The Union of the Comoros is an archipelago composed of four islands which are, from East to West: Mayotte (370 sq km), Anjouan (424 sq km), Mohéli (290 sq km) and Grand-Comoro (1148 sq km). In spite of the accession of the country to international sovereignty in 1975, Mayotte is still under French rule. Therefore, this document refers to the three islands only.
The country is located at the northern entry of the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and the Eastern coast of Africa, thus occupying a strategic position. The islands are separated from deep sub marine channels. The total area of the three islands, which form the Union of the Comoros, is 1862 sq km.
The Comoro archipelago is exclusively of volcanic origin. On the geo-chronological plan, the latest information on the age of the three islands is respectively as follows: 1.49, 0.48, 0.36 millions years (Ma) for Mayotte, Mohéli and Anjouan (Armstrong, 1972: Emerick and Duncan, 1982, 1983: Nougier and al, 1986) and 0, 13 Ma for Grand-Comoro (Emerick and Duncan, 1982, 1983). The island of Grand Comoro is composed of two volcano shields represented by the massif of the Northern Grille in the North and the massif of the Karthala in the South. The latter is still active. The 1977 eruption affected the village of "Singani" in the southwest of the island. The latest eruption dates back to November 2005.
The volcanoes that constitute the islands of Mohéli and Anjouan have reached a more advanced maturation stage and are deeply eroded. Mayotte presents a more advanced evolution stage, which is still characterized by erosion and a very intense alteration. The three islands are affected by two systems of fracture, towards North-West/South-East and North- South. At the local level, as in Anjouan and Mohéli, some signs of subsidence can be noted in Foumbouni and Malé in the Southeast, the oldest risen part of Grand-Comoro. Close to Mitsamiouli in the North-West of Grand-Comoro and Malé, the reef is splitting to give birth to the beginning of a reef-barrier.
The coastal and marine environment offers a great variety in its morphology (low coasts, cliffs, islets, platinum…) and in its nature (lavas, white or black sand beaches, stones, blocks, coral cliffs). Generally speaking, the continental plateau (900 sq km) is highly reduced in the west of the archipelago where the seabeds have suddenly reached depths higher to 3000 meters due to the existence of a North-South rift along the Mozambique Channel. The narrow plateau accounts for the low development of coral reefs. In the East, the seabeds are less deep and are the extension of the Madagascar continental plateau.
The Government of Comoros in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a broad coalition of other international actors is stepping up efforts to ensure climate-resilient water supplies for 450,000 people with a GCF-financed project on "Ensuring climate resilient water supplies in the Comoros Islands."
The project will reach over half of the people living in the Comoros directly, and 9 out of 10 people indirectly, ensuring children have water to drink, farmers can grow successful crops and feed their families, and the Small Island Developing State of Comoros can adapt its economy and society to the catastrophic risks brought on by climate change.
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 in Comoros, increased rains in the wet season, and more severe cyclone activity.
Access to surface water on three of the small islands of the Comoros is a challenge. The main island of Grande Comore has no surface water, requiring coastal towns to exploit marginally fresh groundwater resources. The rural upland communities, making up 50 percent of the island’s population, rely solely on rainwater harvesting. On the two more remote and poorer islands of Anjouan and Moheli, there are no proven groundwater resources and the people there are completely reliant on seasonally variable streams.
The project aligns with Comoros’ Accelerated Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy and the government’s vision to reduce poverty and expand access to reliable and safe drinking water and sanitation, especially for the most vulnerable people like smallholder farmers that rely on rainfed agriculture to feed their families. The eight-year project works to achieve a national paradigm shift in water resources management, allowing the Government of Comoros to make good on commitments to increase water supply to 100 percent of its citizens by 2030 and provide all of our farmers with access to irrigation water.
The project will strengthen water resources management and environmental monitoring, improve groundwater management and preservation, expand hydrological and meteorological monitoring infrastructure, protect ecosystems and regulate stream flow, and integrate local populations into water resources management.
The US$60 million project will be implemented by the Comoros Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment, Territory Planning and Urban, in conjunction with national and state governments, water service providers, water user associations and communities, and their development partners. A broad coalition that includes the China Geo-Engineering Corporation, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (FADES), and UNDP came together to provide over US$18 million in co-financing for this project, including a US$2 million grant from UNDP, a US$1.9 million in-kind donation from the China Geo-Engineering Corporation and US$290,000 from FADES.
The project will build integrated water resource management improvements in 32 watersheds with improved water monitoring and management, build capacity for water planning 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.
Comoros is one of only two countries in the world to be classified as a Least Developed Country, an African State and a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) by the UN System. The hydro-physical features of Comoros significantly contribute to its high vulnerability to climate change impacts. The entire country, separated into three islands, has a land area of only 2,612 km2 and no land further than 7km from the coast. Comoros therefore has very small watersheds and aquifers with very limited natural storage which respond rapidly to changes in rainfall and are consequently highly vulnerable to rainfall variability and intensity, resulting in significant drought, flood erosion and salinization impacts.
