How can a place that suffers repeated droughts and floods be denied funding for coping with Climate change? Gerald Tenywa went to parts of eastern and northern Uganda to follow the money released by Government and donors for climate change.
Deborah Aanyu shook her head in anger when I asked her whether she had got any funding from the government to help her manage the repeated floods and drought in her village. She is one of the residents in Katakwi in eastern Uganda where weather extremes keep stalking her village.
“We have lost most of the food and we eat one meal in a day,” she said, adding that the floods in November and December destroyed their crops. “It is painful to look at the faces of hungry children when there is no food in the garden.”
Prior to the floods, most parts of eastern Uganda had experienced crop failure resulting from a severe dry spell. The floods and the severe dry spell, according to Apolot, have conspired to make life harsher. “The rainfall patterns have changed and we do not know when to plant or harvest.”
She added, “Climate change is sinking us deeper into poverty but the government has not yet responded to our cries.”
This is taking place when international climate finance approved to help developing countries address impacts of climate change increased eight fold between 2008 and 2012, according to a research report the Climate Action Network in Uganda (CAN-U) and Oxfam.
Following climate change money
Between 2010 and 2012, more than $264m (sh897.6b) in adaptation funds reached Uganda. This amount of money can build 3,200 classrooms and 6,000 VIP pit-latrines, which is 50 times more than what Uganda budgeted for the construction of new schools in 2013.
The assessment by CAN-U and Oxfam established that the funding was allocated to address climate change together with livelihood programmes. They also established that the money allocated by the Government in its budget is between 0.15% and 0.17% of Uganda’s GDP in the year 2009/10 and 2011/12.
Dan Lukwago, a private consultant, who was commissioned by CAN-U and Oxfam to undertake the assessment, said climate change is considered a cross cutting issue and that is why it takes a small share of the national cake. The assessment was undertaken in Bundibugyo, Pallisa, Nakasongola and Apac.
At a global level, international financing for addressing climate change should be over and above Official Development Assistance (ODA).
However, the assessment by Lukwago discovered that this was not the case for the climate financing provided to Uganda. “Data from international sources such as OECD show that the bulk of this ($264m) was provided as ODA through European countries as well as the US and the EU institutions,” according to the report for CAN-U and Oxfam.
In Uganda, the water sector has the largest share of climate funding estimated at 50% while agriculture and disaster prevention took 14% and other sectors had got 34%.
According to Anthony Wolimbwa, a research officer at CAN-U, the investment in water would help to improve other sectors such as agriculture, health as well as education and livelihoods. “The water sector was performing poorly yet it affects other sectors,” said Wolimbwa, adding that investment in water creates higher returns.
While the government policy is to achieve total access to water for the whole population, water has stagnated at 70% in the last five years. This is partly attributed to the increasing population, according to Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister of Water and Environment.
The climate change interventions include construction of dams, sustainable land management, water treatment and water storage tanks.
Rich countries to pay for climate change
Climate change is caused by gases such as carbon dioxide that trap the heat escaping from the earth. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that human activity such as industrial production that relies on fossil fuels such as oil and coal is responsible for releasing such gases, which have been increasing over a long time.
At a recent meeting convened by Makerere University at Kampala Serena Hotel, Professor Kamuntu said the developed countries have a responsibility to clean up since they are responsible for producing the huge quantities of waste gases.
“The rich countries are responsible for producing most of the waste gases,” said Kamuntu, adding that less developed countries that are taking steps to support efforts to reduce pollution and enhance the resilient of their economies have to be supported by the rich countries. “We did not cause this problem but we are cooperating because we share the Earth with other people.”
Not easy to trace climate change money
The research team from CAN-U and Oxfam found serious difficulties in accessing financial data for most of the adaptation funds at the national and local levels. They also experienced challenges related to poor documentation and less involvement of the beneficiaries in accountability of funds.
In addition, the adaptation funding was supposed to support the most vulnerable people, but the subsequent interventions did not positively affect the most vulnerable groups.
NAPA-a weapon for climate change
In 2007, Uganda developed the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) to priotise activities that respond to urgent needs to adapt to climate change. However, apart from the Wetlands Conditional Grant, the Central Government budget transfers do not include any funding for implementation of the NAPA priorities, according to the report by CAN-U and Oxfam.
While the responsibility for coordinating climate change activities rests with the central Government, the local level is where implementation is meant to take place.
The National Climate Policy envisages that the local Government will play a key role in implementation and coordination of its objectives. District level structures are provided for the policy. However, it is less clear if they are linked to national and lower level structures to deliver climate change actions.
“Although different technical and political officials within local governments recognise climate change as an issue, it is not financially priotised, resulting into limited staff and financial resources,” stated the report released by CAN-U and Oxfam.
While the community was not engaged in the design of the projects, there was engagement of the communities during implementation in some of the projects with grant schemes.
Other challenges include the limited coordination among donors, local government and the NGOs implementing activities on climate change in the districts benefitting from climate finding, according to the report by CAN-U and Oxfam. Budget allocations for climate change activities at the districts are insignificant because climate change is considered a cross cutting issue.
The local governments have little awareness regarding national planning instruments such as NAPA. In addition, they have weak capacity to implement climate change interventions.
What the targeted communities say
George Okello, a resident of Kayei landing site, Akokoro Subcounty in Apac
When we got a water treatment plant and toilets constructed we thought our problems were going to end. But the water system has broken down and people do not want to contribute money for repair. The water system was badly constructed and we got a raw deal.
Kyedi Apulasi, a resident of Gogonyo sub County in Pallisa
The project supported me to plant my woodlot and we now have energy security. We do not have to walk long distances looking for firewood. Sometimes I sell some of the wood to get income and send back my children to school.