Climate change represents a major challenge for Cambodia. With a high poverty rate and a predominantly agrarian economy influenced by the hydrological behaviour of the Tonle Sap and Mekong River systems, Cambodia is ranked as one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world. While the exact trend and nature of climate change is hard to predict, Cambodia is expected to experience increased variation in, and intensity of, precipitation. Over 2 million farming households, or over 8 million people, rely heavily on the climate for their livelihoods. Coastal communities and ecosystems will be affected by sea level rise. Low-lying areas will be increasingly prone to floods, while the higher areas are likely to experience more incidences of drought. Increases in temperature and humidity may create conditions of increased health risk to humans and an exacerbation of diseases in crops and livestock. These changes will amplify and compound already existing development challenges.
In the last few years, the Government of Cambodia has developed a responsive policy framework, with over 21 state agencies under the helm of a National Climate Change Committee, administered by the Climate Change Department of the Ministry of Environment. Within this framework, the latest National Strategic Development Plan streamlines sectoral climate change strategies and action plans to guide the future of the country’s climate change response in the next decade, including at the local level.
The National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) was established in December 2008 as the inter-ministerial mechanism for promoting democratic development through decentralization and deconcentration reforms throughout Cambodia. In 2010, it adopted the first Three-Year Implementation Plan (IP3) of the National Programme on Sub-National Democratic Development. In 2014, the NCDD’s Secretariat o facilitated a consultative process to review performance and design a second three-year phase (2015–2017) of the national programme, which is now under implementation.
Objectives, results and activities
The objective of the LoCAL-Cambodia initiative, the Local Governments and Climate Change Project (LGCC), is to demonstrate the role of local governments in fostering climate change resilience and identify practical ways to mainstream climate change resilience into sub-national planning and finance systems. The project’s major outcomes and related outputs are as follows:
Local Governments and Climate Change (LGCC):
LGCC Bridging Phase:
During the period 2016 -18 NCDD-S will strengthen systems and build capacity required for a full roll-out of sub-national climate change adaptation finance, which is taken to mean that all local governments nationwide could potentially access adaptation finance, based on measured vulnerability and achieving readiness conditions.
Key strategic achievements of LGCC are considered to be (1) capacity of local governments for climate change adaptation demonstrated; (2) practical systems and tools for local climate change adaptation planning demonstrated; (3) Innovative financing mechanism developed and demonstrated; (4) Support gained from national champions on climate change; (5) Development partners convinced of viability of the PBCRG model; and (6) conditions for scale-up created.
Adaptation measures and investments
As part of the project’s first phase, over 15 communities from 3 districts in the Takeo Province received top-up funds. With these, they elected to build elevated roads, irrigation canals, water gates, sewage systems and community ponds; run education campaigns; and train farmers to use climate-resilient rice varieties that could withstand floods or droughts.
In 2014, the eight participating sub-national administrations selected 64 sub-project activities, of which 35 were infrastructure projects (total grant allocation: USD 189,000) and 29 were non-infrastructure projects (total grant allocation: USD 78,000). Infrastructure projects were implemented through the budgets of the commune/sangkat councils and co-financed by commune/sangkat resources.
All projects carried over from 2013-and 2014 were completed in 2015, some delays in funding impacted the timely implementation of projects, particularly infrastructure related projects. All projects were completed by the end of 2016.
Following Performance assessments in early 2015, a total of $400,000 in PBCR Grant funding was allocated to the 8 SNA. Of this amount, $300,000 (75%) was a base amount allocated in proportion to discretionary resources of the SNA, and $100,000 (25%) was allocated according to the performance assessment scores.
The SNA selected 63 sub-project activities of which 41 were infrastructure projects (total PBCRG allocation $258,923), and 22 were non-infrastructure projects (total PBCRG allocation $55,084). Thus 80% of the PBCRG amounts were allocated to projects, with 12.5% being allocated to the cost of engineering services for project design and supervision, 5% for administration costs and 2.5% for the costs of participatory evaluations.
Strategic lessons learned are identified as (1) Local Governments have adequate capacity for simple climate change response actions, but further capacity development is needed; (2) Public Expenditure Management systems need further strengthening; (3) Monitoring and Evaluation of local climate change adaptation is a work in progress; (4) Smarter systems are needed to facilitate scale-up; and (5) Need to build partnerships for change.
Key results to be achieved during the bridging period are (1) Vulnerable communities supported to plan and implement investments for CCA in 8 Districts; (2) Capacity development approach for sub-national climate change mainstreaming implemented in at least 30 Districts and demonstrated as effective; (3) Finance mobilised and systems (planning, financing, implementation and performance assessment) ready for scale-up; and (4). Effectiveness of local government action on climate change demonstrated and range of possible interventions expanded.
Country Population: 15.14 million
Number of provinces: 25
Phase I (2011–2013): USD 300,000 (USD 250,000 from the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance Trust Fund; USD 50,000 from UNCDF)
Phase II (2013–2015): USD 932,000 (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida)
Lead government partners (Memorandum of Understanding): National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD)
Other government partners:
Commune Sangkat Fund
LoCAL donors and in-country development partners:
Cambodia Climate Change Alliance Trust Fund; Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA); European Union
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From vulnerabilities reduction assessments to measuring impact: the Cambodia experience (timeline view)
‘For me it is an opportunity – the climate change experience of the LGCC helps to transfer capacities from national to local governments. The LGCC project has helped to deal with climate change at a local level”
“Beyond the immediate results, there is sustainability in the actions”
“It’s a learning by doing process. The LGCC is showing great potential in how you can actually transfer funds to the local level, which can be replicated not just in climate change but also other sectors – We’re piloting a very interesting modality here."