sense of citizenship. In this case, in order to overcome this tendency, the empowerment of their social capital is both a must and a challenge. As we have seen in Chapter 2, literacy can play a role in enhancing peoples participation in the public space (Freire, 1970, Doronila and Cuevas Sipin, 2005). Moreover, it has to be noticed that often, especially in urban environments, authorities have a hostile attitude towards the chronic poor (Sattethwaite et al, 2008) and therefore do not put in place mechanisms for participation that take into account peoples communication needs. 25

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices As Blommaert (2008) suggests, the inequalities in the distribution of literacy are mirroring the wider inequalities present in a society. The processes to make the voice of the poor heard are often mediated by texts and various form of literacy. This reduced the chances of circulation of ideas, interests and perceptions that would be crucial for the authorities to design effective pro-poor initiatives. OBrien and Leichenko (2000) note how poor are subject to a double burden: climate change and globalization. The challenges posed by globalization dont allow any legitimacy for grassroots literacy (Blommaert, 2008), on the contrary they require the production of texts that have to be globally understandable, not only in terms of language, but also in terms of register and mode of transmission, such as in the case of internet. Looking at this scale, literacy inequalities seem to be overwhelming, raising on one side issues of educational quality, on the other issues of cultural hegemony. Because of the predominance of the Education for All agenda (Torres, 2000; Maddox et al., 2011) in the framework of the international educational policy, the attention towards the transformative potential of literacy (Freire, 1970) has strongly declined in the last 30 years. However, it is still possible and necessary, when talking about literacy and social change, to think of transformative pedagogies. There has been interventions, where adult literacy trainings had a central role, that proved to have a strong impact in the way people have negotiated the use of public resources (Doronilla and Cueva Sipin, 2005), an issue that is crucial in the field of adaptation.

4.3 Conclusions
This chapter shows that there are tangible nexuses between the mastering of certain literacy practices and the performance of the analyzed adaptation practices categories. We also have discovered that literacy, when promoted through appropriate pedagogies, can also have a transformative potential in the field of gender inequalities. These nexuses are particularly crucial for the chronic poor as, in a context of dramatic scarcity of assets, addressing literacy inequalities might represent an effective way to build peoples resilience. Moreover it confirms that, as Tanner and Mitchell (2008) suggest, the focus of climate change adaptation interventions, focused at reducing the vulnerability of chronic poor, have to be located in the development side of the development-vulnerability continuum (Mc Gray et al 2007, Chapter 3).


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

Chapter 5 Urban poverty, literacy and climate change in Bangladesh, a case study
This chapter tests the relevance of the literacy-adaptation framework developed in the previous chapter and raises some questions about the reliability of the mainstream literacy measurement.

5.1 Chronic poor adaptation to climate change in urban centers

People living in urban3 centers in low and middle-income countries are, worldwide, the most exposed to climate related hazards (Moser et Satterthwaite, 2008).They represent more than one third of the world population and are estimate to grow massively in the next 20 years (Satterthwaite et al, 2007). Urban centers located in low and middle-income countries are considered to be extremely vulnerable, because of the inadequacy of the infrastructure and the poor accountability of the institutions governing them (ibid). One of the characteristic of urban chronic poor is that of living in environmentally insecure areas (CPRC, 2008). But also, they are typically poorly represented politically and live situations of conflict with the local authorities (ibid.). As Sattertwithe et al (2007) suggest, in many cases urban policies (often focused at blocking the expansion of slums settlements) increase peoples vulnerability to climate hazards, producing maladaptation (Sattethwaite et al., 2007). Given the magnitude of the vulnerability of the poor urban population, the necessity for pro-poor oriented adaptation initiatives is evident (Satterwaite et al, 2007; Moser and Satterthwaite, 2008). .

