Flexibility and responsiveness to climate change adaptation in Mozambique

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A shorter version of this lesson has been featured on the booklet produced by the MDG-F Environment and Climate Change window "Seeds of Knowledge - Contributing to Climate Change Solutions". - Read more about the booklet or download it in English / Spanish / French / Arabic.

Contents

Summary

Throughout the course of implementing the Joint Programme, the partners have sought to strengthen the involvement of stakeholders , and foster consultation and dialogue with them. Both beneficiaries (communities and their leaders) and government partners (provincial and district officials) have worked together to prioritize activities seen as central to the achievement of the project objectives, and have requested that the project consider including them in the work plans.

The approach of the Joint Programme partners has been to show openness to the inputs from beneficiaries and government partners, and where possible, show flexibility and responsiveness to implementing these emerging requests. The flexibility afforded by the MDG-F Joint Programme implementation guidelines has enabled the JP to carry out several activities not originally envisaged in the project document, but later requested by either beneficiaries or the government partners. Examples of additional activities that have been incorporated in the project work plans include the rehabilitation and provision of equipment for the meteorological station, construction of a CERUM (multi-purpose resource centre), and introduction of rainwater harvesting structures and integrated agro-fish culture as an alternative source of livelihoods in Chicualacuala district. The identification of these activities and collective decision-making on them took place during the course of various training workshops as well as follow-up district government discussions with community leaders and UN JP officials.

As a result, an improved engagement and ownership of the government partners (from district to national level) in the implementation of the Joint Programme has been observed. By improving the responsiveness of the Joint Programme to the needs and priorities of the beneficiaries and government partners, it is hoped that the long-term sustainability of the interventions has also been strengthened. This lesson learnt also highlights the importance of a participatory, inclusive and transparent consultative process in the development of a project, so that stakeholders’ priorities can be addressed at the project design stage.

In terms of replication, there is high potential for any project to strengthen dialogue with the stakeholders right from the start of the project planning phase (including the allocation of sufficient time and resources for this), as well as to improve responsiveness to emerging needs throughout project implementation. In particular, it may be helpful to consider integrating more flexibility at the project design stage, for example through leaving some room in the work plan and budget for possible emerging issues. There is also potential for donors to consider such positive examples and the possibility of encouraging an element of innovation and flexibility in project implementation through their guidelines and procedures.

Purpose of the activity

The purpose of the activity was to strengthen the ownership and sustainability of the Joint Programme interventions by introducing flexibility to implementation to allow responsiveness to emerging priority needs and demands from the stakeholders.

Original issue addressed by the activity

In the course of the Joint Programme implementation, it has become apparent that there were both shortcomings in the original project design, as well as emerging needs from stakeholders that should be addressed in order to improve the success of the Joint Programme in achieving its objectives. The overall objective was to support the Government of Mozambique’s efforts towards sustainable development through the implementation of two components: Environmental Mainstreaming and Adaptation to Climate Change.

Due to time constraints from the donor and UN headquarters, the development of the Joint Programme and its outputs and activities involved only limited consultations with various stakeholders from national to provincial level. Few district government officials were consulted and no communities or their leaders were consulted until the beginning of the implementation of the JP. During the first two years of implementation, a better understanding was gained of the situation on the ground, and dialogue with the stakeholders was improved through participatory environmental planning training, as well as individual and collective consultations. As a result, there were direct requests from both government partners and beneficiaries to show flexibility and responsiveness in the implementation of the Joint Programme, and to include certain additional activities in the work plans.

Strategy chosen to address the issue

Throughout the course of the Joint Programme implementation, the implementing partners have sought to strengthen the involvement of stakeholders in project implementation, and facilitate consultation and dialogue among them, using different approaches such as Educational Strategy, Behavioral Change Strategy and Advocacy Strategy, particularly educational and behavioral strategies.

The Educational strategy induced citizen participation that increased the competency of those involved in government and civic affairs or generally increasing the knowledge and understanding of the public. As the public is provided with a genuine opportunity to influence the decision, this encourages a genuine public involvement. Community members intervene as experts, providing skills and advice to get things done. Therefore, local knowledge can be passed along and incorporated in the planning processes and carried out.

