Author and Institution:
Angelica V. Ospina, University of Manchester
Richard Heeks, University of Manchester
Edith Adera, IDRC

Water resources are one of the cornerstones of socio­economic development; as such, they are central to understanding the impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations. Emerging research at the intersection of climate change, information and communication technologies (ICTs) and development indicates the existence of increasing linkages between the use of ICT tools and developing country efforts to mitigate, adapt, monitor and strategise in the face of climate change. Critical resources such as water are at the forefront of developing countries’ adaptation agendas.

This paper conceptually maps the linkages between climate change adaptation, water and ICTs, drawing on various approaches from the development, ICTs, and climate change fields. It presents a conceptual tool that can be used by ICT and climate change practitioners and researchers seeking to analyse and plan field interventions in contexts facing water stress due to short­- and long-­term climate change.

The ‘ICTs, Climate Change Adaptation and Water Project Value Chain’ maps a process-­focussed approach for integration of ICT tools into the design, operation and evaluation of projects in the field of climate change adaptation and water resources.

It will be argued that, while ICTs have the potential to enable adaptive capacities and actions for water resources under climatic stress, their role needs to be integrated into ongoing and future initiatives from a holistic perspective; one that considers the complete ‘project value chain’. Projects in the field should ensure not only the availability, affordability and accessibility of ICT tools (all aspects of “digital capital”), but also their actual uptake and use if adaptation goals and, ultimately, development outcomes are to be achieved.

The analysis will suggest that integrating this ‘hybrid’ process­-focussed approach into the design, operation and evaluation of water­ adaptation projects could help build the adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities to climate-­induced shocks and chronic trends.

This document was prepared building on the findings of three regional reports commissioned by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) on ICTs, Climate Change and Water; from discussions held by experts and practitioners at an international workshop on the subject (Johannesburg, July 7-10, 2011); and on research conducted by the authors in the field of ICTs, climate change, water and development.

Sectoral Paper (1mb)