CBA18: daily updates

The 18th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation to climate change (CBA18) took place from 6-9 May 2024 in Arusha, Tanzania. This page features daily reports from the event. 

A large group of people sanding in front of a sign.

And here's the CBA18 closing photo! With thanks and best wishes to everyone who supported, participated or followed online. We hope to meet again soon! (Photo: IIED)

CBA18 logo

More than 300 practitioners, grassroots representatives, local and national policymakers and donors from over 50 countries gathered in Arusha to discuss how community-based and locally led adaptation can contribute to a climate-resilient future. You can read our daily coverage here.

Day 4

Closing plenary: key messages

So, the final session of CBA18 has arrived, and everyone is reflecting on the six key messages. Some people agree with them; others think there are more to add. 

Many messages are aimed at donors: be ready to take risks, allow for failures, co-design projects with funding recipients and trust rather than putting pressure on them to prove they are trustworthy.

On tech and tools – build the capacity for citizen science; invest in digital tools and participatory approaches – particularly around gender and power analyses. 

Where the private sector is concerned, push for sustainability plans and think about the sector’s role in LLA – it may be quite linear, whereas NGOs can take a broader view.

A final panel is quizzed for reflections too. Sara Madriz Martinez, an Indigenous woman from Costa Rica, is clear that the cosmovision of Indigenous Peoples is the most important thing to respect. 

Neovitus Sianga, from Tanzania People and Wildlife, is reminded of the power of collective action. Hortense Traore, from the Women Environmental Programme in Burkina Faso, is pleased to see people from the private sector at CBA – she thinks it is important they are here to allow exchange to happen.

Dr Ladislaus Chang’a, a member of the IPCC based at Tanzania Meteorological Agency, says we are all better tomorrow than today because of what we have learnt at CBA.

A common plea from all is that however the CBA messages are shared, they must be in a form that all communities can understand – language and format must be appropriate and carefully put together.

Then a Maasai blessing and the ritual of mixing water with the grass from the pastures to recognise the Maasai philosophy of being, the philosophy of becoming and the philosophy of belonging.

On that profound note, dipping their hands into the bowl to take a sample of the water and pastures with them, CBA18 participants go outside for the final photo.

Winners of the short film competition revealed!

Short films are a powerful way to show the nuances and lessons of locally led adaptation. Our short film competition again featured an amazing array of entries, and CBA participants voted for the winners today:

Congratulations to the winners of the under-5-minute category: "Journey towards climate resilience" by Concern Worldwide.

Congratulations to the winners of the 5-10-minute category: "The Agri Revolution" by the Catalyst Fund.

Watch six of the eight finalists via the playlist above, or watch the films on YouTube.

A conversation with climate negotiators at CBA18

Four women smiling.

These four women negotiators from the Least Developed Countries Group reflected on their experiences at CBA18 (Photo: IIED)

We caught up with four CBA18 participants who have taken part in negotiations at the UNFCCC climate talks as part of the Least Developed Countries Group. We asked them: why it is valuable to be at CBA with practitioners? Here is what they told us:

Hortense Traoré Kagambega, Burkina Faso:

As an NGO, we work with communities and we would like to know how to work very well with them, to have some benefits on the ground.

Our NGO works closely with the government. What we learn here will help us during the negotiations. When you're talking about community scale, and we are going to negotiate, most of the time, the community doesn't attend the negotiation. We are the ones that can raise their voice. 

If we get to attend these kind of meetings we get to know the issues, the challenges, what they need, and how to communicate with them, and how we can make it reflective during the negotiations.

Isingizwe Sandra, Rwanda:

Coming to CBA, I've realised everything is about the community; I don't think I’ve ever participated in a conference or meeting on climate change that is really focused on the community.

In the negotiations, that's something we always need to think about: how is the community on the ground being affected, and how can we help them? Because the UNFCCC negotiations are really very complicated and have been going on for so long. We have to do everything we can to put the community's voices on the table.

In the NGO I work with, we sometimes write the demands based on our country, but the demands are always for small or general things, and never go to the community so we can know exactly what they want. So, the next time we write our demands we should first go to the community.

Marlène Joy Kodo, Benin:

For me CBA is very important for negotiations because it's a focus on community, and we have the possibility to know what is really needed in the community. Maybe we can use this when we want to talk about this in the negotiation session. We can remember this when talking about finance… these are the needs.

For negotiators, we come from many countries, and with CBA, we have the possibility to learn about other approaches. For example I'm an activist, not a governmental person – I see different propositions, different innovations, for climate action. And I can use it to help my community to improve, to be more resilient on climate change. It’s my first CBA and it’s very [makes a kiss gesture]!

