|M. J. Mwandosya considers key issues in implementing adaptation measures.|
|The author is Minister of Water and Irrigation in the government of the United Republic of Tanzania.|
Climate change is not perceived as a priority by the planners and policy makers in most poor countries because of more urgent survival needs, including diseases such as HIV/AIDS, education, infrastructure and poverty. Vulnerability to climate impacts is, however, rapidly becoming a national concern in Tanzania. Impacts on agriculture and water resources due to extreme weather events, impacts on infrastructures such as roads, railways and bridges due to floods and cyclones, impacts on tourism and coastal resources due to sea-level rise and impacts on forest resources are starting to change the thinking and style of both planners and policy makers. Mainstreaming of climate change issues in the process of preparing National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) has also helped to raise awareness.
Mainstreaming entails integration of sustainability principles into development strategies and, for most poor countries, building capacities for better identification of environmental concerns and opportunities. It also entails the execution of appropriate interventions and performance indicators and attendant capacity to monitor progress. The latter implies properly integrating actions into plans and budgets. In Tanzania, the local government planning and budget cycle requires that planning should start at the lowest level where most people are vulnerable and thus emphasizes a bottom-up planning approach to ensure that people’s priorities and concerns are captured.
There is a clear need to link climate change concerns with poverty eradication efforts at all levels. Tanzania has issued guidelines for mainstreaming environment, including climate change, into the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty. Changes will be required in the way that baseline development assistance is delivered to create integrated strategies for climate resilient development.
At the global level, efforts such as the climate treaty initiatives and the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms can, through mainstreaming, play a significant role in changing the planning process. Yet inadequate resources are being committed by the international community to address the issue of vulnerability of local communities and their resources in poor countries. Meeting both mitigation and adaptation costs requires adequate international financial and technical support be set aside through processes such as the Least Developed Country Fund and Adaptation Fund. Continuing support for the development of current NAPAs so that they can become long-term strategic climate change adaptation planning documents is critical, as is support for their implementation to enhance local coping strategies and planning processes at district and village levels.