Local communities are best placed to decide which climate adaptation investments will most help strengthen their resilience. We are working in Mali and Senegal to enable local government to access and disburse climate finance in support of community-prioritised adaptation.


Ced Hesse, Principal researcher

Sheep grazing dry season pastures in Mopti, Mali (Photo: Near East Foundation)

Decentralising Climate Funds (DCF) in Mali and Senegal is a three-year project through which local governments will establish six devolved Climate Adaptation Funds (CAF) of £500,000 (445 million CFA francs) each.

Communities will decide how the CAFs are allocated to fund public good investments, which they will prioritise through inclusive planning processes embedded in local government systems. Working in four Départements in Senegal and three Cercles in Mali, the project seeks to build the resilience of 750,000 people to climate variability and extreme events.

Project vision

More effective climate adaptation planning and finance by local governments in Mali and Senegal will improve communities' resilience to climate change.

Why is this important?

In Mali and Senegal, communities have developed their own adaptation strategies to deal with the highly variable climate of the Sahel. However, without the support of an enabling environment created by government-planned adaptation, especially at decentralised levels, there are limits to the extent to which communities can build resilient economies and livelihoods.

Local-level government bodies lack discretionary authority over budgets and have limited institutional, technological and financial capacity to manage climate-related shocks and stresses or support local adaptive strategies. Support for local adaptation strategies is critical in the face of a changing climate, which is expected to create increased temperatures and more variable rainfall in the Sahel.  

Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to climate extremes because they don't have the same access to common resources as men do and their income and food security in times of crisis or shortage is usually more seriously affected. They are also insufficiently involved in planning and decision-making at community-level and their needs often remain unmet.

International funding for climate adaptation has begun to flow from developed countries to less developed countries, which are often the worst affected by climate change. At present, the funding is channelled directly to national authorities or to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – and local governments and communities have very little control over decision-making for these funds.

The process of decentralisation in both Mali and Senegal, which is still ongoing, provides a structure of local government that can be built upon to ensure that decision-making and access to the funds is in the hands of those most directly affected and most able to identify strategies for building local resilience.

The above animation explains decentralising climate funds in Mali and Senegal. It is also available on IIED's YouTube channel, and in French.

How will the project work?

To encourage national policymakers to take into account local adaptation strategies and develop the institutional, technological and financial capacity of local governments, this project will test the evidence that decentralising control over climate funds can and does work.

  • Local climate adaptation funds
    Local governments will be given discretionary authority over a devolved CAF with an initial value of £500,000 (445 million FCFA) per fund. The CAFs will finance community-prioritised, public good investments which help communities to be more resilient to climate change. The funds will be managed in a transparent, accountable, and cost-effective manner. They will also be consistent with public finance policy, complementary to local governments' existing budgets and capable of drawing down and managing climate finance from national climate funds and other sources of climate finance.
  • Community-prioritised investments
    CAF investments will be prioritised through inclusive community consultations and will be informed by resilience assessments. Committees for adaptation planning will be set up at the local district level (Communes); they will be gender-inclusive and ensure differentiated representation of vulnerable individuals. The committees will adopt a systemic (as opposed to a sector-based) approach.

    The project will also ensure that people have greater access to – and capacity to use – climate information that will improve planning and responses to climate extremes. Following the prioritisation of investments by the committees, local government will implement locally-approved resilience projects through a public procurement process that builds the capacity of local governments, civil society organisations and the private sector to manage construction and operation of public good investments.
  • Evidence and learning
    To assess how climate change adaptation and development investments can strengthen local people's resilience to climate extremes (differentiated by gender, age, wealth), the project will establish and institutionalise information systems and monitoring frameworks, including the Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) methodology. Lessons drawn from the implementation of this project will be gathered, published and widely disseminated in international and national networks and made available online.
  • Engagement with policymakers
    To ensure that the evidence from this project can be used effectively by policymakers, the project will build relationships with relevant national and international institutions and decision-makers to share findings from the project. Policymakers will also be involved in a national-level advisory committee in each country to provide input to the project on an ongoing basis. Lessons will also be shared between stakeholders in the two countries as the activities are implanted. The project will seek follow-on funding for these local funds from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other development partners.

Where will these activities take place?

The project activities will be implemented in three Cercles in the Mopti region in Mali (Koro, Douentza, and Mopti) and in four Départements in the Kaffrine region of Senegal (Koungheul, Kaffrine, Birkilane and Maleme Hodar).

Building resilience and adaptation to climate extremes and disasters (BRACED)

This project forms part of the Building resilience and adaptation to climate extremes and disasters (BRACED) programme that is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Our project consortium is led by the Near East Foundation (NEF), with in-country implementation led by IED Afrique in Senegal and NEF in Mali.

IIED is providing research and conceptual guidance based on similar experiences, for instance in Kenya, as well as technical expertise in relation to communications and monitoring and evaluation, including through the TAMD methodology.


Climate adaptation funds, Ced Hesse (2015), IIED Backgrounder

Community and government planning together for climate resilient growth: issues and opportunities from Longido, Monduli and Ngorongoro Districts, northern Tanzania, Ally Msangi, Joseph Rutabingwa, Victor Kaiza, Antonio Allegretti (2014), IIED report

Ensuring devolution supports adaptation and climate resilient growth in Kenya, Ced Hesse and James Pattison (2013), IIED Briefing paper

Managing the boom and bust: supporting climate resilient livelihoods in the Sahel, Ced Hesse, Simon Anderson, Lorenzo Cotula, Jamie Skinner and Camilla Toulmin (2013) IIED Issue paper | En Francais

Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) through a gender lens, Susannah Fisher (2014), IIED Briefing paper

Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development: a step-by-step guide, Nick Brooks and Susannah Fisher (2014) IIED report

Further reading

Decentralising climate adaptation funds in Mali, Near East Foundation (2015), Briefing | En français

Decentralising climate adaptation funds in Senegal, Near East Foundation (2015), Briefing | En français

Isiolo County Adaptation Fund: activities, costs, impacts after the 1st investment round, Kenya National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) (2014)


UK Department for International Development (DFID)


Project implementation partners:

Near East Foundation (NEF)

IED Afrique (French language site)

Government partners in Mali and Senegal:

Agence de l'Environnement et du Développement Durable (AEDD) 

Centre de Suivi Écologique (French language site)


Ced Hesse (ced.hesse@iied.org) principal researcher – drylands, Climate Change Group; team leader, climate resilience, productivity and equity in the drylands