U.S. foreign aid for Africa must prioritize adaptation and mitigation

A community has been swallowed by the sea on Lagos Island, Nigeria. The Atlantic has risen by three feet in just the last 50 years. Here, citizens of Ward II are trapped under their…

U.S. foreign aid for Africa must prioritize adaptation and mitigation

A community has been swallowed by the sea on Lagos Island, Nigeria. The Atlantic has risen by three feet in just the last 50 years. Here, citizens of Ward II are trapped under their homes as rising water levels make them underwater.

“As Nigeria confronts the challenge of climate change and floods it faces, we must also mobilize resources to adapt and mitigate [sic] against these harsh environmental conditions,” Nigeria’s Minister of Environment Amina Mohammed told me this week. “That is what my ministry’s National Action Plan on Climate Change is trying to address, and that is why our approach is holistic, and that is why it is multi-faceted.”

But there are funds available for flood mitigation, including a $161 million grant from the Global Environment Facility. For now, President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has yet to begin collecting them. The Paris Climate Accords specifically require that climate change funding go to adaptation and mitigation projects, not just finance climate finance.

U.S. Climate Change, Inc.

Through a spokesperson, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said, “I remain hopeful that the promised funds from the U.S. government to address the deadly flooding and dust storms from recent years in West Africa will receive swift, ongoing support, as [the Global Environment Facility] states. We also hope that the delay in the funding is due to a preoccupation with the impending funding for the promised $1 billion adaptation program that is nowhere to be found.”

Since then, in a statement Norton gave a little more color about the matter:

I continue to be dismayed by reports that the U.S. climate funding is being delayed by the Trump Administration. It is my hope that the funds will continue to be released and that the Trump Administration will make available promised funding for the Global Environment Facility and the Water and Wastewater Disposal Trust Fund which is now on hold, for the very same reasons. The Trump Administration continues to attempt to cut climate adaptation funding and to at least partially erode the climate financing priorities of the previous Administration under the Preeminence Guidelines, requiring that the funds for climate adaptation come from the U.S. Food for Peace Trust Fund, and the budget cuts have been indiscriminate. Even in spite of this, the impacts of climate change are happening throughout the world, and should be treated as a national security threat. Water, food, and energy security are issues of vital concern to the American people, and the funds to address these issues are essential and unselfish contributions by the U.S. government to alleviate these conditions.

In announcing its statement, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria said, “Our Government will help developing countries acquire technologies that address climate risks, and as we have made clear, our funding will be focused on enabling and supporting the implementation of critical climate change adaptation projects.” And they noted: “We are pushing hard for the release of U.S. Global Environment Facility’s Climate Change Adaptation Fund for the GEDs.”

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