The African Development Bank hosted a session on locally led climate adaptation at the Virtual Gobeshona Global Conference on January 21, with a focus on agricultural solutions such as solar-powered irrigation pumps and turning farm waste into organic fertilizer.
The session brought together policy makers, financiers, private sector and local project beneficiaries to discuss lessons and challenges in engaging communities in adaptation action across the agricultural value chain.
“We have learned over the years that top-down approaches are not usually the best, and local communities must be engaged and lead in the solutions,” said Prof. Anthony Nyong, the Bank’s Director for Climate Change and Green Growth.
As these communities bear the brunt of climate change impacts, the Bank would focus on locally led adaptation interventions in its financing efforts, he said.
For locally led adaptation action to thrive, enabling laws, policies and regulations are key, the participants heard.
Indie Dinala, an official in Zambia’s Ministry of Planning and Development and the Project Manager of the Strengthening Climate Resilience in the Kafue Sub-basin project said Zambia’s decentralization policy had been instrumental in bringing decision-making and resources closer to communities in the planning and implementation of adaptation actions.
The project is funded by the Climate Investment Funds Pilot Programme For Climate Resilience through the African Development Bank. Anthony Phiri, a local district officer and part of the project’s implementing team, attributed the project’s success to its engagement with Kafue Basin residents.
“The community identified climate risks and selected adaptation interventions that spoke to their specific needs,” Phiri said.
A project beneficiary, Godwin Mulilo, noted that solar powered irrigation pumps had addressed problems of water scarcity, helping him double his agricultural yield.
Samuel Rigu of Kenya-based Safi Organics Limited, discussed his innovative solution of turning waste into fertilizer.
“By working closely with local farmers, we are able to source agricultural residue and use it to produce organic fertilizer that is suitable for the farmer’s type of soil. This has greatly improved crop yields for over 5,000 farmers and sequestered carbon at 1.7 tons per acre,” he said.
Yvonne Odame Nti, the founder of Y&M Regeneration Limited in Ghana, talked about the importance of community participation in forestry management to support agricultural ecosystems,. “We work with farmers to manage our forests and in return, we offer equity from the sale of forest products,” she said. Her company has pioneered the use of coconut husks to create planting pods for tree seedlings as a substitute for polythene bags.
Despite the development of such innovative adaptations to climate change, financing for locally led action remains low, said Gareth Phillips, the Bank’s Manager for Climate and Environmental Finance.
Constraining factors for financing include long lag times in demonstrating viability and generating returns, as well as international climate funds’ preference for big-ticket projects.
“Innovative financing mechanisms are therefore needed, such as the Bank’s Adaptation Benefits Mechanism (ABM), which will support small-scale adaptation action by enabling projects to derive income from adaptation outcomes,” Phillips said.
The panelists recommended that agricultural infrastructure such as roads and storage should be climate-proofed, that women should play a greater role in locally led adaptation actions and that the private sector and financiers should engage more to scale up and sustain locally led adaptation initiatives.
The week-long annual Gobeshona Global Conference on Locally Led Adaptation was hosted by the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) online. The event brings together researchers, practitioners and supporters of locally led adaptation to stimulate action and track progress year on year.