Assessment of the Climate Change Adaptation Benefits of an Irrigation Project Presented at COP27


Sato Ichiro, an executive senior research fellow at the JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development, spoke at a side event during the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), held in Egypt during Nov. 6–20, 2022. Entitled “JICA's climate change countermeasures to achieve the Paris Agreement goals—Deepening the understanding of the synergies and trade-offs with the sustainable development in the perspective of co-benefit approach,” the side event was hosted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on Nov. 9, 2022, at Japan Pavilion.

Sato Ichiro, an executive senior research fellow at the JICA Ogata Research Institute

At the event, participants discussed climate change countermeasures and their relationship with sustainable development, deepening the understanding of the synergies and trade-offs between them. Expert speakers at the event highlighted the efforts taken by developing countries to achieve the Paris Agreement goals by creating both development and climate benefits. Adaptation benefits can be found in development projects of various sectors. For example, forest protection can improve watershed functions, including an adaptation benefit of the forestry sector in the form of the mitigation of flood risks exacerbated by climate change. However, adaptation benefits are often entangled with development benefits and are difficult to discern.

Sato presented an analysis of a case study of the Mwea Irrigation Development Project (MIDP) in Kenya, an ongoing project supported by JICA. The case study assessed the climate adaptation benefits of the project. He stated that the climate change adaptation was context-specific because the physical effects of climate change manifest differently across geographical locations, and the same physical effects may affect a project in different ways depending on its vulnerability. Undertaking project-specific analysis is necessary for identifying the presence or extent of the adaptation benefits of a project. For example, developing an irrigation infrastructure to improve food security is generally considered an effective measure for adaptation against increasingly unreliable rainfall due to the changing climate. However, assessing its effectiveness under the uncertainty of the impacts of climate change is difficult.

In response to the challenge, the case study used the so-called Robust Decision Making Framework, an analytical tool to support planning and decision-making under uncertainties. Sato and his team analyzed project performance in terms of objective metrics, such as rice production in the Mwea area and the average income of farmers in 2030 and 2050, by applying up to 24,000 future scenarios with various combinations of values for uncertain climate and socioeconomic factors, and examined how these different futures could lead to the diverse outcomes of the project.

He said that without the MIDP in place, the future rice yield in Mwea would be vulnerable to future climate conditions. Alternatively, although climate change will also likely negatively influence rice yield in Mwea even with the MIDP in place, the range of variance will be much narrower than that in the no-project option; that is to say, the project will lead to adaptation benefits by reducing the vulnerability of rice yield to future climate change. Recognizing the limitations of the methodology, he recommended selective applications of this methodology to large-scale and long-term development projects, which are highly susceptible to uncertain climate impacts.

The study findings are part of the JICA Ogata Research Institute project titled, “Economic Evaluation of Adaptation Measures to Climate Change Under Uncertainty” and have been published in the Policy Note “How Could the Benefits of Climate Change Adaptation Be Incorporated into Economic Evaluation of Development Projects?” To find out more, click on the links below.

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