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Endogenous Development and its role in Climate Change Adaptation: A Case Study of CIPE’s Greenhouse Project in the Bolivian Andes

This research is an exploration of the themes of endogenous development and adaptation to climate change; of how those themes interact with each other; and how one may be useful in bringing about the other. A case study is used to illustrate those linkages and to consider their success. The research is conducted in the context of the Bolivian Andes, where a local NGO, CIPE, has developed a greenhouse project aimed at addressing local vulnerabilities, of which climate change is a central aspect. The beneficiaries of the project are indigenous people from the Andes who live in small communities sparsely located throughout the high Andean plateau. The communities are organized into ‘ayllus’, a traditional form of social organization that is centuries old in the region. Local agricultural strategies are rooted in the culture of the ayllu and the Andean worldview that upholds it. This philosophy and way of life values the maintenance of harmony between humans and nature through the principles of reciprocity and complementarity.

Both the ayllu and the agricultural strategies within which it exists, are being undermined by the effect of climate change in the region. These are characterized by erratic patterns of rainfall, an increase in frosts and hailstorms and extremes in temperature resulting in drought. Agricultural production can no longer operate on the basis of known indicators and biodiversity is shifting. This is having a direct impact on people’s agricultural livelihoods and their way of life. How the ayllu organizes and strengthens itself in the face of such challenges is important to its survival and the survival of indigenous culture in the region.

This research aims to allow space for Andean people’s experiences of climate change to be heard. It also documents how they are using their knowledge and traditional practices to adapt to and cope with this phenomenon. The processes that are used by CIPE to plan and implement the project are examined, as are the project’s successes and challenges in working towards adaptation. This research explores the notion of possible linkages between development that is based on the local culture, knowledge and institutions, and successful adaptation to climate change. The view that adaptation is best planned through the reduction of existing vulnerabilities is also examined.

The research is qualitative in its design and as such respondents’ voices strongly resonate in the presentation of findings. This qualitative approach to research is guided by an ethnographic style and underpinned by a critical perspective. The research’s design aims to prioritise local indigenous people’s opinions and knowledge so they can be added to the broader theoretical search for solutions to the challenges of climate change.


Ana Mahé 2009


Permanent link to this article: http://kimmagedsc.ie/dissertation/endogenous-development-climate-change/