Simret Terefe Leggese, Ethiopia:

I come from the government side, which is very official, so participating in CBA for the first time is amazing. You know, in my organisation we're formulating climate policies, strategy, actions, plans, so many things, and have been engaging in the negotiation sessions which are so formal and procedural.

In CBA, it's sharing experience and learning, and you meet so many people from different perspectives. In my country, we prepared a gap analysis for our policy, so when I came here, we can hear about so many countries' experiences – about how they integrate the private sector into decolonised climate action. It's a lot to see different perspectives. 

It helps for us to learn what the private sector needs, and also what we need to do to attract the private sector to work on adaptation and mitigation. It's good to have negotiators here to add something.

It's very informal, very learning for us – different to the negotiations scenario. In the negotiations room we can't say what we want to say because we have to find a group position, we have to agree... here we just ask, just explore...

The marketplace: using virtual reality headsets to increase empathy

CDKN has been showcasing some innovative approaches to generating insight and empathy at the CBA18 marketplace

The Dragons' Den: a quick look at some of the projects

The 'Dragons Den' sessions offer CBA participants the opportunity to prepare their 'pitches' for funding support for adaptation projects. 

Three days ago, there was nothing. Today, everyone had their pitches ready for the final review by the Dragons. The 'Dragons' are experienced change makers who advise and support the teams, providing short sessions of mentoring and support over the course of CBA. 

Some teams faced extreme challenges in meeting the deadline, with one participant losing his laptop in the terrible floods that have hit Kenya. Despite that, he was there today to make his four-minute pitch. 

The proposals were all fantastic – here are some of them in brief. 

'Preserving legacies – heritage and climate resilience' was all about democratising data – having accessible, actionable data for everyone – especially data from  communities. The ask? Support to finalise a pilot and produce and disseminate a tool in at least 10 languages.

An innovative pitch from Nancy Kadenyi of MetaMeta Kenya responded to the need for women in Makueni County,  eastern Kenya, to walk 5km every day to get water. ‘Drain to gain: road runoff harvesting for nature-runoff based farming’ proposed to create gullies on the side of roads to drain rainwater, redirecting it to fields to improve soil moisture and making it available to be collected in villages for households to use. MetaMeta Kenya are already working closely with the county government, private sector and development agencies to get the pilot going.

Michael Pallangyo of TRIAS presented the project 'A milky way: where profit meets opportunities', asking for support to build better facilities for the Kibaya Dairy Cooperative in northern Tanzania to store milk from cattle managed by pastoralists. The demand for milk, yoghurt and cheese is strong, but if the milk goes off, the demand can’t be met.

Nancy Akello from Change Lead Agency Social Support (CLASS) in Uganda wants investment for 'Addressing food insecurity in rural Uganda' by helping young people, women and disabled people to become self-employed. They provide training in skills such as motorbike repair, welding, hairdressing and bakery.

Sintayehu Tadesse of CARE Ethiopia had a great pitch about using the invasive species Prosopis jiliflora to make building blocks. Cutting down plants would help with biodiversity restoration, and at the same time, provide the source of a new business for women and their households.

After everyone presented their proposals, questions followed - and then the Dragons went away to consider their decision...

Dragons' Den winners announced!

A group of people in three rows smiling.

The CBA18 Dragons' Den winners celebrate their success (Photo: IIED)

Here are the winning projects in the CBA18 Dragon's Den!

  • Most innovative use of technology: Clara Sarangé, Act 111
  • Best collaboration with community: Victor Emolike Ojoo, SDI
  • Most votes in the room from CBA18 participants: Salma Sabour, Preserving Legacies
  • Most scalable: Crescentia Mushobozi, Viable Farms
  • Most viable project: Lavine Irvine, Coastal Biotech Ltd
  • Most cost-effective: Sintayehu Tadesse, Care Ethiopia
  • Most inspiring presentation: Salma Sabour, Preserving Legacies
  • Most applicable innovation: Vincent Laurent, YAWE 
  • Most inclusive innovation: John Balegea, BDS Enterprise
  • Most innovative solution: Nancy Kadenyi, MetaMeta
  • Most locally-led focused solution: Michael Pallangyo, Milky Way
  • Most impactful innovation: Nai-Nancy Laizer, Savannas Forever
  • Tackling the most vulnerable: Nancy Akello, Change Lead Agency Social Support (CLASS)

Congratulations to all!

Why did you think it important to come to CBA?

A woman standing in front of a noticeboard smiling.

I wanted to connect with others and not work in silos. I also don’t want to reinvent the wheel! There may be a similar challenge in Pakistan or Vietnam with an already-worked-out solution that could be used in Tanzania

Ritha Tarimo, regional director of Trias East Africa

Turning the tide: enabling gender transformative and locally-led action

Women, girls and other people who are traditionally marginalised play an instrumental role in adaptation solutions – yet they remain systematically under-represented in climate governance. 

