Enhancing resilience of vulnerable communities to climate change in Mauritius:

Problem statement:

Mauritius along with other small island developing states (SIDS), share certain characteristic that underscore their overall vulnerability to climate change. Although these countries are among the least responsible for climate change, they suffer the most from adverse effect associated with the changing climate. Geographical shift in rainfall patterns due to climate change is causing scarcity of potable water and drought in some localities, whereas other places are facing crop and property loss due to extreme weather events such as heavy and torrential rains that cause flash floods. The poor community are the most vulnerable and suffer the most due to loss of property and scarcity in natural resources on which they are directly dependent. Very often these natural calamities make the poor become poorer. Floods, landslides, sea and storm surges have not only become more frequent but have also increased in intensity. These everyday disasters are affecting life and livelihood of local communities and the poor are the most vulnerable. These vulnerable communities have no ideas what is happening to them and are left exposed to those natural calamities without any preparedness or resilience plans to face these extreme events. 

The proposed project will integrate adaptation to climate change into poverty reduction efforts in 9 villages spread in 9 districts in the Republic of Mauritius by preparing the poor communities in preventing, preparing and responding to climate change impacts. The targeted villages are villages who have been identified by the National Empowerment Foundation (NEF) as households registered under the Social Register of Mauritius (SRM).

Goals & objectives:

The overall objective of the proposed intervention is to integrate adaptation to climate change into poverty reduction efforts by prioritising efforts and empower the poor and most vulnerable communities in preventing, preparing and responding to Climate Change impacts.

The specific objective is:

  • Bring awareness on climate change among the most vulnerable communities;
  • Share information on past and future climate scenarios and expected future climate;
  • Identify vulnerability associated with a changing climate among these vulnerable communities to eliminate risks;
  • Prepare these vulnerable communities to face future extreme events, that is build up resilience capacities among these vulnerable communities;
  • Empower these vulnerable communities for advocacy and to lobby for issues affecting their life and livelihood in their surrounding;
  • Capacity building for natural resource management in the context of climate change;
  • Complement the action taken by the authority National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Centre.

The overall and specific objectives of the proposed intervention align with the national development objectives and priorities of the government of Mauritius. The republic of Mauritius has ratified the Hyogo Framework for Action and in its latest national progress report on the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (2013-2015), it is clear that there is a lack of awareness and knowledge among poor vulnerable communities with regards to climate change and disaster risk reduction.

Moreover, according to the latest risk report 2017, Mauritius is ranked as the 13th country with the highest disaster risk and ranked 7th on the list of countries most exposed to natural hazards. Therefore, this proposed intervention will help to help the country to educate and share valuable knowledge about climate change to its most affected and vulnerable communities.

Additionally, in an official Statement made by His Excellency Jayeshwar Raj Dayal, Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development, Disaster and Beach Management at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015, it was clearly mentioned that the most effective way to envision disaster risk reduction and management is by improving engagement of all levels of society. Thus, this proposed intervention is in line with the objective of the government.

Furthermore, according to the National Report of the Republic of Mauritius with regards to the Third Conference on Small Island Developing States, the recommendations that came out was to enhance resilience of the Republic of Mauritius in areas related to climate risk as well as to improve climate prediction ability through the development of national capacities of SIDS.

The Republic of Mauritius (RoM) is among the first countries to ratify the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 and one among the first 15 countries to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement on 22 April 2016. This demonstrates its willingness as a responsible member of the global community to seek and achieve global solutions on climate change matters. In fulfilment to the reporting requirement under Article 12 of the UNFCCC, RoM has prepared its Third National Communication Report for the period 2010 to 2016, and in this report the problem of climate change and vulnerable communities is highlighted. There is also a lack of knowledge about climate change among those poor and vulnerable communities as mentioned in the report.

Lastly, this proposed intervention is in line with the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  1. Goal 13 – Climate action;
  2. Goal 1 – No poverty;
  3. Goal 2 – Zero hunger;
  4. Goal 6 – Clean water & sanitation.

Since the Republic of Mauritius has adopted the Hyogo Framework, a National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Centre (NDRRMC) was set up. This project will be working in collaboration with the NDRRMC and is in line with the aims and objectives of the NDRRMC.

Achievements:

The immediate expected results produced by this project will be:

  • Bringing awareness among the most vulnerable communities on climate change associated with extreme events;
  • Setting up local teams in all eighteen villages (site support core group), built their capacity to deal with extreme events before, during and after a shock;
  • Change the mind-set of these vulnerable community to avoid risk and as far as possible be less vulnerable;
  • Consider climate in all decision making process;
  • Collect local data for participation in future development together with the implementing authorities;
  • Use these data not only to lobby or for advocacy but also to participate in future development plan or prioritise government investment action;
  • Use available technology tools and services including local knowledge in the future preparedness plans;
  • Networking of vulnerable community of various localities for sharing of knowledge to enhance resilience;
  • The action is implementing the Sendai and Hyogo Framework for disaster risk reduction.

In the short term, the vulnerable and poor communities which are targeted under this project will be trained and educated with problems associated with climate change. In the long term, these communities will be more resilient in dealing with a disaster and this will decrease its vulnerability towards disasters associated with climate change. Stay tuned for more updates on this project after the confinement.