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Situated across the hilly interiors of northeast St. Catherine in Jamaica, lies the rural community of Glengoffe, which comprises fourteen (14) smaller sub-communities consisting of approximately 5,000 people. This community is known for its spirit of self-reliance and resilience, as well as for its Climate Change Adaptation Project, which was the winner of the global UN Volunteers Award for Volunteering Matters for Sustainable Development 2012, in a competition organized as a lead up to the Rio 2012 Sustainable Development Conference.
Under the project, Glengoffe established soil management through contour farming, gully plugging and the use of barrier crops and reforestation with native lumber species to alleviate erosion. It allowed for participants to benefit socially and economically through farming.
Commendably, the Glengoffe Community took steps to build resilience of their ecosystem, so that the community as a whole could better cope with the threat of climate change. Over the years, this community increasingly suffered from heavy soil erosion during periods of rainfall and long periods of drought. As the environmental degradation continued to worsen over the years, the impact of the climatic conditions on the land posed an increasingly significant challenge for this farming community.
Consequently the Glengoffe Community Development Committee, in using a participatory approach that involved the input of community residents, began research on how the matter could be addressed. The community found out about the Community-Based Adaptation project, a global initiative between the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) implemented using GEF Small Grants Programme mechanism. Through this 5-year pilot project, Glengoffe was able to access grant funding of USD$42,000, and was also able to get co-financing support from other sources such as the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, in order to implement measures to sustainably manage their natural resources.
Some of the measures that Glengoffe undertook to protect the community’s environment and sustainably manage their natural resources included:
1. Creation of over 7,000 metres of log and vegetation barriers and two (2) acres of terraced land in order to reduce soil erosion;
2. Planting of over 7,500 fruit and lumber trees in order to improve the livelihood of residents and reforest degraded areas. In total, 59 acres of land has been reforested;
3. Establishment of 628 metres of diversion ways to divert excess water away from farms.
4. Installation of three (3) irrigation systems and water harvesting systems;
5. Building of thirty-eight (38) compost heaps to improve soil quality, and reduce fertilizer use.
Of note, is that sixty (60) families have benefitted directly and indirectly from these project activities. Additionally, schools in the area, and twelve (12) elderly persons have been provided with produce from the farms. The project has also allowed for seasonal employment to be given to about 250 persons in the area, and has also provided an opportunity for the youth in the community to be productively engaged.
Opportunities now exist for taking these lessons learnt and best practice activities, and replicating them on a larger scale across the country and region, since there are many other communities that face similar challenges. These activities have been found to be cost effective, simple to use, and most importantly, have a livelihood component, which will help them to be sustainable.
The Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, lauded the Community-Based Adaptation (CBA) to Climate Change Project in Jamaica for the positive impact it has had on vulnerable communities. Minister Pickersgill noted that the project has given Jamaica the opportunity to carry out interventions that have made a difference to the communities involved in terms of building resilience, capacity and creating a livelihood.
The Minister described as mindboggling, statistics from the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC 2009) that says that over the last decade alone, damage from intense climatic conditions has cost the region in excess of half a trillion US dollars. "In real terms, the threats posed to the Caribbean region's development prospects are severe and it is now accepted that adaptation will require a sizeable and sustained investment of resources," he said. The Minister was addressing the final evaluation workshop of the project on October 2, 2012 at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston, Jamaica.
The success of this project in Glengoffe shows the importance of volunteerism and partnerships in tackling challenges of this nature. The partners in this project have included: the United Nations Development Programme, the UN Volunteers, the Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority; the Social Development Commission, and the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica.
CBA Projects were undertaken across the island of Jamaica in the following communities: Woodford in St. Andrew and Cascade in Portland through the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT); in the Portland Bight area of Clarendon and St. Catherine through the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation; in Bunker’s Hill, Trelawny through the Bunker’s Hill Community Development committee; in Bellevue, Cornwall Barracks and Moore Town, Portland through the Portland Environmental Protection Association; and in Glengoffe and surrounding districts in St. Catherine through the Glengoffe Community Development Committee’s Benevolent Society.
Sections of this article were taken from the JIS Story"Pickersgill Lauds Success of Community-Based Climate Change Project" - http://www.jis.gov.jm/component/content/article/145-water-land-environment-climate-change/31908-pickersgill-lauds-success-of-community-based-climate-change-project