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257|2025-1 - Risks, protections, and climate change

11 March 2024

Guest Editors

- Hamidou Diallo, economics, research fellow at UMR DIAL, IRD, France

- Elsa Gautrain, economics, post-doctoral researcher, Université de Fribourg, Switzerland

- Karine Marazyan, economics, associate professor, Université de Rouen - LASTA, France

According to the 2022 IPCC report, between 3.3 and 3.6 billion people currently live in areas that are highly exposed to climate change and its effects. The countries of the Global South feature a high concentration of areas where climate change can already be keenly felt and will be even more so in the future, whether through extreme climatic events (such as typhoons and heat domes) or through phenomena that fundamentally modify environmental characteristics (such as rising water levels, soil acidification, and changing precipitation patterns). Furthermore, the populations in these countries are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of such upheavals due to their production system, which is largely oriented towards the primary sector, and their relatively weak economic and human development. This results in a limited ability to deal with large-scale destructive events and in limited options to mitigate their effects.

Not only has the exposure to risks increased, but these risks have been interacting with other sources of vulnerability in the countries of the South, linked to levels of poverty and informality, to social inequalities, or even to unstable political or security contexts. Thus, climate change raises questions about the means made available to populations to protect themselves against emerging risks, whose magnitude is likely to increase in the future, and about the effective ability of these means to protect individuals’ and households’ standard of living.

Diverse means are available to individuals seeking protection against risks. This call for papers is particularly interested in informal protection mechanisms based on family and community relationships, as well as in two formal tools: public policies to strengthen household resilience and climate insurance products sold on the market.

The analysis of tools and mechanisms is not new in development studies. However, these increasing risks as well as their changing nature, with large-scale climatic shocks that can simultaneously affect a greater number of individuals (what is called “common shocks”), raise a major question: to what extent do the existing informal and formal tools remain effective? This special issue aims in particular to better understand whether these protection instruments for individuals meet the increased expected needs, and to identify the groups of individuals that are on the margins of protection, whatever its nature.

Expected proposals and aims of the issue

This special issue aims to bring together articles examining the way in which individuals and organizations have been rethinking (or not) their risk management methods to better face the challenges brought about by climate change. To combine perspectives and methods, this call for papers invites the submission of work falling within the scope of the four lines of inquiry below, from all disciplines in the social sciences. The proposed studies may be based on original data from quantitative surveys, on qualitative data from interviews, on life stories, on corpora of texts (press, speeches, etc.), and may rely on quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-analysis tools.

Lines of inquiry

To guide the contributions to this issue, we propose four lines of inquiry, it being understood that an article may correspond to several of them.

Line of inquiry 1 – Climate challenges and informal risk management strategies: what is the nature of the reconfigurations taking place?

In a context in which protection needs are substantial and in which formal means of protection, such as those offered by states or markets, remain poorly accessible, families are among the first informal networks on which individuals can rely to benefit from protection against the vagaries of everyday life.

Several characteristics of family networks, such as the high level of altruism and easier circulation of information among their members (linked to the multiplicity of interactions), explain their relative effectiveness when it comes to safeguarding their members against the vagaries of life (Cox, 2007). Although the protection function is not the only determinant (Platteau, 2014), it helps explain the numerous transfers of income observed between family members. Income transfers within a family network help protect individuals against shocks that negatively affect their income under a few simple conditions and in particular if family members’ sources of income are diversified. However, climatic events may impact a vast geographic area and thus negatively affect the income of entire communities and families. Climate change therefore potentially calls into question the ability of family networks that are local to cope with climatic shocks and the need for protection. How have family networks been adapting to face the new risks linked to climate change? In particular, have there been changes in the residence choices of core network members with the aim of diversifying their sources of income?

