Villagers collaborate to combat climate change

Village leaders from Faleaseela, Lefaga, Siufaga and Falelatai have united to share their experiences and knowledge on ecosystem-based solutions to combat climate change.

It is hoped that some of the solutions that they identify will be used to mitigate the effects of climate change affecting low-lying coastal communities like theirs on the south-west coast of Upolu. 

According to a statement distributed by the United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] on Thursday, Faleaseela village hosted a delegation from Siufaga to exchange knowledge and best practices on adaptive ability and capacity of coastal natural resources, such as mangrove and marine protected areas, in order to tackle changes in climate at the village level.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to host the Siufaga, Falelatai chiefs and their development committee so that we can share our best practices and knowledge learnt from our mangrove and marine conservation projects,” said Taloolevavau Ulusele, the Faleaseela village mayor.

Faleaseela village has completed its mangrove and marine conservation projects, while Siufaga is currently undertaking a similar project in their village. Both sites are similar in nature, and are funded by the UNDP Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme.

“This is a golden opportunity for our team to visit and see for ourselves the value and hard work that goes into similar initiatives so that we can take back practical lessons that fit our context while we are implementing our mangrove and marine conservation project,” said Taefu Ulu, the Siufaga village mayor.

The interaction between the villages strives to replicate the knowledge of conservation efforts, reinforce resilience and adaptability to climate change, and drive home the point that communities can take the lead in local conservation efforts and come up with relevant solutions. It is hoped that neighbouring villages or similar initiatives are able to share relevant best practices, and translate them into community action to achieve desired solutions.

The U.N.D.P. Resident Representative to Samoa, Jorn Sorensen, highlighted the importance of establishing “empowered mechanisms” in the local community. 

“Resilient nations with adaptive capacity require empowered mechanisms to be in place in local communities to combat climate change,” he said in a statement. 

“These include the restoration of marine coastal resources like mangroves to withstand the impacts of climate change, as well as coming up with ecosystem-based solutions for adaptation for small islands states like Samoa.

“UNDP is committed to helping Samoa’s local communities such as Faleaseela and Siufaga to build up their resilience and responses in these areas.”

The village leaders’ visit was held early morning to coincide with the low tide for easy access to the marine and mangrove sites at Faleaseela. This was followed by a talanoa styled informal session between the two villages, which was facilitated by the GEF SGP office. 

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