Politics of Poverty

7 action points for making mainstreaming climate change adaptation work on the ground

Posted by
Judith Catongoma, Bananas for Equality, Zambia. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam

Lessons from tracking adaptation finance flows to local communities in Zambia

Annaka Peterson Carvalho is the Senior Program Officer of the Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative, led by the World Resources InstituteOverseas Development Institute, and Oxfam.

Mainstreaming climate change into development planning sounds like a good idea. It’s what everyone is talking about: Climate negotiators debate the national adaptation planning (NAP) process, which focuses on integrating climate change adaptation into existing policies and programs; President Obama called for the integration of climate resilience into all development assistance in an Executive Order; and, the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy for the African Union discussed mainstreaming  at the Africa Climate Resilient Infrastructure Summit. But translating the concept of mainstreaming into an effective way of addressing the adaptation needs of vulnerable communities requires action at multiple levels.

Through the Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative (AFAI), we have been tracking adaptation finance in Zambia. We looked at how much money from both international and domestic sources was available for climate change adaptation and then tracked some of that down to the local level to understand how much is reaching local communities to help them adapt to the impacts of climate change.

In Zambia, the government has taken the mainstreaming approach to address climate change. It was integrated into the Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP) and one of the biggest adaptation projects in Zambia, the PPCR/SPCR, aims to mainstream climate change into the most vulnerable sectors of the economy in selected pilot areas.

The good news –

Money is flowing. Zambia Climate Change Network, a civil society coordination platform on climate change, estimates that on average over the last seven years, $24.23 million from the national budget has been invested in adaptation annually. And international funding for adaptation increased to $100 million in 2012 from $15.5 million in 2010.

And some of it is reaching the ground. We found irrigation schemes and agriculture research and extension activities being carried out in vulnerable districts in Zambia.

But if we want development and adaptation to really deliver for women like Judith Catongoma, and the other 8 million people living below the poverty line in Zambia, there is still a lot of work to do to make sure adaptation finance is reaching vulnerable communities.

Here are seven things the Zambian government and donors will need to address to turn the concept of mainstreaming climate change adaptation into actions that deliver for communities on the frontlines of the climate challenge:

  • Finalize the national policy on climate change to provide a framework for implementation of adaptation actions and enhance coordination of efforts to address climate change. The policy was drafted in 2012, but it needs to be approved.
  • Include specific budget lines for adaptation in the national budget and increase funding for adaptation actions. Right now, adaptation actions are hidden in the budget and there isn’t nearly enough being invested to meet the needs of communities on the front lines of climate change.
  • Enhance local community participation in planning and budgeting, so that their needs, interests and knowledge can be incorporated into adaptation actions. This will also help communities to be actively involved in ensuring effective use of adaptation finance.
  • Invest in building the capacity of local governments. They need to know some basics about climate change and be able to incorporate vulnerability assessments into projects and plans and to link projects and plans to climate impacts and people’s vulnerabilities.
  • Clarify why projects are labeled as adaptation (donors). Regular development assistance should not count as adaptation finance. It needs to be clear how the actions will reduce vulnerability or build capacity to manage climate risks.
  • Engage and enable civil society to play and active role in adaptation planning and to demand greater accountability and support from the government.
  • Invest in capturing climate information and indigenous knowledge, while ensuring timely dissemination of downscaled and appropriate information to support adaptation actions, particularly for the farming communities.
Oxfam.org Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+