Behavioral Change Strategies were aimed to influence individual behavior through group work. They induced change by changing the behavior of members or influential representatives. The individual here is the change target and the group is the change agent. Two assumptions underlie this concept. First, it is easier to influence the behavior of individuals than to change a whole group. Second, a group appears to be more supportive of implementing a decision it approves. In the area of Chicualacuala, this strategy was particularly important as most families have a member or two in the neighboring mines of South Africa, the sense of community is very limited, and most families left behind, particularly elderly, women and children, tend to act and decide individually. However, these individuals normally engage in small social relations and are loyal to their peers and those working in similar activities such as forest cutting or charcoal production. Therefore, it was necessary to introduce and/or increase their sense of social relations and group working behavior.

Advocacy strategy as well as conflict theory hold that conflict is inevitable and that cooperation is essential to the process. These two ideas were used as means of preserving and maintaining organizational identity. Despite the fact that this strategy may often spark tensions within the community, its merit resides on the ability to counterbalance power centers, which may be tempted to neglect public involvement in decision making process. This strategy does not however, guarantee effective public participation at community level, so the JP focal points used more of this approach during government meetings at district, provincial and national level, including during the JP Programme Management Committee (PMC) meetings. After these kinds of meetings, the local governments along with community leaders had to develop a third type of legitimacy to guarantee effective interaction with stakeholders to achieve their goal.

Throughout, the approach of the Joint Programme partners has been to show openness to inputs from the beneficiaries and government and where possible, show flexibility and responsiveness to implement these emerging requests. In part, that openness was facilitated by the approaches outlined above; new needs and requests became apparent and it was clear that the programme activities needed to be altered in order to be the most effective.

The MDG-F Secretariat was consulted, and once it was established that there was allowance for such flexibility, the suggested interventions were introduced and discussed at Programme Management Committee (PMC) meetings, and approved collectively before implementation. Some specific examples of cases where additional activities have been incorporated in the project work plans include the rehabilitation of a meteorological station and construction of a CERUM (multi-purpose resource centre), and introduction of rainwater harvesting structures and fish culture as an alternative source of livelihoods in Chicualacuala district.

Implementation of the strategy

The flexibility afforded by the MDG-F Secretariat guidelines enabled the Joint Programme to be receptive to evolving demands from both the beneficiaries and government partners. Several interventions that were specifically requested by the district administration, such as the construction of rainwater harvesting tanks and the introduction of fish culture, were discussed in the Programme Management Committee (PMC), and subsequently implemented. Capacity development in climate change adaptation took place almost exclusively at the district level. While many challenges remain, community awareness and capacity to adapt to and manage climate change has been strengthened, due to the flexibility and openness of the UN JP to accept the local government’s and communities’ requests to prioritize what they deemed important for their socio-economic growth and in accordance with the JP objectives and outcomes.

Furthermore, the Joint Programme has been able to respond positively to requests from partner institutions for support for major technical interventions that were not originally envisaged in the programme document. In particular, the Joint Programme has partnered with the National Meteorological Institute (INAM) to rehabilitate a meteorological station, and with the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) to build a CERUM (a multi-purpose resource centre) in Chicualacuala district.

These interventions have been successful in improving the satisfaction of the various stakeholders (including beneficiaries and government partners) in the Joint Programme, strengthening their participation and ownership of the programme interventions, thus contributing to the long-term sustainability of the programme impacts.

Challenges and Innovations

There were initial challenges in introducing such flexibility and responsiveness to the implementation of the Joint Programme, in particular relating to the lack of clarity of the flexibility afforded by the MDG-F Secretariat to such changes in the work plans. These issues were, however, clarified through dialogue with the Secretariat. There are also challenges related to striking a balance between responsiveness on the one hand, and ensuring fulfillment of originally planned activities and goals on the other hand. In this case, it is important to note that the additional activities that were included in the work plans respond directly to the challenges the Joint Programme is aiming to address, and as such make a concrete contribution towards meeting its outputs, outcomes and objectives.

