Climate Change and Water Supply and Sanitation on Atolls and Flood-prone Catchments in the Pacific (Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Fiji)

Increasing sea levels and less frequent, but higher, intensity storms are potential consequences of climate change that will adversely affect water supply. There is a need for investigation into the potential impacts of climate change on communities living on flood plains and low lying atolls with vulnerable freshwater resources, and advice on how communities can adapt to and mitigate the impacts to ensure the continued supply of safe water. This relationship between water availability (and accessibility), water quality and sanitation and hygiene underpins the need for WaSH intervention and continued investment in many Pacific communities.

To better incorporate issues of water security, water quality and climate change into WaSH activities, our research team advocates a broadening of the focus of WaSH to encompass a ‘whole of catchment’ and more integrated understanding of the water cycle. Critically, there may be a number of places within the water cycle where intervention can improve both the availability and quality of the water resource, which in turn, may reduce the risk of WaSH-related issues and the need for further intervention. Furthermore, by adopting a more holistic approach to WaSH, services may be delivered in a way that builds resilience in communities, potentially buffering them from some of the impacts of climate change and associated extreme events like droughts and floods.

This project will work with stakeholders to explore risks throughout the region for both atoll flood-prone catchments, develop Bayesian models that incorporate current management and adaptation opportunities and produce tools to aid stakeholders throughout the Pacific in adapting to climate change. This project will integrate climate change impacts and current practices to develop a framework that will enable communities and water managers to navigate from understanding impacts to evaluating adaptation options for water supply and sanitation.

This project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and is in collaboration with the International WaterCentre (IWC). More information about this project are available here: 

Water Institute and Affiliated Researchers

Jamie Bartram – Co-Principal Investigator

Kate Shields – Staff Researcher

Mark Elliott (University of Alabama) – Co-Principal Investigator

Publications and Presentations

Integrating climate change adaptation and WaSH in the Pacific. WASH Futures Conference: Brisbane, Australia, May 17, 2016.

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