Uneven interventions and the scalar politics of governing livelihood adaptation in rural Nepal

Julian S. Yates

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50 Citations (Scopus)


Accounts that address the governance of adaptation are increasingly exploring the ways in which the institutional context can both enable and constrain effective and equal adaptation. This paper contributes to such a growing field by providing empirical evidence derived from participatory field research in the Nepali districts of Chitwan and Nawalparasi in 2010. The results support previous arguments that emphasise the need to address the multi-scalar context of adaptation as a governance issue associated with individual and collective deliberative action (or inaction). Institution analysis identifies the ways in which networks of powerful and well-connected political actors are able to control adaptation projects, flows of knowledge and information, and the ways in which institutions and organisations intervene in response to livelihood needs. This control is under-pinned by an unequal scalar politics that constructs and reproduces particular local adaptation needs at multiple governance scales at once. Many existing tools and frameworks for assessing the institutional elements of adaptation are unable to grapple with these factors systematically. The paper concludes with a call for further attention to forms of scalar politics in the governance of adaptation so that we might be able to more effectively theorise up from local complexity without glossing over inherent power relations, social inequalities, and institutional constraints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-546
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • Governance institutions
  • Inequality
  • Livelihoods
  • Nepal
  • Networks
  • Power
  • Scalar politics

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