The Pacific Islands are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and direct security impacts which include diminished access to fresh water, local food supply, and coastal infrastructure damage.
With climate change remaining the single greatest threat for the Pacific, work is underway through the European Union Intra-ACP GCCA Plus Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES) programme, to address this across a wide range of levels and areas.
Papua New Guinea (PNG), already vulnerable to a variety of natural hazards, is further compounded by the exacerbated threat brought about by climate change.
This sentiment was echoed during the launch of activities to address the impacts of climate change in Kerema district in Karama situated in the Malaula District in PNG’s Gulf Province on 31 March 2023.
Deemed as a successful venture in meeting the needs of people by PNG’s Vice Minister for Petroleum, Honorouble Thomas Opa, acknowledged the importance of partnerships.
“We are privileged to have the PACRES team here in Karama, a project that is driven by the community for the community.”
A joint mission between the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and the University of the South Pacific (USP) is currently underway in Papua New Guinea, meeting with key stakeholders, community representatives and change agents for the PACRES programme.
There are five activities in all to be undertaken in Karama to help people cope with the impacts of climate change, one of which was launched in March. Three community water tanks that can hold 9500 liters were launched to help enhance water security, these are centrally located and can be accessed by all villages.
“PACRES has chosen this humble community as your pilot project, and we will be eternally grateful, on behalf of my people, we thank you for delivering this project on safe and clean water for my people,” stated Hon Vice Minister Thomas Opa.
“Many of our communities, particularly our most vulnerable children and women, are frequently exposed to contaminated drinking water. Your intervention in resilience and building a safer community for our people is very significant, which our people will appreciate and will benefit the larger Karma community.”
The European Union Intra-ACP GCCA Plus Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES) programme aims to improve regional and national adaptation and mitigation responses to Pacific ACP countries’ climate change challenges.
Activities to help make this happen in Karama include an assessment of previous mangrove rehabilitation and restoration to guide mangrove planting to support coastal restoration. The development of a nursery to plant appropriate shoreline species as well as mangroves for which the construction of the nursery is now underway as well.
Working in partnership with the National Agriculture Research Institute of Papua New Guinea (NARI), PACRES is supporting the exploration of climate resilient crops is also being implemented to support food security for the Karama community.
Experiencing a wide range of climate change impacts inclusive of coastal inundation with tidal surges washing over the villages. To help address this the development of a community climate disaster management plan is now underway. This will target the Karama community, and outline options for the neighbouring communities to the east, north and west of Karama that encompasses an area of over 1,000 hectares with an estimated population of some 5-6 thousand people.
During the launch of the intervention and commissioning of the water tanks in the Karama community, Mr. Semi Qamese, Project Manager for the EU PACRES programme, said: “We were guided through the community to see how vulnerable the community is, but we also managed to see how resilient the community is at this time.”
“We also recognise the community’s vulnerability to flooding from both ends.”
“Because climate change is real and right on our doorstep, projects like the EU PACRES projects coming into communities to implement interventions is perfect timing given the treat that is climate change.”
Mr. Qamese acknowledges the European Union’s funding, stating that “we would not have been able to help your community through the interventions without the financial support from the EU.”
Papua New Guinea is one of the fifteen countries benefiting from capacity-building support under the EU Intra-ACP GCCA PACRES programme.
As part of the programme’s overall objective to increase resilience across the five implementing countries, through capacity building in resilient development, the following activities have been implemented in Karama and Keapara communities in PNG:
• Participatory Needs Analysis which identified priority resilience training needs
• Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) training to assist with management and conservation of water to ensure water security during prolonged dry seasons
• Mangrove training to support mangrove restoration efforts as a key EbA option to protect the community from storm surges and sea level rise, as well as provide Karama with ecosystem and livelihood services.
The joint mission found that the majority of the project’s implementation and activities are on track as planned, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from key stakeholders and beneficiaries putting community resilience at the heart of the PACRES project interventions.
The commissioning of water tanks coincided with the award and presentation of certificates, by the Honorable Minister for the Gulf Province, to community change agents.
The activities and implementation would not have been possible without the collaboration and support of Climate Change Development Authority, Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, Electorate Member of Parliament (Hon. Thomas Opa, Vice Minister for Mining & Petroleum and Member for Kerema Open) and the Gulf Provincial and Local Government Administration and the Karama Community programme’s goals of developing an integrated approach to addressing Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management in the Pacific-ACP region.
The €12.18 million PACRES is funded primarily by the European Union with targeted support from the Swiss Confederation and the Principality of Monaco and is delivered jointly by SPREP, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the Pacific Community (SPC) and USP.