This session had at its heart the desire for women to achieve their potential of being change agents. 

Christine Ogola, of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), spoke about supporting women to analyse policy documents and ask questions if they think there are gaps. She said if women's voices are not reflected in policy documents, their needs will not be considered.

Desmond Alugnoa, from the Green Africa Youth Organisation (GAYO) in Ghana, spoke about women informal waste workers who are completely disengaged by the local government. Society sees them as a nuisance, and they are harassed by the police. GAYO built a movement, approached the mayor about the city management strategy and discussed how these women could be integrated and be part of the solution.

Nicola Ward, of CARE International UK, reported on how they aim to break down barriers to women’s inclusion in climate adaptation and identify pathways to gender equitable decision making. CARE’s evidence shows that there can be gender balance in the decision making room but that doesn’t always mean there is equal participation and influence. So, there still a way to go before all barriers are broken down.

Emily Mungai, of Save the Children International ,told us about a sustainable nutrition project rolled out across 23 councils in Tanzania. She said women have ideas for income generation that should be listened to. The money the women earn can be used to improve household nutrition. The project also operates a model farm and offers training sessions to help women present themselves to funders more strongly.

Overall, this was an amazing selection of projects, challenging the status quo and working to put women in positions of decision making and influence.

A woman standing in front of a poster.

There’s a difference between women being heard and being seen. If it’s not documented, it’s not implemented. 

If women’s voices – whatever their age – aren’t in policy documents, their needs will never be considered or met.

Christine Ogola, YWCA Kenya

Day 3

Intersecting realities: what does inclusive locally led adaptation look like?

Five people sitting around a table.

Group discussions during the session on intersecting realities highlighted a key indicator that helps ensure inclusivity: flexibility (Photo: IIED)

This thought-provoking session discussed marginalisation, power relations, how we define ourselves and others, and how to avoid perpetuating inequality. 

IIED's UnaMay Gordon gave a keynote message, introducing challenges to consider when trying to embed intersectionality into our ways of thinking. This was followed by a facilitated discussion that highlighted the following points:

  1. We are not all experts in every aspect of life. If you personally have not felt an impact, it can be hard to relate and understand
  2. Social constructs don't necessarily allow women, young people and men to sit at the same table. It takes time and careful consideration to get diverse groups to come together
  3. We must address the negative beliefs that people have about other people, including our own beliefs, and
  4. Listening to people’s lived experience takes time, but it is important for challenging our assumptions.

In the panel discussion Viola Musiimenta, of ACTADE, said it was important to look at how to inclusively generate knowledge and disseminate information – and also, how inclusive that information is for marginalised groups.

She emphasised that people are not homogeneous: women, young people and others all face specific challenges. She stressed that women within any community are diverse – they're different in terms of interests, education, finances – and we need to understand these differences when we design strategies.

Esperanza Karaho, of CDKN, reported that in Kenya, counties have been mandated to address climate action at the most local level. She said that Kenya has about 42 tribes, so there are many different identities and political power systems to work in.

Bruce Chooma, of Disability Rights Watch, spoke about his work with the Climate Just Communities (CJC) project in Zambia. Chooma focused on disability rights, and he emphasised that, regardless of one's social status or position, everyone has human dignity. Every human must have the opportunity to have their unique needs advanced, he added.

He said that when thinking about benefits that go to a community, those that depend on others should be the first to be considered. Those with the greatest needs should be considered – they should not be further disadvantaged.

As we are working in the broader policy context in the country, we are not judged by how many trees we plant or how many water points we create, but by the lives we change

Bruce Chooma, Disability Rights Watch

Bringing the private sector into climate-resilient development: trade-offs, opportunities and challenges

A photograph of two flipchart sheets.

Key messages from CBA participants discussing what it will take for the informal and private sectors to work together on climate adaptation initiatives that equally benefit both companies and communities (Photo: IIED)

This session started with some participants expressing frustration with the way the private sector engaged with their organisations – and ended with participants realising that there is a greater need to understand how the sector works and to speak its language.

There were challenges:

  • Does the private sector actually promote maladaptation – the unsustainable use of water, for example?
  • Do they make worse the vulnerability of people made vulnerable by climate change?

A gap in mutual understanding

But Lavine Irvine, from Coastal Biotech Ltd in Tanzania, countered these perspectives, saying that private companies have a role to play but are sometimes frustrated when repeated training sessions for community groups still don’t result in those groups knowing how to work with them effectively.

The gap in mutual understanding between civil society and the private sector is shown right there.

