Climate Change Adaptation and Developing Country Livelihoods: The Role of Information and Communication Technologies

  • Angelica Ospina Parada

Student thesis: Phd


This research investigates the linkages that exist between climate change impacts, adaptation and information and communication technologies (ICTs) within developing country livelihoods. The analysis is based on an original conceptual framework that explores the notion of 'e-resilience' as a key property through which ICTs may strengthen the capacity of vulnerable systems to adapt and potentially transform in the face of increasing climate change impacts and uncertainty. By drawing key principles from the sustainable livelihoods framework, new institutionalism and Sen's capabilities approach, and based on a critical realist view of the world, the research provides a novel approach to the understanding of ICTs' role in contexts vulnerable to climate change. Based on the experience of Colombia's coffee producers, the analysis demonstrates that ICTs can contribute to the ability of vulnerable livelihoods to adapt to the impacts of climate change and variability through improved short-term informational efficiency and knowledge sharing, and long-term decision-making effectiveness, capacity building and behavioural change. The analysis explores the main factors that enable or constrain ICTs' contribution to the implementation of adaptive actions, arguing that the extent and impact of those contributions are best understood through the concept of e-resilience. As an increasingly relevant property of vulnerable systems, e-resilience integrates foundational (robustness, self-organisation and learning) and enabling attributes (redundancy, rapidity, scale, flexibility, diversity and equality) that may have been overlooked from a traditional 'asset-based' approach, while allowing a systemic (multi-scale/multi-temporal/multi-stressor) understanding of the context within which developing country stakeholders operate.The research findings reveal numerous linkages between ICTs' role and resilience building, suggesting that the e-resilience sub-properties strengthen the ability of vulnerable systems to enact adaptation actions, and better cope with the process of change and increasing uncertainty associated with (but not limited to) climate change. The analysis shows that, while ICT tools have not been explicitly integrated into national or sectoral climate change adaptation strategies, they are playing an increasing role in the adaptive capacity and resilience of developing country livelihoods. The study concludes by recognising the strengths and weaknesses of the e-resilience approach, providing recommendations to facilitate its use in development practice and suggesting key areas for future research.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRichard Heeks (Supervisor) & Anthony Bebbington (Supervisor)


  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Resilience
  • e-Resilience

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