This paper explores climate change adaptation within national policy priorities in a least developed country (LDC). The starting point of the article is that in the questions of food security, climate is an exogenous trigger, while the deeper causes lie in social problems. Therefore, adaptation is subordinate to poverty alleviation. The paper examines how these two goals are combined with respect to different adaptation strategies and governance models. Recent studies have shown that the most effective way to adapt to changing climate conditions in a poor country is to rely on local institutions that have established and sustainable mechanisms to deal with extreme climate conditions. The study analyses how the stakeholder model, which calls for the participation of both governmental and non-governmental institutions, is applied in climate change adaptation activities in Ethiopia. The study includes field research to study how local institutions are used to strengthen the resilience of communities in changing climate conditions. The field study was carried out among pastoral communities in the Borana Zone and in the lowland areas of the Guji Zone in the Oromia Regional State of Ethiopia. The study is based on semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders as well as secondary material consisting of policy statements, project documents and research literature. The study concludes that local institutions are poorly integrated in the process while traditional adaptation strategies, including mobility are practically neglected.