Finding sustainable working models

Damian Sulumo, from MVIWAARUSHA, spoke about access to alternative energy: farmers want biogas but don’t have the money. Could they be connected to banks via community microfinance groups, which the banks trust?

Susan James, from consultants Savannas Forever, raised the issue of development organisations coming in with aid – to the detriment of local businesses. 

A local entrepreneur could invest in warehousing, training, building microfinance groups, only for a development organisation to come in with short-term ‘free’ finance, causing the local business to fail.

The aid is short-term; the business could have been there for communities for much longer. Businesses and communities must find sustainable working models.

Group discussions

Some participants expressed scepticism that the private sector ever factors in community interests. But others responded by saying that communities must be more open-minded.

"It is up to us to pitch adaptation so that it makes business sense – the private sector is set up to make a profit. If we can put forward the business case, the sector will be more likely to understand there is a market for them in this, with tangible benefits," said Samson Mbewe, of South South North, South Africa

A man looks at the camera with a serious expression.

Why don’t we agree that when a business – a mining company for example – comes into a community to operate, it can include the value of the land it is working on as part of the capital of the company? In return, a dividend up to a certain percentage is paid to the community for use on local adaptation activities?

Issa Sarr, Enda Energie, Senegal

Pracksidis Wandera, of Sustainable Inclusive Business in Kenya, repeated the call for long-term not short-term thinking from businesses, moving from profit driving everything to prioritising climate-resilient strategies.

This was certainly a fruitful and constructive session!

A woman smiling at the camera.

Profit is the number one issue for the private sector, but impact is our number one issue. We have more power than ever before, but we need to speak their language and bring the right people to the table. 

Ashley Toombs, BRAC

Learning about upscaling smallholder resilience:

While at CBA18, project partners from the Philippines and Indonesia were able to visit the 'Nature Nurture' project in northern Tanzania, which is working to upscale effective climate change adaptation, smallholder farmer resilience and climate change mitigation via initiatives such as agroecology, microfinance and beekeeping.

Local governments: key catalysts to unlock LLA potential 

Local governments can play a vital role in unlocking the full potential of locally led adaptation. But often, they lack the resources, capacities and governance structures to advance adaptation at the pace and scale needed. 

This session explored some of these barriers and emerging good practice.

The UN initiative LoCAL helps local government authorities in least developed countries and other developing countries access the climate finance, capacity building and technical support they need to respond and adapt to climate change. 

Their approach encourages effective and sustainable climate action that is locally led and puts the community first.

The LIFE-AR initiative challenges the current global climate finance architecture where communities are not benefiting. Its five underpinning principles align with the LLA principles. It advocates for a 'business-unusual' approach that gets climate finance to communities directly and bypasses intermediaries. 

In South Africa, work in the informal settlement of Klipfontein is challenging city authorities to deploy funds to people increasingly affected by floods. Angelo Lekhu, of the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, reported how the city authorities were urged to have a discussion about urban planning and to involve the community in talks.

Christine Ogola, of YWCA Kenya, recalled a highly bureaucratic process to get help from local government, with limited finance more likely to go to projects that were set up to make money.

Lively group discussions followed the presentations and key messages included:

  • There must be a common understanding between communities and government of programmes and their goals 
  • Climate finance should allow flexibility for government and community to work together and align their development plans 
  • Civil society organisations are not there just to raise awareness of what finance is needed, only to then be cast aside. They should be involved as a watchdog on spending and maintain a level of involvement
  • Local governments need support to help access climate finance at the global level, and
  • At the local level, a National Adaptation Plan doesn’t need to be hard-baked – it should be flexible so that its implementation can be contextualised to what communities need.
A slide saying "values are the why" behind something's importance

Preserving Legacies explained the concepts of 'values' and 'attributes' (Photo: IIED)

Skill-share: Empowering communities, preserving legacies

In this inspiring skill-share session, Preserving Legacies introduced their work with local communities adapting to climate change at UNESCO World Heritage Sites and other heritage locations.

Preserving Legacies has worked with communities near the ancient city of Petra in Jordan and the Rice Terraces of the Cordilleras mountains in the Philippines. They connect with local custodians of heritage sites and undertake locally led climate risk assessments of sites, communities and values.

The power of mapping values and stakeholders

To safeguard a cultural or natural heritage site from climate change, it is important to first understand why places are unique to the communities that care for them. Heritage sites need safeguarding not only because they are historical or natural wonders of the world – but because people live there.

A slide showing examples four-quadrant mapping diagrams.

