Development Marketplace Invests in 26 Innovative Climate Change Adaptation Ideas

The Development Marketplace, an innovative global development grant competition, announced 26 winning climate change adaptation projects. This year, the Development Marketplace competition gave out almost $5 million in grants and was sponsored by the World Bank Institute, Global Environment Facility (GEF), Danish Foreign Ministry, and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). There were a few key themes: improving the resiliency of indigenous peoples and communities to climate risks; climate risk management with multiple benefits; and climate adaptation and disaster risk management.

The Development Marketplace states: “There is now a strong consensus that climate change presents an urgent challenge to the well-being of all countries, particularly the poorest people in them. Even if efforts to reduce greenhouses gas (GHG) emissions are successful, it is no longer possible to avoid some degree of global warming and climate change. The primary direct effects of climate change are an increase of droughts and floods, more seasonal peaks in river flow, and a higher probability of stronger tropical storms. The poorest countries and communities are likely to suffer the most because of their geographical location, low incomes, and low institutional capacity, as well as their greater reliance on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture. Adaptation to climate risks and change therefore is increasingly important in developing countries.”

Resilience of Indigenous Peoples Communities to Climate RisksAccording to the Development Marketplace, there are approximately 250 million Indigenous peoples worldwide. Indigenous peoples often rely on natural resources, and these natural resources form a key part of their identity. 

One project from Nicaragua from this category, “Drought-hardy ‘Food Forests’ to Help Miskito Children Weather the Storm,”  won $200,000 to establish 120 hectares of Maya Nut “food forests” in 25 Miskito communities, with production potential of 5 million pounds of food per year, worth $3 million per year, and carbon-dioxide sequestration of 125,000 metric tons over 30 years.

The project lead from The Equilibrium Fund mentioned that the Maya Nut was once harvested by local inhabitants in Nicaragua, but that local agricultural knowledge has long been forgotten. The nut, when ground, smells like chocolate, and can be turned into breads. The idea is to teach local women how to make the products again, turn Maya Nut products into nutritional school lunches, and support reforestration in the process. The project helps the environment (communities plant food forests), food security (even in drought years, the Maya Nut is productive), health (the nuts are protein-rich), and the local economy (nut products can be a source of income). Learn more at

Climate Risk Management with Multiple Benefits

The Development Marketplace writes that “communities need to build resilience to climate variability and climate change. At the same time as robust adaptation helps safeguard progress in reducing poverty, it may also yield other benefits such as conserving biodiversity and improving the state of eco-systems.”

Kashyap Bhatt’s Greenfield Hydroponics Systems won almost $200,00 for his project in India: “Portable Solar / Wind Greenhouse to Grow Fodder for Sustainable Dairy Farms.” The funds will be spent to demonstrate his firm’s hydroponic system, which looks like a high-tech and compact vertical farm shed, for year-round production of 2,000 kilograms of green fodder. The project will train local women on how to use the system to manage fodder production in a sustainable manner.

Many rural low-income families depend heavily on income from cattle. High quality fodder can then help grow healthier cows and improve income security. “The project anticipates a 20 percent increase in peak and total milk yield during a lactation period, a 25 percent increase in the birth weight of newborn calves, and a 20 percent increase in beneficiaries’ overall income.”

Bhatt added that his hydroponic system could also function well in urban environments. The system enables the growth of sustainable, hiqh-quality seedlings in rapid time. With limited space for agriculture in urban areas, Bhatt’s modular system could easily be added to rooftops in dense areas, cutting down land use for agriculture. 

One innovative project from the Trowel Foundation in the Philippines seeks to enhance the security of local fishing communities and protect the environment from coastal events by restoring mangrove forests. “Fishing Communities Seek Security in Aquaculture and Mangrove Restoration” also received almost $200,000 to “build and strengthen adaptive capacities of coastal villages to impacts of climate change with the aim of securing livelihoods of subsistence fishing households, restoring biodiversity of aquatic resources,
and contributing in the long term to the protection of coastal areas from strong storms and sea-level rise.”

The Trowel Foundation team argues that the hundreds of hectares of abandoned fishponds in their local area are a sign this type of industrial farming is unsustainable. Mangroves provide a better and more sustainable habitat for the fish products the community relies on. “Planting mangroves in strategic portions of idle and abandoned fishponds and utilizing areas suitable for tiecrab fattening will not only restore and secure sources of livelihoods and food, but also enhance adaptive capacities of subsistence fishing households to impacts of climate change. Likewise, value-chain development will enhance the fishing households’ capabilities in crab fattening and marketing, thereby improving their income.”

Climate Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management

The Development Marketplace sees disaster risk management as central to climate change adaptation. “Disasters push households towards poverty by destroying their human, social, and fixed capital and trap poorer households in persistent poverty. Moreover, disasters disproportionately impact disadvantaged groups such as women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Sustained long-term efforts are needed to integrate climate adaptation and disaster risk management to reduce vulnerability and safeguard development in urban and rural areas.”

From the Dominican Republic, the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henrique Ureña (UNPHU) designed a project that will not only protect important beach infrastructure and guard against soil erosion, but also harnest ocean wave energy. The university’s project, “Wave Energy Converter to Mitigate Ocean-Wave Damage and Beach Erosion,” will utilize an “innovative wave energy converter (WEC) technology in a selected coastal community beach or infrastructure at risk of being hit by waves during storms in order to determine its effectiveness in lowering the power of waves reaching the coast.”

