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By Julius Ng’oma, Assistant Coordinator, CISONECC <script type='text/javascript'>
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by Julius Ng'oma

    CISONECC Coordinator

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

It is indisputable that climate change heavily affects peoples’ livelihoods and countries’ economies. Malawi, for instance faces climate related disasters every year which include droughts, floods and landslides. These have over the past two decades resulted in destruction and loss of crops and properties leading to hunger, famine, diseases and loss of life. Various efforts have been undertaken to revert the impacts of climate change, most of which have generally focused on climate change mitigation rather than adaptation. Such interventions include construction of water conservation structures, improved food storage, improved energy saving stoves and introduction clean energy technologies. These interventions are arguably more short term focused than long term in nature. 

It is a timely and welcome idea that countries globally are embracing the idea of focusing on the long-term plans for mitigating and adapting to the changing climate. Recent efforts on the policy front have leaned towards adaptation to climate change rather than mitigation. This comes from the understanding that we are living in the world where climate change is a reality and that there is need to initiate measures to ensure that people live with the current conditions by adjusting their forms of livelihoods practices to suit the changing climate. Since climate change cannot be easily reverted therefore the world should accept the reality and adjust their way of living accordingly.

Climate change adaptation efforts have been initiated by various countries in the recent past through the development of national climate change policies and National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA). Malawi is in the process of developing the climate change policy which is aimed at coordinating Malawian efforts towards addressing the impacts of climate change. The policy is currently in draft form and awaits approval by Parliament. The NAPA outlines immediate adaptation needs for the country for immediate action. However, Malawi’s NAPA has outlived its usefulness by end 2012 and therefore needs a review and set new priorities; having arguably failed to materialize into successful local or community based adaptation projects or programmes or let alone provide for the coordination of local stakeholder development efforts towards climate change adaptation.

While there is a great need for meeting the immediate adaptation needs for a country through NAPAs, efforts also have to be directed towards addressing the long term needs. In this regard, there have been recent calls on the international scene for countries to consider developing National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) which will highlight the long-term adaptation needs of a country. The idea is that the development and review of the NAPAs will be guided by the NAPs thereby easing the process of developing NAPAs since the new set of immediate adaptation needs will be drawn from NAPs. The NAPs form a good basis for sustainable development of local or community adaptation projects or programmes which assist in building community resilience to climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention Climate Change (UNFCCC) produced guidelines for developing NAPs which to some are generally regarded as complex. However, efforts have recently been made by various international organizations to simplify the guidelines for easy understanding and following by countries. 

NAPs have turned out to be one of the prerequisites for accessing some adaptation funding mechanisms under the UNFCCC set-up. NAPs also are regarded as a bench mark for designing, evaluating and scaling up local climate change adaptation efforts. In her comment during the Community Based Adaptation (CBA8) conference in Kathmandu, Nepal, Christina Figueires, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary emphasized the need for countries to develop NAPs. She informed the CBA8 participants that NAPs are a key entry point for scaling up community based adaptation approaches into the broader policy framework of governments. She therefore urged countries immediately embrace the concept and start making plans and efforts towards developing the NAPs. 

Some Least Developing Countries (LDC) such as Nepal and Senegal have already worked on the development of their respective NAPs and stand to benefit from the LDC adaptation funds and other such benefits in the near future. These countries have made strides in terms of community based adaptation projects and programmes development and implementation with the proper resources. It is therefore important that Malawi, which is also a party to the UNFCCC, increases and fast tracks its moves towards not just embracing the necessity of a NAP; but more importantly completes its NAP in order to afford the country a better chance of benefiting from corresponding international adaptation initiatives.