New climate resilient water project will ensure reliable water supplies for 450,000 people in Comoros

‘Children will have water to drink, farmers can grow successful crops and feed their families, and we can adapt our economy and our society to the catastrophic risks brought on by climate change’ says Minister Abdou on GCF board approval for groundbreaking UNDP-supported project

19 October 2018, Comoros – In small island developing state like Comoros, water is life. With a new US$41.9 million grant from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Government of Comoros in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a broad coalition of other international actors, is stepping up efforts to ensure climate-resilient water supplies for 450,000 people, a bold step in defining a sustainable pathway to low-carbon climate-resilient development for a nation where 80 percent of the rural population still lives in poverty.

“This new project will reach over half of the people living in the Comoros directly, and 9 out of 10 people indirectly, ensuring children have water to drink, farmers can grow successful crops and feed their families, and we can adapt our economy and our society to the catastrophic risks brought on by climate change,” said Comoros Minister of Energy, Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment, in charge of water resources management, Mr Moustadroine Abdou.  “This support is essential in making good on global commitments to end hunger and poverty by 2030 and reach our Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement.”

Climate change impacts threaten to derail recent development gains in Comoros – where approximately 80 percent of the rural population is reliant on rain-fed agriculture. United Nations models indicate a potential reduction in dry-season rainfall of up to 47 percent by 2090 in Comoros, increased rains in the wet season, and more severe cyclone activity.

Access to surface water on three of the small islands of the Comoros is a challenge. The main island of Grande Comore has no surface water, requiring coastal towns to exploit marginally fresh groundwater resources. The rural upland communities, making up 50 percent of the island’s population, rely solely on rainwater harvesting. On the two more remote and poorer islands of Anjouan and Moheli, there are no proven groundwater resources and the people there are completely reliant on seasonally variable streams.

“With limited water storage capacity, we need to take immediate action to improve our ability to collect and store water and ensure the sustainable management of this essential natural resource over the long haul,” said the General Directorate of Environment and Forestry, Mr Elamine Youssouf Mbechezi.

The project aligns with Comoros’ Accelerated Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy and the government’s vision to reduce poverty and expand access to reliable and safe drinking water and sanitation, especially for the most vulnerable people like smallholder farmers that rely on rainfed agriculture to feed their families.

“The eight-year project will achieve a national paradigm shift in water resources management, allowing us to make good on our commitments to increase water supply to 100 percent of our citizens by 2030 and provide all of our farmers with access to irrigation water,” said Comoros Minister Moustadroine Abdou.

The project will strengthen water resources management and environmental monitoring, improve groundwater management and preservation, expand hydrological and meteorological monitoring infrastructure, protect ecosystems and regulate stream flow, and integrate local populations into water resources management.

The US$60 million project will be implemented by the Ministry of Energy, Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment, in charge of water resources management, in conjunction with national and state governments, water service providers, water user associations and communities, and their development partners. A broad coalition that includes the China Geo-Engineering Corporation, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (FADES), and UNDP came together to provide over US$18 million in co-financing for this project, including a US$2 million grant from UNDP, a US$1.9 million in-kind donation from the China Geo-Engineering Corporation and US$290,000 from FADES.

The project will build integrated water resource management improvements in 32 watersheds with improved water monitoring and management, build capacity for water planning to support strong institutions and inform a water tariff system to ensure sustainability, build important infrastructure to increase the resilience of water supply facilities so they can operate year-round during both the wet and dry seasons, and build infrastructure to protect people from floods and droughts.

The project will work in conjunction with other UNDP-supported projects in Comoros on Strengthening Comoros Resilience Against Climate Change and Variability Related DisasterAdapting Water Resource Management in Comoros to Increase Capacity to Cope with Climate Change,  Enhancing Adaptive Capacity and Resilience to Climate Change in the Agriculture Sector in Comoros, and Supporting Comoros to advance their NAP process.

Contributing to global goals

On a global level, more than half of the world’s population – some 4.3 billion people – live in areas where demand for water resources outstrips sustainable supplies for at least part of the year, according to The New Climate Economy Report.

“For small island developing states like the Comoros – where poverty is a major challenge – access to water can mean the difference between life and death, between prosperity and poverty,” said UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Matthias Naab.  

With funding from vertical funds – including the Green Climate Fund, Global Environment Facility and Adaptation Fund – UNDP has supported 190 million people worldwide with integrated water management programmes for shared freshwater bodies. Twenty-two countries have adopted integrated water resource management practices, and 46 countries have improved waste management practices, according to the UNDP Global Environmental Finance Unit Annual Report.

UNDP works with governments to accelerate and mainstream support and access to vertical funds such as the Green Climate Fund. Recent analysis indicates that UNDP-supported projects accounts for 44 percent of the total beneficiaries of GCF-financed climate actions, which are set to increase the resilience of 217 million people worldwide.

Immediate action is being taken across the globe to make good on the commitments to the Paris Agreement. UNDP, in partnership with national governments, financial mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund, other UN agencies and myriad actors across the public and private sectors are ramping up their work across the globe to protect our people and our planet from the catastrophic consequences of related disasters.

“For the people of Comoros, projects like these will allow families to increase their livelihood, ensure healthy children and bright minds, and break the cycle of poverty once and for all,” said Naab.

About GCF

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a new global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. GCF helps developing countries limit or reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change. It seeks to promote a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development, taking into account the needs of nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

About UNDP

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

Last Updated: 19 Oct 2018