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OPINION: Moving CBA from planning to implementation

In a series of articles from the 8th Community-based Adaptation (CBA) conference, Sihaba Haji Vuai, from the Government of Zanzibar, reflects on why local financing now needs to deliver concrete results.

I recently represented the Government of Zanzibar at a gathering of delegates from different countries, both developing and industrialised, in Kathmandu, Nepal to share experiences on financing adaptation initiatives at the community level.  This year’s international conference on Community Based Adaptation (CBA) had the theme of ‘financing local adaptation’ and saw participation from across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. The combination of participants from Government, international and local NGOs, and academics led to fascinating discussions and debates. This annual conference is truly one-of-a-kind, and sessions which included films, games and group work gave the complete picture of the theme of financing local adaptation.

Some of the most important discussion themes for me included the following:

a)      Securing private finance for local adaptation.  There are number of different ways in which private sector entities can engage in adaptation issues, ranging from their own risk reduction measures, offering of new products and services that support building resilience, through procurement and value chain incentives and practices, and through corporate social responsibility and philanthropy.  The private sector can also engage through precompetitive partnerships to implement and advocate for measures that provide shared benefits to industry and communities alike.  The conference highlighted innovative ways of engaging the private sector on adaptation efforts and approaches to broadening, improving and scaling up private sector engagement.

b)      Financing adaptation in the Least Developing Countries (LDCs).  Despite their minimal contributions to global warming, LDCs are the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change due to their low adaptive capacity.  In recent years, some progress have been achieved in designing policies, strategies, plans and programmes in the LDCs to address climate change related impacts.  Unless there is adequate funding support and sustained resource flow for the implementation of adaptation programmes, addressing climate change impacts will be a losing battle.  During this session descriptions from case studies with achievements that demonstrate the mobilization of climate finance to address the needs of vulnerable communities in the LDCs were made to see how such examples can be incorporated in development planning in other countries.

c)      Ensuring accountability and transparency when financing local adaptation.  During this session participants discussed existing challenges and good practices to channel funding to local communities including barriers to information and gaps in accountability.  Later, the participants provided recommendations for effective channelling of funding to the people most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

d)     Evidence of effectiveness.  Despite increasing financing for, and adoption of, climate change adaptation (CCA) practices and processes at the local level, there is growing demand for evidence of their effectiveness in achieving CCA or development impacts.  This is largely due to difficulty in tracking and measuring impacts and also due to lack of clarity on what ‘effective’ CCA or development results mean for communities.  There are however emerging frameworks and tools seeking to address this issue.  During this session descriptions on the context of financing and delivering CCA at the local level were made, and the participants explored the tools that are emerging to measure effectiveness to achieve real results in CCA.

Ironically, despite the above session on documenting evidence of effectiveness of CBA, there was a weakness in sharing real impact, challenges and failures of the participants’ initiatives. The panellists and those showcasing posters presented their experiences more as an advertisement of their work.  They put the emphasis on what and how they are implementing projects, which are mainly planning processes.  Data on the number of beneficiaries supported to adapt to climate change impacts was important evidence missing from the discussion. Also, the actual facts and figures on the amount of finance received and disbursed for the community itself would have strengthened the debate. For example, some countries reported to get revenue from the community itself through charges for various services. While this could be justified in some cases, the real impact and burden on the community needs to be carefully assessed. Overall, I feel one of the major weaknesses of the overall approach to CBA currently is too much focus on planning for adaptation, and not enough actual implementation of adaptation initiatives.

In Zanzibar we have tried to collect the type of data that is needed to really monitor and analysis the effectiveness of our interventions. We are committed to making sure the climate finance received is spent implementing practice community based climate change adaptation initiatives. We have therefore gone beyond the focus on planning adaptation initiatives and are now investing in implementation.

In 2011/2012 Zanzibar received a grant of US$350,000 from the UNDP to implement a climate change adaptation pilot project in Nungwi village within North A District, through the Africa Adaptation Program (AAP) financed by the Japanese government.  The pilot project was implemented by the communities through their Environmental Committee (also known as Integrated Coastal Zone Management Committee) under the coordination of the First Vice President’s Office through the Department of Environment.

The pilot project was designed to meet the demand of about 15,000 villagers for safe and clean water because water available within the village had high concentration of salt caused by sea water intrusion associated with dryness of village land, and beach erosion.  This situation was forcing the village communities to travel a distance of over 3km to fetch water which was also saline. Most of the children did not go to school as they were supporting their families in fetching this water.

The pilot project managed to drill a borehole of a depth to about 70 metres with pumping capacity of 30,000 litres per hour, about 7km away from the village.  A pump control house is also constructed at the area of the borehole.

Within the village different types and sizes of water pipes were installed to different angles of the village.  Ten water kiosks with soak pits were constructed and about hundred public taps were distributed around and within the village.  New Mild Steel tank was bought from the UK with a storage capacity of 150,000 litres and installed on a concrete tower of about ten meters high.  A total of thirty community members were trained for managing water kiosks involving equal number of men and women.  Since May 2013 the communities are enjoying the results of this adaptation initiative with a safe and sustainable supply of water.

In Zanzibar, we are focusing on practical initiatives to support and empower local communities who are vulnerable, to adapt to climate change impacts.  It is the time not for planning but implementing since climate change impacts are real on the ground.

Sihaba Haji Vuai is a Head of the Department of Environment’s Climate Change Unit for the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar.  

We occasionally invite bloggers from around the world to provide their experiences and views. The views expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of CDKN.

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