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Tricky challenges: getting adaptation funds to the people who need them


70% of the African population rely on land and agriculture for their livelihoods. Yet the land and water that farmers work on to produce crops, fish and livestock is at more risk from climate shocks than any other continent.

In a recent study, the prevalence of climate shocks over a five-year period was highest in Africa where 74% of households on average had experienced a climate shock in the past five years. For instance, drought in the Sahel region last year led to widespread pasture and water deficits, with Mauritania and northern Senegal being the most affected.

Africa also has been experiencing the greatest rates of food insecurity.

The growth of Africa’s agricultural sector is central to increasing prosperity, food security, industrialization, intra-African trade and to bolstering Africa’s contribution to global trade. On a more basic level, millions of human lives rely on the land to produce the food they need to survive.

Clearly, building resilience to climate shocks including drought and floods is a pressing priority for the Continent. But this is expensive, and needs funding.

On Adaptation Day at the African Devlopment Bank’s Pavilion during COP24 in Poland, it was repeatedly stated from a variety of expert speakers from across NGOS, Governments and other local and international bodies that there is a dire lack of funds available for national and local bodies to implement adaptation strategies at the scale and speed that is needed, in line with changes in the climate.

Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank, set the scene at the beginning of the day:

“Out of the total flow of climate finance last year, adaptation efforts globally were awarded  USD 22 billion, about four percent.

I guess that that Africa got around 1 percent of this total funding for adaptation, which is absolutely unreasonable for a continent that bears so much of the brunt of climate change.”

Many made the point that it is far cheaper to adapt now than to deal with emergencies later. Karl Aribeb of the Environment Investment Fund (EIF) of  Namibia , stated “We don’t have the luxury of not investing”, whilst Mr. Nyong pointed out that “it is far cheaper to build a fence around a precipice than it is to send an ambulance to someone who has fallen off of it”.

Of particular concern was the lack of funding which was reaching local subnational bodies and communities; the very people on the ground that will implement adaptation measures.

Dame Sow, Director for Livestock at the Ministry of Livestock, Animal Production and Fisheries of Senegal talked of the drought and bushfires that have affected Senegal: “last year one third of a ranch went up in flames and we have been severely affected by drought for the past five years”. He expanded on a new system for providing cattle feed which has been set up by his Ministry, which will help the country become more resilient.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim Co-Chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change spoke passionately about the potential for indigenous communities to contribute meaningfully to national and subnational adaptation plans. She gave one brilliant example on how linking indigenous knowledge in the Mbororo Communities in Chad with the Hydromet services has helped farmers to better adapt to a changing climate. “Because of our centuries of specialist knowledge in our local environments and ecosystems,” she said, “it is is critical that we are listened to” - and that this information is aligned with scientific evidence. Hindou’s intervention shed light on how putting science knowledge and traditional knowledge together can also inform policy development including national adaptation plans in the countries.

Capacity-building to local communities also came across as an important element for building resilience and theAfrican Development Bank places a high priority on integrating climate resilience into all its projects and on financing investments that build resilience and adaptive capacity.

Louise Brown, Senior Climate Change Expert at the African Development Bank, concluded by saying: “The experience we’ve had through our projects has shown that when action is taken at the local level real impact is achieved. At the African Development Bank we are developing a number of programmes to ensure that funds get to the right people - this is critical to the future of Africa.”

Find here the best of the day in photos. 

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