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Faced with a lack of funds and technical capacity, Malawi’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) needed support. One of the key challenges was information gathering. “At the beginning of the process, there was an information gap between government and local communities”, explained Southern Voices on Adaptation colleague and CISONECC coordinator, Julius Ng’oma.
With this obstacle in mind, CISONECC harnessed their skills as a civil society network to turn this challenge into a great opportunity to push for local community interests.
A need for knowledge
Information on community vulnerability was sparse at the beginning of the NAP process. Given the climate disasters that have blighted Malawi’s recent past, this gap needed addressing.
Many areas across Malawi experienced intense flooding in early 2015, which displaced almost 250,000 people. This tragedy was compounded by fearsome droughts throughout 2015/2016, which are still felt by many. Despite improved harvests in 2017, both events devastated rain-fed agriculture, creating hunger for millions that persists today.
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Credit: Eoghan Rice/Trócaire Creative Commons
As Malawi’s temperature rises, weather will also become more extreme. Climate change will increase food insecurity, push more people from their homes, and hurt the rural poor. One trend creating particular concern is the emergence of child brides, given away by families to avoid starvation.
What these issues underline is the importance of information in tackling these tragic circumstances. They also show that an adaptation plan addressing these communities’ vulnerabilities could be truly transformative - if implemented with the right knowledge in mind.
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What did CISONECC do?
To supply the government with the necessary data for the country’s National Adaptation Plan, CISONECC decided to conduct an updated vulnerability assessment. They did this to gauge what scenarios the government should prepare for and how ordinary people can be empowered to adapt.
Thanks to CISONECC’s wide network and established position in many communities, they were able to gather detailed information. “Most of our partners regularly conduct vulnerability assessments. We were able to put together an in-depth report based on established trends”, Mr. Ng'oma explained.
The report detailed where climate events hit and how they affect local infrastructure. This included which times of the year are particularly high-risk. They also collected data to pinpoint specific challenges at different localities. 
How did this help vulnerable communities?
Importantly, the report made its way to the offices of the NAP coordinator and the Department for Climate Change. “Following the assessment, the government knew where and when climate events will strike, including how people can adapt”, explained Mr. Ng’oma.
By doing so, CISONECC provided one key part of the solution to Malawi's climate challenges.
“We also know that finance is a big obstacle”, he emphasised. Nonetheless, CISONECC’s contribution establishes a basis for Malawi to prepare for future shocks and hopefully escape a cycle of short-term disaster relief programs, instead moving towards long-term development.
More indirectly, CISONECC demonstrated their technical capacity, giving CISONECC a key position of influence to push vulnerable communities' interests. “Thanks to our efforts, the government now considers us a trusted source”, detailed Mr. Ng’oma.
“During our stakeholder meetings we've received very positive feedback", he commented on reception to the vulnerability assessment, “partners are now working with us to use the our report as a basis for various programmes”.
   What did the report discuss? (Click to enlarge)
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Mr Ng'oma at a NAP strategy workshop, Lilongwe 2016.
Waiting for Finance
Despite CISONECC’s efforts, the outcome remains to be seen. Currently, both CISONECC and the Malawian government await the result of a Green Climate Fund application.
This will determine what funds and resources they will have for the NAP. “We believe the research is in place to make Malawi’s NAP a success, if we can get enough funding”, summarised Mr Ng’oma.
 Find CISONECC's Consolidated Vulnerability Assessment and find their Facebook page here

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