Moises Alvarez, the project designer, described the wave energy system as a huge pylon that moves up and down in the ocean, generating energy from the wave currents. The system has four large anchors that secure it to the ocean floor. Alvarez noted that the system, if successful, could also be connected with beach-based water desalination plants for communities facing potable water shortages. Additionally, the system could power pumping systems that could deliver water to highland areas.

In Burkina Faso, the Association la Voute Nubienne (AVN) won for its project, “Earth-Roofed Housing: Cheap, Sustainable Shelter to Face Desertification,” which seeks to expand its already successful program of “training the trainers.” The trainers can then go on to create a business with their new knowledge of how to create “Nubian Vault” houses with vaulted earth-brick roofs.  

The organization writes: “Around two-thirds of the estimated 150 million population in this region live in houses or shacks with roofs of imported corrugated iron and sawn timber. Buildings with such roofs have no thermal or sound-insulation properties, and are unhealthy and uncomfortable. The need for cash to purchase the imported materials forces many families into a vicious circle of poverty.”  Given the lack of available timber and the environmental cost of felling trees for wood, the NV brick earth houses present a environmentally sustainable solution. The project also creates “green jobs” — locals can develop natural design housing construction skills and create green building construction industries.

Since the organization launched in 2000, AVN has trained about 200 masons in the NV technique, who in turn have built more than 900 vault houses in Burkina Faso and neighboring countries.

Another innovative projects for this category included “Saving Glaciers: Artisanal Industry Aims to Stop the Melt and Save Water,” which will “engage local workers in the Peruvian highlands to produce a reflective cover that can be painted on the rocks surrounding glaciers. This will stop glacial melting and help restore glacial mass—a vital form of freshwater storage in the high Andes and the world.” Lastly, the winning project, “Elevated Bamboo Houses Designed to Lift Communities Above Flood Zones,” will increase the “use of flood-resistant, elevated bamboo houses in the coastal regions of Ecuador, and provide local communities with an innovative, low-cost, sustainable, environmentally
friendly infrastructure resistant to climate-related floods.”

The Development Marketplace initially received almost 1,800 submissions. Learn more about the 100 finalists, and 26 winning projects.

Image credit: la Voute Nubienne

4 thoughts on “Development Marketplace Invests in 26 Innovative Climate Change Adaptation Ideas

  1. margouillat 12/16/2009 / 6:17 am

    Au premier abord, la solution est séduisante

    Sauf que pour certains, l’aventure se termine très mal
    Voir l’exemple de cette auberge à bobo-dioulasso qui s’est effondrée après 3 mois de construction :

  2. Association la Voûte Nubienne 12/21/2009 / 11:20 am

    AVN tient à apporter les précisions suivantes sur le sinistre évoqué par Margouillat :

    Sur le chantier en question, et malgré les mises en garde répétées des maçons VN ayant réalisé les travaux de gros oeuvre, le client, maitre d’oeuvre de son chantier, n’a pas respecté les consignes strictes liées à la mise en place des ouvrages permettant l’éloignement définitif des eaux de pluies des assises de la construction. De plus des ouvrages de finitions extérieures (dallages de propreté) réalisés hors du contrôle de ces maçons VN ont concentré ces eaux de ruissellement sur les fondations permettant leur infiltration et l’affaiblissement du bâtiment.
    AVN rappelle l’obligation faite aux clients du concept VN de respecter les conseils de mise en oeuvre et d’entretien prodigués par les maçons VN formés, et fait mention des quelques 800 VN durablement bâties depuis l’ouverture du programme il y a plus de 10 ans.

  3. margouillat 12/22/2009 / 10:12 am


    Hum ! la responsabilité incomberait donc totalement à l’investisseur
    Ces allégations se fondent sur quoi ?
    Il est évident que si j’étais maçon et qu’un client me demandait de construire une tour penchée près d’une école par exemple, je continuerai la construction avec conscience professionnelle !!!!
    Il semblerait tout de meme, qu’il existe une certaine fragilité aux eaux de pluie puisque 3 mois après la fin du chantier, le batiment était parterre, alors que des aménagements avaient été créé par les maçons VN. Le mur d’enceinte et les batiments annexes ont eux résistés en espérant qu’un trottoir ou une route goudronnée ne soit pas construite près de ces murs.
    Pourquoi dans le cas présent avoir fait remplacé l’équipe VN de Boromo de début de chantier par d’autres maçons ?
    S’agissant des maçons, pouvez vous nous dire qui leur procure du travail et qui par exemple les envoi sur certains chantiers hors du burkina ?
    N’existe-t-il pas un planning au sein de l’association répertoriant les chantiers en cours ?
    Je pose ces questions pour savoir s’il n’existerait pas des relations de patrons à tacherons : un lien quoi !
    Le nombre de VN durablement construits n’est pas garant de futur sinistres : il serait bien imprudent de se fier à ce seul argument
    Il serait plutot opportun de se demander si le suivi est à la hauteur du nombre croissant des constructions
    Tout l’histoire du chantier sur le site de maryame

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