Climate change predictions for Comoros include an increase in rainfall variability, lengthening of droughts and increasing frequency and intensity of storm floods and resulting erosion.
The main island of Grand Comore has no surface water, requiring coastal towns to exploit marginally fresh groundwater resources, whilst the rural upland communities, making up 50% of the island’s population, have to rely solely on rainwater harvesting. On the two more remote and poorer islands of Anjouan and Moheli there are no proven groundwater resources and therefore are completely reliant on the seasonally variable streams.
Comoros is also one of the poorest countries in the world, with an estimated 80% of the rural population considered poverty-stricken and 46% of the population living in absolute poverty (<$1.25/person/day). This severely constrains its national adaptation capacity.
One of the most urgent needs in Comoros, as stated by the NAPA, is to build the resilience of their water supply to the impacts of climate change. More specifically Comoros needs to increase the resilience of its limited water resources and watersheds, protect its water supply infrastructure and strengthen the adaptation capacity of its institutions and communities to plan and operate in increasing climatic extremes.
National capacity to adapt to climate change risks in Comoros is extremely limited, as it is for many SIDS, but particularly those that are also LDCs. At least 14.3% of the population is unemployed. The unemployment rate among those aged 15-24 is very high at 50.5%. Between 70-80% of the Comorian population are small-scale farmers that are dependent on rain-fed water resources for subsistence agriculture. National food security is therefore closely linked to water security and to climate change impacts and their successful adaptation. More widely, poverty issues and limited employment opportunities are severely hindering the country from self-sustaining economic growth.
Comoros is therefore not only intrinsically vulnerable to climate change impacts but has little current capacity to strengthen its adaptive capacity to be resilient to these impacts. This lack of resilience extends as far as the capacity to submit grant applications to the global climate change adaptation funds.
Output 1. Climate informed water supply planning and management
Activity 1.1 Prepare recommendations and legal guidance on the integration of climate change adaptation into the national (federal) and regional (state) water sector agencies governance frameworks, regulations and operations
Activity 1.2 Develop water sector climate change risk reduction awareness raising programme for national and state agencies and establish CCA knowledge and information exchange mechanisms
Activity 1.3 Develop and apply criteria for assessing socially sensitive water pricing mechanisms ensuring prices take into account the actual costs of production, storage and processing required in view of the projected climate stresses
Activity 1.4 Develop planning guidance on source protection and water quality standards in view of climate change, operating procedures during periods of drought/floods; and safety plans
Activity 1.5 Design and conduct trainings on best practices and gender-sensitive techniques of climate change adaptation in the context of water management, health and nutrition among national, regional and local water stakeholders
Activity 1.6 Strengthen decentralized water resources management capacities to undertake climate risk reduction assessments and develop and deliver awareness campaigns and training programmes to Water Management Committees and users
Output 2: Climate Informed Water Resources and Watershed Management including forecasting and early warnings of climate risks
Activity 2.1 Establish climate resilience focused IWRM Committees and Watershed Risk Reduction Action Plans in the project intervention areas
Activity 2.2 Implement the water protection and risk mitigating measures on the ground/operationalize the risk reduction plans
Activity 2.3 Support IWRM Management Committees to establish water source protection zones and raise public awareness on climate risk reduction benefits of watershed management
Activity 2.4 Establish water resource monitoring network and upgrade the existing monitoring infrastructure to enable the collection of the required climate/weather data
Activity 2.5 Build the capacities of the meteorological services to analyse and produce drought and flood forecasts for targeted users, including for flood early warning system
Activity 2.6 Build the capacity of the key government, local authorities and committees to interpret the climate information and raise awareness of the local population to act upon the forecasts and EWS
Output 3: Climate Resilient Water Supply Infrastructure Activity
3.1 Undertake climate risk assessments of existing groundwater abstraction wells to develop risk reduction pumping strategies, and construction of additional boreholes in zones at risk of drought water scarcity in Grande Comore Activity
3.2 Build infrastructure to increase resilience of water supply facilities to extended duration low flow periods, greater intensity flood flow damage and flood flow higher turbidity and bacteria loadings (Grande Comore, Anjouan island and Moheli island)
Activity 3.3 Installation of flowmeters to support climate resilient tariff adjustments, and leakage reduction programmes to improve the water pricing and management system taking into account the additional costs associated with climatic hazards
New climate resilient water project will ensure reliable water supplies for 450,000 people in Comoros
‘Children will have water to drink, farmers can grow successful crops and feed their families, and we can adapt our economy and our society to the catastrophic risks brought on by climate change’ says Minister Abdou on GCF board approval for groundbreaking UNDP-supported project
« Les enfants auront de l’eau à boire, les agriculteurs pourront cultiver avec succès et nourrir leur famille, et nous pourrons adapter notre économie et notre société aux risques de catastrophes posés par le changement climatique », a déclaré le Ministre Moustadroine Abdou au sujet de l’approbation par le Conseil d’Administration du Fonds Vert pour le Climat d’un projet novateur soutenu par le PNUD.
