Civil Society Network on Climate Change (CISONECC)

Climate change is one of the most profound and complex issues affecting our society and economy today. Malawi has experienced a number of adverse climatic hazards over the last several decades. The most serious have been dry spells, seasonal droughts, intense rainfall, riverine and flush floods. Some of these, especially droughts and floods, have increased in frequency, intensity and magnitude over the last two decades. These extreme climatic events cause loss of life, damage property and infrastructure, affect food security and hinder efforts in poverty eradication.

In a bid to have a common understanding and have a participation of all different sectors dealing with climate change a Civil Society Network Climate Change (CISONECC) was formed.

Goal: To develop resilient communities to the impacts of climate change.
Vision: Ensuring that Malawians enjoy their right to life.

Core Functions of the Network

1. Research and Policy analysis
Objective: To promote and facilitate research and document progress, capture the impact of different intervention measures and foster shared learning from climate change interventions in Malawi.

2. Lobbying and Advocacy
Objective: To enhance the capacity of civil society organizations to lobby and advocate for the management of climate change and its impacts in Malawi and at regional and international level.

3. Capacity Building and Information sharing
Objective: To build the capacity of civil society organizations, community based organizations and communities on management of the impacts of climate change and variability.

4. Mitigation and Adaptation Initiatives
Objective: To reduce suffering due to climate change and build resilient communities.

5.Monitoring and Evaluation
Objective: To document progress, capture the impact of different intervention measures and foster shared learning.

6.Resource mobilization (for the network and its members)
Objective: To ensure that there are adequate resources (human, financial) for network activities and other activities that may require network intervention.
Identifying mechanisms for resource mobilization
Stakeholder analysis (who has what).

7.Coordinating and Networking
Objective: To promote and coordinate networking amongst its membershi

CISONECC Membership
The membership for the network is open to any organisation working on climate change, distaster risk reduction and related activities in Malawi. Other members shall be co-opted based on the expertise on issues of climate change. Those wishing to become members shall fill an application form and send to the secretariat for consideration.

The Secretariat
CISONECC secretariat is currently based at CEPA. For more information contact or write to us at


  • Civil society climate organisations in Malawi are advocating for an inclusive adaption planning and enhanced access to climate funds.

    By: Herbert Mwalukomo and Kondwani Mkandawire

    Direct access to climate funds can help to ensure harmonization with national priorities, speed up delivery and cut transaction costs by ‘domesticating’ core activities. This was some of the reasons why the Civil Society Network for Climate Change (CISONECC) at its 2nd quarterly meeting for 2013 decided to lobby the Government of Malawi to

    1: establish a National Implementing Entity (NIE) to enable Malawi to access funds directly from international climate funding mechanisms without going through multilateral agencies
    2: develop a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) to define a medium to long term framework for addressing national adaptation needs.  

    National Adaptation Plans
    TheUnited Nations Framework Convention to on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recently adopted guidelines for the development of NAPs. Compared with the urgent adaption priorities in National Adaptation Programmes of Action, NAPs are meant to address medium to long term adaptation needs.

    In Malawi government has initiated discussions about the development of a NAP but progress has largely stalled. For this reason, civil society organisations will advocate more intensely for the development of a NAP. They argue that critical issues affecting vulnerable communities will have to be included in NAP to ensure responsiveness to the needs and priories of communities.

    From planning to action
    Lessons from the National Adaptation Programmes of Action have showed that planning frameworks have limited consequence if they are not complemented with financing mechanisms for planned priorities. A National Implementing Entity (NIE) is a mechanism that could help to increase the national capacity to implement prioritised actions once the NAP has been developed.

    Direct access as a model
    The Adaptation Fund was established by UNFCCC to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries. They access these funds by going through multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme and the African Development Bank referred to as Multilateral Implementing Entities (MIEs).

    To ensure enhanced access to adaptation funds, the developing countries can also access these funds through a nationally owned and managed institution. This provision is gaining increased attention among developing countries as it is considered to be an innovative element of the Fund’s governance structure that seeks to ensure a country‘s ownership of efforts to address impacts of climate change. In addition, if countries can manage to have direct access, it will serve as a model for future funding, including the ongoing establishment of a ‘Green Climate Fund’.

