Nov 2, 2021

5 min read

Key Priority Areas in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in Eastern Africa

By Winnie Khaemba, Burcu Yesil, Inga Menke and Raghu Vyas

With contributions from the ICPAC Climate Change Technical Working Group

NDC Partnership

Amajority of countries in the Eastern Africa region have now submitted [1] their updated NDCs including Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan [2], Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda [3]; while Djibouti is in the process of finalizing its update [4]. The updates have gained more structure and offer more specific details with improved methodologies as compared to the first iteration. In its latest NDC Synthesis report, the UNFCCC highlighted the fact that most countries had included detailed information on adaptation including quantitative targets with timeframes, co-benefits and more integrated frameworks. Besides this, countries in the region have ramped up their mitigation ambition despite the fact that they are among the least contributors to GHG emissions. The table below shows ambition levels in terms of reduction of GHG emissions for these countries by 2030 [5].


For the NDCs analysis, the policy analysis triangle (Walt and Gilson, 1994), was used [6]. The approach looks at actors, content, context and process in the development of policies. Additionally, a content analysis framework was defined in the analysis with a scale ranging from 1 – 4. The rating scale focuses on a number of key aspects that make for a robust policy on adaptation, namely recognition of rights, accessibility, inclusivity, information management systems, implementation plans, budgets, enforcement mechanisms and linkages to other policies.

NDCs analyzed provided a window into the overall climate policy framework in the East African countries. It is worth mentioning that all the countries with updated NDCs provide more detailed information and have made clear linkages with other policies at the local, national and international level. However, some key gaps remain that will need attention during implementation and in the next iteration of the NDCs. These are shown in the figure below and discussed in detail thereafter.


Enforcement Mechanisms

Most of the NDCs have not outlined a clear mechanism for their enforcement. Enforcement mechanisms are important for ensuring that what is outlined actually gets implemented. The Paris Agreement itself sets out a facilitative compliance and enforcement framework in Article 15. Some NDCs have not set out specific details on roles and responsibilities for specific targets and interventions, and mechanisms for addressing non-compliance or a lack of proactiveness. Even though Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya have set out governance structures for implementation of their NDCs, there is no stipulation on follow-up procedures and compliance. The rest of the countries have not mentioned enforcement.

Accessibility for all

Communities within East Africa are already severely impacted by climate change, with drought, floods and sea level rise (AR6 WG1 SPM, 2021) threatening their livelihoods and existence. It is therefore imperative that accessibility which encompasses access to relevant information, including early warning and disaster risk management, is included to ensure that those at increased risk are able to adapt to and enhance their resilience.


To ensure that citizens are protected under the law and policies, the recognition of their rights, especially as regards to a clean and healthy environment, water and food security, is important especially for the most vulnerable. Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Rwanda and Burundi have no mention of rights in their NDCs, although they highlight some vulnerable populations. On the other hand, South Sudan’s NDC scores highly on rights due to its robust integration of human rights and gender equality, with detailed information on ensuring vulnerable communities adapt to climate change.


With the exception of Tanzania, all the countries with updated NDCs have defined unconditional targets, most of which represent significant increases and a commitment to tackling climate change. However, this still represents only a fraction of the funds required to meet set targets. The conditionality of NDCs on international finance remains a challenge due to inadequate, additional and predictable climate finance (Roberts et al, 2021). In its submission, Kenya noted that much of the progress made in implementing its first NDC was funded domestically: a clear indictment on the seeming inability of the international community to provide much needed finance for developing countries and LDCs such as those in the region to be able to effectively address climate change.

Information Management Systems

Whereas most updated NDCs mention the Measuring, Reporting and Verification framework (MRV) among others, only Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia define an integrated system for managing data and information as well as reporting and tracking progress.


In the updated NDCs, linkages with other policies are clearly defined. For instance, Ethiopia’s NDC links actions and strategies to the CRGE (Climate Resilient Green Economy) and the country’s 10-year plan called, The Pathway to Prosperity — Ten Years Perspective Development Plan (2021–2030). South Sudan’s updated NDC is especially detailed with specific linkages to policies for each mitigation and adaptation action included.



[1] All submitted NDCs can be found here

[2] Sudan is set to submit a more detailed version since what is currently submitted is a summary.

[3] Uganda’s update is interim pending submission of a more detailed document.

[4] Eritrea’s NDC was not analysed since it has not ratified the Paris Agreement even though it submitted a first NDC and is part of the Eastern Africa region.

[5] Reference years vary See specific country reference years

[6] This analysis is conducted under the Down2Earth project which aims at the translation of climate information into multilevel decision support for social adaptation, policy development, and resilience to water scarcity in the Horn of Africa Drylands. Policy analysis by Climate Analytics specifically targets overall climate adaptation policies and those relating to water and food security in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Additional countries in the East African region were looked at for purposes of analysing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as part of the collaboration with ICPAC for the Climate Change GHACOF 59 event. The aim is to understand existing policies, assess local-level climate adaptation governance and its linkage with government policies and assess the efficacy of policies. This will support the co-development of robust policy frameworks on climate adaptation for enhanced resilience in a changing climate.