By Amath Pathe Sene
August 23, 2019.- Smallholder farmers play a vital role in food security, nutrition and economic growth in Africa, but their livelihoods are already threatened by the impacts of climate change. Tensions from frequent extreme weather events, recurrent water stress and increased competition over diminishing natural resources exacerbate poverty and hunger, undermine human rights and lead to migration.
In the Sahel region, desertification associated with water scarcity, land degradation and food insecurity are intensifying political instability to the point that local populations are witnessing the resurgence of violent extremism. The impacts of climate change exceed the region's capacities to respond to these risks. Therefore, more environment and climate finance is required, especially in smallholder agriculture, which is key for the region’s food provision and where farmers are particularly vulnerable.
When we talk about climate finance, we need to remember the complex machinery, policy dialogue and endorsement process needed at the country level before projects can be approved by global environment and climate funds, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Adaptation Fund (AF).
For instance, to receive funding from the GCF, a project must demonstrate that the local government fully supports it. This is done through a “no-objection procedure” conducted by the National Designated Authority (NDA), which is a focal person for the GCF responsible for coordinating the country programme in line with existing climate plans and strategies. NDAs are high-level officials usually from the environment or economy ministries or the Prime Minister's Office. They endorse project ideas and concept notes that accredited agencies submit to the GCF on their behalf.
For IFAD, the process of preparing and presenting a project with NDAs as well as GEF’s Operational Focal Points (OFPs), national committees, and the Ministry of Agriculture begins when climate risks are identified and there is a need to mobilize additional climate finance. In many national contexts, this process may be hindered by the lack of cross-sector coordination mechanisms or a good understanding of the work in the agricultural sector, IFAD-funded investments and IFAD’s business model.
To facilitate collaboration with NDAs and climate funds, IFAD has recently launched the IFAD-NDA Partnership, a platform that brings together NDAs, IFAD and other partners in Africa to talk with global environment and climate funds on country project pipelines, mobilize climate finance for programming and build the capacity of all stakeholders.
This exercise also serves as a forum for South-South and Triangular Cooperation by gathering representatives from the Global South and multilateral institutions and fostering the exchange of ideas and solutions to common challenges. The Partnership addresses major issues affecting vulnerable rural people in developing countries by encouraging climate action in agriculture through officials with significant influence and decision-making power in their governments. These interactions are expected to mobilize further resources for climate-resilient agriculture, leading to the sustainable improvement of smallholders' income and increased levels of food and nutrition security in Africa's rural contexts.
The first two of a series of regional workshops have taken place in Abidjan and Nairobi to develop the capacity of focal points and programme climate action across both sub-regions. These events also serve to exchange knowledge about the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – a set of commitments adopted by UNFCCC parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and their importance to the partnership.
With support from the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), this platform strengthens IFAD's policy dialogue agenda and seeks to position the Fund as a partner of choice on climate finance in Africa. Joining forces will keep up the momentum for climate action and greatly push to delivering low emission and climate resilient agriculture across the continent.