The residents of Sanchez on the small sister island of Petite Martinique have finally seen the completion of the 140 metres long sea defense revetment to deal with the adverse impact of climate change.
For years, the people there watched as climate change threatened their livelihood and way of life.
The sea became a more integral part of their surroundings, threatening the existence of the island’s lone electricity company, the lost of the island’s lone playing field as well as the erosion of the island’s main road.
The Sanchez project was one of 11 examples of climate change adaptation interventions to be undertaken in the Caribbean under the “Reduce Risks to Human and Natural Assets Resulting from Climate Change” (RRACC) Project.
It was also the first to be completed under phase one of the projects that help OECS States build resilience to climate change and reduce vulnerabilities to its impacts.
The project focused on reclamation and placement of a revetment to reduce the area’s vulnerabilities and protect it from continued erosion and building a temporary playing field/sporting facility for the people of Petite Martinique.
The project was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Climate Change Project done under RRACC.
The project, which started in September 2013, was undertaken by contracting firm Virgin Beach Development Ltd headed by Edwin De Caul.
The Government of Grenada contributed $190,000.00 towards the project in the supply of boulders to complete the overall project valued at $940,000.00.
An elaborate ceremony laced with entertainment was held on the project site last week Thursday to mark the completion of the first phase of the project.
In addressing the ceremony, Head of the Environment Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Aria St Louis said she was proud of the efforts put forward to produce the project and branded it as a demonstration for other islands to learn from.
“This is the first step in a much larger effort to promote climate resilience in the tri-island state,” she said.
According to St. Louis, there are many issues the island face with the rise in climate change, such as precipitation, timing, duration and intensity of rainfall and drought, warming of ocean waters and intensity in hurricanes.
Eastern Caribbean Change Advisor, Mikell O’Mealy reminded attendees that global climate is changing quickly as seen with the continued rise in sea levels as evidenced in Sanchez.
She said this phenomenon destroys corals, which provides a buffer, and threatens critical infrastructure.
She believes that the issue of climate change will only get worse but that projects such as the Sanchez revetment shows how issues like this can be addressed.
O’Mealy expressed appreciation to US President Barack Obama and his administration for providing the funding, adding that she believes that the project can be considered a shinning example of how communities can work collaboratively to address climate change.
Director, Social and Sustainable Development Division OECS Secretariat,
Bentley Browne, said that while the OECS region might have contributed little towards climate change “we all feel the effects as experienced with drought and precipitation becoming regular features”.
He noted that six projects were submitted for assistance in Grenada but the Sanchez project was given preference because of its priority.
Other areas approved for assistance in Carriacou and Petite Martinique are the west of Carriacou, near the Sandy Island Oyster Bed and Marine Protected Area (SIOBMPA), the eastern coastline of Carriacou, fishing communities along Windward to Grand Bay and North and North-west of Petite Martinique.
Carriacou and Petite Martinique will benefit from the RRACC project in excess of EC$1.75 million.
Browne indicated that there are resources available to undertake similar projects in Grenada.
In Grenada, areas in Sauteurs have been approved for assistance to address flooding episodes after heavy rainfall which is exacerbated when high tides are happening simultaneously and for coastal erosion destruction of beach dunes, wetland systems and coral reefs as well as landslides.
The RRACC project would complement work already being done through the World Bank’s Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) and the Strategic Plan for Climate Resilience (SPCR).
US Charge d’Affaires, Louis Crishock was on hand for the completion ceremony and expressed how proud he was with USAID’s contribution.
He said the agency was always willing to lend a helping hand in times of trouble, and this, he said, will not end.
Crishock described the Sanchez project as representing genuine co-operation between the United States and Grenada.
Minister with responsibility for Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs, Elvin Nimrod believes that students should be taught at an early stage the issue of climate change, its causes and consequences.
Nimrod reiterated Grenada’s and the region’s vulnerability to climate change and the need for all to play their part in mitigating against climate change.
He also encouraged the small community of Sanchez to appreciate the facility and to take care of it
The RRACC Project is a five-year (2011-2015) framework for climate change adaptation strategy for the Caribbean region to be implemented using “fast-start” financing as part of a US commitment made at the December 2009 UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen.
The OECS Secretariat was invited by USAID to submit proposals for climate change financing and in 2010, the Sanchez proposal was approved with a grant agreement signed in January 2011.
The project was launched in July 2011 with an initial budget of US$2.5 million, with the potential to receive a further US$8.0 million over the life of the project, depending on the approval from the US Congress.
The project concludes on September 30, 2015.
A total of $10.5 million in funding was received of which 60% was allocated for the 11 demonstration projects in the OECS.
RRACC Projects are being undertaken in Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines.