Climate Change, Adaptation, and Formal Education: the Role of Schooling for Increasing Societies' Adaptive Capacities in El Salvador and Brazil

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T1 - Climate Change, Adaptation, and Formal Education: the Role of Schooling for Increasing Societies' Adaptive Capacities in El Salvador and Brazil

AU - Wamsler, Christine

AU - Brink, Ebba

AU - Rantala, Oskari

N1 - Note that the revised version of the article is published in Sendezimir and Butz (eds) 2013, special issue to Ecology and Society 17(2)-18(3)

PY - 2012

Y1 - 2012

N2 - With a worldwide increase in disasters, the effects of climate change are already being felt, and it is the urban poor in developing countries who are most at risk. There is an urgent need to better understand the factors that determine people's capacity to cope with and adapt to adverse climate conditions. This paper examines the influence of formal education in determining the adaptive capacity of the residents of two low-income settlements: Los Manantiales in San Salvador (El Salvador) and Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), where climate-related disasters are recurrent. In both case study areas, it was found that the average levels of education were lower for households living at high risk, as opposed to residents of lower risk areas. In this context, the influence of people's level of education was identified to be twofold due to (a) its direct effect on aspects that reduce risk, and (b) its mitigating effect on aspects that increase risk. The results further suggest that education plays a more determinant role for women than for men in relation to their capacity to adapt. In light of these results, the limited effectiveness of institutional support identified by this study might also relate to the fact that the role of formal education has so far not been sufficiently explored. Promoting (improved access to and quality of) formal education as a way to increase people's adaptive capacity is further supported with respect to the negative effects of disasters on people's level of education, which in turn reduce their adaptive capacity, resulting in a vicious circle of increasing risk.

AB - With a worldwide increase in disasters, the effects of climate change are already being felt, and it is the urban poor in developing countries who are most at risk. There is an urgent need to better understand the factors that determine people's capacity to cope with and adapt to adverse climate conditions. This paper examines the influence of formal education in determining the adaptive capacity of the residents of two low-income settlements: Los Manantiales in San Salvador (El Salvador) and Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), where climate-related disasters are recurrent. In both case study areas, it was found that the average levels of education were lower for households living at high risk, as opposed to residents of lower risk areas. In this context, the influence of people's level of education was identified to be twofold due to (a) its direct effect on aspects that reduce risk, and (b) its mitigating effect on aspects that increase risk. The results further suggest that education plays a more determinant role for women than for men in relation to their capacity to adapt. In light of these results, the limited effectiveness of institutional support identified by this study might also relate to the fact that the role of formal education has so far not been sufficiently explored. Promoting (improved access to and quality of) formal education as a way to increase people's adaptive capacity is further supported with respect to the negative effects of disasters on people's level of education, which in turn reduce their adaptive capacity, resulting in a vicious circle of increasing risk.

KW - adaptation

KW - adaptive capacity

KW - Brazil

KW - climate change

KW - coping capacity

KW - disaster

KW - education

KW - El Salvador

KW - flood

KW - income

KW - informal settlement

KW - landslide

KW - risk reduction

U2 - 10.5751/ES-04645-170202

DO - 10.5751/ES-04645-170202

M3 - Article

VL - 17

SP - 2

JO - Ecology and Society

T2 - Ecology and Society

JF - Ecology and Society

SN - 1708-3087

IS - 2

ER -