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CRiSTAL (Community-based Risk Screening Tool - Adaptation and Livelihoods) was one of the first tools of its kind to help project planners and managers integrate climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction into community-level projects. It has been used in a wide range of countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
CRiSTAL is a process-based tool, guiding processes of engagement with climate related risks at community level. An example of the benefits to come from the application of CRiSTAL is to bring together a range of stakeholders and create a common platform for discussing climate change challenges. Two examples below illustrate this.
CRiSTAL-in-Peru.jpgIn the Peruvian Andes, the use of CRiSTAL in combination with CARE’s CVCA (Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis) has led to benefits beyond simply identifying technical adaptation measures. Tatiana Farfán de la Vega, CARE project leader, highlights that CRiSTAL and associated participatory processes has been key to generating “a space for discussion among a wide range of stakeholders”, which ultimately has produced solutions that “are not only technically sound but are also in line with the local culture and tradition, which is essential for successful implementation.” Continuous engagement of local government in the CRiSTAL process further contributed to the inclusion of climate adaptation into local development plans, which has now been replicated in the surrounding municipalities.
In Uganda, similarly, the CRiSTAL process helped provide a platform among the actors for understanding which are the challenges related to climate change, as well as – through its focus on locally identified needs and priorities – forging ownership among local decision makers. District officials were brought in during CRiSTAL consultations, which helped ensure political support. Support from IUCN provided technical expertise and funding for a community action plan. Importantly, the experience also showed how application of tools such as CRiSTAL can help improve policy cohesion, gathering stakeholders around a common goal of protection of water resources.
These examples also demonstrate the synergies between different tools: in both examples, CARE’s CVCA was used to collect information from community members, while the CRiSTAL framework was used to organise and analyse the collected information. While key benefits of application of these tools have been highlighted above, experience also points to weaknesses. Some of the issues highlighted in the Peruvian case study point to, among others, the lack of process and impact indicators, the tendency to focus on vulnerability only to current climate variability, and the need to adapt locally based tools to situations with multiple sites in many countries.