The global Green Climate Fund is providing US$18.6 million to the Marshall Islands to support the low-lying atoll nation in adapting to increasing climate risks, particularly more frequent and extreme droughts which impact the country’s freshwater supply.
The Marshall Islands “as with many small island developing states, has had little if anything to do with causing global climate change, yet we must now cope with the consequences,” said Director Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination, Clarence Samuel.
Currently, the islanders do not have year-round access to safe freshwater supply for drinking, cooking and sanitation. Intensifying droughts, driven by climate change, are worsening the situation.
The new seven-year project, supported by the UN Development Programme and co-financed with $6 million from the national government, aims to secure year-round access to safe freshwater for over 15,500 people living on 24 of its most vulnerable outer atolls and islands (with at least 20 litres of drinking water person per day). At the local level, the project will focus on improving rainwater harvesting systems and storage for homes and communities, including improved guttering and downpipes and additional storage. Groundwater wells will be protected from king tides, storm surges and contamination by raising the height, covering them and installing hand pumps.
Residents will receive training in efficient water management while newly established community-based water committees will be trained and engaged in drought contingency planning. Public awareness campaigns will promote water conservation.