5.3 Chronic Poor adaptation in Bangladesh urban areas

5.3.a Urban chronic poor and exposure to climate variability in Bangladesh Urbanization is a key feature of the recent history of Bangladesh. According to Banks et al (2011), within this generation the country will witness the tipping point whereby urban poor will outnumber rural poor. Even if the trend is clear, there are evidences that not enough

I am aware of the limits of the use of the definition urban, especially when utilized in the dichotomy urban-rural. This antithesis is a human-made construct. The risk of this polarization is to overgeneralize and to depict the urban poor as a deprived category of people all holding the same characteristics.


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices attention is given to the research and the production of sound policies oriented to the reduction of urban poverty (ibid).

In addition to that, the peculiar nature of the Bengali natural territory puts these people at high risk of climate related hazards. Agrawala (2003) anticipated that climate change will affect Bangladesh in four main ways: accelerated Himalayas glacier melting, increase in rainfall during the monsoon season, sea level rise leading to flooding, and increased frequency and severity of cyclones. Rawlani and Sovacool (2011) show how every area in the country will be affected at least from one of these hazard. One of the expected outcomes of these phenomena is the forecasted migration of an enormous number of people: 25 million climate refugees if 15% of the land will be inundated by 2050, (ibid.). This will obviously put greater pressure on urban centers. Dhaka has been already signaled as the most vulnerable Asian city by the WWF (Roy et al, 2011), and it is already believed to become the world second largest city by 2020 (Banks et al., 2011). Urban poverty is a renowned feature of cities in Bangladesh. Over the 35 per cent of the national urban population is believed to live in slums, and even though urban poverty rates have experienced a decline in the last 30 years, the absolute number has however risen dramatically (Blank et al., 2011). It has to be noticed that the high commoditization of urban life (need of purchasing food, paying for rent and transport) makes poverty lines generally unfit to measure the cost of living in urban areas (Satterthwaite, 1997). Therefore, the phenomenon of urban poverty tends to be underestimated (Blank et al., 2011). The dependency on purchased food also makes urban poor particularly vulnerable to the already happening prices hikes and that are believed to increase in the future due to climate change (Rawlani and Sovacool, 2011). Lastly, from the urbanization point of view the slums are high-density areas, where people live in overcrowded houses that are generally of very poor quality (made out of mud, tin of partially in concrete or worst in squatter settlements). These areas are scarcely served by public services such as water supply and drainages. Moreover the land tenure is often a problem and the risks of eviction are very high (Rashid, 2000). These conditions add to the overall vulnerability and make the dwellers of these areas extremely vulnerable to climatic hazards.

5.3.b Urban Chronic poor and literacy in Bangladesh urban centers, what is to be measured? From a literacy point of view the situation in Bangladesh is far from positive. Even if the educational policies have been successfully focused at reducing the divide between boys and girls enrollment, on the other end no efforts have been putted into improving the quality of education provided (Chowdury, 2003). Nowadays the national over 15 years old literacy 28

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices poor rates are of 55% (UNESCO 2011). Even if, as it might be expected, literacy rates are (UNESCO, higher in urban environments the constant increase in the number of urban population, together with the scarce attention to service provision to poor living in slum areas, has provoked a worsening in adu literacy rates in urban areas (Figure 4). adult

Figure 4 Worsening human development indicators in urban locations Source: CPRC, 2008

Can we therefore consider the issue of literacy a marginal problem in urban Bangladesh? I utilized data collected in the framework of the Urban Partnership for Poverty Reduction Programme (UPPRP) of the government of Bangladesh, supported by the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) to explore this further4. In the questionnaire delivered to the households to determine the demographic and socio n socioeconomic characteristics of the survey surveyed population there was a section dedicated to education. Two questions were asked: one related to literacy (a self assessment) and the other one to the years spent in school. At a first sight the data collected within this framework might not be very surprising: the literacy rate is of 71%, in line with the national urban data. While in terms of schooling the 27.3% never attended school; however is worth . however, noticing, that in 3 out of the 7 cities the rates are over the 30%, with a peak of the 43,2% in Comilla. The majority, 33.7% have attended one to five years, while only the 15.4% have attended the secondary school certificate or above. (see Tab 3) Table

These data were collected between 2009 and 2010 by a private firm, BETS, that was involved to realize a baseline survey for the projects. This survey involved over 1.300 slum households in 7 towns in Bagladesh (Khulna, Narayanganj, Comilla, Bogra, Kushtia and Kirajgani). The main goals of the survey are poverty-related: determination of the poverty profile and of the determinants of related: poverty and comparison among classic household poverty analysis and wellbeing analysis. However, given the importance of the climate related hazards to which these areas are exposed, also data these related to hazard physical vulnerability were collected.