Output 1 - Climate informed water supply planning and management
Output 2 - Climate Informed water resources and watershed management including forecasting and early warnings of climate risks
Output 3- Climate resilient water supply infrastructure
BULLETIN DʼINFORMATIONS DU PROJET «RENFORCEMENT DES CAPACITÉS DʼADAPTATION ET DE RÉSILIENCE DU SECTEUR AGRICOLE FACE AUX CHANGEMENTS CLIMATIQUES»
Pour lutter contre la vulnérabilité du système agricole aux Comores tout en s’attaquant à la menace que constitue le changement climatique, des méthodes et moyens rési- lients sont nécessaires pour faire face aux phénomènes climatiques extrêmes. C’est le but ultime du projet CRCCA aux Comores.
Strengthening Comoros Resilience Against Climate Change and Variability Related Disaster
The "Strengthening Comoros Resilience Against Climate Change and Variability Related Disaster" project will work to strengthen institutional, policy and regulatory frameworks to integrate climate and disaster risks into planning, improve knowledge and understanding of key climate drivers and natural disasters, and strengthen community resilience to climate-induced disaster risks. UNDP is currently working with the Government of Comoros to develop the project proposal for a US$8.5 million grant from the Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Fund.
The strengthening of the resilience of the Comorian communities to climate-related natural disasters will in a long term require a profound change in the current practices of development planning and implementation. This will first require greater awareness of decision makers and a better understanding of medium- to long-term climate change risks. This will also require that human settlements, community basic infrastructure and economic development infrastructure be made more resilient to disasters induced by climate change through designing and implementation of effective prevention against natural disasters and the integration of climate change and disaster risk management in the development.
Comoros is highly vulnerable to natural disasters (floods, cyclones, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunami) and epidemics including cholera, dengue and chikungunya. In the last two decades in Comoros, 17 natural disasters were recorded with 148 deaths and more than 400,000 people affected. The biggest disaster was in 2005 when 245,000 people were affected by a volcanic eruption.
In addition, torrential rains, storms and floods have affected more than 117,000 people in the last two decades. Climate projections show that the situation faced by the Comoros in recent years could worsen. According to the IPCC, through projections of Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Model (AOGCM), the climate change scenarios for small islands in the Indian Ocean from 2040 to 2069 indicate an increase of the average annual rainfall to 3.1% (+ or -0.45%) .
The sea- level rise is expected to reach 20 cm by 2050 . Weather and climate extreme events such as cyclones, tsunamis are also expected to increase in frequency and intensity in the future. Therefore, it is likely that future tropical cyclones would gain intensity, that heavy rainfall and floods would be more intense during the hot season, that on the opposite droughts would be more intense during dry season and that land erosion would be exacerbated.
Among the factors of the Comorian populations’ vulnerability to natural disasters one can note the following:
- Natural factors: the insularity, the rugged topography with many steep slopes, combined with the natural and soil triggered waterproofing (lava flow) stimulate the runoff strength of rainwater, causing multiple erosions and flooding and leading to destruction of villages.
- Land-use planning: housing is often temporary and under precarious and anarchical conditions. The vulnerability of some areas is more acute because of their proximity to the sea that threatens to engulf houses built too close to the eroding coast, either as a result of rainfall, tides or because of sand removal used as construction material.
- Poor transport networks: transport networks are poor and were built without taking in account climate-induced disaster risks. The Union of the Comoros road network comprises 800 km of roads, of which approximately 50% is classified as in “good and fair” condition and almost 30% in “bad and very bad” by the National Roads and Road Transport Office (DNRTR). In several areas the road network is either partially or totally degraded. This situation makes road networks very vulnerable and easily degraded and/or not fully operational in the event of climate induced disasters and this contributes to increased vulnerability of the Comorian communities. In disaster situation they are cut off from health infrastructure and food supply including drinking water and hardly access to emergency relief.
- Weak socio-economic base of the community contributes a great deal to increase their vulnerability. The strengthening of the resilience of the Comorian communities to climate related natural disasters will in a long term require a profound change in the current practices of development planning and implementation. This will first require greater awareness of decision makers and a better understanding of medium- to long- term climate change risks. This will also require that human settlements, community basic infrastructure and economic development infrastructure be made more resilient to disasters induced by climate change through designing and implementation of effective prevention against natural disasters and the integration of climate change and disaster risk management in the development.
Outcome 1 - Systemic and institutional capacities for the long -term management and adaptation planning of disaster risks caused by climate change are strengthened at local, provincial and national levels
Outcome 2 - Knowledge and understanding of medium- to long -term climate-related disaster risks and vulnerability are improved
Outcome 3 - The long-term resilience of the livelihoods and assets of vulnerable communities against climate disaster risks is strengthened
This project brief gives an overview of the project, and details Issues, Actions, and Expected Impacts.