Pacific Risk Resilience Program: Working towards resilient communities in the Pacific

 

The Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP) will focus on strengthening governance mechanisms for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) at the sub-national and local levels. The goal of the programme is: to strengthen the resilience of Pacific island communities to disasters and climate change related risk.

Current impacts of climate change in the Pacific include more frequent and severe extreme weather events. Tropical cyclones, heavy rainfall, storm surges, drought and heat waves have had a severe and lasting impact on several countries in the past years. In the fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) projections for the Pacific include strong patterns of climate variability, sea level rise and natural disasters, and suggests that low-lying, remote communities are at highest risk. Climate impacts and predictions are very confronting to rural communities in the Pacific and are posing a direct threat to environmental services and community safety. Up to 85% of populations in the target countries live in rural areas where stable crops are threatened by high ground water levels, unstable and saline soils, heavy rains or drought, sea level rise and storm surges. These threats need to be seen in the context of already low rural resilience due to lack of infrastructure, social services, markets and income, lack of climate projections and information, and environmental vulnerability due to decades of large scale, unmonitored and often illegal extraction of natural resources.

The PRRP program is designed to address these underlying causes of vulnerability and incorporate these dimensions into socio-economic development (the ‘resilience’ agenda), as part of a shift away from simply managing the symptoms of disasters and climate change. In this vein the concept of ‘risk governance’ is emerging as part of the approach to Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) in the region. This can be described as the way in which authorities, public servants, media, private sector, and civil society coordinate in communities, manage and reduce disaster and climate change related risks.

The programme will be centered on two components that will be implemented under one programme: (i) risk governance: supporting mainstreaming of DRM and CCA into development planning and budgeting at all levels of government; and (ii) community level risk management: strengthening community resilience through targeted and inclusive community based DRM and CCA and integration of risk management at the local level.

This project will collaboratively work with communities and local-level governments in developing resilience to natural disasters and climate change through gender sensitive Community Action Plans (CAPs). The project design is based on lessons learnt from past adaptation planning in the Pacific, where a lack of community participation, rural involvement and government capacity has hampered success. This programme will utilise existing community-based networks, pool resources through joint work planning and improve coordination between communities, civil society and governments.

With consideration for and understanding of the broader DRR and adaptation picture in the Pacific, Live & Learn’s approach acknowledges that DRR and adaptation needs to be placed in a broader community development context in order to reach full potential. Over the past decade Live & Learn has been working with hundreds of communities in developing local resilience plans on food security, water safety, community-government dialogue, risk reduction planning, skills building and training. Live & Learn’s approach to activity implementation will expand opportunities for communities to build resilience through a people-centred, innovative, replicable and gender sensitive approach.