Climate change will be a major impediment to the achievement of sustainable development in Solomon Islands, as all economic and social sectors are likely to be adversely affected, and the cost of adaptation will be disproportionately high, relative to gross domestic product (GDP). In attempting to integrate adaptation strategies into its sustainable development agenda, Solomon Islands will be confronted by many challenges including insufficient resources, prioritization of adaptation measures and uncertainties over climate change projections and adaptation strategies. The need to implement adaptation measures with some urgency has been often reinforced by the adverse impacts already being experienced in the country and highlighted in numerous national and regional workshops, meetings and conferences. It has been suggested that risk-reduction strategies together with other sectoral policy initiatives in areas such as sustainable development planning, disaster prevention and management, integrated coastal zone management and health care planning should be employed. The Solomon Islands National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) has determined, through a broad national consultative process, that agriculture, human settlements, water and sanitation and human health are priority vulnerable sectors requiring urgent support to enhance resilience against the predicted impacts of climate change.
The majority of the population of 571,000 live in rural areas and are predominantly dependent on agriculture, forestry and fisheries for food security and livelihoods. The 84% of people living in rural areas (World Bank 2007) rely mainly on their traditional food production systems, traditional knowledge, and strong communal systems and on agriculture, fishing and small business activities to support livelihoods. The majority of rural dwellers reside on hilly and mountainous areas and along very low lying coastal areas with very high exposure to abnormal and extreme weather and climatic events. The Coalition of National Unity and Rural Advancement (CNURA) Government Statement of Policy, delivered to the country by the Prime Minister on 18 March 2008 includes as national objective “to ensure the sustainable utilization and conservation of natural resources and environment and successful adaptation to climate change”. This policy commitment was further strengthened by the Cabinet endorsement of that NAPA in late 2008. The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Meteorology (MECM), through its Climate Change Division, coordinates the implementation of the government policy on adaptation to climate change, key priority areas of NAPA, and disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies. The MECM Corporate Plan 2008-2010 is undergoing review with views of integrating NAPA priority areas and climate change adaptation.
There are a variety of initiatives designed to assist the Solomon Islands in assessing and documenting vulnerabilities and in finding adaptation solutions that are acceptable to the local communities. For example, a grant has been provided to the Solomon Island Development Trust (SIDT) supported the Babanakira and Kolina people in enhancing traditional coping strategies to build their resilience to cope with disasters, merging these practices, where necessary, with modern scientific and technical knowledge. Traditional leaders of the Ontong Java and Sikaiana atolls have raised the alarm on low fresh water supply and taro crops not growing well as their islands begin facing the full effects of climate change. Moreover, there are also a number of adaptation programmes still in the proposed state. Current activities include: community initiatives (e.g. raised beds) to address extreme seasonal high tides, sea level rise and soil improvement programmes; mangrove replanting (on a very low scale); rain water harvesting; establishment of root crop bulking and distribution; the introduction of salt tolerant and drought resistant crop varieties; mass propagation of available planting material; and soil improvement programmes. An important contribution at the regional and community level is the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project (PACC). The project is designed to promote climate change adaptation, and is based on the premise that adaptation is a key pre-requisite to sustainable development in Pacific Island Countries. One of the few projects globally to access the Special Climate Change Fund of the GEF, this Regional UNDP/GEF Project covers 13 countries (including the Solomon Islands) and is being implemented by SPREP. The objective of the PACC is to enhance the resilience of a number of key development sectors (food production and food security, water resources management, coastal zone, infrastructure etc.) in the Pacific islands to the adverse effects of climate change. This objective will be achieved by focusing on long-term planned adaptation response measures, strategies and policies. To ensure sustainability of the project, regional and national adaptation financing instruments will also be developed.
Sources: IFAD IPAF Grants 2007. http://www.ifad.org/english/indigenous/grants/projects/regions/asia.html, SPREP,http://www.sprep.org/climate_change/PYCC/deta.asp?id=489, Presentation given by Mr. Hudson Kauhiona and Ms. Jean Galo during the PACC Inception Meeting held at SPREP in Apia on the 29th June to 3rd of July 2009. Further information: SPREP, http://www.sprep.org/climate_change/PACC/reports_detail_country.asp?id=719 or SPREP, http://www.sprep.org/topic/climate.htm_
The Pacific Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are among the countries most vulnerable to climate variability and change. A common problem is the triple burden of communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, exacerbated by health impacts of climate change that causes high rates of morbidity and mortality.
Working in Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, the project, Building Resilience of Health Systems in Pacific Island LDCs to Climate Change, this UNDP and World Health Organization supported project will provide overall adaptation benefits through adjusting health systems and associated capacities of health professionals to incorporate climate risks and resilience into health practices. Coupled with enhancing the operation of information and early warning services, and the effectiveness of disease control practices, these efforts will serve to reduce climate-induced disruptions in the function of primary health care facilities. It is expected that these in turn will reduce the occurrence and intensity of climate-sensitive disease outbreaks and their associated effects on communities and individuals.
The revision of health strategies will not only help to build national capacities for analyzing climate-induced risks to health and identifying adaptive preventive and curative measures, but it will also support review of operational aspects, such as institutional structures and capacities, financial and budgetary planning processes for their implementation. The programmatic approach to address barriers of tackling burdens of communicable and non-communicable diseases, will build climate resilience in vulnerable populations and communities, and in the health systems in LDCs, to better manage the health risks of climate variability and change.
