Back to search

Identifying trade-offs between adaptation, mitigation and development in community responses to climate and socio-economic stresses: Evidence from Zanzibar, Tanzania (AG, Volume 46, January 2014, Pages 111-121)

In this paper, the authors identify the multiple-stressors that affect natural-resource dependent communities in Zanzibar. They then explore how community responses affect long-term development and mitigation goals before we examine the barriers to maximizing AMD synergies in community responses. 

They use the DPSIR (Drivers – Pressures – States – Impacts – Response) as a tool to organize the complex information relating to both the marine and terrestrial SES in Zanzibar. Using data from household surveys and community-level focus groups, the authors find that responses to stressors resemble coping strategies as they provide short-term relief but in the long-term may negatively affect development goals.

Furthermore, responses generate a trade-off between adaptation, mitigation and development. For example, when farmers respond to low productivity by spending longer on the farm, there is a development trade-off as time burdens are increased, and a mitigation trade-off as secondary forest cannot be established.

The authors identify that AMD compatible responses are constrained by resource, regulatory, learning and governance barriers. They conclude that without local climate policy intervention, ‘mal-adaptations’, which threaten both mitigation and development goals, could occur across a range of temporal and spatial scales.


- We evaluate the impacts of adaptation in Zanzibar on development and mitigation.

- In the absence of policy, autonomous household climate adaptation is occurring.

- Autonomous adaptation may hinder long-term development and mitigation goals.

- Simple policies to remove barriers could encourage more effective adaptation.