    Going beyond the rhetoric
    CISONECC recognizes the flux of terminologies in climate change some of which have distant connection to immediate needs and realities on the ground. Accordingly, CISONECC will work towards ensuring that development of a National Adaptation Plan and a National Implementing Entity do not become ends in themselves but provide means towards enhancing adaptive capacities of communities to the impacts of climate change.

    Contact: herbert@cepa.org.mw  
    Further reading: https://unfccc.int/adaptationhttp://unfccc.int/cooperation_and_support
    About the authors: Herbert Mwalukomo and Kondwani Mkandawire are representing CISONECC, Malawi
    Keywords for this article:  adaptation, National Adaptation Plan, National Implementing Entity

    Herbert Mwalukomo, CISONECC Network Coordinator explains the need to prioritize issues for advocacy by the network at its 2013 2nd Quarterly Meeting held in Lilongwe
    group photo
    CISONECC members pose for a photo during their 2013 2nd quarter meeting in Lilongwe

  • By Kondwani Kalibwe Mkandawire
    Living Waters Radio

    The Civil Society Network for Climate Change CISONECC recently came up with its 2013 work plan based on key focus areas of its strategic plan. The CISONECC Advocacy Strategic Implementation Plan was reviewed to ensure relevance of advocacy issues in the overall work plan. A number of advocacy issues have been identified by the members and the need to prioritise the advocacy issues for effective advocacy was responded to.  Members identified three critical issues which include the establishment of a National Implementing Entity, development of the National Action Plan (NAP) and building capacity of government representatives with improved negotiating skills at the COP.


    Establishment of a National Implementing Entity. The Adaptation Fund (AF), established by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is mandated to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries that are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol and to allow direct access to the Fund by Parties. It is this latter characteristic – direct access – that has raised considerable interest among the international climate change community. Civil society has praised this development as an innovative element of the Fund’s governance structure that seeks to ensure country ownership. Also, if direct access proves successful, it will provide an evidence base that can serve as a model for future funding, including current discussions around the establishment of a ‘Global Green Climate Fund’.

    Direct Access describes the fund-recipient relationship whereby the recipient country can access financial resources directly from the fund, or can assign an implementing entity of their choosing. Direct access is in contrast to indirect access, where funding is channeled through a third party implementing agency, usually a multilateral organization, selected by the fund administrators.

    The logic behind this approach is to increase the level of country ownership, oversight, and involvement in adaptation activities, and to create stronger accountability of the recipient country to the Fund. It thus removes the intermediary role by transferring the implementing agency functions from third parties to the beneficiary countries themselves. It is expected that direct access can help ensure proper reliance on and harmonization with national systems, plans and priorities; can help increase the speed of delivery of desired outcomes; cut transaction costs by ‘domesticating’ core activities; and potentially achieve better targeting of local priorities (Adaptation Fund, 2009a). It is on this basis that CISONECC members decided to lobby government to establish a National Implementing Entity to enable Malawi to directly access funds under different global climate change funds.
    Development of the National Action Plan. The operations of the NIE can only be effective though if Malawi develops implementing mechanism such as the NAMA and the NAP. Aware of this fact, CISONECC has included in its priority advocacy issues the development of a NAP and the review of the NAPA and the NAMA. Critical issues affecting vulnerable communities that work with CISONECC member organisations will have to be included in these instruments to ensure responsiveness.
    Building capacity of government representatives with improved negotiating skills for COP. National advocacy efforts by networks like CISONECC are intended to complement government efforts in lobbying for relevant and responsive policies at the international platform. It is therefore imperative that those that are entrusted to advance the Malawi climate change agenda at the international forums should be competent. So far Malawi is under-represented at the COP in terms of numbers and negotiating skills which has prompted CISONECC to take up the issue of capacity building in this context to contribute towards improving competency among Malawi negotiators at future COP meetings.
    Several other pertinent issues have also been identified for advocacy in the 2013/2014 work plan but the three issues will be given the utmost attention. “the reason we are want to prioritise these issues is to enable us focus as a network on which issues we want government to pay attention to and act speedily on for the good of the country in terms of addressing climate change issues” Melton Luhanga, CISONECC chairman reiterated.
    The network has also adopted a ‘thematic working group’ approach in addressing advocacy issues. The approach is supposed to improve the way the network engages with government and other stakeholders in the different themes around climate change. It is also seen to help improve members’ focus and learning processes within the network.

