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Building Adaptive Capacity and Resilience To Climate Change in Afghanistan (LDCF-1)

Submitted by UN Environment ... 1st April 2015 11:42

Naray, Afghanistan. Photo credit: Ricymar Photography/Flickr, creative commons

Project Introduction

"Building Adaptive Capacity and Resilience To Climate Change in Afghanistan (LDCF-1)" is the first Full-size GEF project in Afghanistan for Climate Change Adaptation.

Objective: To increase resilience of vulnerable communities and build capacity of local and national institutions to address climate change risks.

Goal: To increase the resilience of Afghanistan society and economy to the effects of climate change and to enhance the capacity of Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to undertake effective planning on adaptation.

Project Executing Agency: National Environmental Protection Agency

Project Implementing Partner: United Nations Environment Program

Key Partners: Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL), Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW), Afghanistan Meteorological Authority(AMA), Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA)

Duration: 2013 - 2017

Project Summary

The “Building Adaptive Capacity and Resilience to Climate Change in Afghanistan” is the first Full-size Project in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan funded through Global Environment Facility (GEF)’s Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) mechanism to implement the adaptation priorities “improved water management and use efficiency” and “community-based watershed management” as well as to contribute to the adaptation priorities “improved terracing, agroforestry and agro-silvo pastoral systems”, “climate-related research and early warning systems”, “improved food security” and “rangeland management”, all of which were identified as priority interventions during Afghanistan’s National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) process. In addition to the LDCF funding, co-financing is mobilized from baseline activities currently underway in Afghanistan in the form of the National Solidarity Program and the National Area-based Development program. Additionally, strategic capacity-building activities for climate change risk assessment and the development of a climate early warning system will be undertaken in synergy with the RAMA and AgroMet baseline projects. The different funding sources will cover specific activities whilst contributing to the same objective and goal.

Afghanistan has been identified as one of the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. A legacy of many years of instability and conflict has meant that Afghanistan is very poorly developed. Much of the infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed as a result of conflict, and both education and government structures have suffered as well. Approximately 79% of the population is engaged in agricultural activities, the majority at a subsistence level. Although a significant portion of these activities are dependent on the very low precipitation, many more are dependent on the flow of several perennial rivers that originate in the central highlands area. Natural ecosystems throughout Afghanistan are very fragile, with highly erodible soils and very low vegetation cover in most areas. The degrading effects of increasing human activity in many areas are exacerbated by current climatic variability, principally frequent droughts and extreme weather-induced floods and erosion.

At present, Afghanistan is experiencing an increase in the number and intensity of droughts, as well as more frequent flooding events as a result of increased climate variability and the melting of glaciers in the highland regions. The climate change induced problems facing Afghanistan are twofold. Firstly, under conditions of climate change, it is predicted that the incidence of extreme weather events and droughts will increase, as will climate change- linked disasters such as glacial lake outflows. These changes are likely to adversely affect natural ecosystems, agriculture and community livelihoods throughout the country. Secondly, national structures, including communities, district leaders, researchers and government agencies currently lack the capacity to plan for, overcome and withstand the anticipated climate change-related threats. This capacity deficit as well as underlying vulnerability to climate change impacts are exacerbated by the following non-climate change-driven causes: i) unsustainable use of natural resources; ii) high poverty levels; and iii) Dependence on rain-fed agriculture; and v) a poorly developed policy environment. In addition, the National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) highlights water as the primary concern, which is reflected in the two priority projects identified in the NAPA: “1: Improved water management and use efficiency”; and “2: Community-based watershed management”.

To address these problems, the LDCF-1 project will strengthen institutional capacity in Afghanistan to facilitate effective adaptation planning and protection of communities, ecosystems and development against climate change. Community and local capacity will be strengthened to successfully respond to climate change. This will include demonstration interventions at pilot sites in four provinces (Bamyan, Daikundi, Badakshan, and Balkh) to restore and sustainably manage ecosystems to deliver the full range of ecosystem services they are capable of delivering, especially provision of water. Ecosystem management approaches will be tailored to build climate resilient local communities, enhancing the benefits provided by ecosystems and ensuring their resilience under conditions of climate change. A primary focus of the ecosystem management approach to adaptation will be the establishment and re-establishment of indigenous plant species with multiple benefits to local population, particularly with respect to improving water availability and water flow despite conditions of climate change. Although the activities are site-specific, the adaptation benefits will accrue at multiple scales, including small highland water catchments to large downstream basins. Downstream benefits of the LDCF project interactions will ensure that the cost-effectiveness of the project interventions is maximized. This will be realized through the achievement of the following outcomes:

  1. Increased capacity and knowledge base for assessment, monitoring and forecasting of climate change-induced risks to water in Afghanistan.
  2. Climate change risks integrated into relevant policies, plans and programs.
  3. Reduction of climate change vulnerability in the selected project sites through local institutional capacity building and concrete interventions for improved water use efficiency.
  4. Increased knowledge of good practices on increasing resilience to climate change- induced risks to water resources.

Apart from the NAPA priorities mentioned above, the project will also contribute to the attainment of Millennium Development Goals 1 and 7 for Afghanistan, as well as to the achievement of the objectives of inter alia: i) the Afghanistan National Development Strategy; ii) the National Agriculture Development Framework; and iii) the Strategic National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The project will be implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme and executed by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's National Environmental Protection Agency.