A joint Ministerial team from the National and Malaita Provincial Governments has successfully completed a weeklong Integrated Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment (IVA) on the remote Sikaiana Island in Malaita Province last week from October 19 to 23.

The team was led by the Climate Change Division of the ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) as one of their major activities under one of their development projects (Solomon Islands Climate Change Adaptation Program) which is fully funded by Solomon Islands Government (SIG).

The objectives of the assessment are to collect baseline data to inform planning, monitor change and measure impacts of adaptation action areas.

The data collected will be used for National and Provincial strategic planning, Climate finance access, Informing Regional, international meetings, Informing national climate change policy, Informing Malaita Climate Change Framework, Provincial level awareness and village monitoring to compliment additional vulnerability and risk assessment methods in Solomon Islands.

Technical Officials from the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Malaita Province and the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet travelled to the Island to conduct the assessment programme.

The cross-sectoral programme involved assessment on the impacts of climate and non-climatic changes of all sectors on the Island as well as collection of data on traditional knowledge regarding weather and climate issues and consultation on zero draft mapping for ocean planning.

The Solomon Islands Integrated Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment (SIIVA) is a key instrument/tool to identify and prepare a nation and its people to the risks posed by climate change and disasters.

Head of delegation and Director of the Climate Change Division, Hudson Kauhiona explained that the IVA recognises that climate change and non-climate change factors should be assessed in a multi-sectoral vulnerabilities framework, which focusses the assessment of exposure, sensitivities and adaptive capacity within a sustainable livelihoods framework.

“This focuses on people’s access to natural, infrastructural, human and financial resources to support their livelihood needs and the institutional structures and processes that influence resource access and use,” Mr Kauhiona said.

Guided by key vulnerability, disaster risk and sustainable livelihood frameworks, the Solomon Islands IVA utilizes several methods of data collection to carry out the assessment.

This involved desktop and scientific studies, national consultations, fieldwork, and participatory appraisals in selected villages, focus group surveys, and sector-specific surveys.

The scoring of each component is assessed qualitatively by identified key informants from the community and trained IVA assessors. The assessment tools include focus group discussions, field walk, documentation review and risk mapping.

Mr Kauhiona praised the leaders and people of Sikaiana for their cooperation and support to the team during their visit to the Island.

Leaders, women and youth of the island who gathered during the assessment consultations and awareness programmes told the team of the changes that have dramatically affected their way of life in recent years.

Salt-water intrusion into the Island is one of the major concerns that has affected coastal agricultural activities and water sources on the Island.

Changes in weather patterns such as rainfall and tidal movements are among some of the concerns raised during the assessment programme.

Chiefs also raised their need for the establishment of improved communication facilities such as mobile telecommunication services, which were non-existent on the island for hundreds of years. Currently, the only communication tool that the island rely on is the two-way-radio system, which transmits communication to Honiara and Auki.

Communication, evacuation centre, watershed protection, energy and foreshore stabilization are among some of the most needed areas that need immediate government attention The team is expected to produce a report from the assessment programme for further action by responsible government authorities.