It is increasingly recognized that small communities are likely to be the most severely affected by climate change impacts, and yet least equipped to cope and adapt. The Community-Based Adaptation (CBA) project, a five-year United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) global initiative that is funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), has been designed to pilot community-based projects that seek to enhance the resiliency of communities, and/or the ecosystems on which they rely on, to climate change impacts. In ten participating countries (Bangladesh, Bolivia, Guatemala, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Samoa, and Vietnam) small-scale ‘project/policy laboratories are created to build the resilience and adaptive capacity of local communities to climate change.
In Namibia, the CBA project "Approaching community adaptation to climate change holistically by using multiple coping strategies" is implemented through the partnership with the local NGO Creative Entrepreneurs Solutions (CES) through a participatory process involving different sectors of the communities.
As global climate change impacts become more eminent, one of the worst affected areas is Namibia. Attributed to the dry climate and poor soils, the yields for Namibia's small scale farmers are arguably the lowest in the world. The CBA project supports the communities living Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Oshana and Kavango regions of northern Namibia. Majority of the community members are subsistence farmers who depend highly on rainfed dry land crops and livestock rearing both for subsistence and income. Climate change poses significant challenges to the poor and marginalized communities of these areas as it negatively affects food and water security, which in turn, jeopardizes their livelihoods.
The CBA project uses six local climate change coping strategies that are interlinked to create a holistic approach to community-based adaptation. Most concepts are integrated and piloted in all the project sites, while some remain site-specific. Strategies include awareness-building interventions on climate change, coping strategies and nutritional needs, as well as social mobilization of community members into Self Help Groups (SHG). SHGs are created as a means of taking charge of their own development, savings and lending. Other strategies include ensuring water and food security through flood and rain harvesting for agricultural irrigation, livestock, fish farming. Irrigated vegetable production using harvested flood and rain water supports HIV/AIDS affected families. Additionally, dry land crop production is improved through composting, bio, char, crop rotation, and conservation agriculture. Increased usage of improved drought resistant pearl millet varieties (the national staple food called “Mahangu”) rice, mushroom, and sweet stem are used for human nutrition as well as fodder security to boos availability of protein nutrition and incomes. Lastly, the use of energy efficient stoves and agroforestry combined with general reforestation techniques help sustain food security and income generation with no adverse impacts to the land and other natural resources.
This CBA project is delivered thru the Small Grants Programme (SGP) allowing for a fast, flexible and proven mechanism to reach communities and civil society at the local level and using its National Steering Committees for decisions on grant making, as well as the infrastructure and technical expertise of its National Coordinators. In addition, a UN Volunteer partners with UNDP and SGP to enhance community mobilization, recognize volunteers’ contribution and ensure inclusive participation around the project, as well as to facilitate capacity building of partner NGOs and CBOs”. Members of participating communities have played important roles during the formulation of the project. Women and young people in particular have committed to volunteer their time, labour, materials, and knowledge during its implementation. The sustainability of the project will be ensured through training and awareness-raising programs that will increase residents’ skills and knowledge in sustainable water harvesting, food and fodder security, agro-forestry and reforestation techniques, nutrition and entrepreneurship. The UN Volunteer assigned to this CBA project keeps the motivation levels of the community high. Other partners include Green Life Trust, Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Forestry, Agronomic Board, Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden).
The Government of Japan has contributed to this CBA project, as well as to other CBA projects in Namibia and Niger. The activities supported by these funds include soil conservation, water harvesting, and development of the country-level CBA portfolio, including capacity-building for prospective NGOs. It is foreseen that these activities will contribute to the gathering and leveraging of lessons for effective policy impact at national levels.