Skip to content

Does Community-Based Adaptation Enhance Social Capital? Evidence from Senegal and Mali

Hannah Patnaik, John McPeak

Journal of Development Studies, August 2023

Hannah Patnaik headshot

Hannah Patnaik

John McPeak

John McPeak

Climate change and extreme climate shocks pose a significant threat to resource-dependent rural communities. Successfully supporting households to anticipate and adapt to climate variability and shocks, as well as build long term climate resilience, is essential to facing these changes. Given the importance of social capital in facilitating collective action and adaptation, the development community has focused on bottom-up, participatory adaptation projects.

This article explores the social capital impacts of a pilot community-based adaptation project in Senegal and Mali that aims to encourage inclusive decision making around public goods investments. The analysis uses both difference-in-differences and propensity score matching estimates to evaluate whether households that participated in the project realized enhanced social capital, as measured through participation in community development, and acts of reciprocity and community support.

The findings indicate that engaging in the participatory process through the project increased the likelihood of future collective action and providing help to other community members in Mali.