You are here: Home / Research / Travel Blog / 5/7/13 - "Funding Adaptation to Climate Change: Tanzania’s Engagement with UN Policy" by Maureen Biermann

5/7/13 - "Funding Adaptation to Climate Change: Tanzania’s Engagement with UN Policy" by Maureen Biermann

Funding Adaptation to Climate Change: Tanzania’s Engagement with UN Policy

by Maureen Biermann

Maureen Biermann received an ARC research grant in Fall 2011 for her project entitled "Funding Adaptation to Climate Change: Tanzania’s Engagement with UN Policy".

A busy street in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

A busy street in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The Dar es Salaam skyline, near the area where a coastal rehabilitation project supported by the Adaptation Fund will take place.

The Dar es Salaam skyline, near the area where a coastal rehabilitation project supported by the Adaptation Fund will take place.

When you spend any significant time in Dar es Salaam, the financial capital of Tanzania on the eastern African coast, much of your time will be spent waiting. Waiting for a bus to arrive that isn't too crowded to fit on, waiting on roads that weren't designed for the volume of traffic that channels into and out of the city each day, waiting in lines for the broken ATM, waiting for change from the fruit seller at the market, waiting for paperwork to be filed, waiting for appointments that never manage to start on time (often because people are stuck in traffic).

As part of my dissertation, I spent three months in "Dar" to research a coastal adaptation project that had been recently approved by the Adaptation Fund, a climate finance institution housed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. I had already spent many months tracking the way the Adaptation Fund shapes its policies and what types of proposals were submitted and approved for funding. In Dar, my goal was to get a better understanding of how the Tanzanian proposal had been developed, what stakeholders had been consulted in its preparation, and how the government and others involved maneuvered into a position to actually begin the project.

Even in my research, much of my time was spent waiting. I was in Dar to conduct interviews with government officials in the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, the Mayor of Dar es Salaam, the Port Authority, representatives from the United Nations and the World Bank, and various other government workers civil society stakeholders. Each and every interview required long hours of patience in waiting rooms and, more often than not, waiting for a variety of bureaucratic steps to take place: signing in, passport inspection, getting a visitor's badge, getting a stamped receipt, presenting my research permit, signing out.

Waiting paid off. I believe many busy government officials granted me an interview because they were impressed by my sheer persistence and willingness to wait; after returning to one Ministry three days in a row, the apologetic secretary who greeted me each day was as surprised and happy as I was when she called upstairs and was told to direct me to the third floor. Waiting paid off in other ways, too. I often struck up conversations with others who were waiting, or with office staff, or the security guards. Sometimes I learned useful information that would help my interviews - this minister is very proud of his daughter who was just accepted to a prestigious school, that official is grouchy to everyone so don't worry if he isn't nice to you - and sometimes I just heard interesting stories about people's lives that helped the time pass by more quickly. All of my waiting provided context for my dissertation and gave me a better understanding of the function of government and bureaucracy in Tanzania, and a better understanding of the Tanzanian culture and people.