In the African context, the migration of individuals to agro-climatic zones (within the same country or to another country) that are different from their initial environment is one of the ways of building or strengthening the resilience of families against common risks (Gubert, 2002; Marchetta, 2013, Defrance et al., 2023). With climate change, have such migrations intensified? How have these migrations shifted, on a national and international scale, with deteriorating reception conditions for migrants (for example, harsher reception conditions for international migrants)? Have families been putting more pressure on their migrant members to transfer more money or to do so more frequently?

Protecting against shocks thanks to remittances from migrants implies being able to finance the migration of one or more family members. However, this comes at a significant cost. The scale of climate shocks can make this financing more difficult and plunge families into a form of immobility trap. Have such traps been observed?

Other practices partly respond to families’ need for protection. This is the case for example of fostering children to strengthen the bonds of solidarity (and transfers) within a family (Isiugo-Abanihe, 1985) or to transfer the responsibility of one child at least temporarily to other family members who are better off (Akresh, 2009; Beck et al., 2015; McGavock, 2023; Ronnkvist et al., 2023). This is also the case of early marriages for girls, particularly when these marriages come with the payment of matrimonial compensation to their parents (Corno et al., 2020; Chort et al., 2022). Due to climate change, how have these practices evolved?

Other networks provide their members and therefore individuals with a measure of social protection. This is the case in particular for religious organizations (Auriol et al., 2020), savings groups (Baland et al., 2019), businesses (whether informal or formal), but also migrant organizations which can meet the needs of non-migrant members thanks to the resources amassed at destination (Chauvet et al., 2015). How has climate change impacted the ability of these groups to protect their members?

Lastly, how do these different potential sources of protection interact at the individual level: families, religious groups, and (informal or formal) employers ? Do their actions complement each other? Do they replace one another?

Line of inquiry 2 – Climate challenges and formal protection tools: what responses do formal organizations and markets provide?

Several initiatives, introduced and financed (at least in part) by non-governmental organizations or by international organizations, afford populations a measure of protection. These initiatives can be divided into two broad categories:

- monetary or productive-asset transfers, such as those from BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) which aim at strengthening the economic resilience of households in the face of shocks (Balboni et al., 2022);

- programs that aim directly at reducing climate risks by subsidizing environmental protection measures (such as transfers for environmental services; see Jayachandran et al., 2017).

Have these initiatives reached their objectives? How much do such interventions cost? How can their durability be guaranteed? The effectiveness of these programs relies in part on properly targeting beneficiary populations. How is this targeting carried out and how is it perceived by the populations? This call for papers invites proposals that address the question of the targeting methodology, the way in which the exposure to climate risks is objectified to identify beneficiaries, but also potentially instrumentalized by local elites to capture resources.

Public social protection policies, which draw on European models, usually cover health risks. However, the increased exposure of populations to health risks linked to climate change (zoonoses, heart disease, respiratory conditions, etc.) may raise the question of states’ ability to continue covering these risks. Furthermore, coverage excludes many workers in the informal sector. How do informal workers protect themselves against health risks? By affecting worker performance and therefore company profitability (Aguilar-Gomez et al., 2023), climate change may lead entrepreneurs to adapting their organization, methods, and working hours to reduce the exposure of their formal and informal workers to the negative effects of certain climate change events. What adaptations have been observed? What types of companies have implemented such adaptations?

The demand for insurance in the face of climate uncertainty and/or the health risks induced by climate change can also be met by the markets. The last decade has been characterized by the development of climate-indexed insurance products (Surminski et al., 2016; Leblois et al., 2020). However, the use of such products still seems limited, raising a certain number of questions: how have they been perceived by populations? Which segments of the population resort to them and which do not? Are customers satisfied with them? To improve the use of these complex products, complementary actions may be considered relating to the numeracy of populations, agricultural production techniques, etc. This call for papers invites case studies focused on the scope of such complementary actions. More generally, to what extent is insurance coverage against climate risks commodified and how is the social and political construction of this market organized/regulated?

Line of inquiry 3 – Informal strategies and formal tools: how do they interact? What benefits do they provide?

