Guidance on How to Plan and Mainstream Community-Based Adaptation at the Local, Sub-National and National Levels

Submitted by Anna Lisa Jose | published 24th Jan 2018 | last updated 17th Jan 2023
mainstreaming community based adaptation


One of the key objectives of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) CBA programmes is to mainstream CBA into the local, sub national and national levels by informing policies and programmes of community-driven adaptation priorities and innovations. While every country’s planning processes and capacities vary substantially, one of the greatest barriers for government’s effective development processes is how to reach vulnerable local people, especially those living in isolated geographic areas.

This guidance note* is targeted to SGP CBA practitioners such as National Coordinators (NCs), grantees and Programme Assistants (PAs) to effectively integrate CBA innovations into national processes and practices, while using the existing infrastructure and systems of SGP. It can also be used by other practitioners working at the local levels.

It explains why mainstreaming CBA into local, sub-national and national planning processes is important and what the benefits are. It also describes the main factors for mainstreaming CBA and how they can be applied within the Small Grants Programme system. Furthermore it includes four illustrative case studies:

  • SGP CBA supports Implementation of the Jamaican National Water Security Policy 
  • Support to mainstreaming CBA into Water Sector Policy Development in Vanuatu
  • Mainstreaming CBA activities at the sub-national level in Cambodia through the Cambodian Community-Based Adaptation Programme (CCBAP)
  • Mainstreaming CBA at the national level in Sri Lanka

*Download the full report from the right hand column.

Key findings (abridged)

The key findings of the report are summarised below. See the full text for more details.

There are two ways that SGP CBA practitioners can mainstream CBA into the national level:

  • By influencing the policy processes through the development of sector wide plans, thematic strategies and their relevant budgetary processes at the formulation and/or review stages.
  • By informing the activities of national-level programmes/projects with CBA innovations and lessons.

Key tips for practitioners:

  1. The key to successful mainstreaming at sub-national and national levels is to work within existing processes for government planning and budgets.
  2. Continuous engagement in the policy framework, institutional arrangements and finance mechanisms throughout the project cycle is important to strategically mainstream CBA and ensure it goes from the policy planning phase into the policy implementation phase.
  3. It is important to identify the entry points, which vary and depend on the country context.
  4. The engagement of local authorities and government officials at an early stage, e.g. the development of the CCPS stage, facilitates and makes it easier for mainstreaming CBA. 
  5. The outreach and advocacy activities via media channels lead to the expansion of practices or replication by the general public, which in turn supports mainstreaming CBA into national development strategies, plans, policies and programmes.
  6. Transparency and accountability in the mainstreaming process itself is important so that there is trust amongst the stakeholders and that all stakeholders and players are clear on what the rules are.
  7. The mainstreaming activities could be planned within other projects to be time-efficient and cost-effective.

Recommendations for mainstreaming CBA

Based on its findings, the report recommends the following (see full text for much more detail):

Steps for mainstreaming CBA into national level processes

  1. Take a full stock of and review existing national adaptation priorities and action plans (NAPAs) and local adaptation priorities and action plans (LAPAs).
  2. Create an enabling environment and take advantage of the political will, and provide the information, examples, lessons and services that can guide it.
  3. During the ‘call for proposals’, ensure that ‘up-scaling’ is one of the programme/project objectives for the solicited proposals. In reviewing the proposals for approval, ensure that the NSC understands that a budget to support the activities of incorporating CBA lessons and practices is adequately included for expanding/scaling up CBA project outcomes in all stakeholder meetings through the SGP country level grantee networks.
  4. Understand the linkages between the outcomes and objectives of the national level programmes/project and the CBA processes and the resultant innovations, lessons and practices.
  5. Link CBA innovations to be part of the outcomes of national level programmes/projects.
  6. Hold awareness-raising and capacity building sessions for national programme staff to provide evidence why mainstreaming CBA is important.
  7. Establish partnerships for existing and future programming.

Creating an enabling environment for mainstreaming CBA

Based on its findings, the report recommends the following (see full text for much more detail):

Prerequisites for mainstreaming CBA into national level processes

  1. Conduct policy stakeholder meetings to raise the awareness and build the capacities of government officials and local authorities.
  2. Provide evidence of how CBA innovations relate to relevant components of the strategy/plan and why mainstreaming CBA is crucial. Also provide the policymakers with easy access to data, and use friendly formats that highlight key results for policymakers.
  3. Expand awareness-raising and capacity building efforts and build national consensus by partnering with government and non-government groups.
  4. Support appropriate improvements by integrating CBA innovations to policy planning frameworks (development plans and the relevant financial budgets) at the local, sub-national and national levels.
  5. Ensure that there is an enduring integration of CBA innovations in the planning and budgeting processes, as well as in the policy implementation.