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Challenging the obsession with local level institutions in country ownership of climate change adaptation

Omukuti, Jessica
Land use policy 2020 v.94 pp. 104525
at-risk population, case studies, climate, climate change, decision making, finance, focus groups, ownership, questionnaires, resource management, risk, sea level, stakeholders, surveys, Zanzibar
Working with local level actors to enable country ownership is applauded within the multilateral climate finance landscape. However, are emerging adaptation interventions equitable by reflecting the priorities of local level vulnerable populations? This research sought to find out whether the engagement of local institutions in projects that seek to achieve country ownership enabled local level vulnerable groups to participate in and influence adaptation decision-making processes and outcomes, thereby enabling them to have a voice in local level adaptation. It used a case study of a Global Environmental Facility-managed coastal adaptation project in Tanzania, which sought to restore and protect mangroves to enable adaptation to sea level rise. Data was generated from 13 Focus Group Discussions and survey questionnaires administered to 629 individuals in three locations on the mainland of Tanzania and in Zanzibar. The findings indicate that community-based organizations were used to facilitate the implementation of project activities at the community level. However, participation spaces created in the project and facilitated by these local institutions were exclusionary and failed to enable vulnerable community groups to have a voice on mangrove restoration and protection. Use of these local institutions altered local level power relations and disempowered other pre-existing and (in)formal local resource management institutions. Community members questioned legitimacy of actions implemented by these local institutions. These findings suggest that working with local level stakeholders to generate country ownership does not automatically guarantee that actions will address the needs of local vulnerable groups. Multilateral climate finance institutions should acknowledge these risks and implement measures to address them.