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

Item KUL NRG COM BOG GPG KUS SRG Total Literacy Yes 70.8 74.1 78.2 55.5 74.0 64.3 64.8 70.8 No 29.2 25.9 21.8 44.5 26.0 35.7 35.2 29.2 Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 N 4911 2000 843 777 713 273 211 94 Educational Level No schooling 27.3 23.0 19.9 43.2 25.2 34.3 35.2 29.2 1-5 33.7 35.5 33.9 34.2 30.5 26.2 34.7 32.3 69 23.7 24.9 28.5 17.5 23.0 25.9 18.8 16.7 SSC or above 15.4 16.7 17.7 5.1 21.2 13.6 11.3 21.9 Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 N 2000 843 777 713 273 211 94 4911 Table 3 Percentage distribution of household members age 6+ by literacy and education
Source: UPPRP Baseline Survey, 2009

When looking at the cross tabulation of all the variables with the poverty status the researchers found out that only five out 37 variables appear to be statistically significant in all the three models utilized to determine the poverty status (the poverty model, the income model and the expenditure model). These variables are: Household size; Number of households educated more than 10 years; Number of rooms in the house; Household with hygienic latrine; Household with mobile phone/TV/land/cattle and bird or cash at bank.

In addition to that, the literacy rate of the household members and the literacy of the households heads appeared to be statistically significant in the poverty model and in the expenditure model. We can therefore say that the survey already pinpoints a not central correlation between literacy and poverty; however it recognizes a central correlation between years of school attended and wealth. 5.4.a Literacy, years of schooling and adaptation practices in urban environments We now try to unpack the literacy and education data of this survey in the light of a number of additional considerations. Chapter 2 extensively explained how the concept of literacy itself is questionable, as it is very difficult to define. The dissertation have been endorsing the fact that there are different literacy practices available to people, valued differently by people, that might influence peoples adaptation practices differently (Chapter 4). In addition to that, it needs to be taken into account the debated nature of literacy measurements. Samir Ranjan Nath (2007) looks at adult literacy measurements in Bangladesh and demonstrates that statistics done utilizing the self reporting method actually overestimate real literacy (when compared to written texts), especially for the group of people who attended few years (4-5) of school. Similar findings are reported by Khotary and Bandyopadhayay (2011: 720) showing that Indian official overestimates the literacy rate by 16%, even at a very basic definition of reading literacy, and as high as 43% if one 30

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices tests for minimum reading ability at grade 2 level before counting someone as literate. Maddox and Esposito (2011) and Esposito and al. (2011) propose that it is possible to measure literacy establishing a threshold of literacy practices that are valued by the people. Therefore, from a cognitive perspective, there is a relation, which is however contextual, between the years of school attended and the development, later on, of different literacy practices. In the case of Mozambique they discovered that even an incomplete attendance of the primary school (only 2 or 3 years) might be enough to develop some valued literacy practices.

