Ownership of climate change adaptation strategies in Jordan

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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

This lesson learned is related to a change in original plans to have external consultants carry out planned activities of the JP; we realized there was resistance to this in the Jordan context. We therefore responded to this resistance by changing our work plan and use internal capacities instead, and as a result it is seen that country ownership and institutionalization of the work has been enhanced. This shows the importance of flexibility and responsiveness to stakeholder needs, and particular taking account of and utilizing internal capabilities where possible.

Updating the Ministry of Health (MOH) strategy for Jordan to include climate change impacts on human health is one key activity of the JP. The general approach that was initially thought of to implement this activity was focusing on having national and international consultants helping the MOH updating the strategy. The consultants would have done most of the work in consultation with the MOH professionals and a variety of stakeholders. However, the general attitude in Jordan is not in favor of the so called studies done by external experts who come for a short period of time and are not fully aware of the general context of the country and for this specific case the health sector in Jordan.

If the activity was implemented using the module originally planned, ownership, sustainability and replicability would have been major issues of concern. These three issues have been a source of worry to all decision makers, donor agencies, and the stakeholders community at large. In order to overcome this problem, the JP, WHO, and MOH has come up with a new implementation format and modality to insure ownership, sustainability, and possible replicability.

The new format focuses on establishing six MOH National Technical Teams and a Technical Coordination Team, to develop the National Health strategy and action plan to protect human health from climate change. This devised approach ensures ownership, institutionalization and sustainability of the adaptation processes within the overall work processes in the MOH. The MOH is now looking at the updated health strategy as one of their prestigious and a proud deserving effort that needs to be honored, adopted, and implemented throughout the country.

Purpose of the activity

The activity objective is to develop and implement adaptation strategies to protect health from the negative effects of heat waves through carrying out the following activities:

  • Review of adaptation strategies to protect health
  • Develop response strategies
  • Development of a work plan for the implementation of these strategies
  • Training of staff in the health sector and other concerned sectors on the implementation of these strategies
  • Dissemination of these adaptation strategies to the public through workshops, media, NGO’s, etc.

Original issue addressed by the activity

The current Health Strategy of Jordan does not have Climate change issues and impacts on human health integrated into it. The activity is to update the MOH strategy for Jordan to include climate change impacts.

An activity was to be implemented by recruiting national and international consultants to carry out the activity. The consultants were supposed to carry the activity in consultation with the MOH professionals, academia, research centers, and a variety of stakeholders taking into consideration the experience of other countries.

Training and dissemination of the processes, approach, methodology, and results to all stakeholders was to be performed by the consultants.

Strategy chosen to address the issue

The change in strategy depended primarily on have all activities relating to updating the strategy by the Government officials and expert, and as a result of this country ownership was achieved, as well as long-term sustainability. The inclusion of the high level decision makers as heads of the six thematic committees and then to have the six heads of the committees form the coordination group was another tool for adopting and implementing the updated strategy. Replicability of the approach, methodology, and results has become easier and better facilitated since it is now developed internally rather than from an external party.

Implementation of the strategy

The new adopted approach was focusing on establishing six MOH National Technical Teams and a Technical Coordination Team all from the MOH. The six teams are composed from professionals related to the team and each team is headed by a key professional and decision makers at the MOH. The heads of the groups form together a coordination team who is responsible for guiding the whole process and eliminate any possible duplication. The appointed members of the teams were trained to develop the National Strategy and Plan of Action to Protect Health from Climate Change (relevant to six climate-sensitive health issues).

All teams meet periodically together to discuss findings and results and to share the outcomes of each. The MOH health teams in consultation and coordination with the JP technical advisors have carried out many expert and stakeholders meeting in order to include the feedback from all into the National Adaptation Strategy.

The dissemination and training on the whole process and results is now done by the MOH professionals and experts.

Challenges and Innovations

The main challenge to this adopted approach is that all members of the task forces and steering committees had many other duties to fulfill. The already overburdened staff are required to carry out a new tasks that need innovation of new ideas and solution of new problems associated with climate change regardless of the hidden link between some health issues and climate change.

The selection of dedicated professionals to the steering committee, together with the structured supervision from WHO/CEHA professionals who outlined the importance of the outcomes of the project in devising well tailored and efficient action plans to combat the impacts of Climate change on health, has facilitated the adoption of the process and led to more efficient involvement of the specialized task forces.

While the establishment of the national MOH teams was an innovation in itself (instead of relying mostly on external consultants), the challenges faced in this approach were overcome by ensuring the input and supervision of WHO/CEHA professionals who, although external to the MOH, still have an excellent understanding of the Jordanian context. This innovative approach chosen was therefore midway between sole reliance on Ministry experts, and overdependence on external consultants.

Results and Impacts

The JP believes that the most visible impact of this modified implementation strategy was able to institutionalize the updated strategy into the day to day work and mandate of the MOH. Ownership of the whole process (not only the updated strategy) was also ensured. As an outcome, replicability this process will be easier and much more readily accepted

Evidence

As a show of its adoption of the process, the MOH top leadership has encouraged the formation of the specialized task forces and steering committees. They have also facilitated convening their meetings and considered the meetings as part of their day to day duties towards an outcome that will be adopted by the MOH for future planning and action.

On a recent workshop for the dissemination of the accumulated results and outcomes of the activity, the minister of health declared that the updated health strategy will be fully adopted and implemented throughout Jordan. He also indicated that climate change issues are becoming an integral part of the planning process of the MOH and they will be included into all the MOH action plans

Next Steps

The JP has now adopted the approach of having task forces within the implementing ministries. Examples are: the Ministry of Environment task force, who directly supervise, monitor, and evaluate the activities of strengthening the adaptive capacity of the Zarqa River basin, and the International Hydrologic Prorgamme (IHP) committee at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation which supervise the activities of the component related to capacity building in the area of Integrated Water Resource Management.

Potential replication / application

Within Jordan, the replication of this process is almost ensured in the strategic planning process of the MOH since they have about 40 professionals trained on the process and responsible for its implementation and monitoring.

Other ministries will most probably follow especially since the experience of the whole process was shared with all implementing partners and ministries throughout the training, dissemination, and awareness workshops and also through the PMC meetings.

The process has shown that the utilization of internal capacities can be very fruitful and maximum sustainability and ownership can be achieved.

In terms of replicability to external contexts, a major lesson learned which can be useful to others is the value of conducting preliminary capacity surveys. The involved entities from our JP have recommended that a survey of the local and national capacities needed for any activity be carried out first in order to gauge suitability for carrying out intended activities. It might turn out that the external help although might be needed for certain tasks, if local capacities cannot suffice. However, such surveys can also help to determine where local capacities exist, and how these can be utilized to the greatest extent possible to ensure maximum sustainability and ownership.

Information products

The updated strategy will soon be ready for publication and will be shared on the MOH website. The updated document will clearly point out the adopted process and the commitment of the MOH towards implementing the outcomes and results of the activity.

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