JBP supporting pacific resilience
Over the past year we have been getting to know the coastline of Papua New Guinea well, in particular its climate, hazards and vulnerabilities. Through an ongoing project with Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) we have been studying the Karama villages (Kavako, Pomara, Lavare and Iropi) in the Malalau District of PNG. This is an area where the effects of natural disasters and climate change are already being experienced. We’re seeing the impacts of receding coastlines, eroding riverbanks, heavy sedimentation now causing diversion of river channels, inundation of low-lying areas, changed weather patterns causing flooding, degradation of drinking water quality, and a change in the available food species.
Our multi-disciplinary team includes specialists from Environmental Pacific and Eco Pasifika, and includes field work, a review of ecosystem-based shoreline protection options, the identification of new approaches to increase food and water security, and the development of a new framework for disaster management. With COVID delaying field work we have relied on much more remote-sensing than normal, with NDVI analysis, CoastSat, Water Explorer and ICESat helping to bring together a range of prioritised areas for new resilience measures.
This project is part of the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus Scaling up the Pacific Adaptation programme (GCCA+ SUPA), which is showing that not all climate change investment needs to be large. There are plenty of on-ground activities which can increase natural disaster resilience at a community scale. Approaches to increase resilience against extreme weather include mangrove rehabilitation, foreshore vegetation management, the establishment of coastal setbacks, and new multi-hazard early warning systems. Food security can be increased by trialling new cultivars of existing traditional staples (inc. taro, sweet potato and cassava) that will have a better tolerance for salt and emerging weather patterns, with new research now being released on wood burning fuel-efficient stoves and the introduction of solar panels to support cooking approaches. Similarly, water security can benefit from trialling new approaches to collect and store water, plus there are new small-scale water production systems now emerging.
The project is finalising its prioritisation phase, with fieldwork now starting to prepare for the new resilience measures. Through pilot system trials we will be identifying the best performers, and documenting lessons learned which can be shared back throughout the Pacific.