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Residents of Epi Island, Vanuatu to have all weather roads

By 2013 the 3,000 residents on the island of Epi in Vanuatu will have access to all villages through a new road and the relocation of the island’s main airstrip, as part of the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) project.

About 40% of the current roads and Lamen Bay airstrip on Epi are located next to the high water mark, resulting in a lot of coastal erosion problems making roads dangerous and inaccessible. Studies by the Vanuatu Meteorological Service and the science component of the Australian International Climate Change Initiative (ICCAI) show that sea levels in Vanuatu have risen by 6mm per year since 1993.

This project will relocate the current roads to safer ground and includes drainage systems to allow for run-off. The new design will also include sedimentation ponds which will limit sedimentation along the reef. Overall, the main focus for this road project is to take into account all possible climate change impacts including sea level rise.

Vanuatu is one of the countries in the PACC project, a 13 million dollar regional project that helps coordinate national ‘on the ground’ activities in 13 island countries to help them adapt to climate change in three main areas – food security and production, coastal management and water resources management. The focus for the Vanuatu PACC is coastal management.

The regional PACC project is implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as an implementing partner. It is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

“The communities on Epi are going to benefit from this project which will give them roads that are accessible all throughout the year and even in the event of extreme climate events the roads will still be safe and usable,” said Brian Phillips the Vanuatu National Climate Change Coordinator.

“This will help the communities in many ways, for example, farmers will be able to have continuous access to roads that can help them get their produce from the gardens to the markets and even to the coastal areas for shipment off Epi.”

For Vanuatu their PACC project has established a partnership with a New Zealand climate modeling company called Clim-systems Ltd. This partnership has linked PACC to a World Bank supported initiative for the implementation of a coastal erosion stabilization project that will support the adaptation intervention on the island of Epi. The PACC contribution to this project is USD 750,000.

“The Vanuatu Ministry of Works is now planning designs to improve the roads based upon the vulnerability and adaptation assessment carried out and other technical support given,” said Phillips.

“Come 2013 we want to make sure the people of Epi have infrastructure that is resilient to all possible impacts of climate change.”

ENDS

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