World Bank Supports Community Resilience In Vanuatu

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$5.5 million grant address climate change, natural disasters

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 8, 2012) – The World Bank Board on Wednesday approved a Vt506 (US$5.5) million Global Environment Facility grant for Vanuatu to boost the resilience of communities to the impact of climate change and natural disasters and help secure people’s access to food and water.

The project combines plans to reduce the risk of natural disasters with policies that address climate change and climate variability. The project will provide up to 10,000 farmers with better crop production technologies and more resilient food crop varieties. About 6000 residents of 120 rural communities will receive safe drinking water with the installation of 300 rainwater catchment and storage systems. Around 35 different communities of between 4000 and 6000 residents will benefit from disaster risk management programs, while more timely and accurate predictions of natural disasters will benefit up to 10,000 people.

"Hundreds of Vanuatu communities will be better prepared to weather the sort of devastation that natural disasters and climate change can have on their livelihoods," said Jotham Napat, Director of the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geohazard Department.

"Vanuatu is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters in the world," World Bank Country Director Ulrich Zachau said. "Implementation of this GEF funded project can make a difference for thousands of families."

"Climate change is likely to affect every sector in Vanuatu, but agriculture is especially susceptible to weather changes," said Robert de Raeve, Chargé d'Affaires, European Union delegation to Vanuatu. "This sort of assistance will ensure communities that rely on agriculture become as resilient as possible to the effects of climate change and natural disasters."

Vanuatu already experiences the consequences of climate variability and change – rising sea levels, increasingly extreme weather patterns, and changes to agricultural productivity and water availability. These challenges are likely to intensify in the future, and coupled with a high frequency of natural disasters, put extreme pressure on the livelihoods of remote subsistence farmers throughout Vanuatu. The remoteness from government assistance makes relief efforts difficult, putting significant pressure on food and water security. The project aims to address these fundamental challenges.

The Global Environment Facility is joined by the Government of Vanuatu, the European Union and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery in financing the $11.52 million project. The Vanuatu Meteorological and Geohazard Department will manage the project.

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