Learning from Best Practice – Joint Programme on Environment and Climate Change

May 7, 2013

Stakeholders from the government, NGO, United Nations and development partners gathered in Addis Ababa on 7th May 2013 to discuss the findings and recommendations of the final evaluations of the MDG Achievement Fund supported Environment Joint Programme in Ethiopia.

“This joint programme was conceived to serve as a catalyst through pilot interventions at the national and regional levels” as State Minister Sileshi Getahun of the Ministry of Agriculture explained, “to mainstream climate change adaptation options and improve the sustainable livelihoods base of the pastoral communities in Afar, Somali, Oromia and the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region.”

The United Nations joint programme “Enabling Pastoral Communities to Adapt to Climate Change and Restoring Rangeland Environments Programme” was designed to have an impact on goal seven of the Millennium Development (ensuring environmental sustainability) by integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reversing the loss of environmental resources.  The programme also initiated environmental measures to enhance rangeland management and created community water points to improve access to water.

In addition to helping improve the effectiveness of field activities, the development of policy tools, trainings on climate change adaptation for pastoral institutions at all levels and awareness-raising in the pastoral communities were said to have also contributed to and helped to tackle climate change issues through a holistic and multi-sectoral perspective.

Throughout its activities, the joint programme helped to build up the asset base and livelihoods of thousands of pastoralists in the targeted 30,000 beneficiaries in six drought prone districts (woredas) in Afar, Somali, SNNPR and Oromia regions.

“It is often those who did the least to contribute to a changing climate who are being hit first and hardest,” reflected UNAIDS Country Coordinator Warren Naamara representing the United Nations Country Team at the event. 

Poor communities were said to face hardships brought about by frequent droughts, storms and floods due to their little capacity to reduce the impact of disaster or adapt to changing weather patterns.

“In Ethiopia, the pastoralist communities make up 14 percent of the population, and have among the highest rates of poverty and the lowest human development indices in the country – reflecting low levels of education, health, and income per capital” Mr. Naamara said, adding that, “As a result of reoccurring droughts, many pastoralists have migrated from their traditional encampments in search of food and water for their animals. Some have given up the pastoral lifestyle and moved to urban areas looking for better lives”.

The Enabling Pastoral Communities to Adapt to Climate Change and Restoring Rangeland Environments Programme was implemented in Ethiopia from 2009 to 2013 with a budget of 4 million USD. The programme introduced livelihoods enhancement strategies to communities by establishing cooperatives to bring the pastoralists together, encouraging joint livestock purchasing and selling, and empowering community members to participate in decision making related to their own livelihoods.

The joint programme has involved women in awareness-raising and training, however, the final evaluation recommended that greater attention needed to be given to gender dimensions of the interventions.

The programme was commended for recognizing the need for collaborative action at different levels and was noted to have strengthened the collaboration within and between the Government, the communities, and three UN agencies - FAO, UNDP, and UNEP.  The evaluation also found out that the joint programme showed how synergies can be achieved at the country level, although  these were not always maximized and the technical expertise of different agencies were not always drawn as effectively as they could have been.

Participants at the evaluation findings meeting noted that harmonizing procedures amongst different UN agencies could enhance the implementation of future joint programmes and the lessons as well as recommendations coming from this joint programme could provide important insights for both the UN Country Team and the development community in Ethiopia on how to work together in support of pastoralist communities and Ethiopia as a whole.

The MDG Achievement Fund (MDG-F) supports five Joint Programmes which the UN prepared in close collaboration with the Government of Ethiopia. The five joint programmes are worth a total of US$26.5M and address the areas of Environment, Gender, Culture, Children, Food Security and Nutrition, and Development and the Private sector. The five MDG-F Joint Programmes, at different stages of implementation, are an integral part of the One Program that the UN system in Ethiopia has developed in the context of the Delivering as One UN Reform

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