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SOUTHERN AFRICA: Trying to Access Funding for Climate Change

Mantoe Phakathi

MBABANE , Jul 1 2011 (IPS) - Leaving out non-governmental organisations in climate finance strategies will result in little impact on the ground in the southern Africa region.

Caroline Ndlovu is practicing water harvesting on her smallhold farm after bad rainfall.  Credit: Busani Bafan/IPS

Caroline Ndlovu is practicing water harvesting on her smallhold farm after bad rainfall. Credit: Busani Bafan/IPS

At least, this was the view of non-governmental organisations as the two-day Fifth Southern African Development Community (SADC) Water Dialogue ended on Jun. 29.

Hilary Dhliwayo-Motriri from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent said civil society organisations have to be included in strategies to access climate finance because they reach out to many people whom governments do not have the capacity to reach.

“This meeting is focusing more on governments accessing funding and neglecting NGOs. Yet civil society organisations also have a big role to play in climate adaptation,” said Dhliwayo-Motsiri.

About 150 delegates at the dialogue from the 15 SADC member states were brainstorming ways of tapping into climate mitigation and adaptation funds as the world gears up for COP 17 in November.

Climate change has a lot of impact on water, which results to droughts or floods, and the countries agreed that the region needs adequate funds to cope with the devastating consequences of the change in climate.

“Water management is an adaptation strategy and we need funds to strengthen it,” said Ruth Beukman, the regional executive secretary at the Global Water Partnership-Southern Africa.

She suggested that NGOs should collaborate with governments so that they are able to tap into the funding SADC is trying to access.

But forming synergies with governments is not enough, argued Dhliwayo-Motriri, because sometimes NGOs and state authorities do not agree on issues of governance.

“NGOs need to have their space in terms of accessing adaptation funds within the SADC region,” Dhliwayo-Motsiri told IPS.

Meantime, European Union Water Initiative Finance Working Group chairperson Alan Hall said money is as scarce a resource as water is in the region. For the region to access enough funds for the water sector, said Hall, it needs to put its house in order.

“We need to strengthen our government institutions to ensure that money is spent well so that we gain trust from funding institutions,” said Hall. He said governments have to ensure that projects are implemented efficiently and that they present budgets that are predictable.

Whether it is a loan or grant, accountability is very important, said DFID regional climate change advisor Ben Davies.

“And climate change and water should be incorporated in the national development plans, something that is a case in Zambia,” said Davies.

Although funding for adaptation projects is available through the Green Fund, said Alex Banda, the senior programme officer at the SADC Environment and Sustainable Development Programme, very little is coming to the region. He attributed this to the lack of ability by countries to come up with viable project proposals.

“As a result, SADC has developed a regional programme on climate change which cuts across all sectors,” said Banda. “It will enhance the capacity of member states to come up with fundable projects.”

In fact, SADC has already developed some instruments to ensure effective utilisation of funds by the region and member states. SADC director of infrastructure and services said the region has developed a Water Infrastructure Development Programme among other instruments.

“We’ll define projects within each member state and those that are integrated so that the funds are used within those frameworks,” said Remmy Makumbe, SADC director of infrastructure and services.

The poor national policy coordination at national level also leads to lack of access to climate funding in the region, said Swaziland Revenue Authority commissioner general Dumisani Masilela.

“We tend to focus more on short-term issues and neglect long term investments,” said Masilela.

For instance, he said, poverty reduction strategies in the region are not aligned to issues of climate change and the environment. They just look at the short-term efforts of getting people out of poverty and neglect the long-term efforts of taking into consideration climate change.

As all roads lead to Durban, South Africa for COP 17, SADC is also strengthening the capacity of African negotiators so that they can present the African case confidently.

“We need to be sure how much we want and what for,” said African Carbon Exchange director David Lesolle.

For them to bring the money home, said Lesolle, they need to speak with one voice.

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