Results and impacts

An improved engagement and ownership of the government partners (from district to national level) in the implementation of the Joint Programme has been observed, and can be partly attributed to their increased satisfaction in its implementation as a result of responsiveness to their priorities and requests. By improving the responsiveness of the Joint Programme to the needs and priorities of the beneficiaries and government partners, it is hoped that the long-term sustainability of the interventions has also been strengthened.

In terms of the concrete field interventions that have been implemented as a result of increased flexibility and responsiveness, so far 50 domestic rainwater harvesting tanks have been installed, and two community tanks are being constructed. Furthermore, integrated fish culture systems have been introduced in the three communities, which have also been trained to manage the systems sustainably. The rehabilitation of the meteorological stations and the construction of the CERUM are ongoing.

Next steps

As the Joint Programme has recently been granted a 1-year extension to complete its activities in a sustainable manner, there is a continued need for consultation and dialogue with the stakeholders and responsiveness to their priorities, in particular in the development and implementation of an exit strategy. This lesson learnt also highlights the importance of a consultative process in the development of a project, so that stakeholders’ priorities can be addressed at the project design stage. This is an important consideration to keep in mind in the development of further projects or joint programmes.

As for the interventions that have been introduced in response to stakeholder requests, the key is now to ensure their sustainability once the Joint Programme ends. The rainwater harvesting tanks and fish culture systems are being handed over to the communities and district authorities, and additional training will be provided if deemed necessary. The rehabilitation of the meteorological station and construction of the CERUM are continuing, with the full involvement of government counterparts (INAM and INGC) helping to guarantee their sustainability in the longer run.

Potential replication / application

There is high potential for any project to strengthen dialogue with the stakeholders and improve responsiveness to emerging needs. In particular, it may be helpful to consider integrating such flexibility at the project design stage, for example through leaving some room in the work plan and budget for possible emerging issues. There is also potential for donors to consider such positive examples and the possibility of encouraging an element of innovation and flexibility in project implementation through their guidelines and procedures. At the same time, governments and donors need to allocate funds for the consultative process from the inception phase as participatory planning and decision-making can be costly depending on the area of the program and the number of stakeholders involved. However, while this participatory approach might look costly at the beginning it pays off during implementation, monitoring, evaluation and sustainability of the project once the donor and partners leave.

Naturally the project logframe and work plan are important in guiding the implementation of any project and ensuring that its objectives are met in a timely fashion. It is therefore crucial that any changes made in the work plan contribute to solving the problems the project was developed to address, and contribute directly to the achievement of its objectives. Limited financial resources may also be a barrier for allowing responsiveness to evolving demands and circumstances, and it is therefore important to ensure that additional or revised activities do not come at the cost of other key elements of the project work plan.

In sum, a few specific lessons learnt are worth mentioning in relation to flexibility and openness to local demands and the use of different strategies to tackle the weaknesses of the program design:

  1. Programme design should be carefully considered for undeveloped, remote areas, taking into account realistic timelines, logistical arrangements and budgets. Reconnaissance visits to the project sites and active engagement with local stakeholders to gain an understanding of the local conditions is essential. An assessment of available baseline data is crucial, particularly in a neglected area. Thus, sufficient time needs to be allocated to the design phase.
  2. In arid and semi-arid regions and remote areas, where available data and understanding of what works and what does not work in the local context, are very limited, sufficient time needs to be allocated to project design and formulation, necessitating an inception phase in order to prevent costly inefficiencies during implementation.
  3. It is critical that there is full involvement and buy-in of the intended beneficiaries and local government leadership from day one. Project design should allow sufficient time to engage with local communities and stakeholders in order to ensure an understanding of the expected benefits of the programme. This will ensure buy-in and ownership from the start. It is imperative to create such mechanisms before the end of the programme to avoid a collapse, which is all too typical of development activities in remote areas. There is a history of development projects collapsing when projects funded by outside sources end in the district.
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