The situation in Choiseul province is one that is becoming increasingly familiar to communities throughout the Pacific. Increased weather variability linked to climate change, including more droughts and more floods, is impacting livelihoods.
Ethel Madada from Sepa village in southern Choiseul, Solomon Islands, is struggling to put food on the table. Recent flooding following a drought in January has damaged her sweet potatoes, yams, peanuts, bananas and cassava.
‘We sometimes eat once a day because we have no food, the rain floods the gardens and the crops are damaged. We cook what we can save,’ says Madada, 69, a retired nurse.
The continuous wet weather is affecting villagers’ ability to grow food crops. Pastor Jonathan Su says it is difficult to plant because of the rain. ‘Even the farms inland are flooded. It’s so difficult to plant because gardens get damaged by the rain all the time.’
There are around seventy households in Sepa village and the local diet consists mainly of sweet potatoes, cassava and bele, also known as slippery cabbage.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is responding to food security concerns through a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development to enhance the resilience of food production systems to the effects of climate change in Choiseul.
The project is a component of a larger programme – the Choiseul Integrated Climate Change Adaptation Programme (CHICCAP), which is coordinated through national and provincial authorities and supported by a partnership between SPC, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Pacific-Australian Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning Program the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and The Nature Conservancy.
CHICCAP aims to strengthen communities’ ability to adapt to climate change and recover from natural disasters by improving food security and the resilience of natural ecosystems.
A CHICCAP team, comprising personnel from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, SPC, GIZ and UNDP, recently visited five communities in Sepa, Loimuni, Loloko, Sasamunga and Vouza in Choiseul Province to establish food security priorities, after carrying out vulnerability and adaptation assessments.
In consultation with the communities, the team identified adaptation strategies to address land-based food security issues. Over the next few months, CHICCAP will deliver materials to establish community nurseries; develop agro-forestry and small livestock demonstration farms and introduce climate-ready crops, which are more tolerant to drought, water-logging and salinity. Community members will receive training in plant propagation techniques, nursery management and farming practices. Water catchment, land use and forestry management plans will also be developed.
Climate-ready crops are stored and distributed to governments and communities throughout the region by SPC’s Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) based in Fiji.
Food security has received increased attention from Pacific Islands Forum Leaders since 2008. Governments have committed to ensuring that people have, at all times, access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain healthy and active lives. SPC, on behalf of its member governments, is responding to this need through multiple partnerships and projects across a range of sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, trade and transport.
Across the globe, climate change is affecting mean temperatures and rainfall patterns and contributing to more intense weather events, including heat waves, drought, flooding, cyclones and storm surges. Given many Pacific communities’ dependence on subsistence agriculture and the sea for their livelihoods, families like those of Madada and Pastor Su are vulnerable to these adverse effects. Regional organisations and development partners are increasingly coordinating their efforts to assist governments and protect lives and livelihoods.
Press Release, SPC
For more information, contact Vuki Buadromo, Project Manager SPC/USAID Project on (679) 3370733 ext. 35350 or email: VukiB@spc.int