I am always excited to return to World Water Week where I look forward to engaging with water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) leaders to advance global learning in the sector. What’s even more exciting are the partnerships, collaboration, and participatory approaches shaping international, national, and local efforts to improve water and sanitation service delivery.
In line with this year’s conference theme, “Seeds of Change,” USAID’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Finance 2 (WASH-FIN 2) co-convened a session, “Enhancing WASH in Climate Finance: Lessons from Financing Locally Led Climate Action Program (FLLoCA) in Kenya,” that convened leaders from the Government of Kenya, USAID, and the World Bank. FLLoCA, pioneered by the Kenya National Treasury and the World Bank, and now supported by additional donors, strengthens local climate resilience by building local capacity to plan, budget, implement, and monitor resilience investments. As Margaret Arnold of the World Bank noted, by promoting partnerships between communities, counties, and national governments, FLLoCA supports self-sustainable systems for climate risk management. During the session, participants shared how devolved climate finance and meaningful citizen engagement are delivering results in Kenya through the FLLoCA program.
USAID Global Water Coordinator Nancy Eslick emphasized the commitment of the U.S. Government to supporting climate-resilience in its partner countries. Under the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience and the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy, USAID has committed to mobilizing $1 billion dollars in public and private finance for climate-resilient water and sanitation services. This includes supporting FLLoCA to help climate-proof community-managed WASH projects and link them to the county water and sanitation service providers who can sustainably manage the infrastructure.
USAID Director of the Center for Water Security, Sanitation, and Hygiene Jeff Goldberg highlighted the importance of climate-resilient WASH services. Climate-induced water insecurity, for example, affects the sustainability of water and sanitation service delivery and requires increased investment in an already financially strained sector. Goldberg asserted climate change conversations frequently underrepresented WASH, noting that less than five percent of global climate finance benefits the WASH sector with only 10 percent reaching local levels. As the WASH sector continues to prioritize water security and climate-resilience, governments and financiers must also increase their WASH investments.
So where does FLLoCA fit in? FLLoCA’s National Program Manager within the National Treasury of Kenya, Abdul Malik Aman, explained how the program pioneered the first national model of decentralizing funds and prioritizing investment to counties, while devolving decisions to local communities. At the core of FLLoCA is the Participatory Climate Risk Assessment and Action Planning Model, a multi-sectoral approach that aims to empower communities to understand their climate risks, assess their ability to manage these risks, and undertake concrete, local climate actions. FLLoCA allocates 90% of its funding for communities through performance-for-results grants with very specific, but achievable, performance conditions such as conducting the climate risk assessment and establishing a climate change fund with 1.5 percent of the county development budget allocated to the fund. As Agnes Mukui Makau, a FLLoCA Technical committee team member from Machakos County noted, this participatory process has achieved significant success to date: 45 counties have met these conditions and have started receiving funding.
USAID is helping catalyze additional climate finance available for WASH by providing technical assistance to define and structure climate-resilient, sustainable WASH investments. USAID WASH-FIN 2 Climate Change Specialist, Paul Mbole, explained how FLLoCA can help create synergy among funding partners, specifically Kenya’s Water Sector Trust Fund, and help pull in other resources for the communities’ investment needs.
Mobilizing climate finance for WASH, requires collaboration and coordination of many stakeholders and partners. In my career, I have encountered few programs that have brought together such diverse stakeholders as FLLoCA. Through the leadership of the National Treasury, the Government of Kenya in rallying development partners, county governments, local communities, and the private sector, to collaboratively support FLLoCA’s implementation, a sustainable, impactful, long-term financing mechanism is possible.
I am excited about this positive innovation in addressing WASH finance gaps and look forward to working with more local communities to provide climate finance solutions.
For more information on USAID’s work supporting climate-resilient WASH, check out the “Climate-Resilient, Low Emissions Water Security and Sanitation” technical brief, part of USAID’s Water and Development Technical Series.