In addition to this, we have to consider the peculiarity of urban living and its related literacy practices. Urban environments are text-rich, in the sense that the written word is omnipresent, and regulates many aspects of the daily life. Rogers (2005: 294) lists a number of literacy practices which are peculiar to the urban environments: bureaucratic rules which are enforced through the use of written texts; computer communication are available and more and more utilized in urban settings (which are not only written, but also require the use of the keyboards and computer literacy skills); the mobility of people is often related to written communications and some jobs have specific and highly specialized written forms of communications (for instance: hotel check-in forms). Considering all these factors, how do we make sense of the above mentioned data on education and literacy? The first comment is that the data that states that 71% of the population is literate is not telling much anymore. Being classified as literate (or illiterate) does not tell us to which degree you are able to, for instance, diversify your livelihoods by selling a cow and opening a shop, have full control over the paperwork necessary to access to a credit or a social pension, or contest a local governments note of forced eviction. If we discard these data, we will have to look at the years of education. However as suggested by Esposito et al (2011) this indicator is very contextual, as it depends on the quality of the education and other elements, such as which ability are requested by the job market. Still, we can utilize the cross tabulation made within the survey which is telling us that the number of households educated more than 10 years is a statistically significant indicator of not being poor. This data can provide us an indication on how education (as one of the elements which compose multidimensional poverty) can support the social mobility .


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices Lets go back to the data set.
No schooling 1-5 69 SSC or above Total 27.3 33.7 23.7 15.4 100.0

Table 4 Percentage distribution years of schooling

The 27,3% of the population have never attended school.We can therefore consider them as non-literate. What about the 33,7% that received between 1 and 5 years of education? Can we assume that they are all literate? Given the multiplicity of functioning involved in the different adaptation practices (Chapter 4), the challenges posed by the life in the urban environments, and the brevity of the years spent in school, this assumption would be very simplistic. Moreover, given the high number of dependents in the population analyzed (43%) and the high correlation between level of dependency and literacy already mentioned (CPRC, 2008) we are induced to think that, due to power issues, also the daily life microliteracies are distributed unevenly. Nevertheless, in terms of the literacy practices needed to modify positively its own livelihoods and exercise enough agency over, for example, bureaucratic encounters, we can assume that this group has only a fragile literacy that does not help in building resilience. Adding the first group with the second, we reach the 61% of the population that cannot count on literacy skills to perform at best all the adaptation practices that might be available to them. A similar discourse, with different nuances, might apply to the third group. Unfortunately the data on the distribution are not available therefore it is not possible to verify this conclusion unless primary data are collected. In addition to these observation we have to recall the fact that the institutional modification oriented adaptation practices (see Chapter 4), as the challenges posed by the globalization (O Brien and Leichenko, 2000; Blommaert, 2008) require, among other things, high transferability of the texts produced and social-change oriented pedagogies. These qualities cannot be achieved incidentally, as they have to be at the core of educational planning in order to be effective, setting higher standards for the literacy practices required.

5.5 Testing of the literacy-adaptation tool and conclusions

The intent of this chapter was to explore the relevance of the literacy-adaptation framework in a context characterized by high chronic poverty rates and extreme vulnerability to climate change and variability. Despite the narrowness of the data analyzed we can draw some conclusions and raise some questions. 32

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices The first important finding is that even where literacy is generally believed not to be a problem (urban areas); if we go beyond the statistics and look at the functionings that are necessary to built resilience and decrease vulnerability we discover that literacy is still a problem, of very vast dimensions. If we look at the adaptation practices categories of the literacy-adaptation tool of analysis we can say that, given the nature of the urban livelihoods activities - namely the availability of the skilled job market - the expansion of the literacy practices available to urban poor is a feasible no regrets strategy. This could allow the access to important adaptation practices such as livelihoods diversification and management of market-based options (micro-finance, insurance, etc.) increasing the coping capacity and therefore the resilience of the chronic poor. Bangladesh is a country that has acknowledged gender inequalities within its education system. Nevertheless, the inequalities still exist and are more present among the adults, the poorest and the most dependant (Chowduwry et al, 2003; CPRC, 2008). Nevertheless, even if at the national level there is a plan to involve more girls into the formal schooling, there is no plan to address adult literacy issues. As we have seen, overcoming these inequalities represent a powerful tool to build adaptation capacities. Lastly, the relation with the authorities. On one side there are the adaptation practices related to the access to policy driven adaptation programs (social security, relief projects, etc). On the other side, we have all those activities oriented at triggering positive changes in governance. However, we know how the participation into the public sphere by urban chronic poor is extremely limited (Banks, 2006) and how part of the slum dwellers enjoy very limited citizenship rights. Can we assume that the literacy skills available to those interviewed by the UPPRP are enough to cope and contribute to contrast this situation? The literacy-adaptation tool of analysis seems therefore to address, in the column of the adaptive categories as well as in the column of the role of literacy, all issues that are very relevant to the urban chronic poor in Bangladesh. An ethnographic research on their literacy and adaptation practices might provide fundamental explanations about the mechanisms regulating these nexuses.


