Local governments in the drylands of Kenya, Mali, Senegal and Tanzania are establishing local-level climate adaptation funds with technical support from IIED and other partners, thereby building their readiness to access and disburse national and global climate finance in support of community prioritised investments that build climate resilience. 

July 2013 to May 2015

Ced Hesse, Principal researcher

Divisional Adaptation Planning Committees (DAPCs) act as community focal points (Photo: Sam Greene/IIED)

In dryland areas with a high level of climate variability, communities have developed adaptation strategies that are uniquely suited to their environment. Using strategies that optimise productivity during periods of rainfall and minimise losses during drought, they have developed livelihoods that take advantage of variability.

However, without the support of an enabling environment created by government planned adaptation, there are limits to how well communities can continue to practice adaptive livelihoods in the context of a changing climate. 

Local and national government development planning fails to adequately serve communities whose livelihoods are based on unpredictability and variability. Planning approaches, assuming constant conditions and rigid yearly cycles, when coupled with limited financial resources and autonomy, undermine government ability to respond to climate shocks, or support the highly flexible and opportunistic nature of dryland adaptive strategies. 

International funding for climate adaptation, including the Green Climate Fund, has begun to flow from developed countries to less developed countries.

At present, little of this funding is being channelled through local governments to support community-driven adaptation projects. Specific mechanisms are needed to ensure a fairer distribution of these funds to the local level to support climate adaptation of the more vulnerable communities.

What is IIED doing?

IIED is supporting local and national governments to pilot local adaptation funds under the discretionary authority of locally elected governments in Kenya, Tanzania, Mali and Senegal.

The approach is designed to prepare local governments not only to access climate finance, but to establish mechanisms to allow poor and vulnerable households to prioritise those investments in public goods that will give them resilient pathways out of poverty and climate vulnerability. 

The work in each country is being implemented within the framework of devolution and decentralisation that obliges central and local governments to ensure citizen-led and rights-based approaches to planning and prioritisation of public funding for sustainable development and poverty reduction.

In November 2016, IIED and partners produced an animation to explain how decentralised climate funds operate. This can be viewed below or on IIED's YouTube channel. It is also available in French/en Francais.

Ongoing work:


Devolved Climate Finance (2017) Ced Hesse

Funding adaptation in Kenya’s drylands, John Nyangena, Adano Wario Roba (2017), IIED Briefing

Decentralising climate finance to reach the most vulnerable, Ced Hesse (2016)

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

Enabling resilience: bridging the planning gap in Tanzania, Sam Greene (2015), IIED Briefing paper

A framework to assess returns on investments in the dryland systems of Northern Kenya, Caroline King-Okumu (2015) IIED 

Resilience building in Tanzania: learning From experiences of institutional strengthening, Sam Greene (2015), IIED

Further reading

Isiolo County Adaptation Fund: activities, costs, impacts after the First Investment Round, Kenya National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) (2014), NDMA, Kenya

Maps that build bridges, Ced Hesse (2013), IIED




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

Caroline King-Okumu (caroline.king-okumu@iied.org), senior researcher (dryland ecosystems and economic assessment), Climate Change Group

Morgan Williams (morgan.williams@iied.org), senior coordinator, Climate Change Group