WASH and climate change adaptation in the Pacific
This project integrated climate change impacts and current practices to develop a framework to enable communities and water managers to navigate from understanding impacts to evaluating adaptation options for water supply and sanitation.
Project Category: Applied Research
Key Areas of Work: Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
Project Date: Apr 01, 2013
Climate change is a serious threat to freshwater resources throughout the Pacific - sea level rise, saltwater intrusion, increasing evaporation rates and changing precipitation patterns are already affecting the water cycle: there is evidence that there are increasingly frequent droughts, floods and other extreme events.
This 3-year collaborative research project is working with Pacific governments and communities to understand existing WASH systems and adaptation approaches, and to identify and plan sustainable adaption responses to further climate change impacts. It particularly focusses on vulnerable freshwater resources in atolls with case studies in the Marshall Islands, and on flood-prone areas, with case studies in the Solomon Islands and Fiji.
While climate modelling and vulnerability assessments have been conducted in the Pacific, there remains a major knowledge gap: impacts and adaptation options relating to water resources and sanitation are not well understood. IWC research helped fill this gap by answering the following key questions:
- What are the impacts of climate change and the adaptation options for communities and water and sanitation managers in Pacific atolls and flood-prone catchments?
- How can conceptual and quantitative (Bayesian) models best be used to assist in understanding impacts and assessing management and adaptation options?
- How do responses to climate change-induced emergencies (e.g. flood, drought) either support or undermine long-term adaptation and resilience in WASH?
- To what degree are communities using modern technologies to assist with their adaptation and does this impact on the use of traditional approaches to managing water resources?