Excerpt : Eastern African countries are experiencing a severe drought that has decimated livelihoods in vulnerable regions, with millions in need of emergency support.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Eastern African countries are experiencing a severe drought that has decimated livelihoods in vulnerable regions, with millions in need of emergency support. Kenya is no exception, with all the twenty-four arid and semi-arid counties facing harsh drought, and thousands facing famine. These are the adverse impacts of global climate change, for which Africa and other developing countries bear the brunt through decreased rainfall, increasing temperature and water shortage stress that affect their very survival. Its just the beginning, and will get pretty worse in coming decades. Africa’s limited adaptive capacity, grinding poverty and economic deprivation makes it more vulnerable than other regions of the world. Studies estimate up to a quarter of Africa’s population is at risk extinction in the next 50 years if nothing is done to limit the effects of emissions, and scale up adaptation measures.

Over 200 countries are meeting in Marrakech, Morroco, to discuss how to implement Paris accords on climate. Resistance by developed countries in taking urgent measures to reduce emissions has led to protracted negotiations for many years. In Kyoto, the agreement was legally binding obligation on developed countries to commit to specific targets in greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, this was varied in Paris to commit all nations to contribute to actions to reduce emissions, especially the top three polluters China, US and India, after 2020, with a mechanism to monitor compliance and reporting. Over 100 countries have ratified the agreement that came into effect this month.  

Developing countries require finance to meet their obligations in reducing emissions, and adapting to climate change. Developed countries have committed to a USD 100 billion fund target annually by the year 2020 for mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation means actions to limit dangerous climate change through reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, adaptation refers to projects or measures to limit the effects of actual or expected climate change through investment in sustainable development projects that enhance resilience. Developing countries may apply for these funds, albeit through a stringent process that may take years for some countries, and that undermine the commitment to inclusiveness. 

African countries have accessed just around 3% of the global climate funds in 2014. Nearly half the funds available have gone into mitigation programmes, mostly outside sub-Saharan Africa. Out of USD2.8 billion multilateral climate funds approved this year, USD630 million will go to projects in sub-Saharan Africa. Few African countries have so far got approvals for projects from the Green Climate Fund set up in 2010. Certainly, Kenya is not among the 56 projects in the pipeline by the Fund although NEMA has been fully accredited for direct access to the fund as the National Implementing Agency.

Multilateral funds can also be accessed through multilateral institutions such as the UNDP, AfDB, IFC, DfiD and others who also provide the technical assistance in making project proposals. In 2014, the government received USD 10 million from the Adaptation Fund towards ‘Integrated Programme to Build Resilience to Climate Change’ in selected counties. But that’s hardly anything to write home about. It is estimated that the last drought which ended in 2012 cost the pastoralist communities in the country over USD 10 billion. The government estimates that it will require at least USD 1 billion annually to mitigate against the effects of climate change in arid and semi-arid areas of the country. This does not include lost industrial capacity occasioned by poor power supply, effects on agricultural producers and the resulting slowed economic growth. 

Which agency should receive or manage such funds, which areas should be the priority and how the funds can be tracked to ensure the most vulnerable benefit are matters the government must deal. The government also has a mandate to provide specific funds to counties in the arid regions for adaptation.

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