Resilience in the ‘Perfume Islands’ - Adapting agriculture to climate change in Comoros

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With heavenly beaches, an active volcano with an impressive crater, and the ever-present scents of ylang-ylang, vanilla and clove, the Comoros is an island archipelago located in the Indian Ocean between Africa and Madagascar, known as the “Perfume Islands.”

This is paradise. But climate change is threatening lives and livelihoods, upending traditional agricultural practices, and putting paradise at risk.

This small island developing state is one of the smallest and poorest countries in Africa. Agriculture remains an integral part of Comorian life, with more than 30 percent of the labour force finding their livelihoods on the farm.

Around 200,000 Comorians rely solely on agriculture to make a living and the vast majority have no training in this area. At a time when traditional knowledge is disappearing, farmers need more than ever to be mentored, and receive new information and tools to adapt to a changing climate. A lack of modernization has also created profitability problems for many farmers, perpetuating hard-to-break poverty traps, and limiting the country’s ability to reach goals for poverty reduction, food security and other targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As the climate changes – with prolonged droughts, heavy rains in January through March, increasing risks from pests and other plant diseases, high winds, floods, stronger cyclones, and sea-level rise that threatens important public infrastructure - Comoros must adapt.

One way the Government of Comoros is supporting its people to adapt is through a project to “Strengthen the Adaptive Capacity and Resilience to Climate Change in the Agriculture Sector (CRCCA).” Financed through the Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Fund (GEF-LDCF) and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the project works to ensure that farmers in Comoros have the capacity, tools and technologies they need to reduce the vulnerability of agricultural systems to climate change and variability.

Started in 2014, the project has supported nearly 200 farming communities that are highly vulnerable to climate change across the territory.

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