UN Program To Combat Effects Of Climate Change In Vanuatu

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Rising seas, increasing storms raise concern for communities

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, May 15, 2012, 2012) – The Government of Vanuatu and the United Nations (UN) have launched a three-year joint project from 2012 to 2015 to assist communities to cope with adverse effects of climate change and natural disasters.

The project is funded with US$2,921,122 from the UN Human Security Trust Fund. Directly benefitting the lives and livelihoods of approximately 40.000 women, men, girls and boys living in 12 selected project sites in Vanuatu, it is administered jointly by UNDP, UNICEF and FAO and the Vanuatu Government through the Department of Local Authorities.

Vanuatu is one of the Pacific Island countries where a large proportion of the population lives close to the ocean and rivers. Therefore communities are increasingly at risk of being affected by climate change and natural disasters. The project aims to demonstrate how human security issues resulting from this can be tackled.

Rising sea levels, severe storms and flooding resulting from climate change in addition to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions increase vulnerability and loss of lives and livelihoods in Vanuatu.

Increasing king tides and floods threaten fresh water supplies and food security, while limited capacity to cope natural disasters and poverty can result in high levels of deaths, injuries and significant loss of property and destruction of infrastructure.

Vanuatu’s geographical position also makes it difficult and time consuming for any external emergency response to reach the nation, and to reach communities on the many remote and scattered islands.

On top of all these factors, accelerating urbanization and insufficient urban infrastructure increases the risk of rapid spread of diseases during emergencies.

"A lot has been said about climate change and it is a clear priority of the Government of Vanuatu to facilitate action to cope with the impacts. This project allows communities to translate big themes such as human security, community resilience and climate change adaptation into contextualized issues, solutions and action", Ms. Cherol Ala, the Project Director and Director of the Department of Local Authorities shared during the launch which took place at Black Sands Community in SHEFA Province.

Ms. Brenda Nabirye, Officer-in-Charge of the UN Joint Presence Office in Port Vila added; "The project will enable local communities to engage in climate change adaptation and disaster mitigation and can positively inform policy making at community, provincial and national levels to support this. The UN in partnership with the Government of Vanuatu is fully committed to support this important process,"

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