Inadequate funding and limited resources are frustrating Zimbabwe’s efforts to develop plans to deal with the impact of climate change, says a government progress report.
Zimbabwe has been facing political and financial turmoil for more than a decade, derailing the government’s ability to function and respond to crises.
Sparse and erratic rains have already caused the water table to drop, affecting the country’s ability to produce food and contributing to the spread of water-borne diseases. In 2008, the country experienced one of the worst cholera outbreaks recorded anywhere in recent years; the outbreak killed at least 4,000 people and infected 100,000 others.
The government report, Strengthening the National Capacity for Climate Change, says Zimbabwe lacks the funds needed to hold a workshop to identify a National Implementing Entity, an accredited body able to receive direct financial transfers from the Adaptation Fund in Zimbabwe. The Adaptation Fund, set up under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is the most important source of funds to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
The government also lacks sufficient funds to devise a national strategy, review the work of its technical team on climate change or conduct advocacy work to raise awareness of climate change, the report says.
In 2012, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) commissioned a three-year, US$8.3 million project with the government, aiming to incorporate climate change issues into the country’s national development plans and to leverage funds from the global finance mechanisms.
Veronica Gundu, a principal environment officer in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management, told IRIN that when the idea to craft a national climate change response strategy was proposed, UNDP agreed to provide funds, but “as we went on to develop the strategy, the funds were not enough, so we sourced additional funding from COMESA [Common Markets for East and Southern Africa]”.
COMESA is said to have agreed to complement the UNDP funding with $170,000, which is meant to go towards the projected $400,000 needed for the national response strategy. COMESA has yet to release the funds.
Additionally, Gundu said the government had, for the first time last year, released funds for climate change; she did not disclose the figures.
Sara Feresu, director of the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of Zimbabwe, the institution leading the climate change strategy-formulation process, told a workshop in early April that still more funds were needed.
The government has put together a draft national response strategy with the money that was available, conducting consultations in select urban centres. But the draft strategy needs feedback from provinces and districts. Consultations with civil society, most of whom have yet to see the draft, are also needed.
In spite of the funding gaps, Gundu is optimistic that by the end of the year the first draft, which the government says is in circulation, will be ready for adoption.
Short on development aid
Climate change pundits say fundraising for climate change adaptation has proved difficult due to the global economic crisis, which has seen donors minimizing funding to NGOs and governments. Advocates insist on more government involvement in fundraising efforts.
Leonard Unganayi, who manages a climate change project administered jointly by the government-owned Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UNDP, says there can never be enough funding for such a mammoth task.
He says that even at the global level there are major outcries for funding and resources.
The development agency Oxfam said an analysis of new figures of Official Development Assistance by the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee shows a staggering 40 percent drop in funding focused on climate change adaptation.
Shepherd Zvigadza, chairperson of the Climate Change Working Group, a coalition of NGOs, said most NGOs were making efforts to fundraise for adaptation, but that most of the money coming in is just for pilot projects that do not have the desired impact.
“Zimbabwe has been under sanctions, and so many donors have been shying away from supporting us, both as government and NGOs... Besides sanctions, the country has not been able to tap into the global funding windows because emphasis is on supporting least developed countries, and Zimbabwe is not classified as one,” he said.
After flawed elections in 2002, European governments placed targeted sanctions on the leadership of ZANU-PF, which was the ruling party at the time, and on development aid to the government. In 2012, the European Union suspended some of the sanctions on assistance to Zimbabwe, but it has yet to reinstate development aid to the government.
To overcome the funding issues, Gundu says government is working towards the establishment of a National Climate Change Fund, which will be administered under the Green Climate Fund, also set up under the UNFCCC. But the fund has yet to become operational.
Unganayi says Zimbabwe should try to identify innovative ways to raise money locally.