If you find yourself driving in Melekeok, Ngarchelong, or Ngaremlengui, you may notice billboards depicting a Palauan woman cultivating her Mesei or taro patch. The billboards, which are part of PCS’ project funded by USAID, serve to encourage community members to improve climate resilience by: 1) reviving and cultivating all Mesei, 2) applying sustainable farming practices (which are derived from the Mesei), and 3) applying storm water management in development projects. These three concepts put together are an approach to improving food, environment, and economic security – cornerstones of climate resilient communities.
July 1-10, Bernie Besebes, PCS project coordinator, traveled to Apia, Samoa and was among a select group of USAID grantees who had the opportunity to present a research paper. Bernie’s paper, which was written in collaboration with Umai Basilius, was entitled Reviving Traditional Croplands to Improve Community Climate Resilience. The paper focuses on the USAID funded project whose goal is to increase local governance and community resilience in these times of climate change.
In summary, this project highlights Palau’s vulnerability to climate change that include rising tides and extreme weather events that are negatively impacting Palauan communities. These effects coupled with changing demographics and urban development have resulted in watershed degradation and declines in agriculture and coastal fisheries productivity. Given Palau’s dependence on the health of its ecosystems to its economic and social objectives, it is essential that Palau address these vulnerabilities if its communities are to become resilient in the face of a changing climate. To resolve these challenges, Palau is looking to its past to inform the development of solutions that can be applied now and into the future. One solution is to adapt successful traditional soil conservation practices utilized in the Mesei or taro farms to the Sers or modern farming and storm water management practices. The benefits of implementing of these agro-ecological farming principles as guidelines for development include: increased food, environmental, and economic security which are the cornerstones of resilient communities.
The World Symposium on Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies to Coastal Communities brought scientists and conservation practitioners from around the world to share best practices and solutions to increase community resilience to climate change. Registered attendees hailed from over 20 countries. Palau had three representatives besides Ms. Besebes including Bola Majekobaje, PCS executive director, and Charlie Patris from HOPE. [/restrict]