Addressing climate variability and change also answers basic development needs like access to safe drinking water, or gender issues. While working to improve local knowledge and understanding of climate risks and vulnerabilities to better inform adaptation choices, LoCAL in Niger has taken a pragmatic approach to support the local government capacity in dealing with the climate change effect and started increasing the resilience of the most vulnerable populations through ‘no-regret’ adaptation measures.
Niger, like other countries in West Africa, has been hard hit by the effects of climate change, and addressing these is a central plank of UNCDF’s commitment in the country. Climate change in Niger is evidenced by, among other factors, a reduction in average annual rainfall, combined with limited temporal and geographic distribution when it does occur; increasingly high temperatures; more frequent periods of drought; marked deterioration in soil quality; and greater ecosystem fragility. The degradation of land potentially suitable for cultivation and the dependence of the country’s farms on rainfall make Niger extremely vulnerable to random climatic events.
Drafted in 2013, the National Policy on Climate Change aims to contribute to sustainable development by reducing the negative impacts of climate change. Specifically, it seeks to strengthen the population’s capacity for adaptation and the resilience of ecological, economic and social systems in relation to climate change; and to incorporate climate change into planning tools for socioeconomic development actions at the national, regional and local levels.
Decentralization in Niger provides for two levels of local authority – the commune and the region – which are administered by elected councils. Both are legal entities and have financial autonomy, with their own budget, staff and estates. Communes have general powers to provide public services that meet the needs of the population and that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the state or region. Further, the state has the authority to transfer, through devolution decrees made by the Cabinet, a wide range of specific powers – covering, among others, the environment and management of natural resources. Budget transfers from the state are handled through three mechanisms: the Decentralization Support Fund, the Cross-Subsidization Fund of the National Agency for Local Authority Funding (ANFICT) and taxes reassigned by the state.
Objectives, results and activities
The aim of LoCAL-Niger is to demonstrate and highlight the role of communes in promoting local climate change adaptation/resilience measures through integrating climate funding in budget transfer mechanisms and the planning and allocation of local resources. More specifically, it aims to:
- Strengthen technical and institutional capacities in the pilot communes to ensure better local governance of adaptation to climate change;
- Enable communes to create infrastructure and local services that are resilient to climate change through targeted funding;
- Promote increased awareness among commune councillors and local communities about the impact of climate change phenomena and the relevance of a territorial approach to adaptation/resilience.
- Two communes in the Dosso region, Sokorbé (Department of Loga) and Dogon Kyria (Department of Dogondoutchi), have been selected for the LoCAL-Niger pilot phase; these have a combined population of 101,569.
- Since the memorandum of understanding was signed in 2015, the performance-based climate resilience grant (PBCRG) mechanism has been developed. It includes minimum conditions for access, performance criteria and an indicative investment menu to inform the process of integrating adaptation into local planning and planning.
- The LoCAL-Niger Technical Committee has been set up under the authority of the Ministry of the Environment, Urban Sanitation and Sustainable Development; the Ministry of the Interior, Public Safety and Decentralization and Customary and Religious Affairs; and the National Environmental Council for Sustainable Development. The committee coordinates and monitors implementation of the LoCAL pilot phase.
- The two communes implemented and completed two PBCRG cycles and were evaluated in 2016 and 2017 by a government team together with independent national and international assessors and UNCDF. Both local governments complied with the LoCAL minimum conditions, allowing them to maintain access to the grants. In 2016, Sokorbé achieved a global performance score of 75 % and Dogon Kiria 70 %; in 2017, both local governments scored 77 %, showing that improvements are ongoing, due to LoCAL’s continued efforts in capacity building of relevant local authorities.
- Niger started piloting localized climate risk assessments. It also established systems to enable local governments to collect, archive and analyse meteorological, climate and socioeconomic data and undertake local climate projections to inform their planning.
- Following two cycles of investment and annual performance assessment, LoCAL organized a stocktaking exercise and a national workshop that brought together all stakeholders engaged in LoCAL, including mayors, deconcentrated services and central-level ministries and agencies. The workshop was held in Niamey in November 2017 and provided strategic direction for Phase II. The design note for Phase II is ready.
- The two-year pilot phase paved the way for LoCAL Phase II to fully integrate the PBCRG model into the Treasury’s fiscal transfer system; this has only been partially implemented thus far.
Adaptation measures and investments:
- Over the three-year pilot phase, LoCAL-Niger financed 41 adaptation investments, directly benefiting more than 42,000 people in the two communes.
- In Sokorbé, 95 hectares of degraded land was rehabilitated using semi-circular bunds to combat erosion, and 38,533 trees were planted. These interventions allowed for greater soil infiltration, thus better supporting plants’ water needs. Six wells were rehabilitated, which increased water storage capacity, protected the wells from climate variation and helped village women draw water. An organizational mechanism and management committee for the rehabilitated wells has been established in each village.
- In Dogon Kiria, 60 hectares of degraded land was rehabilitated and replanted by local communities using a work-for-pay system. Four wells were excavated and four were rehabilitated, improving access to safe drinking water and reducing water collection time considerably. Also, two 14-tonne millet banks were built in two villages, and 1.5 tonnes of improved seed was delivered to 13 villages suffering from food shortages.
- Several capacity-building activities targeting elected leaders, community agents and civil society were conducted: (i) training and equipping 50 pest control volunteers, (ii) establishing five community early warning and emergency response systems, (iii) training community workers in climate change–related issues and (iv) training 30 women in improved cook-stove production.
- As the impact of climate change is local and affects multiple sectors, it is important to allow local authorities to choose the priority activities to be funded by LoCAL grants on a consultative basis. A local adaptation action programme, informed by climate data and vulnerability and adaptation analyses, must therefore follow on from the list of indicative investments developed when the programme was first established.
- It is essential to design a funding channel for LoCAL grants that is fully aligned with the existing system of inter-governmental transfers. Funds must be fully integrated with other resources available locally. An intermediate funding channel has been established in Niger for the first two years. LoCAL will use the National Treasury System for its second phase.
- A third cycle of investments has started in the two communes and will be completed during 2019.
- Work on climate risk assessment will be further developed in 2018–2019 to ensure adequate inclusion of climate change considerations in local government operations.
- The design of Phase II was developed over 2017–2018 and is ready to be launched. It will be able to build on the newly acquired capacities and recent practical experiences of the two pilot local governments.
Government of Niger
- Mr. Sani Mahazou
Director General of the Environment and Sustainable Development, MESUDD, email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Harouna Oumarou
Director of the Environmental Economy and Promotion of Non-Lignous Forest Products, MESUDD
- Mr. Salissou Yahouza
Deputy Director of the Environmental Economy and Promotion of Non-Lignous Forest Products, Directorate General of the Environment and Sustainable Development