28 November 2012

Namibia: Poor Countries Want Fund for Loss and Damage

Doha — Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are calling for the establishment of a fund to deal with the problem of loss and damage, as a result of climate change and global warming.

"We are looking for an international mechanism on loss and damage, although it is seen as part of the Cancun Adaptation Framework. It should be a form of compensation, there is no way you can run away from this," Pa Ousman Jarful, chairman of the LDC Group at the climate change negotiations told reporters on the sideline of the 18th session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Doha, Qatar.

The 18th Session of the UNFCCC and the 8th session of the Conference of Parties (COP) serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol started on Monday November 26 and will run until December 07.

Loss and damage, a new concept in climate change discourse refers to the negative effects of climate variability and climate change that people are not able to cope with or adapt to.

According to Jarful, loss and damage is a reality for many vulnerable communities, adding that failure to address that will compromise sustainable development and ensure affected countries that have contributed least to global greenhouse emissions will continue to suffer disproportionately. Each LDC at least needs US$3 billion to build resilience, while each of the countries had allocated funds themselves to deal with the problem.

Jarful is against loans for adaptation, stating that LDCs are not responsible for the loss and damage caused by climate change and need to be compensated and not just given loans. "Every country has to put institutional mechanisms in place to monitor funds that are coming in for adaptation. We have learnt from our mistakes, we have mainstream adaptation and climate change in our developmental plans," he added.

The LDCs are being pro-active and have monitor and evaluation mechanisms, as well as reporting mechanisms in place, in case there is mismanagement with such funds. The United Nations University in collaboration with different agencies and non-governmental organisations had done a study in five countries to show evidence of loss and damage in vulnerable communities. The five countries are Bhutan, Micronesia, Bangladesh, The Gambia and Kenya.

The changing monsoon rains have affected rice production in Bhutan, coastal erosion has affected housing in Micronesia, salinity intrusion in Bangladesh has affected rice production and drinking water, while drought in The Gambia has affected millet production and flooding in Kenya has affected crops, livestock and fish. The study looked at climatic stresses and societal impacts, which included both extreme weather and slow onset climatic events such as cyclones and sea level rise. Societal impacts involve loss of physical assets, negative effects on livelihood sources and other aspects of human well-being, such as housing and health.

In all cases communities have introduced adaptation strategies but are not able to cope. In some communities, no adaptation measures are in place due to lack of knowledge, skills, means and resources.

In many cases aid has remained the only reliance for these vulnerable communities, while migration to urban areas or other areas due to failed harvests have also intensified.

The situation is not unique to the five countries, since countries such as Namibia are also affected by loss and damage as a result of climate change. However, Namibia has adopted adaptation strategies, which seem to be working very well currently. Some of Namibia's adaptation strategies will be showcased during the COP 18, in Doha, Qatar, during the course of the conference.

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