Thursday, November 7, 2013

Helping communities adapt to climate change in Samoa

Patrick Fuller of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies at the Thomson Reuters Foundation: ....Climate modellers predict that the effects of global warming – coupled with natural weather events caused by El Niño and La Niña – have caused an escalating pattern of greater extremes in rainfall distribution across the Pacific, together with more intense and frequent cyclonic storms and prolonged periods of drought. Approximately 70 per cent of Samoa’s population and infrastructure is located in low-lying coastal areas, making the population increasingly vulnerable to the projected rises in sea levels.

“In the past decade we had about three major disasters – this is something new,” says Tautala Mauala, Secretary General of the Samoa Red Cross Society. “Flooding caused by Cyclone Evan in 2012 brought Apia to a standstill and also affected the southern part of the mainland. It’s not just the frequency, but the severity of these disasters. They are having a devastating impact on our country.”

Helping communities adapt to the risks posed by climate change is integral to the disaster risk reduction activities of the Samoa Red Cross Society. Under a Community Disaster and Climate Risk Management Programme funded by the Australian Red Cross, support is being provided to communities to become more resilient in the face of disaster threats. The project’s origins are partly rooted in the experience of Cyclone Evan, which highlighted a lack of knowledge among communities on how to prepare for and respond to disasters...

A canoe in Samoa, shot by Teinesavaii, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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