The project complies with the urgent needs identified in the NAPA, all of which are relevant for supporting the national development goals of achieving MDGs 1, 3, 6 and 7. The project is also aligned with the framework of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) I, which calls for sustaining the environment for the present generation and at the same time not compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, and for which the central goal is to revitalize the main economic sectors of the country, notably agriculture, fisheries and primary industries, in order to contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic development and growth, and to provide food security and nutrition, as well as employment.
The overarching goal of the project is to safeguard hard won gains, resulting from ongoing and planned development efforts, from expected climate change impacts, and especially to reduce the vulnerability of local communities to increasing climate change induced risks. This goal is consistent with, and underpinned by, a number of important policies and strategies governing Liberia's national development and its specific responses to climate change.
Fourteen years of civil war and decades of low investment in infrastructure have left the Liberian hydro-meteorological services with very little capacity to monitor, forecast, archive, analyse and communicate environmental information related to climate and water, including the impact of extreme climate events and disasters. This situation undermines efforts across a range of sectors to understand, quantify and plan for historical and current climate fluctuations, as well as develop tools to help plan adaptation to future climate changes. This is particularly important given that many of the key economic sectors in Liberia, namely agriculture, fisheries, forestry and energy are highly vulnerable to climate variability and change, yet little is known on how climate is already changing within the region, nor how it may be expected to change in the future.
Efforts to remedy this situation will therefore have positive consequences for the local economy. The proposed project aims to address these deficiencies by implementing the rollout of new infrastructure for monitoring current climate and extremes, as well as building capacity to use this information for communicating climate-related risks, and improve planning and decision-making in key economic sectors.
The following outlines briefly how climate affects the different sectors (NAPA,2008) and where the proposed project can usefully support climate sensitive short and long-term planning. In line with the NAPA, the proposed project will necessarily provide targeted support to the agriculture sectors. However, it is possible that the scopeed by the sparse observational network. Satellite observations of land use and wildfires have the potential to aid planning and emergency responses (when threatening communities) but are not incorporated into an effective early warning strategy. As forests take several years to mature long term (multi-year to multi- decadal) projections are also useful for long-term planning. However, the available fine resolution climate projections for Liberia are limited by both the observational network and local-regional capacity to generate such scenarios.
Coastal management and fisheries: Over 20,000 workers nationwide earn their livelihoods from fishing activities and fish represent the main source of animal protein in the typical Liberian diet.
- Lack of data on water temperatures, rainfall, river outflow and coastal ocean dynamics currently limits understanding the vulnerability of fisheries;
- Changing water temperatures and rainfall patterns may be adversely affecting fish stocks of some species;
Hot nights have increased by 15.7% between 1960 and 2003 and mean annual rainfall has on average decreased since 1960 (http://country-profiles.geog.ox.ac.uk/). It is noteworthy that many aspects of climate change, particularly changes in extremes, were not able to be calculated due to a lack of weather data for the country. Consequently these changes only provide an overview of changes for regions where data was available.
Accurate wind and wave forecasts for the coastal zones are either not available or not routinely communicated to users e.g.... fishing vessels. Whilst there are internationally available wind, wave and temperature forecasts for the globe, these do not account for subtleties of the Liberian coastline so efforts to produce locally applicable forecasts are warranted. The ongoing LDCF financed project “Enhancing Resilience of vulnerable coastal areas to climate change risks in Liberia” includes components to both set up an early warning system for the coast and develop future projections of sea level rise..
Public Health: Changes in rainfall and temperature patterns are expected to lead to increased infections of water-borne diseases e.g.... cholera, dysentery, giardiasis, amebiasis, typhoid fever, and malaria.
- Malaria is the number one cause of in-patient deaths (42%) and poses the most significant threat to public health, particularly among infants, pregnant mothers and their unborn children.
- Increases in temperature combined with poor hygienic practices, a scarcity of safe drinking water, limited public health facilities and flooding, will likely increase infection rates.
The predictability of disease outbreaks depend on several climate and non-climatic factors. Of those mentioned above cholera can be monitored/predicted by being related to zooplankton blooms seen in remotely sensed imagery, and malaria is predictable (through monitoring of rainfall and temperature) where it is seasonal in nature. The latter would have direct benefits for the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) and the UNDP GoAL WASH water and sanitation programme would clearly benefit from the former. The introduction of climate forecasts, satellite and climate observation capabilities, will therefore benefit these programmes and the state of public health in Liberia, by forewarning where and when environmental conditions are suitable for disease outbreaks.
In Liberia the National Meteorological and Hydrological Service (NMHS) were severely disrupted for many years due to civil unrest that caused destruction of meteorological infrastructure, facilities and the loss of important meteorological data and information. As a result, the NMHS does not have the capability of providing the weather and climate information products and services necessary for science-based decision making such as:
- estimating hazard risks and vulnerabilities for e.g..... floodplain and agricultural land etc;
- development of an early warning system for droughts, floods and storms;decision making in weather and climate-sensitive economic activities such as agriculture, forestry and construction;
- coastal zone management, including fisheries;
- conducting feasibility studies for major developments (e.g.... highways, dams, bridges);
- analysing climate change risks and developing adaptation strategies.
This project is fully in line with LDCF/SCCF focal area objective 2 “Increase adaptive capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change, including variability, at local, national, regional and global level”. Related expected outcomes include strengthening national hydro-meteorological capacities to provide information which can be used to reduce the risk of climate-induced economic losses, as well as increasing the knowledge and understanding of current climate variability and change-induced risks at both the country level and for targeted vulnerable areas.
Source: Liberia's Project Identification Form (June 19, 2012)
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