By COLOCAL Team, Makerere University |14 October 2022|6 Min Read
The complexity of climate change continues to derail the development efforts of Least Developed Countries (LDC’S) like Uganda in achieving the Sustainable Development goals especially Goal 1 and 2 (Poverty eradication and zero hunger respectively). The projected increase in temperature, change in precipitation patterns, change in extreme weather events and reduction in water availability may affect Uganda especially communities at the local scale. For example, the recent Mbale flash floods claimed the lives of at least 29 people and affected 800 households with 80 houses left damaged leaving thousands homeless. The prolonged drought in the Northern parts of Uganda has affected the pastoralists and surrounding communities leading to famine causing starvation and death of not only the people but their animals especially in the Karamoja region. Notably, according to the world bank report of 2018, the agricultural sector employs 70% of the population of Uganda, however, with these continuous changes in climate, the local people and communities are at risk of food insecurity, reduced agricultural production, impacting incomes and livelihoods.
As the impacts of climate change become increasingly clear, the economic, moral, and environmental imperatives for adaptation have only grown. However, most adaptation strategies taking place do not indicate whose priorities are addressed and how decisions on the adaption options selected are made. This denies local actors (stakeholders of an adaptation intervention-households, communities, and local governments) a role in determining which interventions to be chosen and how they are implemented. Since the current climate threats are felt at the local scale, adaptation decision making requires local leadership with a bottom-top approach which is termed as a locally led adaptation.
Locally Led Adaptation (LLA) is a concept that is gaining ground in practice over the years than other forms of adaptation because of the following.
First, LLA recognizes that the people closest to the effects of climate change especially those facing marginalization due to systemic inequities in income, education, social capital, and political power require the financing and decision-making power so that adaptation investments reflect their priorities. For example, Farmers can contribute seeds from many varieties of crops to a new community seed bank, so they have more options for planting in both exceptionally wet and dry years.
Second, LLA is about local people and their communities having individual and collective agency over their adaptation priorities and processes. This means that the adaptation projects are fully designed by local people and their priorities determine how resources are spent and interventions are trialed before somebody else implements them in a process outside of their control. For example, devolution of the climate fund designed to strengthen the capacity of local government, communities, and their institutions to plan and prepare for climate induced hazards and opportunities.
Third, locally led adaptation solutions reflect and manage the uncertainties associated with climate risk in ways that are tailored to specific locations. Different geographic locations experience different climate risks and therefore require adaptation strategies that match to those locations. For instance, the adaptation options of a community experiencing floods are different from those of a community experiencing drought. With a localized adaptation, communities can adopt flexible and incremental solutions that provide wider development gains in the immediate term while being flexible enough to accommodate changes in hazard intensity and frequency.
Lastly, when LLA is implemented in conjunction with wider governance reforms such as the parish development model that foster collaboration across formal and customary authorities, intermediaries, and diverse local actors, locally led adaptation enables more sustainable and equitable solutions through the participation of the poorest and most vulnerable in decision-making processes.
Conclusively, the socio-economic consequences of climate change are disproportionately experienced by the vulnerable communities at the local level, and therefore it makes sense that adaptation should occur at the local level with, local actors having control over how adaptation is funded, designed, and delivered in their communities. This is vital for effective realization of the adaptation goals as it shines a light on the tangible needs that must be addressed and the capacities that should be harnessed to realize meaningful adaptation action at the local scale.