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

Chapter 6 Conclusions
The objective of this dissertation is to explore how literacy can influence chronic poors adaptation practices. Firstly, it looked at how literacy and climate change adaptation are theoretically understood, laying the basis to develop a literacy-adaptation analytical tool that could comprehend the main nexuses between the two topics. The results have shown that literacy has tangible influences over peoples ability to perform adaptation practices, which can have a particularly relevant impact on chronic poor. In particular literacy

exercises influence over a wide range of identified adaptation categories. On one side, peoples livelihoods tend to be greatly affected by climate variability and change. On the other, diversifying livelihoods and have access to the markets can be a very effective autonomous adaptation practice. Diversification is however hardly available to chronic poor given the scarcity of asset that they have access to. In the framework of propoor adaptation, livelihoods represent therefore a fundamental opportunity. As we have seen, mastering livelihoods-related literacy practices does not only simply allow the access to certain economic activities, but it also empowers peoples resilience allowing them to have a direct control over important processes. These located literacy practices are particularly interesting as they can easily be associated within livelihoods diversification promotion programs. Another area, which has broader implications, is the field of inequalities in power relations and control over assets within the households and the community. The evident inequalities in literacy distribution and the high correlation between non-literacy and dependency rates makes this field particularly important in the elaboration of pro-poor strategies. Literacy, when promoted through appropriate and transformative pedagogies, can contribute to the modification of gender and social inequalities. Balancing gender powers and posing the focus over other areas of discrimination is a powerful way to build community, households and individual resilience to climatic stresses (Polack, 2008). The above mentioned two fields are very important when talking about autonomous adaptation practices of chronic poor. However, we have to consider that there are few policy-driven opportunities available on the ground (like post disaster relief or social protection measures) and there will, hopefully, be more in the future when the adaptation funds will be made available. How literacy practices are involved in the access to these opportunities? As we have seen the processes are often mediated by texts and accessed through literacy mediators. Peoples agency within these processes strongly relies on the 34

The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices mediators and their positioning within these practices that are characterized by imbalanced power relations. Additionally, how does literacy influence processes of institutional modification? As we have seen, issues of bad governance and limited participation in the public sphere are to be considered as underlying causes of vulnerability. These issues, even if scarcely researched (Pelling and High, 2005), are crucial when targeting the chronic poor. As said, chronic poor are generally characterized by lack of citizenship (CPRC, 2008), when they are not openly experiencing hostile policies developed by authorities, as we have seen in the case of the slum dwellers (Banks et al., 2011). Issues of voice within the public sphere raise the problem of the transferability of literacy practices and texts, and especially the problem of global scale inequalities exercised through the imposition of hegemonic languages, genres and means of communication (Bloomaert, 2008). To sum up, at the light of these considerations we can argue the validity of the promotion of literacy as a no regrets tool for the reduction of chronic poor vulnerability to climate change that it I had hypothesized in the introduction. This idea is supported by the evidence of the wideness of the adaptation categories that can be positively influenced by various literacy practices and the marked pro-poor vocation of these solutions. Concluding, I tried to look into possible policies and pedagogies informed by this dissertations findings. As we have seen, literacy practices are diverse and often very located; therefore pedagogies have to be informed by these complexities. The expansion of primary basic education wont be enough; instead this dissertations findings suggest that literacy has to be promoted within a lifelong learning process. What is more, if our aim is social change than we have to be aware of the magnitude of this challenge and the global implications of it. .


The role of literacy in pro-poor climate change adaptation practices

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