Defining Development’s Target in Mali: Aiming for Adaptation Subjects

Authors: Helen Rosko*, Clark University
Topics: Development, Environment, Africa
Keywords: climate change adaptation, agrarian livelihoods, development, subjects, West Africa
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 15
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Agrarian populations in the Global South are particularly vulnerable to changing and variable climate conditions and expected to face increasing insecurity in the future. Addressing these challenges, development organizations are rapidly mainstreaming climate change adaptation (CCA) interventions aimed at supporting vulnerable populations. However, previous failures of development-delivered interventions are well-documented and often result from a lack of understanding the social realities of populations they seek to target. Seeking to better understand the places and spaces in which interventions meet local livelihoods, scholars have drawn attention to the social context of beneficiaries. Despite this, the social realities of those who produce CCA receive much less attention, failing to account for their role in shaping how beneficiaries are understood and ultimately shape programming design and implementation. Scholars identify subject-formation and resulting subjectivity as useful concepts for highlighting the social processes of CCA across scales (e.g. beneficiaries, implementers and producers). Conceptualizing subject-formation and subjectivity through framings of livelihoods, this research considers the social context of CCA across scales, to answer the following questions: 1) how do CCA interventions reconfigure agrarian structures and relations, producing (or not) new “adaptation subjects” aligned towards a goal of CCA? and 2) how does the subject-formation of producers affect the design and implementation of CCA? Through a case study of CCA in Southern Mali employing mixed-qualitative methods, this project speaks to understandings of how adaptation programming works for its intended beneficiaries and serves to inform the development community around better ways to design, implement and evaluate interventions.

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