    “One aspect of CISONECC as a network is to encourage exchange of information and experiences among member organisations and we believe by having thematic working groups within the network, members will learn from each other and eventually make CISONECC very effective when it comes to advocacy on different thematic areas” said Herbert Mwalukomo, CISONECC coordinator.



    Climate change represents one of the greatest environmental, social, and economic threats facing the planet today. In developing countries, climate change has the most  significant impact on the livelihoods and living conditions of the poor. It is a particular threat to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and progress in sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Increasing temperatures and shifting rain patterns across Africa reduce access to food and create effects that impact regions, farming systems, households, and individuals in varying ways. Additional global changes, including changed trade patterns and energy policies, have the potential to exacerbate the negative effects of climate change on some of these systems and groups. Thus, analyses of the biophysical and socioeconomic factors that determine exposure, adaptation, and the capacity to adapt to climate change are urgently needed so that policymakers can make more informed decisions.Lastly, this in underscores the importance of coalitions like the Civil Society Network on Climate Change whose members have responded to the call of building a climate change-resilient Malawi.

  • Herbert Mwalukomo, Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA), Malawi

    Like most African countries, Malawians are on the frontline of the impacts of climate change due to the heavy dependence on rain-fed agriculture. Research done by CEPA has shown that unreliable rainfall pattern is increasingly putting the viability of upland field cultivation at risk, with most agricultural activities being undertaken within fragile ecosystems.

    The words of Mr Nkhuleme Ntambalika of Balaka District capture the cry of most Malawian famers:

    ‘We used to have very stable rainfall that was adequate and non-erosive. These days no one knows when to plant crops. When rains come, they are either too little for planting or too heavy, such that fields get water logged or eroded. A prolonged dry spell follows and scorches the germinated crops. The seed is lost in the process and we are forced to replant. If we are fortunate, we can harvest good yield. However, in most cases these days rains disappear when crops like maize are at critical stages of cob formation and tasseling.’ (2010)

    The effects of climate change have been associated with most of the recent disasters in Malawi that have resulted in loss of life, crops and infrastructure.  The Department of Disaster Management Affairs profiled over 12,500 households affected in various ways by floods, stormy rains and strong winds during the 2012-13 rainy season. During times of such extreme events, education is often disrupted: floods wash away education facilities or make it necessary for them to become centres of refuge for affected communities. Women are disproportionately affected by climate change as they bear the burden of activities where adverse climates have the greatest impact, including collection of water and firewood, and ensuring daily access to food.

    Besides overdependence on rain-fed agriculture, Malawi’s vulnerability to climate change is exacerbated by its low adaptive capacity (resulting from its slim economic base), limited agro-processing capacity and high dependence on biomass energy. With fuel wood accounting for 88.5 per cent of the total energy demand, the national demand for firewood and charcoal – estimated at 7.5 million tonnes per annum – is way in excess of the sustainable supply of only 3.7 million tonnes per annum. The resulting deforestation leads to catchment degradation and siltation, rendering cultivation fields more prone to flooding and constraining energy supply of the hydro based national electricity grid.

    Against this backdrop, the necessity of adaptation and enhancing community resilience cannot be overemphasised. For this to happen, a stronger global partnership and framework for action is required beyond the status quo. The new framework should define separate goals for climate change and environmental sustainability. These include financing, capacity building and technology transfer to vulnerable segments of society (including socially excluded groups such as women, children, the elderly and people living with disabilities). The goals should have time-bound deliverables to help such communities to cope with existing impacts and to increase their adaptive capacity to the impacts of climate change. In addition, clear accountability mechanisms must be defined to ensure attainment of global goals for poverty reduction in tandem with environmental sustainability post-2015.

    Accordingly, recognition of the climate challenge and environmental sustainability in the post-2015 development framework will not be enough, no matter how well it can be articulated, if clear mechanisms for action are not defined. The new framework should reinforce and build on all principles of sustainable development, including inter-generational and intra-generational equity as well as the participatory principle. The global mechanism should also be built around the principle of ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities with Respective Capabilities’ as reaffirmed in the recent UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). These principles should form the basis for a clear financing mechanism to enable implementation of common goals towards a sustainable and prosperous future for all.

The Secretariat
(Att: Herbert Mwalukomo)
Civil Society Network on Climate Change
P. O. Box 1057
Phone: + 265 (0) 212 700 104
E-mail: herbert@cepa.org.mw