The session introduced mapping tools to trigger conversations about values and power (Photo: IIED)

Identifying and understanding stakeholders

In a rich discussion session, participants identified many stakeholders that they hadn’t considered before and shared ideas about engaging with stakeholders, including:

  • As humans, we all have shared values – which can be helpful when talking with donors.
  • When working with communities, it is important to work in the local language since not all values can be communicated in other (colonial) languages.
  • And, when mapping who has interest, power and influence in a community, sometimes it can be better to have discussions separately because people with less power cannot always speak freely in big groups.
  • Participants working with Indigenous communities reported that in some communities, wildlife and natural resources are considered part of the community and so have to be listed among the stakeholders. 
  • Understanding local values can increase trust and understanding between communities and researchers – for example, if you have your meeting under an important tree rather than in a meeting room, you will be trusted more.
  • A key takeaway was that we must have a good understanding of our stakeholders before going into communities.

And, as climate change practitioners, we have a lot to learn from other sectors!

Day 2

Great energy at CBA18 today!

Fantastic to see participants collaborating to find bold solutions - more tomorrow!

Breaking the silos: co-creating local solutions for decolonising climate action

Day 2 started with an 'inspire' session: four speakers delivered quick-fire comments on what they have learned about getting climate finance to the local level.

Dominic Nyasulu, of the National Youth Network on Climate Change in Malawi, spoke about transparency and accountability. He argued that the many-layered funding chain, stretching from global funders through a range of intermediaries to communities at the local level, is a barrier to clear communications and reporting. 

Eileen Cunningham, from CAPDI, called for better collaboration, particularly with Indigenous Peoples. Climate change is critically affecting Indigenous communities and cultures. She said the system must be transformed as it is also preventing resources from getting to the local level.

Zahid Amin Shashoto, from Bangladesh NGO Uttaran, spoke passionately about how a system that was "so locked" made it difficult to practise the LLA principles. He said: "We’ve got so used to following a system that we’ve forgotten that we have the freedom to do things differently." 

Shashoto called for all processes – due diligence, monitoring and evaluation – to be moved to the local level and for communities to be able to use their own tools and methods for undertaking them. 

Omer van Renterghem from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs made three points:

  • Bottom-up: he said the ministry was told it was too top-down. Its  fledgling ‘Reversing the flow’ water management programme is shifting planning, evaluation and decision making to the local level
  • Horizontal: Omer noted the importance of horizontal learning, saying that the ministry has many departments – climate, water and food security, humanitarian affairs, to name only a few. He said the ministry now has a group working on LLA, and some departments are further forward than others, and everyone was learning from them.
  • Top-down: Omer warned: "There’s a risk that organisations start global and stay global." He reported that a recent OECD peer review had said the ministry was strong on local development, but of its partnerships, 23 are led by Northern organisations and only two by organisations from the global South. 

Something to ponder: what does local mean?

A man standing in front of a palm tree.

What do you mean by local? Top-down it might mean devolving to embassies at national level and not to the community. We need to be aware of this.

- Omer van Renterghem, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands


Overheard: Talking about how to break the silos

A man standing talking to a group people seated around a table.

The breakout session following the 'Breaking the silos' plenary session featured plenty of frank discussions about roadblocks. This was the 'transparency' group in action (Photo: IIED)

In the breakout groups following the 'Breaking the silos' plenary session, participants spoke frankly about the difficulties of implementing the principles for locally led adaptation (LLA).

The principles emphasise devolving decision making to the local level, addressing inequalities, providing 'patient' and accessible funding and flexible programming, transparency and accountability, and collaborative action. More than 120 governments, global institutions and NGOs have endorsed the principles.

But existing systems can be roadblocks to success. We listened to the conversations at the feedback session. Here are some of the comments:

On Indigenous groups:

  • "Indigenous knowledge is valid, and sometimes it's not acknowledged that we're contributing climate solutions."
  • "It's important to acknowledge the vulnerabilities but also the rights they have in decision making processes."

On 'local charities' with headquarters in the USA:

  • "The budgets we [local grassroots NGOs] are working with to cover entire communities is the same as the salaries of the directors of the big NGOs in the USA that fund us."

On donor requirements:

  • "[As donors] We need to change our internal system of accounting. But it takes time and risk."
  • "Donors need to be flexible to accommodate the time and resources required to implement LLA in funding proposals."

Local groups:

  • "With LLA, we're given the opportunity to speak to donors, but from our end, as recipients, we find it a challenge to reach you. "
  • "Donors need to help us understand the reporting issues that they have."

On transparency: 

  • "[There are] trust issues between donors and communities, but we have to believe that communities can do the work."
  • "Local experience and knowledge needs to be included in project management."
  • "We need co-creation of funding mechanisms."

Who's at CBA? 

Two people sittingon chairs smiling at the camera.

