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Opportunities and Constraints

  • Published at 05:08 pm April 1st, 2019
Climate Tribune_Mar 2019_Pg 18 & 19 (1)
Photo: Pixabay

Accessing International Climate Adaptation Finance for Civil Society Organizations in Zimbabwe

A study, by Bread for the World, was commissioned to examine different ways in which to reduce the barriers that prevent national and local NGOs (who promote community-based adaptation action) from accessing international climate finance. Through this, there was also the space to highlight opportunities to access climate funds. This study was presented at the 2nd International Conference on Climate Finance held in Dhaka, 

The importance of this study was that the Zimbabwe case serves as an excellent example of how civil society organizations (CSOs) in developing countries are using climate finance. These countries are already experiencing the impact of climate change; despite this, they are working to support local communities to take adaptation measures in the context of limited access to international climate finance. 

The objectives of this study were to provide an overview of relevant climate finance instruments for civil society organizations in Zimbabwe. Secondly, to serve as a case study for demonstrating opportunities and limitations of climate finance from a local NGO perspective.

To address these objectives, the researchers used desktop research on global climate finance initiatives and international best practices; on-line questionnaires targeted at civil society organizations, donor organizations, and other stakeholders; and in-depth semi-structured interviews with a range of stakeholders involved in a civil society based climate change adaptation projects in Zimbabwe.

Key findings

Zimbabwe’s economic and political difficulties over the past two decades have made it difficult to access certain streams of international and regional climate finance, as well as development finance in general. Furthermore, climate change has not been considered a priority focal area in Zimbabwe by many bilateral donors.  

It was evident that local CSOs access to climate finance is limited.  A total of around $50 million of climate finance, from the ZRBF, was committed to international NGO-led climate adaptation projects in the past five years. In the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF), funding from three key bilateral donors: Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the European Union (EU) have been pooled. Local CSOs are often subgrantees for climate funding, and non-climate-streamed funding remains an essential source of funding for CSOs’ adaptation projects in Zimbabwe. While international NGOs have accessed significant climate funding either individually or as lead agents of consortiums, local NGOs have struggled to access climate finance directly. Local CSOs in Zimbabwe are often prevented from accessing climate funds directly due to the large size of available grants, donor partner preferences and the absence of an enhanced direct access mechanism.  

Bilateral funding, in general, has been limited in Zimbabwe due to economic sanctions, as a result of the government’s international foreign policies. Various bilateral donors do not make their climate-streamed funding available in Zimbabwe. Additionally, Zimbabwe-based international NGOs, and in particular, faith-based organizations, have been a valuable conduit for funding for local CSOs both from their own donor funds and by accessing bilateral aid streams. International NGOs may also have more experience with handling large grants and better donor relationships, enabling them to access donor funding directly.  Identifying and tracking specific Climate Adaptation funding was a challenge in Zimbabwe, as most donors focused on resilience.

International climate adaptation funds relevant to Zimbabwe

Of the international funds for climate change adaptation available for Zimbabwe, a few have already been accessed.  Zimbabwe has participated in regional programmes that provide technical and funding support to African governments for reporting to the UNFCCC and has accessed Global Climate Finance (GCF) readiness funds for accreditation. CSOs often lack awareness of potential climate change donors and donor funding themes.


Civil society organizations

    • Working in consortiums for fundraising has its advantages 

    • More CSOs capacity is needed for writing bankable projects, Source identification/institutional strengthening

    • There is a need to strengthen national networks  and their links  for improvement of adaptation programming

    • Policy advocacy for National Climate Fund, a low hanging fruit for CSO enhanced funding 


    • The donors must make information on  potential funding opportunities more easily available

    • Reserve funding for local CSOs and promote locally led consortiums to improve local participation and access to climate finance

    • Enable access to smaller grants to identify locally identified needs

    • There is a need to match reporting requirements to funds applied for


    • Governments must speed up the accreditation process for GCF/AF

    • Create a platform for national distribution of Funding opportunities

    • Establish a small grant mechanism for small CSOs and community based organizations (CBOs)

    • Build capacity to better access climate adaptation funds 

Some lessons learnt for Zimbabwe and Developing Country Governments

Neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Namibia have accessed climate funding through the Adaptation Fund and GCF and used them to establish small grants programmes specifically accessible to CSOs. These enhanced direct access mechanisms have improved local CSO access to finance, and are valuable pilot programs that Zimbabwe and other developing countries can learn from. 

It can be concluded that governments, donors and CSOs can all unknowingly contribute to opportunities or constraints of climate change adaptation funding. Therefore this study challenges each one of them to introspect in order to minimise barriers for access to climate change adaptation funds. 

Sherpard Zvigadza is an MSc student in Climate Change and Development at IUB. Shepard is also a  Visiting Researcher at ICCCAD 

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