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malawi-nieAccessing adaptation funds from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) set-up in the least developing countries, including Malawi, has over the years proved to be a challenge. Adaptation fund was set up through the Kyoto Protocol of the UNFCCC with the goal of financing the full cost of concrete adaptation projects or programmes, whose principal and explicit aim is to adapt and increase community resilience to the effects of climate change. However, very little or no projects at all have been implemented from the adaptation funds in Malawi since the set up of the adaptation funds. This, to some extent, has been attributed to low level of awareness by the wider stakeholders on availability of the funds, complexity of procedures and modalities for countries to access the adaptation funds and low level of capacity to develop fundable project proposals.

CSOs in Malawi have bemoaned the lack of direct access to adaptation funds due to complexity of procedures and access modalities as a huge stumbling block for accessing adaptation funds. This factor is aggravated by low level of capacity to develop project proposals suitable for the funding source. The former comes to light since Malawi committed itself to the multilateral access modality in which countries submit their proposals for adaptation funding through an accredited Multilateral Implementing Entity (MIE), such as UNDP. In this regard, Malawi's project proposal undergoes complex processes and heavy scrutiny at the MIE and ends up not finding their way through to the adaptation funding board. In some way, failure for proposals to pass through the MIE is, however, attributable to inadequate capacity to develop winning project proposals.

It is generally recognized that Malawi has also failed to utilize the regional access modality of adaptation funds in which access of funds is through a Regional Implementing Entities (RIE). The reasons for failure for Malawi to utilize this modality are also related to low level of awareness by the wider stakeholders on availability of the funds and complexity of procedures and modalities for countries to access the funds.

Perhaps the only chance for accessing adaptation funds is through the direct access modality. In this mode, adaptation funds are accessed through an established and accredited National Implementing Entity (NIE). The entity enables eligible parties to submit their projects or programmes proposals directly to the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB) through an accredited NIE. In this set-up, a group of Parties may also nominate regional and sub-regional entities as implementing entities in lieu of NIE. The aim of an NIE is to increase the level of country ownership, oversight and effectiveness of support, and to create stronger accountability of the recipient country to the funding mechanism. The NIE, among other benefits ensure; more ownership of projects, more control over the funds used to implement projects, more efficient use of the money, and that there is learning by doing. There is need for Malawi to consider a swift shift from the MIEs to NIEs if at all we are to benefit from the adaptation funds by the year 2015 as other developing countries such as Senegal and Nepal have already done it in the past few years.

The government of Malawi has made efforts to move towards direct access to the adaptation funds by proposing establishment of an NIE. The Government through the Ministry of Environment and Climate nominated the first NIE in the past two years but unfortunately failed to pass the accreditation process. The government has recently nominated an institution to become an NIE following a call for expressions of interest for institutions to become Malawi's NIE that was advertised in December, 2013. The current nominated NIE is undergoing coaching in readiness for the accreditation process. However, civil society in Malawi has bemoaned lack of CSOs involvement by the government to contribute to the NIE process. Against this background, Civil Society Network on Climate Change (CISONECC) organized a workshop to raise CSOs awareness on the NIE and the concept of direct access to adaptation funds and equip them with information for constructive engagement in the subsequent steps of Malawi's NIE process by drawing knowledge and experiences from an established NIE in Senegal. The workshop was patronized by the CISONECC member organizations and the Government and was facilitated by Emmanuel Seck from Senegal.

Participants during the workshop demanded that the government should include CSOs in the NIE process to ensure inclusiveness in the decision making and ensure ownership of both the NIE and the processes involved. In this regard, participants came up with mechanisms and strategies to ensure there is inclusiveness in the decision making process during establishment of the proposed NIE. In line with this, participants proposed the establishment of a joint NIE steering committee with the government. The participants also came up with mechanisms and strategies that will help CSOs to influence decision making processes in the NIE and facilitate CSOs contribution to the adaptation fund process.
During the workshop, participants further proposed key action points for the short term and long term tactical CISONECC engagement in the NIE process. On the short term, it was proposed that CSOs should engage the media to facilitate effective communication and dissemination of NIE related issues; and to persuade Government to disclose the name of the nominated NIE to ensure sufficient support is extended to the nominee by the CSOs to bolster the prospects for a successful accreditation process. However, as a long term measure, participants agreed that CSOs should review the national adaptation frameworks to ensure that proposed projects or programmes are closely aligned to the NAPA which is under review, and also to the National Climate Change Investment Plan; CSOs need to analyze and identify an alternative institution in case the current proposed entity fails to satisfy the accreditation requirement; the proposed Steering Committee should assume the coordination and facilitative roles for the NIE; and that CISONECC should be mandated to coordinate project proposal development efforts concurrent with the NIE accreditation process.
Finally, it was observed at the end of the workshop that participants embraced the concept of direct access to adaptation funds and the NIE in the context of the UNFCCC adaptation funds and their relevance to Malawi's climate response. The workshop was a useful platform for CISONECC to strategize CSO's future engagement with government on the Malawi's NIE process.

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