Samuel Yagase speaks with Betteke de Gaay Fortman, the director of Friendship Netherlands, after a day 1 session on decolonising climate finance (Photo: IIED)

Samuel Yagase is the co-founder and coordinator of GOVA – Group of Village Organizations for Autonomous Development – in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is also on the board of the Climate Justice Resilience Fund (CJRF).

Yagase says: "This is my very first time to CBA. I’m writing a book about my work in villages. I was asked by CJRF to come and share my experiences. What I’d like to leave with people is that there is true knowledge at the community level. People at the grassroots are able – they can do many things.

"Others think that money is the most important factor [in making climate action happen at the local level]. They are wrong: it is not the problem of money. It is trust that is crucial and that comes from transparency."

Welcome to Day 2!

It's great to see young people promoting climate sustainability and environmental conservation at the grassroots level!

Day 1

Making climate finance accessible for locally-led actions

Accessing climate finance can be a huge challenge for grassroots organisations. This session examined how innovative finance mechanisms can address the obstacles grassroots organisations face. 

Kilion Nyambuga from Slum Dwellers International opened this lively session by talking about what SDI Kenya has been doing in urban community areas facing the impacts of climate change – right now, they are experiencing the worst flooding for a generation.

He said 500 local action groups in three counties show great ability to mobilise labour and resources but experience severe barriers to acquiring funding. They need more capacity to write proposal developments, do budgets and reporting, and meet stringent donor conditions. They are often not legally registered and cannot provide, for example, three years of audited reports. 

This limits the potential for scaling up what they do to other communities. 

Melvin van der Veen, of Dutch organisation Both Ends, facilitated a session sharing experiences of innovating to overcome challenges. Ideas were plentiful: 

  • Zahid Amin Shashoto of Bangladesh NGO Uttaran, told how his organisation had moved from a funder-led to a practitioner-led board, with an associated shift of power
  • Violet Matiru, of MCDI Kenya, described the innovative FLLoCA programme in Kenya, working with 45 counties. Funded by the World Bank, it emphasises transparency at all levels. But we also heard about a huge drawback: the funding is in the form of loans, not grants, and
  • Issa Sarr from ENDA Energie in Sengal said his organisation serves as a connector between funders and communities: they say what they need, ENDA acts as a guarantor, enabling the money to go to the community.
A woman in a white shirt smiling.

We don’t ask communities to fill in forms – we trust them. They can send a message or record a video. If more information is needed, we help them to put it together. 

- Eileen Cunningham, CADPI, Nicaragua 

A new conversation, facilitated by Imelda Phadtare of Save the Children Australia, opened with contributions from colleagues in Vanuatu. Olivia Finau, of Vanuatu's Department of Climate Change, discussed the role of government in working with civil society organisations to make sure their work aligns with government policy. Matt Hardwick, of Save the Children Vanuatu, emphasised that it must be the communities who decide funding priorities. 

Both speakers pointed out that to reach all 80 islands of Vanuatu – an area the size of California – is expensive and extremely time-consuming, making these ambitions challenging to fulfil.

Quick pointers

Other inspiring points included:

  • The importance of trust – between community business organisations and funders through long-term partnerships
  • Accountability – not necessarily towards the donors but to the people we work with
  • Flexible funding – fund what people want to address, and
  • Monitoring – let communities decide what works for them and what they want to know to strengthen their work (Vincent Gainey of the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) emphasised that FCDO is keen to know much more about how this could be done).

Heat hacks: building community resilience to beat the heat together! 

Groups of people in seated at round tables and talking.

In this session, participants played the roles of clients and consultants to jointly evolve solutions to rising heat (Photo: IIED)

This interactive session led by Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA) and Transitions Research looked at first-step heat solutions: what we as individuals and communities can do to take the first step to beat the heat.

Participants worked in groups, using the 'Troika' consulting approach:

  • First, individuals taking the role of 'client' wrote down their first-step heat solutions on coloured cards 
  • Then, they shared their solutions with the 'consultants' in the rest of the group
  • The consultants were given time to consider and feed back advice on the proposed solution, and
  • Finally, the clients summarised their understanding of the advice they received.

Participants discussed heat solutions for water and food security, creating green spaces in cities, building materials, sustainable energy and design, and more.

How Climate Hub Tanzania is getting young people involved

Education is an important thing – when people are aware of the damage that is happening right now, they can have a shift of mindset and really invest in what they're doing. 

We use flash cards, have concerts, do movie nights with young people who are doing great work in the field. We want to make the movement more friendly to young people. We have a set of young professionals who are well-equipped, who are committed to doing the work. The movement is fulfilling and promising.

Laurel Kivuyo, of Climate Hub Tanzania, talking about about a project engaging young people in and around Dar es Salaam

Plenary: How do we operationalise the locally led adaptation (LLA) principles?

In this plenary session about putting LLA principles into practice, we heard what the principles meant for different kinds of organisations. 

