Publications

Social Capital, Trust, and Adaptation to Climate Change: Evidence from Rural Ethiopia. 2016.Global Environmental Change 36:124-138.

Authors: Christopher J. Paul, Erika S. Weinthal, Marc F. Bellemare, Marc A. Jeuland.

[Replication Materials]

Abstract: Climate change is expected to have particularly severe effects on poor agrarian populations. Rural households in developing countries adapt to the risks and impacts of climate change both individually and collectively. Empirical research has shown that access to capital—financial, human, physical, and social—is critical for building resilience and fostering adaptation to environmental stresses. Little attention, however, has been paid to how social capital generally might facilitate adaptation through trust and cooperation, particularly among rural households and communities. This paper addresses the question of how social capital affects adaptation to climate change by rural households by focusing on the relationship of household and collective adaptation behaviors. A mixed-methods approach allows us to better account for the complexity of social institutions—at the household, community, and government levels—which drive climate adaptation outcomes. We use data from interviews, household surveys, and field experiments conducted in 20 communities with 400 households in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia. Our results suggest that qualitative measures of trust predict contributions to public goods, a result that is consistent with the theorized role of social capital in collective action. Yet qualitative trust is negatively related to private household-level adaptation behaviors, which raises the possibility that social capital may, paradoxically, be detrimental to private adaptation. Policymakers should account for the potential difference in public and private adaptation behaviors in relation to trust and social capital when designing interventions for climate adaptation.Climate change is expected to have particularly severe effects on poor agrarian populations. Rural households in developing countries adapt to the risks and impacts of climate change both individually and collectively. Empirical research has shown that access to capital—financial, human, physical, and social—is critical for building resilience and fostering adaptation to environmental stresses. Little attention, however, has been paid to how social capital generally might facilitate adaptation through trust and cooperation, particularly among rural households and communities. This paper addresses the question of how social capital affects adaptation to climate change by rural households by focusing on the relationship of household and collective adaptation behaviors. A mixed-methods approach allows us to better account for the complexity of social institutions—at the household, community, and government levels—which drive climate adaptation outcomes. We use data from interviews, household surveys, and field experiments conducted in 20 communities with 400 households in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia. Our results suggest that qualitative measures of trust predict contributions to public goods, a result that is consistent with the theorized role of social capital in collective action. Yet qualitative trust is negatively related to private household-level adaptation behaviors, which raises the possibility that social capital may, paradoxically, be detrimental to private adaptation. Policymakers should account for the potential difference in public and private adaptation behaviors in relation to trust and social capital when designing interventions for climate adaptation.Climate change is expected to have particularly severe effects on poor agrarian populations. Rural households in developing countries adapt to the risks and impacts of climate change both individually and collectively. Empirical research has shown that access to capital—financial, human, physical, and social—is critical for building resilience and fostering adaptation to environmental stresses. Little attention, however, has been paid to how social capital generally might facilitate adaptation through trust and cooperation, particularly among rural households and communities. This paper addresses the question of how social capital affects adaptation to climate change by rural households by focusing on the relationship of household and collective adaptation behaviors. A mixed-methods approach allows us to better account for the complexity of social institutions—at the household, community, and government levels—which drive climate adaptation outcomes. We use data from interviews, household surveys, and field experiments conducted in 20 communities with 400 households in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia. Our results suggest that qualitative measures of trust predict contributions to public goods, a result that is consistent with the theorized role of social capital in collective action. Yet qualitative trust is negatively related to private household-level adaptation behaviors, which raises the possibility that social capital may, paradoxically, be detrimental to private adaptation. Policymakers should account for the potential difference in public and private adaptation behaviors in relation to trust and social capital when designing interventions for climate adaptation.

The effect of non-fluoride factors on risk of dental fluorosis: Evidence from rural populations of the Main Ethiopian Rift

Authors: Julia Kravchenko, Tewodros Rango, Igor Akushevich, Behailu Atlaw, Peter G. McCornick, R. Brittany Merola, Christopher Paul, Erika Weinthal, Courtney Harrison, Avner Vengosh, Marc Jeuland

Abstract

Elevated level of fluoride (F) in drinking water is a well-recognized risk factor of dental fluorosis (DF). While considering optimization of region-specific standards for F, it is reasonable, however, to consider how local diet, water sourcing practices, and non-F elements in water may be related to health outcomes. In this study, we hypothesized that non-F elements in groundwater and lifestyle and demographic characteristics may be independent predictors or modifiers of the effects of F on teeth.

Dental examinations were conducted among 1094 inhabitants from 399 randomly-selected households of 20 rural communities of the Ziway–Shala lake basin of the Main Ethiopian Rift. DF severity was evaluated using the Thylstrup-Fejerskov Index (TFI). Household surveys were performed and water samples were collected from community water sources. To consider interrelations between the teeth within individual (in terms of DF severity) and between F and non-F elements in groundwater, the statistical methods of regression analysis, mixed models, and principal component analysis were used.

About 90% of study participants consumed water from wells with F levels above the WHO recommended standard of 1.5 mg/l. More than 62% of the study population had DF. F levels were a major factor associated with DF. Age, sex, and milk consumption (both cow’s and breastfed) were also statistically significantly (p < 0.05) associated with DF severity; these associations appear both independently and as modifiers of those identified between F concentration and DF severity. Among 35 examined elements in groundwater, Ca, Al, Cu, and Rb were found to be significantly correlated with dental health outcomes among the residents exposed to water with excessive F concentrations.

Quantitative estimates obtained in our study can be used to explore new water treatment strategies, water safety and quality regulations, and lifestyle recommendations which may be more appropriate for this highly populated region.

Climate Change, Foreign Assistance, and Development: What Future for Ethiopia?Authors: Christopher Paul, Erika Weinthal, Courtney Harrison

Abstract: In order to promote more equitable and sustainable development, the authors argue that the transatlantic community must engage other donors and investors to promote coordination and transparency. Moreover, they say donors and investors must follow best practices at the appropriate scales and do so with greater transparency. In particular, international efforts must be aligned with local interests, and, thus, special care should be given to the differential impacts across segments of society, particularly for the rural poor. Development and poverty must be acted upon within the context of climate change. In turn, acting at appropriate scales with transparency reinforces good governance and provides the groundwork for cooperation and coordination among actors.

Groundwater quality and its health impact: An assessment of dental fluorosis in rural inhabitants of the Main Ethiopian Rift

Authors: Tewodros Rango, Julia Kravchenko, Behailu Atlaw, Peter G. McCornick, Marc Jeuland, Brittany Merola, Avner Vengosh

Abstract: This study aims to assess the link between fluoride content in groundwater and its impact on dental health in rural communities of the Ethiopian Rift. A total of 148 water samples were collected from two drainage basins within the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER). In the Ziway–Shala basin in particular, wells had high fluoride levels, with 48 of 50 exceeding the WHO drinking water guideline limit of 1.5 mg/L.