Climate Risk Management--Technical Assistance Support Project

Supporting countries in preparing for and tackling climate change

Photo: Sustainable management of land in Apurimac, Peru. Credit: UNDP Peru

While the precise long-term impacts of climate change are difficult to define, one thing is clear: changing climate patterns will have significant impacts on countries and communities, many of which are already facing serious development challenges.

Broad project recommendations for developing countries facing potential climate change:

  • Strengthen technical skills, enhance institutions and develop coping mechanisms
  • Ensure that the risk management priorities of countries and communities are considered
  • Stakeholder-owned, scientifically validated, climate risk analyses provides an evidence base for enhancing CRM programs
  • Enhance the climate risk management capacity of national and regional institutions
  • Develop the climate risk management capacity of UNDP and UN country offices to assist national and local counterparts

UNDP’s Climate Risk Management- Technical Assistance Support Project is working to understand the affects of climate change and predict how this will impact on developing countries.

Specifically, the project is undertaking risk assessments in 17 countries to better understand both near-term climate variability and long-term climate change. These assessments will help define how changing climate patterns are likely to impact on development and other key socio-economic sectors, such as agriculture and healthcare. Implemented simultaneously across a number of countries, the project will inform global practices for managing the risks and impacts associated with unpredictable changes in climatic events, as well as identify solutions and develop in-country capacity to better withstand impacts. Additionally, the regions chosen will be illustrative examples that can be used by development planners for disaster risk mitigation in the future.

Some of the key findings so far:

In Peru the project helped identify the impact of climate change on land use, irrigation and agriculture in the rural regions of Junin and Piura. Farming accounts for about a third of employment in the two regions and supplies staple crops such as spinach and potatoes, as well as cash crops like sugar cane. A report from the project has already warned that regional farmers will face declining harvests as rain becomes less frequent and groundwater from quickly melting glaciers disappears. This could result in reduced agricultural productivity and put livelihoods at risk.

In Uganda, the project looked at the potential impact of climate change on the coffee industry in the Rakai and Kapchorwa districts. In both districts coffee remains the primary cash crop and is thus integral to both the national GDP and the livelihoods of millions of people. The project found that climate variability is already having an impact on crop production and farmers are beginning to employ coping strategies, though without guidance or coordination these may only exacerbate the problem. The project recommended a series of actions to build resilience, including enhanced water and soil management, improved infrastructure for crop harvesting and storage, and better agronomic practices, such as crop diversification.

In Nicaragua, the project assessed the potential impact of climate change on health in the country. A report from the project warns that climate change will alter average temperatures and affect rainfall, nutrition and biodiversity, which may adversely affect health and the provision of healthcare. For instance, gastrointestinal illnesses and mosquito borne diseases such as dengue fever are likely to become more common because of predicted changes to the climate, which may include increased rainfall patterns and flooding, creating pools of stagnant water. At the same time, diminished or altered agricultural output could lead to malnutrition. In response to these findings, and given the fact that few studies look beyond the impact of climate change on the environment to assess cross-sectoral concerns, UNDP recommended a series of efforts to mitigate the impact in Nicaragua. These include efforts to increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand flood controls, promote reforestation, and promote investment in climate monitoring and early warning.

By looking at specific sectors in high risk countries, this project is capturing valuable information on the short, medium and long-term impacts of climate variability and change. With early warning and a strong knowledge base, it has already provided recommendations and solutions to mitigate the possible impacts that are under consideration by partner governments.