Moussoula Gado, 47, couldn’t afford a small petrol generator so she used to struggle carrying heavy buckets of water on her head from a nearby reservoir battling, usually unsuccessfully, to keep her crops alive through the increasingly long dry season in Komdè village, Ouaké Commune in north-western Benin. A new solar-powered irrigation system, paid for in part with funds gathered from taxes on the importation of second-hand cars, plastics and other ‘polluting’ goods, is set to be a game-changer for her community and Ms Gado is overjoyed.
“With the earnings I expect to make, I’m going to pay for my children to go to school so they can advance and progress in their studies,” she, said proudly adding that her eldest of eight children, who is 25, is studying mathematics at university in the second city Parakou.
The irrigation project is one of a series of investments realised with climate finance channelled through the Local Climate Adaptive Living Facility and includes nationally derived resources from ecotaxes levied by the central government. In Benin, imports of items deemed to have a high negative impact on the environment are subject to an ecotax, this includes second vehicles, tyres, clinker – a component of cement production – and disposable plastic packaging. Part of these ecotax earnings have been directed to Komdè village along with funds from external donors, such as the African Development Bank, using LoCAL’s Performance Based Climate Resilience Grant system for channelling finance to local governments for locally led adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this year delivered a stark warning in its report ‘Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’. Human-induced climate change is causing widespread and dangerous changes to nature and impacting billions of people around the world, according to the report. In Komdè, as in much of the forested zone of West Africa, the impacts of climate change are most clearly displayed in the changes to rainfall patterns, which makes it difficult for this agrarian community, that farms with hand-held hoes and picks, to plant, harvest and grow crops according to traditional rhythms.
Komdè village already has a dam, that ensures the village is never completely without water. But as the reservoir retracts through the dry season, bringing that water to farmland becomes more and more difficult. Those that could, purchased small petrol-powered generators that would, in recent years, thrum and churn out fumes as they struggled to pump muddy water from the edges of the reservoir on to the market gardens some 50 metres and more away.
Today, a simple network of pipes deliver reservoir water to the hand-tilled land and a solar powered pump pushes it through perforated tubes, sprinkling the freshly dug earth with water like rain. Huge water-filled basins that stand hip-high dot the fields, for easy filling of buckets and watering cans for precision watering and topping up.
This irrigation project is one of a series of investments financed through the LoCAL’s Performance Based Climate Resilience Grant system, which, since 2017, systematically blend nationally derived resources from ecotaxes levied by the central government with funds from donors, including the African Development Bank’s Africa Climate Change Fund, ACCF.
Taking a polluter pays approach to tackling the climate crisis, the Government of Benin levies a small percentage or flat fee against polluting imports. For example, two and three wheeled motorised vehicles such as motorbikes and tuk-tuks incur an import charge of 300CF, about US$0.50, that has to be renewed every year with technical roadworthiness test. Taxis and small vans are subject to a similar charge of 500CF, just under a dollar, while heavy vehicles have to pay 3,000 CFA or US$5. Tyres incur 0.5% import charge while single use plastic bags a 0.25% charge; even tobacco products incur an ecotax levy.
The amounts might seem small but they add up. Speaking from Benin’s bustling port city of Cotonou, Appolinaire Gnanvi, Director General of Fonds National Pour l’Environnement et le Climat, FNEC, explained the thinking behind the government’s approach.
Funds are then channelled to local governments for spending on adaptation activities identified by the communities through Performance Based Climate Resilience Grants, which are fundamental to the mechanism deployed by the LoCAL Facility. Mr Gnanvi also credits the development and implementation of ecotaxes with securing Benin accreditation with the Green Climate Fund in 2019, supported by the LoCAL Facility.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).