The Herald Harare Jeffrey Gogo
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ZIMBABWE is to get $300 000 from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help make the country ready for further adaptation funding from the South Korea-based financier. The GCF is a United Nations-backed fund that aims to help poor nations in Africa and elsewhere cope with climate change by funding projects that cut emissions, improve access to renewable energies, food security and others.

The fund is currently sitting on $10 billion worth of finance (a far cry from the $100 billion promised by rich countries per year) waiting to be distributed to qualifying countries. According to Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Zimbabwe will receive the first tranche of $100 000 soon, hoping to boost preparation for the actual funding of public projects that adapt communities to changing climates.

« I was informed of our successful application of a readiness support of $300 000 (from the Green Climate Fund), » said Minister Muchinguri Kashiri, in a statement, after meeting officials from the Fund in a separate meeting during the Marrakech climate negotiations recently.

Squeezed for cash, the money is expected « to assist Zimbabwe to create the necessary framework for accessing GCF funds. »

Three hundred thousand dollars might seem like a drop in the ocean for a country seeking billions to control the damage caused by climate change on people’s lives and their livelihoods.

But Zimbabwe, which has relied on development agencies like the UN Development Programme to finance the making of its climate policies and strategies, was not going to pick that kind of money from up the street.

Needless to say, the funding must be understood in its right context, that of building capacity. And having faced criticism for running a rigid financial system that makes it extremely difficult for eligible countries to access funding fast enough, the new GCF readiness support suggests the Fund is now keen on making things easier.

Last year, the Green Climate Fund board pledged to streamline the processes that a country needed to go through when applying for finance.

This might as well be tested here.

Minister Muchinguri Kashiri said: « We have already submitted to the GCF an $80 million adaptation project proposal concept for southern Zimbabwe, which is an area highly vulnerable to climate change. »

With the submission happening ahead of the release of the capacity building money, it remains to be seen whether the country’s application will meet up with the strict fiduciary standards of the Green Climate Fund, without mentioning the actual proposal writing itself.

It is understood the $300 000 Zimbabwe is getting from the Fund should help train individuals and institutions on several GCF processes, including the writing of proposals that make it hard for potential financiers to ignore.

To put the Fund’s tough financing system into perspective — it only approved its second payout of $257 million for nine emission-reducing projects worldwide earlier this year, since it was set up in 2010.

This was also partly a result of a lack of adequate capitalisation, which funding only started trickling in more predictably in the last two years.

Its first disbursement of $168 million was made in November 2015, with a total $2,5 billion expected to be allocated in 2016.

According to Mrs Muchinguri Kashiri’s statement, « the country has also been encouraged to work on a $3 million National Adaptation Plan Readiness Process from GCF as well, » but did not elaborate.

Whereas adaptation remains Zimbabwe’s overriding priority, the Environment Minister was unimpressed by the lack of commitment from rich countries to speed up its funding, during the Marrakech talks which ended a few weeks ago.

« The issue of finance has remained controversial with little progress being achieved at this Conference of the Parties (to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), » she complained.

« Developed countries were urged to continue scaling up their financial contributions towards the pre-agreed $100 billion a year by 2020 goal, and to achieve a greater balance between adaptation and mitigation.

« As developing countries we had hoped for stronger wording and commitments on this issue, since adaptation has long trailed mitigation, to the detriment of the most vulnerable countries. »

In Zimbabwe, concerns hang over the country’s ability to tap into international finance on account of its high country risk profile, at a time such funding is most at need.

For example, by June 2013, Zimbabwe had received just $6,7 million or 0,7 percent of the $964 million climate funding accessed by nine other economies in Southern Africa, due in part to the absence of a clear-cut implementation strategy.

In Morocco, Minister Muchinguri Kashiri sought to strike partnerships that address Zimbabwe’s funding limits. She held talks outside of the main climate negotiations with key climate funders such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank, global charity Care International and others, trying to open up new channels of finance.

The meeting with the AfDB, host of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, « provided an opportunity for the country to be appraised on the access modalities for this fund for renewable energy actions in Zimbabwe, » she added.

The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, together with the Africa Adaptation Initiative (also under the AfDB), received funding pledges of about $15 billion in total from Germany, France and the G7 during the talks in Marrakech.

It will be a long and difficult journey before Zimbabwe, and indeed, most of the developing world, get the right amount of money and technology needed to adapt its social and economic systems to climate change.

But one thing is certain, global temperature rise must be capped at 1,5 degrees in this century — the higher Paris Agreement target — should this world remain liveable, scientists warn.

God is faithful.