This article was written by Blair Cameron and originally published on the Global Delivery Initiative website.
As the impacts of global climate change accelerate, countries around the world are beginning to prepare for a future with warmer temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events. While many regions will suffer as the climate changes, experts expect that the worst impacts of climate change will be felt by poor and vulnerable communities in developing countries. To help anticipate and prepare for climate change risks, development finance institutions are funding initiatives to build “climate resilience” in the countries that need it most.
Recent case studies prepared with the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) and published in GDI’s Global Delivery Library highlight three of these efforts, and detail how implementation teams have responded to the delivery challenges involved in executing climate resilience projects.
In Zambia, the government overcame a series of high-level coordination and capacity challenges in order to better deliver small-scale agriculture projects to promote climate resilience in vulnerable communities. In Nepal, a climate resilience project boosted rural incomes by working with the private sector to train farmers on crop rotation and other practices to improve agricultural productivity. And in Ghana, work focused on breaking down silos between government agencies to harmonize agriculture and forest protection policies.
In all three cases, improving coordination and aligning incentives were key factors to help these projects achieve their goals.
In countries with large forested areas, forest protection agencies and agriculture ministries are often at odds. To conservationists, forests should be protected for their biodiversity and carbon storage properties, while others see forests as areas that can only reach their economic potential after being “opened up” for agricultural activities. In Ghana, this divergence in views between government agencies has long been exemplified by the Ghana Cocoa Board, which favored expanding cocoa production across the country, and the Forestry Commission, which wanted to protect the country’s forests from agricultural expansion. As international pressure for higher environmental standards has grown, and awareness of the link between forests and climate resilient agriculture has grown, the cocoa board’s attitude toward Ghana’s forestland has changed. Taking advantage of that shift, a project financed by CIF sought to improve the relationship between the Forestry Commission and the cocoa board through working on shared objectives: creating community management structures to better manage natural resources, increasing the number of trees on cocoa plantations, creating new cocoa farms on degraded land, and using better cocoa trees and a more efficient production cycle to increase productivity without expanding into forested areas.
In Zambia, high-level coordination was the core component of another CIF project implemented in the Barotse sub-basin, a large wetlands area along the Zambezi River. The project supported national government units created to provide leadership on climate change issues, and made funds available for community level sub-projects to promote climate resilience. One sub-project saw a community group receive $7000 to buy mushroom spores and mushroom growing equipment to set up a group business venture. The group chose mushrooms for their project because, unlike most other agriculture produce, mushrooms do not need large amounts of water to grow. Getting such projects off the ground required significant coordination between the national government, district governments, NGOs, and local communities. After long delays in getting the first projects approved, project implementers increased training of district officials and began troubleshooting bottlenecks to improve coordination and speed up approvals. By 2018, more than 900 sub-projects were underway across the Barotse sub-basin.
In Nepal, a CIF-financed project also faced coordination challenges in trying to bring together three key members of the commodity supply chain—banks, agribusiness firms, and farmers—to make maize, sugarcane, and rice farms more productive and sustainable. Implementation showed that bringing all the players together was easier said than done. Banks in Nepal were unwilling to lend to individual farmers, and it was far easier to link agribusiness firms and farmers in the closely-knit sugarcane supply chain, than in the more-fragmented rice supply chain. When they found it impossible to align incentives, project implementers had to try alternative approaches. To improve farmers’ access to finance, for example, the project channeled resources to an equity fund after the original plan of working with Nepali banks failed.
In several instances, the three featured projects helped strengthen relationships and understanding between groups with different agendas. Aligning incentives between such groups is by no means easy, and always requires a deep and nuanced understanding of the local context. In Nepal, for example, project implementers initially misread some key dynamics of the agriculture sector and had to adapt their approach midway through implementation.
Increasing resilience in agricultural communities will only grow in importance as we confront climate change, and there is a lot to be learned from the implementation of projects already underway. The Ghana, Nepal, and Zambia case studies are part of a set of studies written in collaboration with the Climate Investment Funds.
About the Global Delivery Library
The Global Delivery Library, part of the Global Delivery Initiative, houses GDI's case studies, and helps connect practitioners around the world to share practical experiences about how they overcame challenges to achieve their development goals.