In an incredible show of support, the elected and traditional leadership of Ngarchelong State along with women taro farmers and community members gathered on Thursday, November 17 at the Bai ra Mengellang to join Palau Conservation Society (PCS) for the Ngarchelong State community launch of the recently awarded USAID grant project entitled Reviving Traditional Croplands to Improve Community Climate Resilience.
[restrict] Present at the launch were: Hon. Browny Salvador, Governor of Ngarchelong State; Speaker of the State Legislature Mathias Erbai who also holds the chiefly title of Iechad ra Butelbai; Reteruich, Katsushi Skang; Mad, Harper Skang; Rteluchel, Sofia Tekriu; Rtik, Ulang Skang; Ruchad, Baulina Ewatel Skang; Dilruk, Faustina Rehuher-Marrug who is also the Vice Chair of the Board for PCS.
The goal of this project is to build community resilience to climate change by focusing on watershed management and traditional soil conservation methods. The strategies and actions reflected in the project aim to achieve objective one of Palau’s Climate Change Policy Framework: enhance adaptation and resilience. Successful implementation of the project will result in the economic, environmental, and food security for the states of Melekeok, Ngaremlengui, and Ngarchelong. Lessons learned from these three project sites will be shared with all 10 states of Babeldaob to ensure community climate resilience.
In his opening remarks, Gov. Salvador talked about the significance of taro patch cultivation and the importance of community involvement in ensuring all taro patches are active and productive. Ms. Florence Towai, representative of Ngarchelong Women’s Group gave special remarks and further emphasized the value of taro cultivation in the traditional way and the passing on of this invaluable skill to the next generation of Palau’s women. Ms. Faustina Rehuher-Marugg who also holds the title Dilruk of Ngarchelong, gave the Message from the PCS Board of Directors underscoring PCS’ work on protecting Palau’s watersheds and rich environment hence this project. In his closing remarks, Speaker Erbai who also holds the title of Iechad ra Butelbai further encouraged the community to participate in this project as well as confirming the support of Ngarchelong State Assembly in ensuring this project is successfully implemented in the state of Ngarchelong.
The villages of Ngebei and Ngriil in Ngarchelong State were selected because they have taro farms that have consistently been cultivated in the traditional manner and can serve as a control site for project field investigations. The continued cultivation of taro patches will ensure economic, environmental, and food security for the Ngebei and Ngriil communities of Ngarchelong. To be secure in these areas ensures resilience or fast and effective recovery from natural disasters that are caused by climate change.
Palau’s climate change profile predicts that Palau will face higher levels of rainfall and an ever increasing sea level in the coming years due to climate change. This makes it necessary to focus on storm water and watershed management to ensure communities have the ability to respond to and recover from negative or devastating effects of climate change events such as typhoons, sea level rise, droughts, and others. Published studies have also demonstrated that a healthy taro patch system with active taro patches help to slow down the flow of water and soil erosion. This traps up to 90% of the sediments that are eroded from the hills down to our reefs with every rainfall. This proves that Palau’s traditional taro farming methods are the best way to manage water and soil erosion. What better way to manage a contemporary issue like climate change than with traditional methods that have been practiced and handed down for thousands of years.
This project is made possible by the support of the American People, through the U.S. Agency for International Development. [/restrict]