29 March 2023, Port Vila - The Tagabe river is critical to Vanuatu’s ecosystem, supplying fresh water to a population of over 50,000 in Port Vila and its nearby suburbs. But as climate change worsens, the river continues to be severely impacted placing the livelihoods of communities who depend on this supply of freshwater at risk.
For this reason, the Intra ACP GCCA+ Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience Building (PACRES) project is building on and extending activities implemented by the Pacific Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change (PEBACC Phase 1) promoting the use of EbA approaches to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience to climate change in Vanuatu.
The project team has been working with Vanuatu’s Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Environment, Energy and Disaster Management (MCCAMGEEDM), Ministry of Agriculture Livestock Forestry Fisheries & Biosecurity (MALFFB) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) to improve the country’s national adaptation and mitigation solutions to climate change.
One of the many activities undertaken involves tree planting on the Tagabe riverbanks and riparian zones, as well as other chosen PACRES sites from the lower to the upper ridges of the Tagabe watershed including the UNELCO area which is the main water source for Port Vila. The goal is to improve and rehabilitate ecosystems to give communities in the area a fighting chance to withstand the challenges brought about by the climate crisis.
This week, the PACRES Project team is in Vanuatu to assess the progress of the work and look at the next steps. The visit is timely after the devastating effects of cyclones Judy and Kevin, which devastated Vanuatu one after the other. The assessment noted the excellent progress in the nursery and replanting in chosen areas of Port Vila, including the Tagabe River. Given the fact that of the trees planted as part of the project were small and growing, many of them were spared from the impact of the cyclones.
The Director of Vanuatu’s Department of Forestry, Mr Rexon Vira, applauded the work and noted the impact it was not only having on restoring the river’s ecosystem but also changing mindsets and behaviour.
“The people living along the Tagabe riverbank understand and are aware of the importance of planting trees along the riverbank,” he said. “They now have a better appreciation of the replanting effort and encouraged to continue the work being done.”
Aside from tree planting and promoting the use of EbA approaches, progress was also noted on the implementation of the Port Vila Central Business District Greening Masterplan, funded by the European Union under the PACRES Project.
Acting Director of Vanuatu’s Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (DUAP), Mr Jeffrey Kaitirp, said: “We thank the PACRES Project for their support through the Port Vila CBD Greening Master Plan, Vanuatu recognises the importance of the plan and our department has installed solar lights to compliment the plan.”
PACRES Manager, Mr Semi Qamese, said an effective greening strategy offers many benefits to Port Vila and the nearby communities.
“For example, a green city will reduce urban heating, can better manage stormwater and help protect the beautiful harbour. Greening also provides opportunities for local communities to relax and enjoy natural spaces within the urban environment,” he said.
The €12.18 million PACRES is funded primarily by the European Union (EU) with targeted support from Monaco and the Swiss Confederation and is delivered jointly by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programmme (SPREP), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the Pacific Community (SPC) and the University of the South Pacific (USP).
PACRES aims to improve regional, national adaptation and mitigation solutions to climate change concerns. The 15 Pacific ACP countries covered by the project are Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.