Amit Smotrich, climate advisor at the USAID Bureau for Resilience, Environment and Food Security, opened the conversation. In the past few years, USAID has redoubled its efforts on localisation. She said she was proud that her organisation has engaged 20 governments around the LLA principles and that seven had come on board by the end of 2023. 

She said her agency sees its role as uplifting the work that everyone in the room was doing.

Yuri Rugama, from El Centro Para la Autonomía y Desarrolo de los uebolos Indígenas (CADPI), provided the perspective of Indigenous Peoples. Speaking in Spanish, he said there were two ways to help the principles to be operationalised. First by having specific capacity-building processes for Indigenous Peoples’ institutions and communities, and second, by helping donors and contributors to climate finance learn how to run these processes and understand that Indigenous Peoples are not just ‘beneficiaries’ but have positive experiences to share.

In locally led adaptation, [Indigenous Peoples] are protagonists, and you should focus on including us as partners in the actions that we already do in our territories with the support of our ancestral knowledge systems and practices - Yuri Rugami

Christina Johns, from CARE Tanzania, mentioned the need for greater skills to help LLA move from theory to practice. 

Zahid Amin Shashoto, from NGO Uttaran in Bangladesh, pointed out the risk of creating more layers of bureaucracy, with organisations like his that had worked with grassroots groups for years now being asked to be ‘intermediaries’ in a more complex chain of funding. 

Following the plenary session, participants moved to table discussions to share their own experiences.

Discussing the challenges of implementing locally led adaptation

Two women smiling at the camera.

Neema Kalole (right) and Crescentia Mushobozi discussed the challenges they face when implementing the principles for locally led adaptation (Photo: IIED)

After the LLA plenary, there was a feedback session in which participants discussed what they face when implementing the principles for locally led adaptation.

Neema Kalole is a global advocacy officer – Eastern, Central and Southern Africa for Sightsavers, and Crescentia Mushobozi is a biotechnologist at the youth-led start-up Viable Tanzania. These are the challenges they highlighted:

"Most of these initiatives, as much as they're 'locally led', they are not considering the rights of people with disabilities. The means of communication and ways to participate are not inclusive, and people with disabilities want to participate, but they can't."

They also pointed to the people being left behind – for example, farmers accessing loans can't fill in the forms.

"Paying high interest on loans for farmers isn't possible or sustainable. Most of the approaches and solutions aren't directly targeting the farmers – farmers aren't asked what they need. New approaches don't necesarily work."

A market full of good ideas

The CBA18 'marketplace' has stalls where participants give brief presentations about their work. It's an opportunity to learn about inspiring projects and new tools – and it's great for networking, too!

The Foundation for Civil Society showcases its 'Resilient Futures' stall.

Who's at CBA?

Two women smiling at the camera.

Deborah Wanjugu, from the Public Space Network in Nairobi (left) and Chikondi Chabvuta, from CARE in Malawi, show that CBA18 is a place both to learn and to make new friends! (Photo: IIED)

Deborah Wanjugu, from the Public Space Network in Nairobi, Kenya, is attending CBA for the first time. She says: "One of the reasons I signed up was because I’m curious about community-based adaptation and want to hear how other people do it and what they think it is."

Deborah was introducing herself to her neighbour at their table at the start of the day. Chikondi Chabvuta from CARE in Malawi was also keen to reflect on what ‘locally led’ really means: she says: "It can be local as in community, but then it can be activities at the national level sometimes. So I’m keen to pin it down."

Opening plenary: united and ready to share

 A man standing at a lectern speaking

Mr Khamis Hamza Khamis, deputy minister, Office of the Vice President, speaking at the opening plenary (Photo: IIED)

The opening plenary was introduced by Laly Lichtenfeld, co-founder and CEO of Tanzania People and Wildlife, the local host of CBA18,  who warmly welcomed everyone, commenting on the remarkable gathering of people united behind one cause and ready to share their experiences and ideas.

Lichtenfeld said that at a time when neighbouring countries and Tanzania itself are experiencing serious flooding, such a dialogue has never been more important. She urged CBA participants to be open and honest, ready to learn from the rich experiences in the room and willing to share setbacks as much as successes.

By drawing on the deep understanding of local environments and traditional knowledge – knowledge that Tanzanian communities possess in abundance – we can develop sustainable adaptation strategies tailored to the unique contexts of our respective nations - Dr Laly Lichtenfeld, co-founder and CEO of Tanzania People and Wildlife

The next speaker was IIED executive director Tom Mitchell. He said IIED has worked to get climate finance to the local level in the Arusha region for more than 20 years. He said: "I’m delighted to honour that work but look forward and acknowledge the work is far from done – we must roll up our sleeves to work in deep partnerships and new partnerships to tackle the impacts of climate change."