The plurality of protection tools that individuals can use to protect themselves against risks, including climate uncertainty, raises questions about their interaction at the individual level, and about the logic of cooperation/competition between the actors “offering” protection: states, families, businesses, heads of religious organizations, but also NGOs. In this context, several questions are of interest.

The first question concerns individuals’ willingness to transfer part of their income to the state rather than to the head of family to finance public social protection, in a context marked by uncertainty when it comes to the effectiveness of the state in the implementation of its social policy. This question has become more relevant in the context of climate change, whose effects are felt widely across vast territories. Indeed, in this case, the state may have a comparative advantage compared to families (and to any local actor) in the protection offered since pooling risks can be more effective by coordinating actions over a vaster geographical area.

The second question relates to the interactions between transfer flows, which are linked to individuals belonging to informal insurance networks or holding formal insurance policies: in particular, is there a crowding-out effect? It is important to document these interactions, as the effectiveness of formal tools is likely influenced by pre-existing mechanisms that redistribute resources across family networks (Angelucci, 2018).

The third question concerns the logic of cooperation/competition between the actors offering protection instruments. For example, under what conditions are heads of families or religious leaders willing to transfer their power to tax resources from the family to the state?

Line of inquiry 4 – Measures, perceptions, and representations

It is important to note that individuals’ insurance choices may be influenced by their perception of climate risks and understanding of their scale of impact. It may therefore be useful to reexamine the notion of risk, its perception by individuals themselves and possible discrepancies with objective measures. Indeed, risk perception is a combination of the perceived probability of experiencing a shock and the anticipation of the consequences of this shock (Kellens et al., 2013). Since cognitive factors should be taken into account, beliefs may also influence risk perception. For example, to what extent does individual human capital influence the perception of climate risks and of their scale of impact? Does perception vary according to the source of information and its transmission channels (media, religious leaders, scientific experts, and/or states)? What are the determinants of the gaps between real risks and their perception?

Submission details / Participation in Issue no. 257 (2024/3) of the RIED

The authors agree to read the editorial policy of the Revue internationale des études du développement and to comply with the code of ethics and the Guidelines for Authors.

The selection process will take place according to the dates specified in the publication calendar below.

Submitting the proposal:

The proposals in French, English, or Spanish must present the paper in 4,000 characters (with spaces), or approximately one page. The file for the proposal must be entitled “AUTHOR’S SURNAME-Proposal-257,” and must include:

- a title (70 characters maximum, with the possibility of adding a subtitle);

- an abstract detailing the research question, the theoretical framework, the fieldwork, and the main results;

- some bibliographical references (not included in the character count);

- a second file entitled “AUTHOR’S SURNAME-257-info,” including the author’s first name and last name, their status, their institutional affiliation, and their email address.

The relevancy of the proposals with regard to this call for papers and their conformity to the journal guidelines will be verified by the journal editors and the editorial team and a preselection of the proposals will be made.

Submitting the paper:

The authors whose proposals have been selected will be invited to send a first draft of their article, which must absolutely follow the guidelines for Authors. The articles will then be submitted to a double blind peer review by two external reviewers who are experts on the topic.

The articles (45,000 characters with spaces, excluding the abstract and references) may be written in French, English, or Spanish. They must be original work. They may however have been presented at a conference (with proceedings), as long as they have been adapted to the format required by the Revue internationale des études du développement, but the author must not submit their paper to another journal simultaneously.

The references cited must be presented in APA format.

Publication calendar

The authors agree to comply with the calendar.

The proposals must be submitted by March 11, 2024 to:

The authors preselected by the editors and the editorial committee will be notified by the editorial team the week of March 22, 2024.

The first draft (V1), following the journal’s guidelines for authors, must be submitted by the authors to the aforementioned email addresses by June 3, 2024.

The evaluation process will take a few months; each – anonymous – article will be submitted to a double blind peer review by two external reviewers who are experts on the topic. Requesting a first version of the article does not constitute a commitment on the part of the journal to publish the aforementioned article, which must be approved by the editorial committee, following the different steps in the evaluation process; no. 257 is expected to be published in March 2025.



