SUVA, July 11 (Xinhua) -- The Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PCESD) said here Wednesday that it has already started assisting communities adversely affected by the effects of climate change in the region.
PCESD Project Manager Leone Limalevu told the media in Fiji that their main aim was to address problems associated with the livelihood of people in these affected communities, while reaching out to all the livelihood sectors affected by poor water and sanitation problems as well as health.
"Once there's a lack of water, we're talking about the toilets and showers, food and the actual sustenance so once you address one you're lifting the other one," Limalevu said.
According to the project manager, a total of 12 communities have been identified under two projects that are funded by Australia through its AUSAID agency.
Climate change will exacerbate water stress in Pacific islands, particularly small islands that rely on seasonal rain for their freshwater needs, according to a United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report issued in Bangkok, Thailand in April 2012.
Ecologically, smaller islands are under greatest stress, with 85-90 percent of vegetation cleared on Majuro Atoll, Nauru, Fongafale and Upolu. These islands also have the smallest capacity to absorb wastewater generated from urban areas, polluting critical groundwater lenses.
UNEP's Director of Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Dr. Park Young-Woo, was quoted as saying that "the challenges facing the region in terms of freshwater resources are immense. Many of these islands have limited water resources, not to mention human, financial and management resources."
"It is imperative that we improve water use efficiency to meet the basic human needs and to support sustainable development," stressed the official.