In recent years, poorer nations have had to move money budgeted for education in order to adapt to climate change efforts.
According to a recent report from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Ethiopia used 14% of its national budget on the climate change issue from 2008-2011. That amount is almost half of the national spending on primary education for the country.
The report focuses on three countries: Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, each of which has an economy based on rain-fed agriculture. Each of these countries has experienced recent climate change including higher temperatures and less water, causing them to push more of their national budgets into adaptation of farming when promised international aid did not arrive.
According to the study, there are large funding gaps between the country’s plans for the climate change issue, and what is actually available for spending. In Ethiopia, the plan calls for $7.5 billion in annual spending, where only $440 million exists. Tanzania needs $650 million to spend on climate change, but has only $383 million. And in Uganda, the plan is to devote $258 million, but the country only has $25 million.
“There is an existing international commitment to provide $100 billion a year from 2020, but ODI’s research shows that the current estimates of global adaptation finance amount to a tiny fraction of that sum”.
“In the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, international support to assist countries adapt to climate change has averaged only $130m annually, far less than the $1.1bn that the UK alone spent on the floods three years ago, in what Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls ‘adaptation apartheid’,” said Neil Bird, a climate researcher at ODI who wrote the report.
Meanwhile, better-off countries are investing in flood-defense systems and coastal protection. In 2010, the UK spent about $1.1 billion on flood preparations. The report states that poor nations do not have such resources, asking the richer nations to participate in a “matched-funding approach,” which would offer equivalent climate change spending to the poorer nations.
“While richer countries invest heavily in flood-defense systems, coastal protection and other projects, poorer countries have no choice but to divert scarce resources, potentially reversing the progress made in tackling poverty,” said Kevin Watkins, executive director of ODI.
Despite all this spending, the countries are still spending less than they should be to properly plan for the climate change issue. In Ethiopia, the spending amounts to 6% of what is needed, in Uganda that number is 10%. Tanzania, who receives more international aid, is spending a much higher 59% of what they need to.
According to Bird, the matched funds would offer these countries a “safety net.” While several multilateral climate funds have been created, the total disbursement of funds across the countries have not even reached $130 million per year.
“What is needed is an approach that delivers finance at a scale commensurate with the risks to be addressed through a mechanism that creates incentives for effective delivery.”