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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Bureaucracy denying grassroot communities access to climate finance

Grassroot African communities have ideas on leading local action that could help them adequately adapt to climate change, but they face difficulties in accessing needed financial support, a session at the ongoing 27th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) heard on Wednesday, November 9, 2022.

Villagers in Igembe Central, Meru County hold their apiaries after being taken through training on apiculture as an adaptive measure against climate change

The session, organised by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, focused on closing the gap between grassroots, intermediaries and financial service providers.

Panelists rued the tough conditions some financial providers demand from grassroot communities, most of who do not have adequate financial literacy but have bankable ideas in adaptation.

“Such conditions make it very hard for community groups access needed finances and hence community projects fail to be scaled up. The bureaucracy in funding access for the community in terms of climate financing is an existing challenge,” said Rosemary Atieno, the co-founder of Women Centres International (WCCI) in Uganda and the director of Community Mobilisation for Positive Empowerment (COMPE).

Atieno noted that there is a need of proper approach to change the processes.

Atieno adds that the problem gets compounded by the nature of the organisation, more specifically for those classified as local or community-based organisations.

Charles Mwangi, Head of Programmes at the PACJA, noted that it is incomprehensible that while local communities have demonstrable knowledge of it means to adapt to climate change, those with the means to boost their work are busy concerned with procedures and process.

“This frustrate locally led climate actors at the grassroot,” said Mwangi.

Mwangi shared experience on community engagement in terms of finding solutions altogether. He said PACJA initiated a locally led- initiative in Kenya with the aim of building resilience of local communities during COVID-19 and learnt that local communities have immense knowledge that can be utilised to address climate adaptation.

Participants noted that working with local communities has taught them the lesson that core knowledge is with local communities and hence procedures of access to finance should be broken to ease their intervention.

Sylvia Calderon from USAID Colombia called upon governments to integrate the component of capacity building of local communities to better understand the dynamics in accessing climate finances.

“We need to streamline application processes on financing to ensure that from donor to the community is easier,” she said.

Citing examples from Colombia, Sylvia said working with communities have shown that, “indeed, the communities were at the centre of their humanitarian work and urged that finance controls and power need to be shifted to local partners to trigger locally led principles”.

Climate finance has been on the top headlines of COP27. CSOs and government leaders are discussing on how climate finance should be geared to address challenges arising from climate change.

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