Climate change adaptation and cross-sectoral policy coherence in southern Africa

To be effective, cross-cutting issues like climate change adaptation need to be mainstreamed across multiple sectors; greater policy coherence is essential in order for this to happen.

Using the cases of Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia, this paper investigates the extent of coherence in national policies across water and agriculture sectors and their links to climate change adaptation and national development plans.

The authors apply a two-pronged qualitative approach using Qualitative Document Analysis of relevant policies and plans, combined with expert interviews from key non-government actors in each country. Their findings show that sector policies have differing degrees of cross-thematic coherence, currently being strongest in Zambia and weakest in Tanzania. They show that sectoral policies are more likely to be coherent in addressing immediate-term disaster management issues of floods and droughts than in longer-term approaches to climate adaptation. Coherence between sector and climate policies and strategies is strongest when the latter has been more recently developed. However, this has largely been achieved by repackaging existing sectoral policy statements into climate policies drafted by external consultants to meet international reporting needs and not by the establishment of new connections between sectoral planning processes.

For more effective mainstreaming of climate change adaptation, governments need to actively embrace longer-term cross-sectoral planning within their own cross-ministerial structures, to foster greater policy coherence and integrated adaptation planning.

This paper has been published as part of the Future Climate for Africa UMFULA project.