Innovating climate finance solutions for pastoral and farming communities in the Horn of Africa

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Photo: Pastoralists in Kenya (Kabir Dhanji/ILRI)

By Pedro Chilambe; ClimBeR Climate finance and climate risk management specialist, Telvin Denje; Research Associate African Group of Negotiators Experts Support and Shadrack Arum; Research Associate, African Group of Negotiators Experts Support 

The Karamoja cluster is an ecological and cultural region that spans the borders of Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan. Pastoralism and agropastoralism are the primary sources of livelihood. Pastoralist communities in the region share traditions, culture and ways of life across national borders.  

The Karamoja cluster is primarily arid and semi-arid (ASAL), with a bimodal rainfall system and annual temperatures ranging from 16.7-40 degrees Celsius. Predicted climate change impacts include an increased number of hot days and a decrease in the amount and predictability of rainfall. Drought, flash floods and heat waves are the major climate hazards.

Traditionally, pastoralists in the region have used 14 major routes to move livestock between pastures and water sources. However, the impacts of climate change, particularly drought and increased rainfall variability, have disrupted these routes and resulted in increased cattle theft, resource scarcity and the transboundary spread of animal diseases. Drought also strongly impacts agricultural activities in the region, which has led some farmers to switch from rainfed to irrigated production.

Figure: Historical and projected drought stress severity in the Karamoja cluster. (Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT)

Adapting to climate change

As both livelihood activities and natural resources cross national borders in the Karamoja cluster, international collaboration is needed to address and mitigate risks. Governments in the Horn of Africa (HoA) are implementing regional and national strategies to address and manage the transboundary impacts of climate change and the challenges associated with cross-border pastoralist movement in Karamoja. These include the development of Memoranda of Understanding about international cooperation in the region and transboundary coordination by regional governments. National adaptation and mitigation strategies and plans are housed within each country’s Nationally Determined Contributions to greenhouse gas reduction and their National Adaptation Plans.

People in the Karamoja cluster also work to adapt to climate change at the household level by diversifying livelihood activities. In recent years, the impact of climate change on livestock and crop production has pushed people in the region to explore new sources of income, including fisheries, honey production, basket making, small-scale mining, tourism, poultry keeping and trade. Some of these efforts have been supported by local government and civil society organizations. 

CGIAR’s work on the climate finance challenge

Finance remains one of the major challenges in implementing transboundary adaptation and mitigation strategies. Climate finance has the potential to bring in other innovative finance sources, and it can also be used to connect investments to relevant, local financial instruments. This can help ensure that funding reaches the communities that are most impacted by climate change and is used to support local climate risk management, natural resource enhancement, livelihood diversification, and livestock and agricultural value chain development. Investments in local communities can also help reduce farmers’ need to migrate out of the region to look for alternative sources of income and can improve conditions in the communities through which pastoralists migrate on a seasonal basis.

CGIAR works to increase HoA governments’ access to climate finance through the CGIAR Climate Resilience Initiative (ClimBer) and CGIAR’s Green Climate Fund accreditation. One of ClimBer’s goals is to use the initiative’s partnerships to facilitate focus countries’ access to at least $30 million USD in climate finance, with an emphasis on ensuring this funding reaches women, youth and smallholder farmers. CGIAR collaborates with the African Group of Negotiators Experts Support (AGNES) to educate stakeholders on the transboundary impacts of climate change in the Karamoja cluster, identify regional policy synergies that can be used to deliver investments to the region, and help governments meet their NDC commitments.

Ownership of climate finance projects is key to the design of contextualized solutions. AGNES, through its NDC delivery lab, brings about an opportunity to bring stakeholders together across geographies. Together, they look beyond borders to understand the cascading issues climate change brings, which impact not only their own territories but have spillover effects into others and to design appropriate interventions with regional benefits more efficiently. This approach could help bring a quicker turnaround time to proposal design and hence the acquisition of finance for climate adaptation.

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