13.5.2 Constraints on adaptation
At the present time, constraints of a different nature are observed in the region that are very likely to damp stakeholders’ capacities, and decision-makers’ capabilities, to achieve policy efficacy and economic efficiency for adapting to climate change. Socio-economic and political factors such as limited availability of credit and technical assistance, and low public investment in infrastructure in rural areas, have been shown to seriously reduce the capability to implement adaptive options in the agricultural sector, particularly for small producers (Eakin, 2000; Vásquez-León et al., 2003). In addition, inadequate education and public health services are key barriers to decreasing climate change and variability impacts, and developing coping mechanisms for extreme weather events such as flooding and droughts, mainly in poor rural areas (Villagrán de León et al., 2003).
A poor appreciation of risk, lack of technical knowledge, inappropriate monitoring, and scarce or incomplete databases and information are important constraints to adaptation to current climate trends. The usefulness of weather forecasts and early warning systems in the region is typically limited by these factors as well as by the lack of resources to implement and operate them (NC-Ecuador, 2000; Barros, 2005).
Public health policies are focused on curative approaches rather than on large-scale preventative programmes and are not integrated with other socio-economic policies that could enhance their effectiveness in addressing climate change impacts. There is a lack of tools to address cross-cutting issues and long-term public health challenges. In most countries, the inter-sectoral work between the health sector and other sectors such as environment, water resources, agriculture and climat-ological/meteorological services is very limited (Patz et al., 2000). In coastal areas, environmental policies, laws and regulations, have been conflicting in the implementation of adaptation options to climate-change-related impacts (UNEP, 2003b).