The DM2009 competition, whose theme was adaptation to climate change, especially how it impacts the poor and vulnerable on the local level, would seem to have been the perfect fit for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa. The poorest countries are expected to pay the highest price of climate change on their human, natural, and economic resources. With generally weak capacity in regional and national government and infrastructure, they would seem to be well suited for the early-stage, community-focused projects of DM2009. In fact, criteria for National Adaptation Plans of Action for LDCs give No. 1 ranking to "a participatory process involving stakeholders, particularly local communities."
But the fit proved less than perfect. The 49 LDCs worldwide produced only 26 of the 100 finalists. Only four were winners -- two from Sub-Saharan Africa (Burkina Faso and Ethiopia) and one each from Middle East and North Africa (Djibouti) and East Asia and the Pacific (Samoa). Five finalists were from the most populous LDC -- Bangladesh, in South Asia -- but none of those was a winner. LDCs Tanzania and Uganda -- two of Sub-Saharan Africa's most populous countries -- had only three finalists between them, none of whom was a winner.
Is it too late for the 22 LDC finalists who didn't pick up crystal globes at the Nov. 13 awards ceremony? Maybe not. According to most recent findings, the 49 LDCs globally aren't making enough progress in pinpointing potential local climate adaptation projects.
What if the 10 LDCs from which the 22 non-winning finalists come took a close look at those projects and considered them for funding in their National Adaptation Plans of Action? Some DM2009 jurors said they had a tough time choosing winners because all the finalists presented strong entries.
Development Marketplace's decision makers are looking at ways to help all the finalists succeed. Aleem Walji, Practice Manager at the World Bank Institute, which includes the secretariat for the Development Marketplace consortium and other innovation platforms, said in a mini-interview on this blog: "I think we have a responsibility to try and support this entire community of finalists. We went from 1,750 applicants to a hundred finalists. What can we do to connect these hundred finalists to everyone who we know who can help them go forward -- funders, capacity builders, past DM winners, each other."
For themselves, their projects, and their countries, the 20 non-winning finalists from LDCs should keep their hope in their hearts.