Here’s where Africa can find the food revamp cash it needs

A farmer collects sorghum plant at his submerged red sorghum field after heavy rain in Kournari village, on the outskirts of Ndjamena, Chad October 26, 2022

A farmer collects sorghum plant at his submerged red sorghum field after heavy rain in Kournari village, on the outskirts of Ndjamena, Chad October 26, 2022. REUTERS/Mahamat Ramadan

From Rwanda to Benin to Zimbabwe, African countries are finding ways to source climate change adaptation funds at home

Ousmane Badiane is executive chair of AKADEMIYA2063 and co-chair of the Malabo Montpellier Panel.

The agreement made at the recent COP27 climate summit to develop a new loss and damage fund is a welcome step forward for many nations – particularly in Africa, a continent most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.

However, commitments to support vulnerable countries in adapting to climate change must go beyond loss and damage.

While high-income countries must continue to meet their obligations to fund climate adaptation in developing countries, these commitments alone are unlikely to meet the magnitude of the funding gap and the pressing needs of the continent.

While African countries have nearly doubled their annual public expenditure in agriculture since the mid-1990s, absolute funding levels have started to stagnate and decline. This is happening at a time when  the continent also faces a climate adaptation finance gap of some $41.3 billion.

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Realizing the massive potential of the African continent, particularly in its growing agrifood sector, means reversing these funding trends and adapting to the impact of climate change proactively – not simply allowing for losses and damages to occur.

It is expected that in the absence of adequate adaptation measures, climate change will cause an annual GDP loss of 10% to 20% by 2100 throughout Africa. Damages to the agriculture sector will be at the forefront, affecting the main source of livelihoods and nutrition for millions.

As shown in the ADAPT report published recently by the Malabo Montpellier Panel, African governments must strengthen and expand their own sources of funding for food systems adaptation, to avert a climate-induced crisis. The report highlights a number of policy and institutional innovations and programmatic interventions that have worked across Africa.

African governments can begin with leveraging the sources of finance which are currently underutilized yet could significantly contribute to bridging the gap for adaptation funding gap in Africa’s food systems.

For instance, private sector funding for climate adaptation in Africa, in general, is massively underleveraged – contributing just 14% ($4.2 billion) of total climate finance across the continent. The majority of this also goes directly to reducing emissions – not adapting to the climate impacts which are already here.

Yet, the continent has clear success stories for leveraging greater amounts of private funding. Rwanda’s National Fund for Environment (FONERWA), for instance, offers a model for other African governments in mobilizing climate finance for sustainable development and green growth.

As of April 2022, FONERWA had mobilized more than $216 million for investments in ecosystem rehabilitation, improved waste management, energy-efficiency solutions such as solar-powered cooking stoves, and climate compatible agricultural methods.

In total, Rwanda now aims to mobilize 40% of its total mitigation and adaptation needs ($5.3 billion) by 2030 from domestic sources alone.

Zimbabwe’s experience is another illustration of how governments, despite a challenging investment environment, can develop the requisite policy frameworks, create the necessary institutions, and mobilize resources to address climate change. 

For example, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) and the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BSCD) are leading the way in supporting greater awareness and adoption of clean technologies among private sector companies in the country.

In addition to leveraging local sources of funding, African countries must support and prioritize locally-led adaptation efforts in order to maximize the impact of climate finance on the continent’s food systems.

At present, only 5% of all funding from international climate funds has been targeted for locally-based climate adaptation – despite this often being the area of greatest need and vulnerability.

However, some African governments are leading the way in prioritizing funding for these areas.

Benin’s Local Climate Adaptive Living Facility Initiative (LoCAL) is a key example of how African governments can prioritize the channeling of international and public finance to local projects, giving communities the power and resources they need to adapt to climate change.

The success of Mali in mobilizing nearly $555 million in bilateral, multilateral, and private sector funds for climate adaptation alone between 2011 and 2020, despite heightened political instability, shows that these funding goals and priorities are not out of reach, if resources and efforts are prioritized in the most appropriate areas.

Africa must increasingly take bold actions to invest in adaptation for a more resilient and prosperous future.

This includes a wide range of policy and institutional innovations which can leverage new and existing forms of climate funding: from catering specifically to local adaptation needs, to equipping institutions with the resources and mandate needed to mobilize climate finance from different sources, to leveraging non-public climate finance, much work remains to be done.

Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Context or the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


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