International financial assistance is expected to support African and other developing countries as they prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The impact of this finance depends on how much is mobilized and where it is targeted. The authors track development finance targeting adaptation from diverse funders to Africa between 2014 and 2018 for quantitative mapping of adaptation-related finance flows to African countries.
Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, financing is expected to help countries adapt to climate change. The amounts of finance are well below the scale of investment needed for adaptation in Africa, which is a region with high vulnerability to climate change and low adaptation capacity. Finance targeting mitigation (US$30.6 billion) was almost double that for adaptation (US$16.5 billion).
The relative share of each varies greatly among African countries. More adaptation-related finance was provided as loans (57%) than grants (42%) and half the adaptation finance has targeted just two sectors: agriculture; and water supply and sanitation. Disbursement ratios for adaptation in this period are 46%, much lower than for total development finance in Africa (at 96%).
These are all problematic patterns for Africa, highlighting that more adaptation finance and targeted efforts are needed to ensure that financial commitments translate into meaningful change on the ground for African communities.
Key policy insights
- Between 2014 and 2018, adaptation-related finance committed by bilateral and multilateral funders to African countries remained well below US$5.5 billion per year, or roughly US$5 per person per year; these amounts are well below the estimates of adaptation costs in Africa.
- Funders have not strategically targeted support for adaptation activities towards those African countries with the highest vulnerability to climate change.
- Lessons from countries that have been more successful in accessing finance point to the value of more sophisticated domestic adaptation policies and plans; of alignment with priorities of the NDC; of meeting funding requirements of specific funders; and of the strategic use of climate funds by national planners.
- A low disbursement ratio for adaptation finance in this period in Africa (at 46%) relates to barriers impeding the full implementation of adaptation projects: low grant to loan ratio; requirements for co-financing; rigid rules of multilateral climate funds; and inadequate programming capacity within many countries.