Words can hide/muddy more than they reveal. This is a double-plus-ungood thing, but there you are. Words like “sustainability”, or “resilience”. And the word “community” too.
As people prepare for the 8th International Community Based Adaptation conference in Kathmandu (24-30 April), Terry Cannon challenges some of the assumptions involved in our use of the term “community”, suggesting that we must ditch the idea that it is fluffy, warm and cuddly and can cure all ills.
The idea that a “community” is a valid category for beneficial climate adaptation processes (or any other type of development intervention, or for example “community-based disaster risk reduction”) is deeply flawed. It must not be taken for granted (as it often is currently in much CBA discussion) as a positive basis for any type of intervention unless it is also grounded in the conflicts and contradictions that are involved. These include especially gender and class (e.g. land tenure systems, differential access to other assets), ethnicity, age groups. “Community-based” has simply become a badge of honour to assert that we are working with poor and vulnerable people and doing the right thing. Is there any problem that being “community-based” cannot cure? (1)….