Using IWRM as a Tool to Flight Climate Change and Mitigate Floods

Moroni, Comoros – A Regional Training of Trainers on “Climate Change Adaption and Flood Management in the Context of Integrated Water Resources Management” was organised in Moroni, Comoros. Over 30 professionals from Indian and Atlantic Ocean Small Islands Developing States gathered at the Retaj Hotel from May 22 to 24, 2017, to attend the event.

While climate change is primarily caused by energy production, the impacts will be felt mainly through water: sea level rise, increased evaporation, unpredictable precipitation and prolonged droughts are just a few manifestations of climate variability directly impacting on availability and quality of water.

Although Small Islands Developing States countries are among the least responsible for climate change, they are likely to suffer most from its adverse effects and could in some cases even become uninhabitable.

In January 2013 Tropical Storm Felleng caused widespread flooding resulting in approximately $8.3 million worth of damages and losses for the Seychelles. In February 2016, around 300 people have been forced to evacuate their homes in Mauritius after torrential rainfall lasting twelve hours triggered flooding. In May 2016, torrential rain and thunderstorms across the Maldives have caused heavy flooding in several. According to the National Disaster Management Centre, some 15 islands have reported damages from flooding to households and farms.

The magnitude and frequency of these types of weather and climate-related hazards may only escalate in the years to come and this is expected to have a knock-on effect on the tourism, agriculture and fisheries sectors as well as health, fresh water supplies and other infrastructure, unless effective policies to protect oceans and the environment are put into place.

Through management of the resource at the most adequate level, the organisation of participation in management practices and policy development, and assuring that the most vulnerable groups are considered, IWRM instruments directly assist communities in SIDS to cope with climate variability.

In 2001 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognised the potential of IWRM to be used as a means of reconciling varied and changing water uses and demands, and it appears to offer greater flexibility and adaptive capacity than conventional water resources management approaches.

It is in this context that IWRM SIDS AIO project organised this 3 days training. The main objective was to introduce general concepts and the practical application of integrated water resources management (IWRM) as an instrument for adaptation to climate change. The conference also served as a platform for the exchange of views, lessons learned, and related experiences. Case studies, data and experiences were gathered from all countries represented at the training. The materials will be used to produce a training manual.

As climate change leads to the intensification of the hydrological cycle and subsequently has serious effects on the frequency and intensity of extreme events, the training also approached more specific issues of climate change, such as hydro-climatic disasters and flood management. Floods are among the most frequent and devastating disasters in SIDS.

A field trip was organised in the region of Hambou and Bambao to illustrate the damages that occurs in areas that recurrently suffer from severe floods. Participants were able to identify the different causes and practices leading to the increase of floods in the area.

The water professionals who attended the training will organise two restitution trainings in their respective country of origins: Cabo Verde, Comoros, Maldives, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe and Seychelles. This is to ensure that communities and local authorities are equipped with the necessary tools, training and knowledge since this is where the effects of climate change, in particular floods, are the most felt.

Check out the pictures of the training here. All documents from the meeting can be found here.

For more information, contact:

Geraldine Deblon, Communication Officer, IWRM AIO SIDS Project: GeraldineD@unops.org.

Raphael Tshimanga, Hydrology and Water Resource Expert, Congo River Basin. Associate Professor at the University of Kinshasa, DR Congo. Congo Basin Network for Research and Capacity Development in Water Resources, Cap-Net UNDP: raphtm@yahoo.fr ; raphael.tshimanga@unikin.ac.cd