Responding Using the Dynamic Adaptive Management Pathways (DAMP) Approach

In order to respond to these potential changes in the supply and demand (of which their timing and magnitude are uncertain), accessible tools and processes are needed at the community and local government level.

The dynamic adaptive management pathway approach was designed to enable planners, as well as community leaders and members to understand the triggers that indicate the need for a new adaptive response under a range of possible future climate and risk scenarios (Mukheibir 2007). These future scenarios are not static, but are continuously changing (dynamic) and hence need to be constantly redescribed, and the effectiveness of the response options reassessed (Haasnoot et al. 2013). Therefore, strategic indicators or triggers play a key role in evaluating whether a response option/s is not performing as was originally planned, necessitating a switch to a different option/s pathway to avoid water shortages.

The approach and tools have been designed in such a way that they provide practitioners with the knowledge to undertake dynamic planning under uncertainty. Special care was taken to ensure that they are simple enough for community leaders and members to understand and follow.

The impacts of climate change will be felt at the local level, therefore it is important that any adaptation plan be managed at a local level by those directly affected by the outcomes, since the changes in the initial assumptions are best assessed locally (Pahl-wostl et al. 2007). The responses should be needs-driven from the community level, taking cultural values and gender issues into consideration (Kuruppu 2009). The integration of indigenous knowledge and practices in the information and thinking processes is equally important. In Kiribati, Village Water Committees (VWC) have been established to provide local input and guidance on water issues. The VWC attempt to have gender equity to ensure that women are directly engaged in the process.

The DAMP approach has been broken down into three stages:

(1) Creating a hierarchy of responses and options: The first step in process is to identify a set of viable adaptation responses that satisfy both the water demand needs as well as the socio-economic considerations of the local community - this is best done using multi-criteria analysis (MCA). The process for assessing the adaptation options against multi-criteria involves: confirming the water policy objectives, defining the problem due to climate change, assessing other uncertainties and risks, and collaboratively agreeing upon a meaningful set of criteria for assessment of the proposed options.

The assessment criteria can be drawn from social, technical, environmental, economic and political (STEEP) considerations, and should be closely linked to the community values and water policy objectives. The set of criteria should be a combination of qualitative and quantitative and could include public acceptability, impact on water quality, complexity of the option, energy intensity, and employment generation potential (Mukheibir 2007).

The number of criteria should be kept to a minimum, but should be sufficiently comprehensive i.e. the set of criteria should comprise the number of specific criteria that is just good enough to distinguish between the options. The criteria should be selected with consideration of the available data. The criteria should not require too many assumptions about the future or lead to second-guessing. Double counting of two similar or related benefits should also be avoided, such as accounting for both energy efficiency as well as GHG reductions for example (Mukheibir and Mitchell 2011).

Assigning a relative preference weighting to the criteria is a key component of the MCA process. If we consider all the criteria as having equal importance, less important criteria will have undue influence over which of the options is judged the best. Therefore, it is useful to prioritise the criteria from most preferred to least preferred, and to assign a weighting based on the number of votes they receive from the participants. Weighting a criterion means making a value-based decision as to how important it is in relation to each of the other criteria.

The second step in this process is to generate a list of options and arrange them in a hierarchy of more preferred to least preferred. Both supply and demand side options should be considered that account for both technical and social factors. However, reducing demand to below the basic minimum daily volume should not be encouraged. Options that don’t meet the supply volume or water quality objectives should not be considered as viable supply options.

In order to keep the process as simple as possible, a relative ranking of all the options’ performance against each criterion should be agreed by all the participants. The ranking of options against the criteria is best done through group consensus and discussion. The collective score for each option will be calculated using a weighted summation of the criteria ratings using simple arithmetic.

The options are then arranged in a hierarchy from most favourable to least favourable. The most favourable scoring option will be considered first to close the current or future gap between supply and demand. Followed by the next option, until the objective is met.

Potential responses to climate impacts could include:

  • • Rainwater collection could be promoted by fitting new buildings with underground cisterns and encouraging all new houses to be fitted with rainwater storage.
  • • Protected wells to avoid contaminating potentially good clean water.
  • • Consider sanitation options that do not contaminate the already limited clean potable water.
  • • Groundwater recharge by building swales to capture large downpours of water and give it time to seep into the ground before running off to ocean.
  • • Desalination should be considered only when rainwater or groundwater sources are insufficient, as the cost remains high. Future technological breakthroughs may help make desalination more affordable.
  • • Water importation is not considered a viable alternative due to the high costs and shipping risks.
  • (2) Identifying triggers and indicators: The outcome of this stage of the tool is a range of indicators to provide an early warning of when the objectives are not being met - for example these may include low groundwater levels, high salinity levels in the aquifer, calcification of cooking pots, unreliable rainwater supplies, some health related indicators, high cost of providing water due to high fuel prices for pumping etc. Due to future uncertainties even the best laid plans may be confronted by a new set of risks that require a new adaptive response. The type and timing of the options to be deployed will depend on the climate and risk scenario that unfolds at that time. Indicators provide the community (and local government officials) with signs that will trigger deployment of the next best option to ensure that the water supply objectives are being met.

The impact diagram (shown in Fig. 17.4) allows participants to map the connections between impacts and influences, and to identify critical indicators of change that would facilitate early warning of a supply-demand imbalance. It is ideal for understanding how climate variability and extreme events (such as big storms) will affect water resources and the subsequent cascade of impacts resulting in poor community health. Figure 17.4 that illustrates the impacts due to decreasing rainfall and the associated indicators (written in red).

Example of an impact map with indicators for rainfall decrease

Fig. 17.4 Example of an impact map with indicators for rainfall decrease

For each trigger, it is important to agree on the threshold triggers for each impacts that would indicate that an option is not meeting its supply objective (volume), cost threshold, or other social requirements (e.g. salinity level of the water), and who would be in a position to observe and report on these changes. It may be the nurse at the local clinic who keeps a record of the cases of diarrhoea, and when this reaches a threshold of 10 per week, he or she is required to report that to the Department of Health. Using technical assessments in remote communities is often not feasible due to the lack of technical capability and equipment. Therefore the inclusion of local knowledge in this step is important, since it is the community members themselves who will be monitoring the effectiveness of the options under changing conditions.

(3) Testing against climate and risk scenarios: To identify what sequence of the options that would best suit the local situation under potential future risks, two possible climate scenario were used - a drying scenario and a wetting scenario. This was to ensure that the participants recognised that different adaptation management pathways would be needed to provide a resilient water supply system under different futures.

When an indicator exceeds the acceptable level, this acts as a trigger for planning for the next-best response option (in this case a drinking water supply option). If at a later date an indicator for the new supply option exceeds an acceptable level, the process is repeated to identify the next best water supply option under the prevailing conditions.

The process is best illustrated by the example shown in Fig. 17.5. Starting with the option of a hand dug well at the home, participants consider the likely impacts

Mapping the new responses to the impacts and indicators

Fig. 17.5 Mapping the new responses to the impacts and indicators

(shown in the pink square) due to an increase in storm surges (with inundation and erosion) and their associated indicators (the green square). The indicators provide a signal for the need to select a new drinking water supply option. They then choose a new option from the prioritised list of options and the process is then repeated under further impacts due to rainfall decrease, for example.

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