Helping Pacific Island communities adapt to a changing climate

Pacific Island countries, some of which stand just a few metres above sea level, form one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to climate change. The nature-based livelihoods and diverse cultures of these island nations are being challenged, and in some cases overwhelmed, by rising sea levels, air and ocean temperatures, acidification levels, and shifting rainfall and storm patterns—effects of climate change projected to worsen over the next 100 years.

Through the five-year implementation of the Coastal Community Adaptation Project (C-CAP), USAID will help build the resilience of vulnerable coastal communities in the Pacific Island region; with increased capacity for climate-smart decision-making, communities will be positioned to adapt to the short and longer term effects of climate change.

The project will support local-level climate change interventions in 12 Pacific Island countries including: Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The project has identified the following approaches to support adaption action:

  • Rehabilitating and constructing new small-scale community infrastructure that is designed to structurally withstand the impacts of climate change and increase community resilience to climate change.
  • Building capacity for community engagement for disaster prevention and preparedness by building on existing and traditional disaster management approaches and adopting new strategies such as implementation of disaster drills and other risk mitigation exercises, and building networks that link communities to national and regional disaster management services
  • Integrating climate resilient policies and practices into long-term land-use plans and building standards. The project will initiate collaborative coastal zone planning approaches with local governments. This is aimed at increasing the structural integrity of assets in the region.

The project uses several methodologies to achieve its goal, including

  • Risk mapping and vulnerability assessment. The project uses a participatory approach to identify current and projected climate change impacts and prioritize infrastructure-related adaptation needs. Through the use of Google maps platform, communities can map vital information in form of text and images about climate-related risks to infrastructure identified by community members. The information can be easily downloaded by government and donor agencies for their use in assisting communities with their planning goals.
  • Participatory land-use mapping and planning. This is done in collaboration with stakeholders and governments to initiate coastal zone mapping in the region
  • Infrastructure Prioritization Index (IPI) decision support tool. This tool is applied to analyze community’s vulnerability to climate change and identify their highest-priority infrastructure needs for adaptation

The following outcomes have so far been realized by the project:

  • USAID/C-CAP installed 97 rainwater catchment systems and restored four more, increasing potable water storage capacity by more than 460,000 litres. The increase in the residents rainwater catchment capacity increases resilience to the impacts of drought
  • The project recruited and trained more country mobilizers who will assist in building the capacity of more than 90 communities across 12 Pacific Island countries. The country mobilizers were trained on C-CAP’s best practice techniques and methodologies. This included practical community engagement processes and skills. Further, the training developed the skills of the mobilizers in disaster risk reduction component and build their capacity to address disaster vulnerabilities with the communities.
  • Launch of a five-year Pacific-American Climate Fund. This fund will help communities in Pacific Island countries adapt to effects of climate change through providing grants to qualifying civil society organizations (CSOs) to implement climate change adaptation activities. Beyond supporting adaptation and environmental focused initiatives the fund will help strengthen the organizational capacity of CSOs to ensure the sustainability of their efforts to meet the growing challenges of a changing climate.

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