KATHMANDU, 29 April 2014 (IRIN) – While some of the world’s poorest countries are still waiting for funds to help them adapt to climate change, others are implementing sophisticated plans without any funding, it emerged at the ongoing Eighth Community-based Adaptation International Conference in Kathmandu (24-30 April), which is focusing on finance.
The Adaptation Fund, set up by the UN, has US$100 million directly available to help the most vulnerable in poor countries to adapt, but some poor countries “do not have the capacity to implement and plan the projects they need the money for”, Mamadou Honadia, chair of the Adaptation Fund Board, told IRIN.
And those who have the capacity need a lot more than a share of $100 million.
The Fund is divided between what is directly available for countries to access ($100 million) and what is allocated through multilaterals (mainly UN agencies), which it has exhausted. Developing countries had fought for the direct access provision, a unique feature of the Fund.
In 2012, Nepal estimated it needed $350 million to implement adaptation plans at the local authority level (Local Adaptation Plans of Action – LAPA), based on the premise that at least 3,500 villages across the country are affected.
“But the costs have grown since then,” says Govinda Prasad Kharel, under-secretary at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. “We have very little money to implement what people need, yet we have all our structures in place and we are going ahead with it, because we have to – we cannot wait.”
The latest assessments from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warn that emissions of earth-warming gases have risen to unprecedented levels and that most of the developing world is ill-prepared to face the risks.
Nepal, as one of the Least Developed Countries with a National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), has been able to experiment with a “bottom-up” approach thanks to the help of the UK-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
LAPA policy, which Nepal has pioneered, requires that 80 percent of all funding available for climate change adaptation in a country be allocated at village level.
How LAPA work
LAPA are developed at village or district level to identify local climate risks, vulnerability and needs, and focus on increasing local resilience. They are managed by a district development committee at village level, and seek input from all vulnerable groups, including the aged, women, and ethnic and religious groups.
The committee brings together representatives from agriculture, health, education and other sectors. “It is a very integrated process. We are mainstreaming climate change at the development level. So any new project at the village level – be it a school, protecting a water source – takes into account the climate impact,” said Kharel.
“We have very little money, so we tell the villagers to prioritize their needs between what is of immediate concern to them, such as households located in an area vulnerable to landslides who might need to be relocated, as opposed to fortifying a landslide prone area which is uninhabited at the moment,” he said.
There are hard choices to be made on what to prioritize at the national level as well. The needs of impoverished and isolated mountain villages come first. “The other villages understand but they are very angry,” said Kharel.
Additional money is available within Nepal as well. Bhushan Tuladhar, UN-Habitat’s regional technical adviser for South Asia, said Nepal has collected over US$17 million in pollution tax, which has not been utilized.
LAPA in Mozambique
Lessons of integration from the Nepalese LAPA model are being learned in several other countries in Africa and Asia. Despite funding shortages, Mozambique has begun setting up structures to implement LAPA in 22 of its more than 100 districts, said Luis Miguel S.T. Buchir, an official with the Ministry of Coordination of Environment Affairs. It is going through a similar process of getting communities to identify their vulnerabilities and their capacity to adapt.
“We are able to ensure that a district is [LAPA-ready] within two months.” But it has cost the country $1.5 million to implement the LAPA in one district alone. “We have a budget for the 22 districts, so we are going ahead,” said Buchir. “We will see what happens next.”
He says he is now aware of the money that is available from the Adaptation Fund, and will try and seek lessons from successful countries like Senegal and South Africa.
The Adaptation Fund is initiating a readiness campaign from 1 May to ensure that all developing countries have an equal chance of directly accessing its funds by building their capacity.
To access the money countries have to have in place a National Implementing Entity (NIE) with the capacity to design and implement adaptation projects and programmes. NIEs have to demonstrate sound financial management, integrity, transparency, self-investigative powers and anti-corruption measures. These NIEs are assessed and then accredited by the Fund.
Few countries have qualified so far: In four years, five projects under the direct access provision have been approved. The readiness campaign, which will hold workshops throughout the year, is aimed at strengthening these capacities, says the Fund’s Honadia. The initiative will also include a South-South cooperation component. “Under this an approved NIE can help other countries in their neighbourhood navigate the accreditation process; and strengthen their capacity,” he said.
“I realize that some countries do need that kind of support [funding through multilaterals] to implement projects. We are hoping we will be able to get more funds to allow money to flow through that component as well.” Just over 8 percent of the money that the Fund allocates for a project can be for administrative costs. The rest has to flow to the community.