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Explaining climate adaptation governance in East Africa

This article discusses cross-country collaboration in east Africa, and how climate adaptation is organised there. Let's explore.
© University of Groningen

On the African continent, there have been attempts to share governance of climate change-related issues.

The Climate Information for Development Initiative (ClimDev)

In 2006, the African Union (AU) established the Climate Information for Development Initiative (ClimDev) in order to encourage African countries to include planning for climate change in national policy development.

In 2014, the African Union also created the African Risk Capacity (ARC) agency. This agency was to assist in improving disaster reduction capacities.

Regional institutions

In addition to continental organisations, regional institutions play an important role in transboundary climate change-related problems.

There are eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs). Two regional communities are based in East Africa: the East African Community (EAC) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The East African Community

The East African Community consists of five countries: Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi. It has developed various protocols relating to transboundary resources, biodiversity, water resources, wetland resources, coastal and marine resources and energy resources.

In addition, there are policy papers representing strategies on climate change. However, most of these policy papers have not been translated into regulatory principles and protocols, and the existing protocols have not been ratified by all members of the community.

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has eight member states; Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.

It has specialised institutions such as the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN) and the IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC), both of which deal with climate-related risks.

In 2015, IGAD developed a comprehensive policy framework for climate change – the IGAD Regional Climate Strategy for 2016-2030. Unfortunately, IGAD’s efforts to harmonise and coordinate state policies on climate change have been hindered by regional bureaucracy and tensions between member states.

The unsuccessful coordination of climate change adaption

Because of the reasons explained above, regional coordination of climate change adaptation has seen limited success. Individual African countries have developed national climate change policies in response to climate change.

These are articulated in National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPA) and or National Climate Change Response Strategies (NCCRS).

However, multilevel policy development remains a challenge. In most East African countries climate change adaptation is usually positioned within the environment sector. This limits the synergies that could be used to enhance leverage through cross-sectoral cooperation.

This is a brief overview of how climate adaptation is organised in East Africa. Each country has different institutions governing climate change. This makes cooperation difficult. 

© University of Groningen
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