The inside story behind the first proposal through the Green Climate Fund’s Simplified Approval Process

By Mr. L. Nafidi (Head: Corporate Communications) & Ms. T. Ngaujake (Corporate Communications Assistant)



The month of March 2018 reigned in unequivocal joy in Namibia. Not only did it mark the 28th anniversary of the country’s independence but it also saw the approval of Namibia’s first climate adaptation project in the area of rangeland management by the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

This is significant for the following two reasons. Firstly Namibia’s communal farmers suffered great livestock losses from 2011 to 2017, through what was thought to be a combination of climate change-induced drought and harmful rangeland management practices. Secondly in the process of getting this project approved, Namibia’s Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) – the country’s only GCF accredited entity – became the first, and currently the only GCF Accredited Entity in the world to have approved projects under the Enhanced Direct Access (EDA) modality, the regular funding window and the Simplified Approval Process (SAP).

The aptly named Simplified Approval Process (SAP) is a special window created by the GCF in order to enable access to funding for developing nations needing urgent climate action for projects that are small (within the US$ 10 million threshold), low-risk and that exhibit strong paradigm-shift potential. The SAP application process is simpler than the general GCF application process in terms of the documentation required to develop the final proposal; and the approval process is much faster. A summary of the process is available here.

The project

A dedicated team of subject matter specialists from EIF put together the proposal. It included Mr Benedict Libanda, the chief executive officer and an expert on climate change adaptation and financing; Mr Karl Aribeb, director of operations with over thirty years of community-based natural resource management experience in Namibia; Ms Aina-Maria Iteta, the monitoring and evaluations specialist and Mr Lazarus Nafidi, head of communications.

The team chose this particular project for submission, as the Kunene region of Namibia is susceptible to drought with a population that relies heavily on livestock farming. The project strives to change the lives of smallholder farmers vulnerable to climate change through the promotion of effective investments in early warning systems that determine climate-driven vulnerabilities and effective adaptation options; reduce climate driven risks in target ecosystems and land through supporting innovative drought adaptation actions; and create knowledge and information support mechanisms. The project will benefit approximately 30,366 people and have a specific focus on women and female-headed households. According to the Namibia Statistics Agency, many smallholder farmers in the country are women who head or care for other members of the household. They do this through growing crops, raising animals, and collecting water and wood for fuel. The project aims to accentuate the important role that women play in natural resource management, crop and livestock production, soil and water management, and in value chain activities such as the processing and sale of livestock and food.

The approval demonstrated that the EIF has strengthened its capacity in areas such as gender analysis and environmental social safeguards, and continues to display adaptive management with the constantly evolving GCF policy frameworks and guidelines. Key to sustaining this capacity was access to a wide global network of subject experts on climate change adaptation.

Developing a successful SAP proposal

A successful project is one that has a well-researched and articulated climate rationale. It should also be responsive to the Green Climate Fund’s investment criteria:

  1. Impact potential;
  2. Paradigm shift potential;
  3. Sustainable Development potential;
  4. Needs of the recipient;
  5. Country ownership;
  6. Efficiency and effectiveness.


From EIF’s experience it takes a keen eye for what the immediate climate response needs of the country are; a dedicated and passionate team of subject matter specialists; and two months of blood, sweat and tears.

A testament to the team’s hard work is captured in the following video, which highlights the EIF’s role in Namibia and the institution’s experiences with the GCF to date.


Next steps for the Namibian SAP proposal

The project aims to kick off in the second half of 2019, following the signing of the grant agreement between EIF and the GCF; with the most important activity being the recruitment of a Project Implementing Unit (PUI) that will be responsible for the day-to-day execution of the project activities.

Namibia hopes to implement the first-ever approved project through the SAP and in so doing provide scalable outcomes that are replicable to the rest of the country and the world.

Update: At GCF Board’s 22nd meeting the EIF had its second SAP project (SAP006) approved to build climate resilience in Namibia by using large scale ecosystem-based.

This blog is an output of the Southern Africa Climate Finance Partnership (SACFP). The Southern Africa Climate Finance Partnership (SACFP) looks to support the development of a regional partnership programme to improve country-owned climate finance portfolios. The United Kingdom’s Department of International Development and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation provide financial support for the current phase of the SACFP. For more information; please contact