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Climate-induced hazards in Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Climate-induced hazards in Papua New Guinea (PNG)

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Anna Rylina

Services for UNDP on climate risk, vulnerability and needs assessment for coastal areas in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is particularly prone to natural disasters induced by climate change, climate variability, and sea-level rise, including tsunamis, cyclones, coastal flooding, landslides and droughts.

United Nations Development Program (UNDP) assigned Antea Group and its partners to identify climate risks in terms of major climate hazards, exposure and vulnerability of local coastal communities, and to prepare a Composite Risk Atlas and Maps / Indexes up to district level.

Mission

Papua New Guinea is the biggest and most populated country in the Pacific, and is exposed to adverse effects of environmental and climatic changes. The rising sea-level causes salt-water intrusion which puts groundwater resources at risk causing negative effects on agricultural production and water supply. Flooding may destroy housing as well as crop fields that, combined with droughts, increases the adverse effects of climate change on agricultural production and ultimately on food supply, as only insufficient storage is kept.

The highlands, with 2.2 million people in thousands of small villages, are subject to extreme weather  conditions, in particular heavy rainfall and drought. Landslides are increasingly occurring due to population pressure on  uncontrolled land use. Coastal areas and the many coral atolls are low-lying and nearly 500,000 people living in 2,000 coastal villages are vulnerable to weather extremes and flooding.

A sufficient rise in sea temperature would kill sea coral, with consequences for fish breeding and for natural coastal defense mechanisms against extreme storms.

Result

In order to provide solutions to the challenges faced by climate change in Papua New Guinea, the assessment of the principal hazards, a first step to tackling them, was of primary importance. Therefore, UNDP assigned Antea Group to study the climate risks in five pilot provinces (East Sepik, Madang, Morobe and Northern and New Ireland).

The knowledge base was created based on readily available data and the following assessments were undertaken by Antea Group and its partners:

Community risk assessment

The aim of the community risk assessment is to develop risk assessment maps at community level. This is implemented using previously tested and well documented tools and approached developed by World Vision (Antea Group’s partner in the project). Community risk assessments were conducted using a representative sample of 2 communities per district (total of 50 communities). Community risk assessments provide valuable input for the province and district assessments and adds detail to these.

Province/district hazard-vulnerability-risk assessment

Assessments at province and district level were based on various national and international data sources, specific site visits to provinces (and selected districts), data derived from models, remote sensing, etc. The outcome of this phase was a hazard-vulnerability-risk assessment report, highlighting physical, social and economic vulnerability.

Composite risk assessment

The information gathered in the previous phases was compiled following a particular methodological framework and presented to the client with the help of Composite Risk Atlas that contained map products and a report on community risk assessment.

In the final stage, the findings of all three assessments (at all levels, covering all domains) and the recommendations were presented to the client and key stakeholders at national level.

 

Key Figures

  • 2.2 million people living in small villages are subject to extreme weather conditions.
  • 500,000 people are vulnerable to weather extremes and flooding
  • 2,000 coastal villages sample to perform community risk assessments

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Anna Rylina

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