- 1. Governance of health system and institutional capacities strengthened by mainstreaming climate-related risk and resilience aspects into health policy frameworks
- 2. Capacities of health system institutions and personnel strengthened in managing health information and weather/climate early warning systems
- 3. Improved coverage and quality of health services addressing climate-related diseases, and reduced climate-induced disruptions in the function of health care facilities
- 4. Enhanced south-south cooperation fostering knowledge exchange, the provision of technical assistance and scientific advisory, and the integration of national health policy frames and related adaptation plans with ongoing NAP-related processes
Outcome 1. Governance of health system and institutional capacities strengthened by mainstreaming climate-related risk and resilience aspects into health policy frameworks
Outcome 2. Capacities of health system institutions and personnel strengthened in managing health information and weather/climate early warning systems
Outcome 3. Improved coverage and quality of health services addressing climate-related diseases, and reduced climate-induced disruptions in the function of health care facilities
Outcome 4. Enhanced south-south cooperation fostering knowledge exchange, the provision of technical assistance and scientific advisory, and the integration of national health policy frames and related adaptation plans with ongoing NAP-related processes
The impacts of climate change, particularly sea-level rise and pronounced droughts have severe consequences on water and sanitation in the country.
The areas which are most vulnerable to sea-level rise are low-lying islands, atolls and flat deltaic regions at the mouth of larger rivers. Intrusion of salt water from rise in sea level has affected groundwater resources, especially freshwater aquifers (lens) in small atolls and low-lying islands that rely on rainfall or groundwater for their freshwater supply. Droughts have severely affected water supplies and have also damaged crops and livelihoods.
Likewise, climate-related impacts on the quality and quantity of water has a gender dimension; in the context of the ethnic tensions, the safety and security of women and girls are compromised as they need to travel further to collect water, also leading to less time for other activities.
The project focuses on improving the resilience of water resources to the impacts of climate change, in order to improve health, sanitation and quality of life, and sustain livelihoods in target vulnerable areas.
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The impacts of climate change, particularly sea-level rise and pronounced droughts have severe consequences on water and sanitation in the Solomon Islands.
Based on the LDCF resources requested and the scope of the climate change adaptation measures, the project will cover work in 6 pilot sites. On a national scale there are a number of benefits that this project will contribute to.
- More than 70% of the national population i.e. more than 360,000 people benefit from communal water systems and natural water sources and do not rely on government managed water supply systems. Many of these supply systems are dependent on water catchments and underground aquifers aquifers that are very sensitive to the hydrological cycle and its disturbances, most of which are related to climate change. Lessons from the project could be multiplied for the benefit of this population.
- Improvements to water supply will also result in more people having access to proper sanitation facilities, potentially reduce prevalence of disease and reduced costs to the people and to government’s social services
- UNDP estimates that water supply investment has an economic return of $4.4 to $1 while investment in sanitation has a return of $9.1 to $1. Some of the multiplier effects of investing in water and sanitation include; healthy workers, savings on medicines, bottled water not required, boost to agriculture and healthy tourists
- Increasing preparedness and enhancing resilience of the water sector to extreme events can potentially reduce the cost to government for disaster relief. Over the past few years flooding, king tides, excessive rainfall and storm surges have rendered rural locations and communities as disaster areas with the frequency of calls for disaster relief assistance from the national government reaching levels never before experienced in the country since it attained political independence in 1978
Outcome 1: Integrate water conservation and sustainable water resources management in all sectors and communities.
The outputs include: construction of village/community water tanks; construction of water reservoirs for institutional and residential areas; upgrading of existing reservoirs, protective structures/access roads; promote/build household rainwater harvesting; construction of strategic storage water reserve tank; engineered or “climate proofed” water reservoirs; develop and implement Water Use efficiency Plan; raise awareness for water conservation.
Outcome 2: Incorporate climate change adaptation strategies into the guidelines and criteria for design and construction of appropriate water infrastructure in vulnerable areas.
The outputs include: guidelines for development of water supply in rural areas developed; inventory of POPs and adequate storage and leakage prevention conducted; good practice guidance for pesticide storage and use, and application developed and used; drought and its effect on water distribution in rural areas assessed; rainwater harvesting technologies developed and used.
Outcome 3: Increased reliability and quality of water supply to all sectors and communities
The outputs include: capacity of water supply increased; water reticulation and distribution systems improved and where necessary constructed; arable land improved and rehabilitated; sustainable use of water on commercial agriculture land; build appropriate low-technology irrigation system for farmers; diversification food crops with a focus on high-yielding crop varieties promoted; promote water conservation and water use efficiency; prevent land-based pollution.
Outcome 4: Enhanced institutional and legal framework for water resources management
The outputs include: individual and institutional capacity for sustainable water management built and/or enhanced; water resources sector policy developed and implemented; water resources sector legislation developed and adopted; water sector plans and programmes developed and implemented.
Championed by the Government of the Solomon Islands through the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE) Water Resources Division (WRD) in partnership with Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), and other line ministries, SIWSAP activities are designed to ensure access to safe and affordable drinking water and increase reliability and quality of water supplies in targeted areas. Longer-term project measures are working to integrate climate-resilient water management in policy and development frameworks; encourage investments in cost-effective and adaptive water management technologies; and improve governance and knowledge management for climate change adaptation in the water sector at the local and national levels.