Build requisite capacity to attract climate finance, experts tell Africa

A Ghanaian farmer at work
A Ghanaian farmer at work

by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Access to technologies for small irrigation facilities is on the hearts of smallholder farmers in Ghana and other parts of Africa to enable them contain drought and rain failures.

According to the Ghana National Association of Farmers and Fishermen, its members can practice climate smart agriculture when they are able to stand the severity of the weather.

Abraham Tetteh of the farmers’ group says in recent times, most farmers have had to wait for the rains before planting and those who plant in anticipation of the rains get disappointed as they lose crops.

“In Ghana now, agricultural funding is becoming a problem, even how to access bank loans is a problem; we don’t get funds anywhere, so if we can get some funds, then it will be a step up to move into climate-smart production,” he said.

African civil society regards the provision of finance as central in ensuring that the continent confronts the climate crisis on the basis of justice, due to the vulnerabilities of people on the continent.

In the view of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), an umbrella body of African CSOs, the ‘climate debt’ should be repaid by those most responsible for causing climate change.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the United Nations’ premier mechanism for funding climate change-related mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.

At the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, donors agreed to mobilise 100 billion dollars a year by 2020. The Fund currently has about $5.5 billion of the $10.2 billion pledged mainly by rich developed nations, with the rest expected to come by end of year.

The GCF board, at its recent meeting in Songdo, South Korea, approved a $200 million pilot phase that would fund up to 10 projects via test procedures for allowing national bodies to approve.

At least four would have to be from countries classed as ‘least developing’, small island developing states or African.

“We expect to see high quality proposals at our next meeting that will have strong climate impact, and that will set the precedent for other developing countries which approach the Fund,” said Henrik Harboe, one of two Co-chairs of the Board. “The commitment of developing countries over the next three months is essential to what happens with this Fund,” he added

The GCF is expected to launch a request for proposal (RFP) process inviting projects to bid for funds early next year.

But the most critical concern, perhaps, is the capacity of developing countries to tap into the opportunity to access the funds.

The African Union’s NEPAD Agency, for instance, has for the past two years being disbursing a €3.6million fund for adaptation of agriculture to climate change.

Projects attract up to €200,000, but a country like Ghana has not benefitted from the fund because the processes are highly competitive.

“For Ghana to be able to access the fund, it’s important that the quality of the proposals that are developed meet these targets,” said Kwame Ababio, Coordinator of the NEPAD Climate Fund.

There is increasingly a number of funding opportunities for both public and private sector institutions to access in climate adaptation and mitigation.

However, low capacity in proposal development – bankable projects that offer value for money – is an emerging challenge in the quest of developing countries to tap into climate funds.

Nana Osei Bonsu, Chief Executive of the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF), the apex body for private businesses in Ghana, has acknowledged there has been limited knowledge among the local business community.

“We’re trying to identify business opportunities in climate change impact,” he stated. “The capacity will certainly come when there is an opportunity because you don’t invest in something when you don’t see the end zone, so the capacity building will come if we identify the opportunity and the technical skills necessary to take advantage of the opportunity”.

It is on this basis that the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) on finance to be submitted ahead of the December 2015 UN talks in Paris, should define and agree on the various instruments for providing support from developed countries.

Kwame Ababio believes Ghana, like other African countries, would have to build capacity in proposal development and project implementation to tap into the available climate funding opportunities.

“We are looking for proposals that give value for money; we want proposals that are having direct impact on people and livelihoods,” he said.

The ‘Third International Conference on Financing for Development’ in Addis Ababa already has a panel discussing the linkages between climate finance and sustainable development, reflecting on how to best activate GCF’s potential and financing.

As African CSOs prevail on polluter countries to commit more funds for climate adaptation, it is hoped the continent will have the capacity to source the financial resource for sustainable development.

In this way, a farmer like Abraham Tetteh can afford to have a small irrigation facility on his farm to produce all seasons.


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