Community-based adaptation: local answers to global concern


20-February-2012

Roche Caiman environmental action team prepares site for coastal garden

Adapting to climate change impacts needs to occur across various scales of governance, from national level policy to district development plans.

In Seychelles, the government has mainstreamed climate change into existing policies and it is also an important component of the processes of the new Environment Management Plan for Seychelles.

Many local institutions have been educated on the issues and potential solutions to climate change through the works of government bodies and non-governmental organisations in the form of awareness-raising on climate change impacts, vulnerability awareness, and implementation of adaptation actions in some communities.

Community-based adaptation takes a local approach, one that looks at the community and asks what we can do to support what they are already doing. It is the communities themselves that are at the front lines of dealing with climate change impacts.

So how are they coping? How have they coped before? And how can we help them to cope better if these problems change or get worse? 

The Department of Risk and Disaster Management (DRDM) is being pro-active on Disaster Risk Reduction Concern and has been working on a national programme to educate ‘vulnerable’ communities such as the new Perseverance village in coping with their new environment and putting in place mechanisms that will scale up the community-based adaptation approach and identifying priority actions to be undertaken by different stakeholders. 

Prior to moving into their new homes the DRDM officers and their partners held several meetings with the villagers grooming them of potential risks, and providing them with information on collective and alternative means of dealing with these at the appropriate timing. The aim is to ensure that adaptation to climate change impacts are integral parts of planning and development activities across all governance scales.

Other communities are also taking steps to manage their natural environment in a way to safeguard the lives and common livelihoods of the population and upkeep an appreciative social environment as well. The Environment Department recently organised a workshop with district administrators, together with its other national partners such as non-governmental organisations – Sustainability for Seychelles, Plant Conservation Action Group, Wildlife Club of Seychelles and some donor organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme, Global Environment Fund – Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP), Mangroves For the Future (MFF), guiding them to organise their community structures in preparation for them to lead the population to start taking more responsibility for their community.

As President James Michel said at the executive retreat of the Commonwealth Heads last October: “The biggest challenge for all developing countries is the lack of genuine fast start climate change adaptation funds. These funds are critical for Small Island Developing States and their survival”, while he equally emphasised the need for climate change mitigation to be a priority consideration in the future.

The DAs however were pleased to learn in the workshop that while funds are limited at international level for adaptation projects, there are several locally established mechanisms which can provide for specific community needs in terms of their environmental sustainability, but gearing towards reputable structures set forth by the local population to undertake actions that are beneficial to the entire community.

Some district community-based organisations on Mahé are already piloting such initiatives which will serve as models to others in the future -- Roche Caiman, Les Mamelles, Au Cap, Port Glaud are some examples of the local initiatives in progress. 

A new determined community-based organisation on the island of Praslin named Anse Kerlan Avangard is kicking off towards finding solutions to the long-standing problem of coastal erosion in the district. They are working with the GEF-SGP programme and the MFF initiative to help move forward their aspiration but they are equally calling on other national institutions and the private sector to help them save their beaches and eventually their livelihoods on one of the most beautiful islands in the country.

In a meeting with the community leaders in September 2011 President Michel re-iterated the need to have a stronger partnership between stakeholders within government as well as the private sectors to ensure better service delivery and greater responsibility to meet the public demands for efficient, reliable and least time consuming services and implementation of district projects.

International funds on the other hand will contribute towards efforts in building capacity of the local population to effectively manage the ecosystem in a way that will help them adapt more easily to global and local impact of climate change.

Contributed by MFF Seychelles in partnership with the Public Education and Community Outreach division (Environment Department)

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