Taking control

01 November 2010 | News story

The devastating aftermath of tropical storm Agatha in Central America which caused widespread flooding across much of the region, graphically illustrated the vulnerability of local communities to climate change.

It served as an urgent reminder for these communities and their politicians to make the reduction of vulnerability a priority in decision making. Earlier this year, Fundación Vida, local NGOs, and the communities of Playa Grande and Aceituno in Honduras, supported by IUCN’s Water and Nature Initiative (WANI), met in the Honduran municipality of Alianza to assess the threat of climate change impacts such as floods, droughts and storms, to their livelihoods, particularly agriculture and fishing. Together these groups identified several steps for reducing the impacts of climate threats and strengthening their capacity to deal with them.

The team was trained in the use of CRiSTAL (Community-based Risk Screening Tool - Adaptation & Livelihoods). This helps project planners and administrators to identify actions that promote adaptation to climate change and integrate them into policy.

Managing natural systems sustainably helps reduce vulnerability and safeguards vital resources such as water, soil, food, medicines and biodiversity. Well-managed ecosystems support these resources that sustain populations and their economies. Watersheds, floodplains, wetlands, coastal and marine ecosystems are being increasingly valued as ‘natural infrastructure’ necessary for adapting to climate change.

In comunidad Playa Grande, some of the measures proposed for reducing vulnerability were the establishment of irrigation systems and crop diversification, strengthening of local emergency committees, as well as a programme for managing water surplus throughout the watershed. Communities from Aceituno decided that a good storage system for basic crops and grass silage, improvement of the drinking water system, and reforestation along riverbanks, will increase the communities' capacity to deal with climate threats.

For more information contact:

Diana Rojas Orjuela, Water Management Unit Officer, IUCN Mesoamerica and the Caribbean Initiative
e. diana.rojas@iucn.org