What role for local organisations in climate change adaptation? Insights from South Africa

2017-06-06

By Marie-Ange Baudoin and Gina Ziervogel • 2017

With increasing funding directed towards climate change adaptation (CCA) in developing countries, there is a growing need to understand how this support is landing on the ground and impacting on the targeted vulnerable communities. Due to failure of top-down approaches, international organisations such as the adaptation fund are now demanding direct involvement of local actors when funding adaptation actions. Direct access mechanisms have been developed to facilitate channelling fund from the international to local levels. At this level, civil society, public and private organisations have a key role to play to assist adaptation among vulnerable groups. But are local organisations ready to play that role in developing countries? In this paper, we develop and apply a framework to measure adaptive capacity among local organisations. Through extensive fieldwork in South Africa, we assessed the capacity of local organisations to develop and implement CCA projects, and thus access international funds for adaptation. Results highlight key determinants of adaptive capacity and identify areas to prioritise for capacity-building interventions. Key findings include strengthening local organisations’ effectiveness (e.g. resources, project management capacity) and flexibility; raising awareness about adaptation and its links with socio-economic development; and promoting partnerships and knowledge networks as pathways to build adaptive capacity among local organisations in South Africa.

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