Construction Of Water Harvesting Infrastructure & Improving The Community's Adaptive Capacity To Natural Hazards

What is the Project About?

 View of earth pond water used for irrigation purposes. Because of this pond farmers have increased their crop planting which has significantly contributed to their income generating capacity. PHOTO CREDIT: HYACINTH DOUGLAS/2013

The project sites are located in the towns of Pleasant Valley and White Chapel, in the southern part of Jamaica’s Clarendon Parish. They are home to approximately 1,500 people, 50% of whom are estimated to be less than 35 years old. While bauxite-mining was the main economic activity until 1969, agriculture has been the communities’ primary source of livelihood for the past 40 years. The area is nationally recognized as a climate hot spot. Climate change-driven events such as increasing temperatures, droughts, irregular rainfall, torrential rains and flooding have impacted the soil quality, water availability and water quality in these areas. In turn, the agricultural production and sufficient arable land, which used to provide comfortable sources of livelihood, have been destroyed. Lastly, long-term climate forecasts in the region include the continual increases of temperatures, increases in the occurrences of heat waves and decreases of precipitation. Therefore, the community members needed to adapt to the climate change impacts that were threatening their livelihoods and ecosystems.

Project Objectives And Key Activities

The project’s objective was to strengthen the communities’ resilience to climate change impacts, and its variability, through awareness-raising and capacity building activities in water security and natural resource management. Building on local knowledge and using a participatory approach, awareness-raising workshops were held on climate change, its short-term and long-term impacts on the communities, how they can cope in a sustainable way and how national policies can be influenced by their actions.

The project activities for water security included the rehabilitation of the community water catchment that was out of use for 40 years; the construction of an earth pond system (which also supports the objectives of the Pleasant Valley Reforestation Project); the development of a sustainable water harvesting system; and the awareness-raising of community members on the productive use and care of rainwater harvesting ponds and catchment. These activities improved water availability and quality for irrigation especially during incidences of floods and droughts.

The water management initiatives supported agro-forestry activities. In this regard, adaptive management tools in Sustainable Land Management (SLM) were applied accordingly and together have led to improved production in agriculture and/or other land-based/cottage industries. In turn, these have led to food and water security, as well as income generating activities.

“This is a Small Island Developing States Community-Based Adaption (SIDS-CBA) Project, funded by Australian Aid,  implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and delivered by the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP). “

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