Back Back to Knowledge Hub

Case study: Enhancing monitoring and evaluation of adaptation responses in South Africa

29 December 2022

South Africa is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Since 1990, the national average temperature has increased at a rate of more than twice that of global temperature increases, making the country highly vulnerable to more frequent and extreme weather events. South Africa is particularly vulnerable to drought, flooding, extreme storms and fires. As the largest economy in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), adverse climate change impacts will not only affect South Africa’s own population but also the wider region.  

South Africa ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in August 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2016. The government is currently focused on cutting carbon emissions and increasing the country’s resilience to climate change, announcing an international partnership to support a just transition in November 2021. The South African Government submitted its updated nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the UNFCCC in September 2021.  

ICAT’s support in South Africa has focused on enhancing monitoring and evaluation of adaptation responses in the areas of disaster risk reduction and early warning. 

The Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT) supports improved transparency and capacity building under the Paris Agreement. ICAT works closely with its partner countries to develop policy-focused, priority-driven projects that develop the information and data frameworks and related capacity to improve the implementation, tracking and enhancement of their NDCs and reporting. ICAT’s approach is country led.

ICAT’s adaptation workstream focuses on supporting partner countries to build a monitoring approach for adaptation actions in one or more sectors. Support is provided through a combination of stakeholder consultations, institutional capacity building, and strengthening and/or developing reporting schemes and data systems and tools. This support helps countries to better assess the impacts of their adaptation policies and actions and report progress, fostering greater transparency, effectiveness and ambition. 

ICAT began working with South Africa in 2019, partnering with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and working in close collaboration with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment and the National Disaster Management Centre. The project was managed by CSIR, ICAT’s implementing partner in South Africa and the UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre (UNEP-CCC). Based on nationally led needs assessments, the ICAT project has focused on adaptation linked to disaster risk reduction and early warning, recognizing that increased disaster risk is one of the most concerning and potentially costly impacts of future climate change in South Africa. Support is closely aligned with South Africa’s NDC commitments, with a focus on adaptation (Goal 4).

Monitoring adaptation 

Phase I of ICAT’s adaptation support to South Africa ran between January and December 2019. It focused on strengthening the monitoring and evaluation of multi-hazard early warning systems, with an initial focus on South Africa’s coastal regions. This work aimed to enhance efficiency in monitoring and tracking effectiveness of adaptation actions of early warning systems in South Africa towards supporting the country’s National Framework for Climate Services (NFCS) and desired adaptation outcomes.

ICAT’s approach included support for the development of a national framework for early warning, vulnerability and needs assessment, as well as support to develop and support a climate change early warning and vulnerability network. Key stakeholders, including South Africa Weather Services, South Africa Earth Observation Network, and the downscaling modelling and adaptation academic community, were involved throughout the project. This meant the tools being developed with ICAT support were being reviewed and refined as they were being developed, ensuring final outputs were informed by and supported user needs. 

As this first project came to an end, ICAT decided to deepen its adaptation support to South Africa, signing a new project cooperation agreement with CSIR in August 2020. This current phase of support is focused on developing and testing a framework to monitor and evaluate the impacts of weather and other climate related disasters in South Africa. This framework is intended to serve as a guiding tool to systematically record human and economic loss data arising from meteorological, hydrological, and climatological related disasters. This will help to support and inform climate action aimed at reducing disaster impacts and will support South Africa in fulfilling its international reporting requirements. 

Stakeholders report that ICAT’s adaptation work in South Africa has already had several supplementary benefits, including capacity building for monitoring and tracking the effectiveness of adaptation actions, raising awareness across different government departments on the need for improved adaptation actions, and standardising how data is collected by different stakeholders. The benefits of ICAT’s work are also expected to reach further than South Africa, with a loss and damage framework under development by UNEP-CCC (once finalized) contributing a new ICAT methodology on loss and damage. Inputs and learning from South Africa will be used as a case study in the new guidance.

ICAT’s work on loss and damage in South Africa is particularly timely as countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change continue to drive this agenda. COP 26, held in Glasgow in November 2021, also saw some progress in this area, with the creation of a new Loss and Damage Fund set up by the Government of Scotland. Dialogue on loss and damage during the event has also paved the way for continued discussion on loss and damage up to COP 27, to be held in Egypt in November 2022.

Case study: Enhancing monitoring and evaluation of adaptation responses in South Africa

Find out more about ICAT’s work in South Africa

Photo by Arthur Hickinbotham on Unsplash