The role of private sector in influencing community based resilience

CLIMATE adaptation practices are community-based initiatives that are supposed to be locally oriented, influenced, planned, driven and focused. For all these locally-based initiatives to materialise, leading to communities achieving climate protection and resilience, the burden should be eased from the local communities in order to witness the helping hand and support of the private sector in shaping the sustainable communities that we all want, in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGS). In this regard the role of the private sector in climate community participation provides the interactive, networking and symbiotic working relationships which are not only designed to safeguard the environment but also to produce goods and services.

With the overall aim of strengthening the resilience of the poor, banks, insurance companies, micro-lending schemes and agricultural input schemes, cattle-banks and mechanisation among others are crucial in supporting community-based adaptation to climate change. With stringent free access to interest loans, poor households may be required to receive training in financial risk management of these loans. By having access to these services communities would be encouraged to safeguard their assets, including all forms of livestock in order to ring-fence themselves from extreme climate events.

If the poverty-stricken households and communities do not benefit from the outlined social and technical support systems from the private sector then they would lack coping strategies designed to break the vicious poverty cycle. These community protection measures, with the support of the private sector would also become handy especially in times of disasters where substandard local infrastructure can be exposed to floods, hailstorms, strong winds and cyclones. In this regard, the private sector, in partnership with government departments can participate in building low-cost but resilient rural model houses that would withstand the impacts of climate-related natural disasters. Furthermore, vital infrastructure like rural road networks, schools, clinics and bridges can be built for communities in this manner. By participating in these programmes and initiatives, the private sector would be giving back to the communities as part of social reciprocal initiatives designed to demonstrate positive footprints in local communities.

The private sector-community participation will always become handy especially when the government or donor assistance becomes overwhelmed and inadequate. Insurance companies also become vital in providing lifelines in providing poor rural households, ill-equipped and incapacitated farmers access to post-disaster funding thereby protecting their livelihoods and providing critical recovery initiatives.

These become inward looking and holistic community-based approaches for building resilience and sustainable communities for the 21st century, where the integrative nature of the sustainable development goals is paramount.

Community driven micro-financing systems would accelerate poverty reduction and build resilience to climate change by protecting the livelihoods and assets of the poor, promoting local investments in ecotourism, socio-cultural marketing and risk reduction initiatives. Communities cannot go it alone in this regard due to lack of affordability and households struggling to meet basic daily needs. That is why the private sector-community-based partnerships would nurture and influence long-term success of these programmes especially in the face of increasing losses due to climate impacts and disaster risks.

If these market-based risk financing instruments designed to target the poor become accessible to the poor in the face of pandemic, corruption, surely community-based adaptation and resilience would be strengthened and transformed.

The most fundamental initiative in this regard is the use of the bottom-up approach as opposed to the top-down approach which is not quite inclusive and integrative in nature. Bottom up approaches are context specific and critical in delivering essential community-based livelihood outcomes and services like favourable crop-yields, energy and water development, health and human well-being as well as quality education for sustainable development.

The private sector-community partnerships remain critical and the only gateway to sustainable living because climate change has worsened the economic growth prospects of the 21st century.

In this regard, when advocating for the people first initiatives, rural and local communities are the people, first and foremost therefore, their concerns should be a major priority.

 Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on: petrovmoyt@gmail.com

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