Submitted by guest blogger on Fri,07/12/2013

By Dr James Dalton, Coordinator, Global Initiatives, IUCN Water Programme.

‘Nam bilong me James Dalton’ – I said as we all did introductions in Pidgin at the beginning of the stakeholder consultation meeting in Gizo, the capital of the Western Province of the Solomon Islands.  We continued introductions around the table and I handed over to Samson Rihuoha.  Sam is a Pastor, and an excellent facilitator – he has a voice that makes you want to listen, all day – perfect for his job.

Sam was part of the team I was working with to design an adaptation programme for the Solomon Islands Government to be funded by the Global Environment Facility.  I used to live in the Pacific before my IUCN days, and it was very good to be back in the region – to bump into old friends and colleagues and discuss the never-ending politics of the region. But we have a challenging task ahead of us. We need to look at how we can use adaptation approaches to help the water sector ready itself for climate change impacts in the future.  It’s not an easy task for a country of 974 islands, around 80 indigenous languages, active volcanoes, cyclones and tsunamis.

Photo by James Dalton

Gizo town itself was the scene of a devastating tsunami in 2007 which killed 54 people and caused huge amounts of damage, some of it still apparent both physically and in the minds of people we spoke to. We were in Gizo to conduct a rapid vulnerability assessment of the town which was selected as one of the pilot sites for the project. 

How can a town improve its water storage, the quality and availability of that water, and distribute it to people

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