The district commissioner for Arusha, Felisian Mutahengerwa, welcomed everyone to Arusha on behalf of the regional commissioner, emphasising that the region is committed to addressing climate change issues in a participatory way. 

The guest of honour was Mr Khamis Hamza Khamis, deputy minister, Office of the Vice President (union and environment), speaking on behalf of the minister of state. He spoke about the crucial nature of the discussions and the importance of strategising for addressing climate change and climate variability – at CBA18, in Tanzania and in countries around the world. 

He said: "Tanzania is already experiencing serious consequences to the lives and the economy of our citizens, thus imposing a heavy burden on our nation of Tanzania.

"Changes in global weather patterns… cause significant damage to island communities such as our brothers and sisters in the Zanzibar Islands."

I hope that your discussions will generate inclusive approaches, strategies and collaborative efforts to enable our people and others worldwide to combat these impacts - Khamis Hamza Khamis

Speaking in Swahili, he reiterated the need to speak directly to people in Tanzanian communities and pass on what was discussed at CBA to them, too. 

Starting conversations, making new friends - we are ready to go!

A large room with groups of people in conversation.

It's a buzzing atmosphere, as participants get to know each other before CBA18's opening plenary (Photo: IIED)

Honouring Saleemul Huq

A photo of Saleem surrounded by pieces of paper.

CBA18 participants contributed their memories of the founder of the CBA conferences (Photo: IIED)

We could not start CBA18 without remembering Saleemul Huq, the director of ICCCAD in Bangladesh and the founder of the CBA conferences. Saleem's death in October 2023 was a terrible shock for many people around the world who were inspired and challenged by his tireless work on climate adaptation.

During a special memorial session, CBA participants recalled his remarkable contribution, his personal encouragement and warmth, and his vision for getting the knowledge and perspectives of local communities – particularly from countries in the global South – into the heart of decision-making processes.

We heard from Saleem's son, Saqib Huq, who said that he remains proud and grateful for the journey that his father started almost 20 years ago – with discussions about adaptation that evolved into a conference in 2005. 

"Not about speeches but about conversations"

Saqib said CBA is not about speeches but about conversations, and reminded us that no role is too small – the point of CBA is to meet new voices and hear different experiences. This is what was close to Saleem’s heart – bringing the initiative together and bringing more people in to collaborate. 

Saqib and the team from ICCCAD are carrying on the concept of ‘Saleem’s mobile office’, which was always a place for people to find Saleem at conferences and have conversations. They’re inviting everyone to have a chat: look out for the badge!

Field trip: connecting traditional knowledge and technology

A group of people standing in front of big trees.

Here is our first group photo from CBA18! This shows the participants who joined a field trip to Ngoley village (Photo: IIED)

Some CBA18 participants joined a field trip hosted by Tanzania People & Wildlife (TPW) to learn how communities are being supported to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, conserve and regenerate their pastoralist rangeland, and build sustainable livelihoods.

Tanzania's wildlife is rich and varied, with a large elephant population and half of all lions in Africa. But living alongside wildlife can be a challenge for rural communities. TPW's mission is to protect wildlife and people using conservation, applied science and impact.

We went to Ngoley village, between the Tarangire-Manyara protected areas south of Arusha. We received a very warm welcome and were introduced to village leaders and traditional leaders, as well as 'Queen Bees' – the leaders of the women's beekeeping group.

We heard how TPW and the community use geographic information services (GIS) to map rangeland use and degradation and human-wildlife conflict. 'Coexistence officers' living in the communities use data collected on smartphones to map human-wildlife conflicts and work with community members to create solutions.

GIS mapping also helps track invasive plant species and measure grass growth for grazing.

'Queen Bees' who manage honey harvesting

We also learned about the 109 women's groups that are managed by their 'Queen Bees'. Together, they have harvested 19 tons of honey since 2013.

The Mama Asali enterprise centre houses beekeeping cooperatives. As part of the cooperative, community banks provide micro-loans and grants for the women, and the profits from the bee products are split between the local groups.

Products are sold in supermarkets, in tourist lodges and exhibitions – we might even see some at CBA18!

TPW brings innovative use of meticulous data collection, GIS, and a deep connection with the local communities and their traditional knowledge to create programmes that promote human wellbeing, environmental resilience and wildlife abundance.

The field trips were a great way to kick off CBA18 and learn about how traditional knowledge combined with science and technology can help communities and landscapes at the frontline of climate impacts to be resilient. Click on the photos below to see a gallery of the trip.

Don't forget to follow and share using the hashtag #CBA18!

IIED's UnaMay Gordon captures the excitement of getting ready for CBA18.