There is considerable potential for more locally driven anticipatory action to prepare people for extreme weather and climate events and avoid loss and damage – reports Myriam Castaneda Solares of the START network.
* This is the 13th story in the Windows on Resilience series produced by CDKN and the Resilience Knowledge Coalition for the COP26 Resilience Hub – a physical and virtual space at COP26 dedicated to sharing best practices and strengthening collaboration, momentum and new opportunities on adaptation and resilience. This series of stories shares practical and inspiring resilience solutions from communities and countries around the world. Register for the Resilience Hub here (COP26 events visible until November 30). *
For decades, the aid system has been characterized as being slow, responsive, and allergic to change. Yet despite the many challenges that persist today, a growing body of evidence shows just how local responses to climate change and act upstream to avoid climate crises can both help save more lives. We can see some initiatives that already prove it, but the most pressing challenge is to deal with the widespread loss and damage that is already happening. In this context, how to intensify these emerging initiatives and make local anticipatory action the norm?
Change now is a matter of survival
We can no longer ignore the ever-growing calls from organizations and local communities for a change in the status quo aid model, which we are sometimes too comfortable to question or change.
During a joint event with the International Institute for Development and Environment (IIED) at COP26 Resilience Hub, Emeline Siale Ilahohia, Executive Director of PIANGO and member of Start Network Pacific hub noted that for the Pacific region, climate change is one of the most pressing political, economic and environmental issues. It endangers the very existence of their people.
âThe Pacific region contributes only 0.03% of total greenhouse gas emissions. However, thousands of Pacific communities are strongly and consistently affected by climate change disasters, affecting many aspects of our lives, including our Pacific identity, âshe said.
In places strongly affected by the climate such as the Pacific Islands or West Africa, anticipatory actions carried out locally could be a game changer. The availability of technology to help us better predict major climate risks, such as droughts, cyclones, storms and heat waves, means we can act early and prevent disasters. This is exactly what Start Network has done in partnership with the African Risk Management Capacity (ARC) Replication Policy to protect against drought in Senegal. This anticipatory, predictive action enabled families to protect livestock and other valuables from drought and avoid resorting to ‘negative coping strategies’, such as skipping meals or sending children to work. instead of school.
But there is also a challenge for anticipatory action. Coxy Talukder of ASHIKA, a local organization in Bangladesh, expressed the need to access quality information on risks that is practical and usable by local actors. There is still a long way to go to make this information accessible to communities at risk.
Not a call for money, but a change in mentality
Preventing disasters and acting in advance of crises is not a popular approach, and the evidence shows that there is a substantial gap. Although 50% of losses from natural disasters are somewhat preventable, less than 1% of funding goes to anticipation action, and a much lower percentage goes to locally driven anticipation action, this way of managing. the crisis is not sustainable in the long term. The climate crisis is exacerbating humanitarian needs, as extreme weather events are more frequent and intense around the world, and this trend is expected to continue into this century, and climate change could therefore be the catalyst we need to take our engagements. Some governments and donors have started to make this change. However, these changes are too small in terms of speed and amount of funding. This is due to the ever-present risk aversion that characterizes both power-holders and financial decision-makers in the wider humanitarian system, and in the national context, in disaster management agencies.
Another key element that is at the heart of the investment paralysis in local anticipation action is trust or lack of trust. In recent decades, local and national NGOs have been excluded from decision-making and funding – Ms. Ilahohia said. The underlying reason is the lack of confidence that governments and aid donors have in the agency of local organizations, their ability to make complex decisions and manage funding, and their ‘non-Western’ way of raising funds. proofs. How many more years of what is called âcapacity buildingâ is needed?
As Emeline Siale Ilahohia mentioned, let us remember the * modus operandi * of the humanitarian system during the recent response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A system that was built to respond to crises and save lives was not ready for action, and when international aid actors left communities at risk rather than meeting their needs, which was present before, during and after the pandemic? Local organizations. So maybe it’s time to change our mindsets and think about how we can amplify local knowledge and support organizations that are on the front lines and are the very first responders during crises.
COP26 is over, let the work begin
The climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis. Finding a solution to mitigate the loss and damage suffered across the world is a complex task that requires a coordinated approach in which governments, donors, local, national and international organizations come together.
A big initiative already underway that brings together a wide range of stakeholders is the Principles for Locally Led Adaptation and we can see how two key areas of these principles – providing predictable funding and building a solid understanding of climate risk – are directly linked. carried out anticipatory action. At Start Network, we recently launched Start Ready which is a new financial service for the humanitarian sector, with innovative crisis funding mechanisms to deliver faster, more efficient and more effective global humanitarian action.
The cost of doing nothing is too high, too high and too disruptive for humanity. That is why we must make bolder choices and courageous actions now. As humanitarians, we must continue to advocate for change, but we also need donors and aid agencies to go beyond international pledges and commitments and start funding anticipatory actions. locally, in particular supporting local priorities and systems to ensure long-term sustainability and to reach populations at risk.