Carriacou is prone to natural disasters and environmental stresses including droughts, hurricanes, tropical storms, flash floods, coral bleaching, locust infestation, chikungunya outbreaks, sargassum seaweed blooms, and storm surges. In recent years, residents have noticed more unpredictable wet and dry seasons, higher temperatures, and more severe coastal erosion.
These changes can cause serious socio-economic impacts as they can lead to damaged infrastructure, livestock and crops, unreliable planting times and fishing patterns, and erosion of recreational beach areas and tourist attractions. This can further lead to limited accessibility of food and water, increased presence of water and mosquito-borne diseases, and loss of local livelihoods. Furthermore, damage to reefs as a result of more frequent bleaching events and stronger storm surges causes a loss of critical habitat for economically and culturally important species. These reefs, as well as mangroves, form an important source of protection from coastal erosion in addition to their provision of nursery grounds for many species.
The impacts listed above are predicted to become more severe as climate change progresses. Therefore, it is important for communities to be prepared for these events, and have contingency plans in place to increase their resilience.
What is LEAP?
The Vulnerability Assessment and Local Early Action Planning (or ‘LEAP’) guide is a community-based climate change adaptation tool. It was developed in 2010 as a collaborative process with community members, resource managers, conservation practitioners, and climate change experts in Micronesia. It was designed to reflect local needs and overcome challenges faced by communities adapting to climate change. The guide includes material to support facilitators in community-based processes Project Namesuch as outreach material, key messages, and instructions for group exercises that support awareness and planning. It also includes a process to understand the degree of, and causes for, vulnerability of natural resources and linked social systems to climate change and other threats (e.g. vulnerability of reefs/fisheries and fishery based livelihoods). This information can help determine key actions to improve health and resilience of these targets.
The project facilitators conducted a variety of outreach activities and focus group discussions between June and September 2017, to share knowledge about climate change and collect information about community experiences, concerns, and interests including:
Public outreach display tables to generate interest in the LEAP project
Community outreach and engagement sessions to complete the LEAP process steps with stakeholder groups
One-on-one discussions and information sharing with stakeholders
The guide was developed as a result of a series of meetings that took place in Carriacou over a 5-month period. It was developed to support facilitators in community-based processes and includes; outreach material, key messages, and instructions for group exercises that support awareness and planning for climate change and other threats to natural resources. The guide is organized into Four Steps that include getting your team organized, raising awareness about climate change, collecting information about your community, and adaptation planning. Each step helps guide communities through a series of sessions and exercises and discussions to develop a Local Early Action Plan that identifies activities that can help to lessen the impacts of climate change on their natural resources and social systems.