Akresh, R. (2009). Flexibility of household structure: Child fostering decisions in Burkina Faso. Journal of Human Resources, 44(4), 976-997.

Aguilar-Gomez, S., Gutierrez, E., Heres, D., Jaume, D. & Tobal, M. (2022). Thermal stress and financial distress: Extreme temperatures and firms’ loan defaults in Mexico.

Anderson, S., Baland, J. M. & Moene, K. O. (2009). Enforcement in informal saving groups. Journal of development Economics, 90(1), 14-23.

Angelucci, M., De Giorgi, G. & Rasul, I. (2018). Consumption and investment in resource pooling family networks. The Economic Journal, 128(615), 2613-2651.

Auriol, E., Lassebie, J., Panin, A., Raiber, E. & Seabright, P. (2020). God insures those who pay? Formal insurance and religious offerings in Ghana. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 135(4), 1799-1848.

Baland, JM., Guirkinger, C. & Hartwig, R. (2019) Now or later? The allocation of the pot and the insurance motive in fixed roscas. Journal of Development Economics, 140, 1-11.

Balboni, C., Bandiera, O., Burgess, R., Ghatak, M. & Heil, A. (2022). Why do People Stay Poor?. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 137(2), 785-844.

Beck, S., Vreyer, P. D., Lambert, S., Marazyan, K. & Safir, A. (2015). Child Fostering in Senegal. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 46, 57-73.

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Chauvet, L., Gubert, F., Mercier, M. & Mesplé‐Somps, S. (2015). Migrants’ home town associations and local development in Mali. The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 117(2), 686-722.

Chort, I., Hotte, R., & Marazyan, K. (2022). Income Shocks, Bride Price and Child Marriage in Turkey. IZA Discussion Paper No. 15288.

Corno, L., Hildebrandt, N. & Voena, A. (2020). Age of marriage, weather shocks, and the direction of marriage payments. Econometrica, 88(3), 879-915.

Cox, D. (2007). Biological Basics and the Economics of the Family. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(2), 91-108.

Defrance, D., Delesalle, E. & Gubert, F. (2023). Migration response to drought in Mali. An analysis using panel data on Malian localities over the 1987-2009 period. Environment and Development Economics, 28(2), 171-190.

Gubert, F. (2002). Do migrants insure those who stay behind? Evidence from the Kayes area (Western Mali). Oxford development studies, 30(3), 267-287.

Jayachandran, S., De Laat, J., Lambin, E. F., Stanton, C. Y., Audy, R. & Thomas, N. E. (2017). Cash for carbon: A randomized trial of payments for ecosystem services to reduce deforestation. Science, 357(6348), 267-273.

Leblois, A., Le Cotty, T. & d’Hôtel, E. M. (2020). How might climate change influence farmers’ demand for index-based insurance?. Ecological economics, 176, 106716.

Marchetta, F. (2013). Migration and nonfarm activities as income diversification strategies: the case of Northern Ghana. Canadian Journal of Development Studies/Revue canadienne d’études du développement, 34(1), 1-21.

Parmesan, C., Morecroft, M. D., & Trisurat, Y. (2022). Climate change 2022: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability (Doctoral dissertation, GIEC).

Platteau, J.-P. (2014). Redistributive Pressures in Sub-Saharan Africa: Causes, Consequences, and Coping Strategies. In Akyeampong, E., Bates, R. H., Nunn, N. & Robinson, J. (Ed.), Africa’s Development in Historical Perspective, 153-207. Cambridge University Press.

Ronnkvist, S. R., Thiede, B. C., & Barber, E. (2023). Child fostering in a changing climate: evidence from sub-Saharan Africa. Population and Environment, 45(4), 29.

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Surminski, S., Bouwer, L. & Linnerooth-Bayer, J. (2016). How insurance can support climate resilience. Nature Clim Change, 6, 333-334.

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