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USAID Empowers Villagers to Identify Climate Change Risks

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For the first time in their lives, 15 villagers from Gabagaba village took part in a Participatory Risk Mapping exercise led by USAID, through its Coastal Community Adaptation Project (C-CAP).

The project aims to build the resilience of Pacific communities to withstand the long and short-term effects of climate change caused by intense and frequent weather events, ecosystem degradation and sea-level rise.

“Everyone in the community was excited to take part in this new climate change adaptation project,” said Gabagaba village councilor Joe Kila. The youngest participant was in his 20’s and the eldest was 80.

Gabagaba village is a 45-minute drive out of Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby. According to Mr. Kila, whose family has been living in the village for two generations, the village is regularly flooded. In the past, high tide stood at five meters but now it measures up to 10 meters.

“The river is our main source of drinking water but salt water and debris, including sewage, get mixed in so we are left drinking dirty water that makes us sick,” he said.

The C-CAP team engaged the community over a two-day period and worked with participants to brainstorm risks, identify important infrastructure, conduct a group infrastructure-mapping exercise, identify infrastructure vulnerability, and georeference and document the process through photography.

Mr. Kila said Gabagaba villagers are now more aware of the impacts caused by climate change such as increased flooding from the Sirovai River.

The risks identified have made the village a priority project in year one of C-CAP.

C-CAP is a five-year project of USAID that will cover 12 Pacific Island countries. Headquartered in Papua New Guinea, the project will have a satellite office in Fiji.

The first year of the project’s implementation will focus on 20 communities in Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu.