USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific supports Samoan communities and officials to combat climate change

Release date: 

Apr 28 2014

The USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific project is supporting Samoan communities and public services to combat, and adapt to, climate change through an innovative five-week on-the-job training program that ran from March to April 2014.

USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific trained officials from Samoa’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) to use and apply vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning tools to help them evaluate and select vital climate change adaptation subprojects. These subprojects will come under a US$8.7 million Adaptation Fund (AF) project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme and MNRE.

The bulk of the AF project focuses on making improvements to infrastructure in ways that will help Samoan communities adapt to climate change. Samoa is highly vulnerable to extreme weather events, including more frequent and higher intensity tropical cyclones, droughts and flooding.

The project seeks to assist 25 districts, with a total of 146 villages, to review their coastal infrastructure management plans, which are community based plans focusing on response planning for individual villages that take into account their unique geographical circumstances and the community‘s perceptions of their needs.

After the reviews, the plans will be updated to integrate climate change-induced disaster risk management principles, as well as develop village hazard zone relocation plans. Any new construction will be a result of these reviews on coastal infrastructure and village relocation.

At the five-week training held in Apia, Samoa, the government officials from MNRE and STA applied the vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning tools they had learned to review each of the 25 districts, identify their main climate change threats, and develop a list of adaptation options.

Adopting engineering options, such as building seawalls and relocating pipes and power systems away from potential hazardous zones, and using traditional local strategies, such as green belts and zoning development, were some of the suggested ways to increase the villages’ adaptive capacity to the impacts of climate change. The government officials would now need to further assess which options and subprojects are best to implement given the available budget.

The five-week training also included exercises in evaluation of project designs, construction scheduling and costs, methodology, operation and maintenance. The government officials were encouraged to apply the impact and vulnerability methodology and adaptation planning process to their respective field of work after the training. 

Discussions from the training will feed into the main AF project and other future adaptation investment projects. USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific is currently working to synthesize the training outcomes as well as develop more targeted assessment and planning tools to share with the participants.

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