‘Climate change will undermine development efforts in Africa and the rest of the developing world.’
‘Developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate change due to their low adaptive capacity and growing dependence on resources sensitive to changes in climate,’ according to the publication Climate Governance in Africa – Adaptation Strategies and Institutions.
The most vulnerably sectors identified are agriculture, water, energy, health, wildlife and tourism and poverty reduction. The majority of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is dependent on rain-fed agriculture. In some countries crop yields are predicted to fall by 50% by 2050, while arable land will decline by 6%.
Food security and access to food will be severely compromised by climate change, and rural communities will face the worst impacts.
Climate change to be integrated into all policy-making
The implications of climate change on development make both mitigation and, in particular adaptation, essential to responding to the impacts of climate change. Policy makers have recognised the need to integrate climate change adaptation into all spheres of public policy-making.
Numerous studies have been carried out on different aspects of climate change, including its impacts and adaptation needs in Africa, but few have looked into the capacities for adaptation governance. In order to understand these realities, and the state of adaptation preparedness in Africa, Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBS) regional offices for East, West and Southern Africa commissioned case studies in Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria.
Strategies to enhance system resilience
Climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions, but requires the active involvement of national and local-level stakeholders in shaping and implementing the solutions. Adaptive capacity is dependent on policies and strategies that are put in place to respond to the needs as well as enhance the resilience of the most vulnerable systems and groups in society.
Most countries, such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe, lack a coherent policy framework for climate change adaptation. Such countries have not embarked on a comprehensive planning process for adapting to climate change, often articulated in National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPA) and/or National Climate Change Response Strategies (NCCRS).
Decision makers have limited understanding
The environment and development policy frameworks have a tendency to place climate change adaptation solely on the shoulders of the environment sector. This limits public and decision makers’ understanding of climate change impacts and the implications for national economies.
Often guidelines for mainstreaming climate change adaptation into national level planning are not availed to economic planners.
Rural dwellers have lost land to capital interests
A review of agricultural policy revealed a bias towards macro-economic interests in terms of commercial agriculture and technological transfer, while the needs of subsistence farmers were under-represented.
Capital interests have led to displacements of local land owners and resource users in rural communities to make way for tourism, commercial forestry and agriculture for export. This has left a significant number of rural dwellers landless, without access to biodiversity and natural resources and highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
National adaptation strategies do not adequately address aspects of inequality and gender. Most of the vulnerable sectors such as agriculture, biodiversity and water have major gaps in their provisions for gender-related differential impacts of climate change.
Women don’t receive enabling provisions
Enabling provisions which include, among others, security of tenure, provision of technical information such as meteorological and weather forecasts and access to micro-finance, as well as opportunities for productive employment are often not adequately and appropriately extended to women.
Civil society organisations and local communities play a limited role in the formulation of national climate change adaptation policies and strategies.
Governance principles such as equity, stakeholder participation, accountability and transparency are consequently undermined. Of the eight countries covered in this review only three (Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania) followed a participatory approach of stakeholders to V&A assessments and the development of adaptation responses.
Challenges in Africa’s adaptive capacity
- Weak coordination as a result of conflicting and overlapping mandates
- Dysfunctional arrangements for inter-agency integration
- Overburden of external (UNFCCC and donor) reporting requirements
- Inadequate financing for adaptation.
- Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have challenges with attracting and retaining skilled people.
- The decentralisation of adaption responses needs to be strengthened by empowering local governments.
- There is inadequate investment in adaptive strategies.
- Most actors are involved in climate change awareness-raising, capacity building and research with fewer investments in legislative aspects, coordination, advocacy and financial cooperation.
- There is limited space for civic engagement (particularly for Non-Governmental Organisation and Community-Based Organisation participation) due to financial, human resources and political constraints.
- International NGOs tend to dominate climate change adaptation agendas at the national level and implementation is externally driven and reflects disparate interests.
- The activities led by NGOs in such cases have resulted in intangible outcomes and a lack of oversight at the national level.
- Very few concrete adaptation activities have been observed at the local level.
- Where networks of local NGOs are actively involved in climate adaptation, very little exchange of experiences and lessons learned takes place.
- Research does not respond to national knowledge gaps on climate change.
- African research capacities are forced to collaborate on disparate, foreign-led research, which responds to external research interests and agendas.
- Donor coordination on climate change related matters is confined to environment working groups. As a result coordination and communication is restricted and fails to integrate important sectors such as agriculture, energy and poverty reduction where the bulk of development assistance is channelled.
- In some cases donors merely rebrand existing initiatives as climate change activities, making it difficult for government and other actors to access the funding they require to develop adaptation strategies.
Climate to be mainstreamed – Recommendations by HBS:
- Climate change must be mainstreamed into economic frameworks. Sectoral policies are of paramount importance in order to ensure integrated adaptation responses. The current state of national adaptation strategies and the confinement of the climate change agenda to the environment sector makes it difficult for development planners to have a holistic perspective of adaptation priorities at both macro (national) and micro (local) levels.
- There is a need for national adaptation policies that provide clear guidelines for integration and implementation of strategies, programmes and activities.
- Adaptation should be integrated into the planning frameworks of decentralised governance structures and adaptive capacity built at that level. The success of climate change adaptation will depend on the extent to which responses are felt at the local level.
- Priority must be given to the adaptation needs of the most vulnerable in society (i.e women, small-scale farmers, subsistence fishers, the poor).
- Systemic capacities to improve accountability must be built at all levels of governance.
- Individual capacities located within donor partners and other non-state actors (NGOs, CBOs, private sector and research institutions) ought to be harnessed to support national adaptation needs.
Overall, adaptation governance in Africa calls for a review of the quality of growth and development processes, an emphasis on equity as well as improvement of the level of public engagement in the formulation of national responses.