Three communities on the island of Maewo in Vanuatu have been waiting a long time to have access to electricity. IUCN through funding from the governments of Italy and Austria is helping through a mini-hydro power project on Talise River that should meet the communities’ desires.
At this stage of the project, an Environment Management and Monitoring Plan (EMMP) has been produced taking into account the environmental implications of construction and the solutions that could be implemented.
IUCN Oceania's Energy Programme Coordinator, Anare Matakiviti, has just returned from Vanuatu following several consultation visits on the EMMP with the communities and relevant government agencies.
"This is the first ever EMMP produced for a community based energy project in Vanuatu, " says Matakiviti. " The EMMP provides a plan to reduce environmental impacts and seeks to enhance the resilient of the local communities to environmental challenges that are envisaged to arise from the construction of the mini-hydro scheme."
Apart from the one-on-one visits, dialogue was also held with the Hydro Steering Committee which consists of representatives from Department of Environment, Energy, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, two non-government agencies and three representatives from the villages of Talise, Narovorovo and Nasawa including their respective chiefs.
"IUCN fully supports the EMMP,” says Matakiviti. "While the communities would like to see the process quickened, we would rather approach with caution for the benefits of both the communities and nature."
Mr. Joe Ligo, the Director General of Vanuatu's Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources said that environmental damages caused by infrastructure development such as energy projects can cause irreparable damages to the environment.
"The development of the EMMP for the Talise hydro serves to minimize these potential damages and reduces the risk for biodiversity losses."