What do Zambia, Dominica, and Niger have in common? 

All three countries are benefitting from the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), a dedicated fund of the Climate Investment Funds which helps countries integrate climate resilience into development planning. To galvanize the planning process, the program also supports a range of priority investments from improving agricultural practices and food security, building climate-resilient water supplies and sanitation infrastructure, monitoring and analyzing weather data, and conducting feasibility studies for climate-resilient housing in coastal areas. 

It’s work that is making a difference. I have seen first-hand how the PPCR engagement has helped bring transformative action in each of these countries. I visited Zambia and saw how communities in the Barotse sub-basin of the Zambezi floodplain are standing up to the challenges of climate change. These are communities who’ve had to deal with wild swings in weather patterns that has led to drought and the loss of maize crops on one hand while fluctuating rain patterns have challenged rice planting in another area.

The PPCR program in Zambia is making in-roads by influencing the planning process. At its heart, the program stresses participation. So that means the program has put the communities in the driver’s seat to implement, manage and maintain the projects – working through locally based civil society organizations called “Climate Resilience Adaptation Facilitators”.  The efforts have paid off. The program has gained credibility among the communities, and has shown the government the benefits of inclusive engagement. Meanwhile the Inter-Ministerial Climate Change Secretariat (ICCS) which was established by a Cabinet memo under the Ministry of Finance has been instrumental in influencing inclusion of resilience into national planning. The good news is that the ICCS is now being formalized through a government decree. The plan of the Government  to use the PPCR-supported process to secure funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a fund set up by the UN for funding both adaptation and mitigation projects around the world, allows for continuity and consolidation of progress  already made on resilience.

MaizeAdverse impacts observed, in the Itufa community, on their maize crop due to extreme heat under the Zambia, Strengthening Climate Resilience in the Barotse Sub-basin project

The work in Dominica has evolved beyond the traditional realms of disaster risk to encompass ecosystem and infrastructure resilience. The experience in Dominica shows a consultative approach can help countries map out priorities and allocate funds to meet those needs. It has brought together key agencies – like the environment, agriculture, water, forest, hydromet, health and energy, as well as civil society, gender groups and the private sector.  They’ve been able to assess progress to resilience progress, reaffirm their commitments to investments, and highlight the need for high level leadership across all the areas. Similar to Zambia, Dominica is using its PPCR vision and approach to seek support from the Green Climate Fund. 

Disaster Risk example
Reconciling challenges of disaster risks from landslides, tropical cyclones and projected sea-level with road resilience for communities in Dubique under the Dominica, Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project

Niger is a country where changing weather patterns and extremes have led to food shortages, impacting communities and people’s livelihoods. The Community Action Program for Climate Resilience (CAPCR) targeting food security is making a difference on many levels. Working at the community level, the program is helping provide water pumps to boost vegetable production. There’s cash for food schemes for the most vulnerable people, mostly widows and young children. It’s also drawing on locally-based indigenous techniques to counter the area of drylands with ‘demi-lunes,’ a half-moon shaped area on the ground that helps to restore ecosystems through systematically trapping moisture.  The community based efforts underpinning the CAPCR are important underpinnings to the government’s flagship program ‘Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens’ – an ambitious effort  to secure much needed food security in the country.

Land rehabilitationDemi-lunes, a land rehabilitation technique based on local indigenous knowledge being applied in Tahoua under the Niger, Community Action Program for Climate Resilience

So far, my experiences in visiting these countries have yielded three key lessons. Firstly, if countries are given true ownership of the program, they are able to customize it to achieve better results. Secondly,  the program can not only deliver its intended benefits but can rise to meet the ambitions of client countries, and thirdly, it’s important to keep your eye on the bigger prize – while the program can achieve benefits at a project-level, the outcomes have to be tied to the national agenda to maximize gains. 

With PPCR welcoming 10 new countries into its fold, I envision that these three countries will have their influence in designing these new programs.  Stay tuned for more updates. 

Click here for Key Lessons from the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience: A practical resource for all involved with strategic planning processes and mainstreaming of climate resilience 

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