BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
THERE is a very real risk that if Solomon Islands does not urgently find ways to adapt to Climate Change.
It is reported impacts of climate change on water resources, that the people living in these low lying coastal areas and islands/atolls may become Climate Change Internally Displaced People (Climate Change IDPs) due to dwindling freshwater, amongst other factors.
According to SIWSAP, it is likely resulting relocation of these people would put an increased strain on water resources and land, which at worst could encourage conflict.
Despite the need, there are very few Climate Change Adaptation and Water or Climate Resilience WASH initiatives.
On bright side, there comes the Solomon Islands Water Sector Adaptation Project (SIWSAP).
It is one such initiative implemented by Water Resources Division (WRD) of The Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE) and Climate Change Division (CCD) of The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM).
The initiative also includes other Ministries such as Ministry of Health and Medical Services and Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination.
The project is funded by “Global Environment Facility managed Least Developed Countries Fund”.
The project was conceived in the context of the 2008 National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), which recognized water as the second highest priority.
SIWSAP works with townships and communities in six provinces which are vulnerable to climate change water related impacts.
SIWSAP focuses on ensuring that there are always sufficient and clean water resources available for consumptive uses, during times of climate variability and when experiencing the impacts of Climate Change.
SIWSAP demonstrates how it is possible to secure year-round access to water in these vulnerable environments in the face of climate change, through adaptation for resilience.
Globally, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) lay out an ambitious goal for clean water, by assigning a dedicated Goal, Goal 6: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
Crucially, Goal 6 captures the themes of the global freshwater challenge in a holistic “water-cycle” approach.
Without considering sustainable management of water resources and taking Climate Action (SDG13) through adaptation to changes in availability of water resources caused by Climate Change, it will be impossible to achieve the SDGs, and SDG 6.
Nationally, water features prominently as contributing to economic growth (NDS Obj. 1) and poverty alleviation (NDS Obj. 2) through expansion and upgrading weather resilient infrastructure (Medium Term Strategy (MTS) 3) and through basic service provision (MTS 5).
Conventionally, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects often do not explicitly/consciously integrate CCA or resilience, although it may be considered out of necessity to some extent.
Often there is a pre-occupation with providing basic access to water, without due consideration for ensuring access to water when experiencing seasonal climate variations, let alone longer-term Climate Change projections.
Given the urgent need and perceived limited or uncoordinated action being taken, it is important for the water and climate change sectors to share and exchange knowledge of good practices, challenges and lessons learnt in adapting for resilience in water.
This is to empower climate and water champions at all levels for accelerating nationwide scaling up of climate action for a resilient water future.