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Comoros archipelago launches climate-resilient water supply project

This new eight-year project aims to ensure access to drinking water for more than 450,000 inhabitants, 50% of whom are women. The project will strengthen the planning and integrated management of water resources in 32 watersheds, with the involvement of communities from areas most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

4 November 2019, Comoros – At a ceremony in the city of Vouani on Ndzuani island (Anjouan), the President of the Union of Comoros, Mr. Azali Assoumani officially launched the project "Ensuring climate resilient water supplies in the Comoros Islands".

“I am delighted to see one of my key commitments come to fruition through this project which aims to simultaneously address several major challenges and achieve transformational changes in the sectors of health, nutrition, food security, agricultural production as well as socio-economic development," said the President of the Union of Comoros.

Climate change impacts threaten to derail recent development gains in Comoros – where approximately 80 percent of the rural population is reliant on rain-fed agriculture. United Nations Models indicate a potential reduction in dry-season rainfall of up to 47 percent by 2090, increased rains in the wet season, and more severe cyclone activity.

Access to surface water in Comoros is a challenge. The main island of Ngazidja (Grande Comore) has no rivers, requiring coastal towns to exploit limited groundwater resources. Rural upland communities, representing 50 percent of the island’s population, rely solely on rainwater harvesting. On the two more remote and poorer islands of Ndzuani (Anjouan) and Mwali (Mohéli), there are no proven groundwater resources and the local population is fully reliant on seasonally variable streams.

"This project is perfectly in line with the Comoros Emergent 2030 vision and more particularly with the commitments of my Ministry to work for inclusive sustainable development. Our target is to ensure that 60% of our population has access to safe drinking water and that farmers can access water to ensure production throughout the year," said the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment, Mr. Moustadroine Abdou, in charge of the implementation of the project.

With a total budget of $50 million, including $42 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the project aims to implement immediate measures to improve water collection and storage capacity, thus ensuring sustainable management of water resources in the long term. A contribution of $2 million from UNDP adds up the Government's announced contribution of about €3.5 million, while China Geo-Engineering Corporation will contribute in kind of up to $1.9 million, as well as the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (FADES) with $290,000.

"This is the realization of a shared vision and a joint commitment by the Government and UNDP to work together and strengthen a national water supply resilient to climate change," said UNDP Resident Representative, Fenella Frost.

The project will strengthen water resources management in 32 watersheds. It will also expand hydrological and meteorological monitoring infrastructure, protect ecosystems and regulate stream flow, integrating local populations into resources management.

Planning capacities will be strengthened to support strong institutions and inform a water tariff system to ensure sustainability, build important infrastructure to increase the resilience of water supply facilities so they can operate year-round during both the wet and dry seasons, and build infrastructure to protect people from floods and droughts.

The project will work in conjunction with other UNDP-supported projects in Comoros to strengthen the resilience of the archipelago against climate change and variability-related disasters, to increase capacity to cope with climate change, enhance the agriculture sector, and support the Government to advance the National Adaptation Plan process.

"I am aware that to achieve these ambitious objectives, my Government will rely on local community’s fully engagement and support for the success of this project. In addition, I invite civil society and the private sector to play their full role by becoming actively involved and facilitating dialogue in the implementation of both the water code and this project," concluded President Azali Assoumani.

Originally published on UNDP Comoros.

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About GCF

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the world’s largest fund dedicated to climate finance and created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. GCF helps developing countries limit or reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change. It seeks to promote a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development, taking into account the needs of nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

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