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Vanuatu is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change and disaster risks. Located on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ and in a ‘cyclone belt’, it is uniquely sensitive to a wide range of climate and disaster risks, including tropical cyclones, tsunamis, droughts, coastal flooding and sea level rise. Many of these hazards are expected to worsen as climate change impacts increase over time. Unaddressed climate change will exacerbate current challenges and place pressure on the Government of Vanuatu’s ability to deliver on their sustainable development plans and policies. It will also threaten people’s livelihood opportunities, economic development and resilience to environmental risks.
To address some of these challenges, build the climate resilience of communities, and support the achievement of Vanuatu’s climate and development policy objectives, CARE International in Vanuatu (CARE) and Save the Children together developed a community-based climate change adaptation project with support from the USAID Pacific American Climate Fund (PACAM). The project built on the success of a two-and-a-half-year community-based adaptation project supported by the Australian Aid program. The project was implemented over a 16-month period (January 2016 to May 2017) in the southern province of Tafea and the northern province of Sanma.
The overall goal of the project was to increase the resilience of communities, especially women, young people, boys and girls, to shocks, stresses and future uncertainty resulting from climate change.
The goal was achieved through working towards two objectives:
- Women, men, young people, boys and girls in Tafea and Sanma provinces have increased awareness and capacity to anticipate, plan for and respond to the impacts of climate change;
- Women, men, young people, boys and girls in Tafea and Sanma provinces have the ability to implement and lead climate change adaptation actions, including livelihoods enhancement and income diversification, food security, natural resource management (including water resource management) and ecosystem management.
Through this project, CARE and Save the Children have supported 5,701 women, men, girls and boys in 32 communities to implement essential, local climate change adaptation actions that build their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Support was provided through a series of community-based training programs, focusing on agriculture, food security, livelihoods, and water resource management. As a result of these trainings and workshops, communities are taking adaptation actions, such as:
• replanting hybrid plant cuttings from demonstration plots
• using solar dryers to preserve their food ahead of the cyclone season
• reusing their water and cooking scraps to increase the nutrient levels of their soils
• continuing to engage with their local government departments to ensure that their economic
activities and preparedness plans continue to be responsive to their changing environments.
To support our recommendations and lessons learned, a series of case studies were developed to explore the key successes and challenges of the project and the strategies used to approach it, including:
• mainstreaming climate change into government planning,
• the importance of engaging at the provincial level
• leveraging partnerships for enhanced impact
• addressing gender issues
• engaging children.
These areas of work demonstrate the importance of ensuring that climate change tools and processes reach target beneficiaries and communities. This includes:
• ensuring integration of climate change tools into the school curriculum
• providing the necessary training to school curriculum advisors and teachers
• working together with key Ministries and Departments in the development and implementation of climate change adaptation activities
• the development and subsequent standardization of the Provincial disaster response and climate change management plan to create a more coherent and targeted planning mechanism for all disaster responses
• supporting groups such as the community disaster climate change committees as platforms for enhancing women’s participation and voice in key climate change and disaster risk reduction planning processes
• acknowledging the importance of women and children’s agency and establishing a series of activities and forums for ensuring their participation.
It is our hope that the work carried out and the recommendations and lessons learned captured in this paper will support our partners and other organisations across Vanuatu and the region to take an increasingly evidenced-based approach to developing community-based climate change and disaster risk reduction programming. Sharing our lessons learned will enable us to continue to build a set of program approaches that reinforce the importance of ensuring that climate finance reaches the community level to further build the resilience of the most vulnerable.