Photo: Fishing Boats in The Gambia, Rafael Vila

Adaptation in Africa


In the latest of our occasional series of thematic round-ups, we look at some recent adaptation projects in Africa, both community- and more market-based.  And at what’s at stake for populations when adaptation works and when it’s failed to be put in place. 

In the Community …

Channelling climate finance – and decision-making over its use – to the people most vulnerable to climate change (rather than the intermediaries who typically end up controlling both) has been a constant theme of NGOs and think-tanks focussed on the LDCs for some time now.  Good, therefore, to see evidence of it happening on the ground, with projects like one led by IIED and government and NGOs in the drylands of Kenya, Mali, Senegal and Tanzania.  Communities in these areas have developed highly specialised adaptation strategies, and the IIED programme is working through the “architecture of government decentralisation” in the four countries to give the affected communities the power to “identify and oversee resilience-building investments, using bespoke planning tools. The[se]  tools incorporate valuable local knowledge and recognise the different ways climate change affects women, men and marginalised groups.”  Pictures and tweets from some of the projects in Tanzania are here.

Read more:  ‘Local climate finance mechanism helping to fund community-prioritised adaptation’,

Backing up the kind of practical project just described is a new book from the African Centre for Technology Studies and others:  Enhancing Adaptation to Climate Change in Developing Countries through Community Based Adaptation. The book tackles four key aspects of CBA: concepts, evidence, institutions, and investments for upscaling.  One of the authors, IIED’s Saleemul Huq, talks through these four areas in a video explainer.

Order the book

Alternatively, attend the next Community-Based Adaptation Conference (CBA12) in Lilongwe, Malawi from 11-14 June 2018, also led by IIED and which will focus on getting local experience on climate action heard.

The CBA12 event offers two days of workshops, followed by two days of multi-stakeholder dialogues. On days one and two practitioners will focus three workstreams: transforming ‘lived experience’ into influence, decentralised climate finance mechanisms, and adaptation technologies. On day three investors and policy-makers will join the dialogue to discuss climate investments. On day four the UNFCCC and LDC Expert Group will convene the Regional National Adaptation Plans (NAP) Expo as part of CBA12.

Click here for more information and to register for the event 

In the Market …

At the other end of the spectrum are more market-driven approaches.

In Southern Ethiopia,  Farm Africa is working with small holder farmers whose “lack of access to high-quality inputs like fertiliser, irrigation and drought-tolerant seeds makes them particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and extreme weather,” and whose inability to meet commercial standards excludes them from supply chains. Farm Africa is “developing the business environment” for these farmers by training local co-ops and agribusinesses in “input provision, post-harvest handling and aggregation so that farmers can meet the demands of high-value markets,” and is helping connect them to financial institutions and village banks.

Read more:  ‘Market-driven climate-smart agriculture’, Farm Africa 

Another aspect of financial inclusion in rural communities is insurance, and a major new programme has recently been launched covering four countries in Africa and 2 in Asia.  ARDIS (Africa and Asia Disaster Resilience Insurance Scheme, launched by Vision Fund) will provide cover to farmers and small businesses and is thought to be the largest non-government programme of its kind.  The scheme will work through Vision Funds microfinance network, using data from the UK’s Global Parametrics initiative.  Payments will be used to “restore balance sheets, ensuring business continuity or enhancement of operations and services” when disasters hit.

Read more:  ‘World’s largest non-governmental climate insurance scheme launched’, The Actuary

A means of helping communities taken for granted in developed countries is being put in place in the Gambia, with a $29.5 million project funded by the GEF’s LDC Fund to massively upgrade weather forecasting capacity and the capability of the media to broadcast warnings. Nine meteorological stations have now been constructed across the country, equipped with automatic forecasting equipment and access to a mobile network that sends data from the regions to a central forecast office at the airport in the capital Banjul every 30 minutes.  Sea conditions are also covered, allowing fishermen to avoid storms.

Read more: ‘Weathering the uncertainties of climate change in The Gambia’, UN Environment

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What happens when you get this right…

A GEF/AfDB rural livelihoods adaptation project in Malawi has now run its full 5-year course and had its impacts assessed. The Climate Adaptation for Rural Livelihoods and Agriculture (CARLA) programme “focused on integrated climate change adaptation strategies and interventions that improve agricultural production and rural livelihoods, and enhanced national and district agencies’ capacities to support community-based adaptation to climate change.”  Among the impacts have been a 4.5x improvement in yields on maize growing, improved awareness of CC impacts and adaptation solutions, reduction in the ‘lean period’ for households from three months to one month, improvements in nutrition from access to a wider variety of proteins, and diversification of sources of income.

Read more: ‘Helping rural households adapt to climate change in Malawi’, AfDB

…And what happens when you get it wrong

Earlier this year the UN Security Council identified climate change effects in two regions of Africa, covering 26 countries, as a major driver of present and future conflicts.  Water scarcity and desertification in West Africa and the Sahel “pit farming, pastoralist and fishing communities against each other for dwindling resources.” Commenting on the UN’s statement, one climate change and security expert told Climate Home that there needs to be “much stronger efforts to ensure all funds and programmes implemented are both conflict-sensitive and climate-sensitive.”  The bleakest example of the problem is probably Lake Chad, whose area has reduced by 90% over the past 40 years, while the population of its basin has risen to 19 million.

Read more: Climate change affecting stability across West Africa and Sahel: UN security council, Climate Home News 

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