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* Green Climate Fund approves USD 38.1 million for Sri Lanka to strengthen smallholder farmers in dry zone
Mon, Jul 4, 2016, 09:37 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

July 04, Colombo: The Green Climate Fund (GCF), the main international funding body for climate action, at its 13th Board Meeting has approved USD 38.1 million in funding for Sri Lanka for its proposal titled "Strengthening the resilience of smallholder farmers in the Dry Zone to climate variability and extreme events through an integrated approach to water management".

Sri Lanka's project proposal is among the first to be approved for the year 2016. The Board Meeting which was held in Songdo, South Korea from 28-30 June approved as its first funding proposals for 2016 a total of USD 256.6 million in GCF funding.

Sri Lanka's proposal for GCF Funding focuses on addressing issues on water security and food security in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka.

The proposal focuses on the severe hardships of climate change felt by poor farmers across Sri Lanka that impact on agriculture in the Dry Zone. The increased number of rainfall events followed by longer dry spells in the Dry Zone through the north-east monsoon which supports agriculture in the Dry Zone have directly impacted the incomes and food security of the farmers.

The project supports Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable smallholder farmers in the Dry Zone, particularly women, who are facing increasing risks of rising temperatures, erratic rainfall, and extreme events attributable to climate change.

It will address technical, financial and institutional barriers related to achieving integrated water management to improve agriculture-based livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the Dry Zone.

The proposal highlights that "climate related vulnerability puts additional pressure on Dry Zone agricultural households whose lives are already circumscribed by poverty, low incomes, and recovering from three decades of conflict. Recurrent hydrological disasters (flood and drought) have eroded the coping capacity of Dry Zone communities making them even less able to plan for and overcome climate-related variabilities in water availability. Farmers in the Dry Zone are also increasingly exposed to water related chronic illnesses such as kidney disease."

Sri Lanka's project which will be accessing funding with the partnership of United Nations Development Programme as the accredited entity for direct access for funding, will target smallholder farmers cultivating under village irrigation. These farmers who are dependent on village irrigation systems have as their main source of income the crop from the Maha Season (NEM). With remoteness and disconnect with the larger irrigation and agricultural institutional infrastructure compounding their vulnerability, these farmers suffer from food insecurity, economic losses and threats to livelihood due to water scarcity in the area.

The project aims to deliver concrete adaptation benefits to smallholder farmers living in three river basins, including Mi Oya, Malwathu Oya and Yan Oya with the expectation of delivering direct and indirect benefits to at least 1,500,000 people living in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka and impacted by adverse effects of climate change.

The primary measurable benefits include about 770,500 direct and 1,179,800 indirect beneficiaries who will gain from improved water management, resilient agriculture practices, and provision of climate and weather information.

In a letter to the GCF Board 22 Civil Society Organizations (CSOS) provided input in support of the proposal and provided that the proposal was developed through multi-stakeholder involvement, as well as wide consultation of CSOs and local NGOs and communities at risk and under pressure due to climate change.

It was further noted that the activities are entirely country driven and reflecting strong ownership of vulnerable communities in both conflict-affected and non-conflict-affected districts. The letter was sent to the Board of the GCF ahead of its 13th meeting in order to address the concerns raised by the Independent Technical Advisory Panel (ITAP) for the Green Climate Fund which raised concerns on the sustainability of the project as well as whether climate change being the primary driver of the impacts felt by farmers.

In addition to Sri Lanka's proposal the Board approved 8 other proposals. Among these are proposals from El Salvador, Armenia, Gambia, Mali, Vietnam, Tajikistan, Tuvalu and Chile. And the Board is calling for more proposals with the aim of achieving its aspirational USD 2.5 billion approvals target in 2016.

"We still need more ambitious, paradigm-shifting proposals, the GCF is ready to step up its project approvals and we want countries and accredited entities to respond by bringing us more proposals of increasing high quality and ambition," said Co-Chair Zaheer Fakir of South Africa.


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