Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, has lauded the Community-Based Adaptation (CBA) to Climate Change Project in Jamaica for the positive impact it has had on some vulnerable communities.
The Minister was addressing the final evaluation workshop of the project on October 2 at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston. Under the initiative, funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Environmental Facility (GEF), small grants of up to US$50,000 were provided to community-based and non-governmental organisations, to assist communities in implementing various activities to reduce their vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
Minister Pickersgill noted that the project has given Jamaica the opportunity to carry out interventions that have made a difference to the communities involved in terms of building resilience, capacity and also livelihood prospects.
He lauded the Glengoffe community, one of several rural area participants, for the commendable way that it conducted its project and the strong sense of voluntarism that emerged. "They have been able to tackle issues to improve the lives of the community and build their resilience to climate change impacts while developing new means of livelihood," the Minister said.
Under the project, the Glengoffe established soil management through contour farming, gully plugging and the use of barrier crops and reforestation with native lumber species to alleviate erosion. It allowed for participants to benefit socially and economically through farming.
Community member, Hyacinth Douglas, reported that the community is already reaping success as there were no reports of land slippage during the recent heavy rains, a problem that usually plagued the hilly community.
Minister Pickersgill noted that the project success in Glengoffe and other areas is being looked at as a model for possible replication in other vulnerable areas across the island and the wider Caribbean.
"These lessons learned will be especially valuable at this time as we move to finalise Jamaica's Climate Change Policy and Action Plan, which is being prepared under the Government of Jamaica/United Nations Environment Programme/European Union Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Project in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development," he said.
The Minister had described as mindboggling, statistics from the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC 2009) that says that over the last decade alone, damage from intense climatic conditions has cost the region in excess of half a trillion US dollars.
"In real terms, the threats posed to the Caribbean region's development prospects are severe and it is now accepted that adaptation will require a sizeable and sustained investment of resources," he said.
In the meantime, Deputy Resident Representative of the UNDP, Jamaica, Akiko Fujii, said during the adaptation of the CBA project, it was clear that the preparedness of community members to handle extreme climate events was limited.
She informed that a number of approaches were used to address this, including, diversify the farming practices of communities; assisting rural communities to increase their income opportunities; and helping them to manage and restore ecosystems in a sustainable way.
She called on the government to keep the momentum going by upscaling or replicating CBA project activities at the national level.
Projects were undertaken in Woodford, St. Andrew and Cascade, Portland through the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT); in the Portland Bight area of Clarendon and St. Catherine through the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation; Bunker’s Hill, Trelawny through the Bunker’s Hill Community Development committee; Bellevue, Cornwall Barracks and Moore Town, Portland through the Portland Environmental Protection Association; and Glengoffe and surrounding districts in St. Catherine through the Glengoffe Community Development Committee and Benevolent Society.