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 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 country’s climate change response over the next decade, including at the local level.
The increasing relevance of local governments emerged in 2008, when the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) was established as the interministerial mechanism for promoting democratic development through decentralization and de- concentration reforms throughout Cambodia.
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:
LGCC Phase I was launched in three local administrations in the Takeo province: Doun Keo municipality and Bati and Borei Chulsar districts. During Phase II, the programme expanded to five districts in Battambang: Bor Vel, Moung Reussy, Rokha Kiri, Sampov Loun and Thma Koul. These districts have a total population of 1.8 million.
Different initiatives were undertaken to improve climate change adaptation mainstreaming, including the adoption of a new Climate Vulnerability Map Tool (with subsequent trainings to relevant local authorities) and alignment to the vulnerability rankings of the Climate Change Vulnerability Index to select new potential local partners (which is part of the National Climate Change Monitoring and Evaluation Framework), as well as performance assessments in the targeted districts which allow for transfers of new performance-based climate resilience grant (PBCRG) cycles.
Cambodia successfully moved to the bridging Phase II (2016–2018) aimed at strengthening systems and building capacity for a full roll-out of sub-national climate change adaptation finance. Three new districts (Moung Russei, Thmar Koul and Bovel Districts in Battambang) have been selected for inclusion during the bridging phase as part of the IFAD Agricultural Services Programme for Innovation, Resilience and Extension (ASPIRE).
In December 2015, the Ministry of Environment, as national designated agency for the Green Climate Fund (GCF), nominated NCDD Secretariat (NCDD-S) to become a national implementing entity under GCF’s Enhanced Direct Access modality. This nomination is a major achievement for the LGCC, as it is expected to make climate change adaptation finance accessible to the most vulnerable local administrations nationwide. The NCDD-S accreditation process has helped influence other least developed countries within LoCAL to initiate their own process of GCF accreditation for sub-national climate change finance.
Adaptation measures and investments
Overall, 240 adaptation measures have been financed through PBCRGs. Since inception, USD 1.3 million in top-up grants have been transferred to the eight selected districts with 100 per cent co-financing from communes’ resources.
Of the 240 projects financed, 152 are small-scale infrastructure projects mainly entailing construction of elevated roads/bridges and renovation/construction of rural/farm roads; restoration/protection of irrigation canals; and rehabilitation/construction of water gates, sewage systems and community ponds. Several capacity-building and awareness-raising activities were also supported – e.g. on climate change causes and effects (both for local authorities and communities), agricultural climate-resilient practices (improved varieties of rice, good agricultural practices, cattle farming, etc.), health and sanitation (prevention of climate change–borne diseases, personal hygiene, etc.) and general environmental protection.
The majority – approximately 35 per cent – of investments aimed at improving transport systems, especially during the rainy season, for people and goods; followed by those aiming at strengthening the resilience of agricultural systems and improving the availability of potable and safe water (20 per cent each).
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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‘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."