Vital initiatives to build resilient and stable communities
The devastating impacts of climate change are being felt across the world and within all socio-economic groups.
The link between climate change, conflict and competition for natural resources is particularly relevant for those living in poverty, where resource scarcity often leads to conflict and forced migration. Preventative measures can help communities reduce vulnerability and anticipate conflict.
Climate change is a broad, cross-cutting issue, so our projects ideas are anchored in relevant thematic areas reflecting the expertise of our working group: water resource management, education and outreach, early warning, and the empowerment of youth and women. In addition, our strong focus on water access and water information will aim to identify linkages to the urgent issue of clean water access in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Our five projects present opportunities for engagement by Rotarians, who can get involved by identifying/implementing appropriate tools and capacity building measures that address the challenges facing vulnerable populations in the context of climate change. These projects will be steered by global experts in the field of climate change.
1. Education for lasting peace and climate resilience in Ethiopia: (Wolaita Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region – SNNPR).
We will support capacity building and youth empowerment initiatives associated with the planned construction of a model school – designed for energy comfort and an improved learning/teaching environment in a community grappling with both climate change and social/ethnic conflicts. Rotary would partner with the Swiss government’s REPIC program and local stakeholders to engage on a range of issues, including climate adaptation, education, sustainable water use, and energy poverty.
2. “The voice of the river, a global voice”:
Fleuve Sénégal, a transboundary basin (Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal) is confronted with governance issues and competing interests around water usage, which are exacerbated by climate change and desertification. The project builds on Geneva Water Hub`s efforts to address community-level, water-related, micro-conflicts in the Sahel region. Key components include: youth and women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship, grassroots development and cultural considerations.
3. Capacity Enhancement for forecasting for Tana/Athi River Basins:
Water security challenges pose huge human risks in Kenya, leading to inter-community pressures and local-level conflicts. This project builds on WEHDI`s planned evaluation of Hydromet data products that are currently available from two of the world’s most renowned Global Producing Centers (GPC). The products will be evaluated to determine their potential performance in Kenya’s climate-impacted Tana and Athi river basins and will be assessed for their reliability in providing water information/data and making well-functioning early warning communication systems available that can inform cross-sector planning and decision-making.
4. Promoting responsible and climate-smart ASM practices and monitoring of water quality:
Ghana`s Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) is not formally organized, leading to illegal mining, local-level conflicts, destruction of natural ecosystems, and abandonment of heavily polluted community drinking water sources. Rotary action would build on WEHDI`s demonstration initiative for responsible and climate-smart mining, cross-sector capacity strengthening, and a scalable, operational community-level water quality information service (including citizen science by youth and alternative livelihood development).
5. Rhône basin Project (Sion, Lausanne, Geneva, Lyon, Valence and Arles):
The objective is to involve local, regional and global stakeholders to address climate change issues and to come up with local resolutions for existing micro-conflicts (between water users and countries). The project would facilitate women and youth empowerment through pilot local school programs and entrepreneurial solutions. These will address critical development and environmental issues, including industry pollution due to mining and chemicals.
Nicolas Lorne - President and co-founder of Waterpreneurs Association, Switzerland
Rose Osinde-Alabaster - Director, Programme Development, Water Environment & Human Development Initiative WEHDI,
Elisa Hernández de Pablo - Environmental, sustainable development, and international cooperation specialist. She is a Rotary Peace Fellow from Spain.
Sallie Lacy - A climate change advisor based in Zurich. She is a Rotary Peace Fellow from the United States.