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Freshwater and Drought in RMI

Preserving freshwater resources and minimizing the impacts of drought in the Republic of the Marshall Islands

Pacific RISA research assistant Duncan McIntosh recently attended the “Pacific Islands Climate Services Dialog: Preserving Freshwater Resources and Minimizing the Impacts of Drought” workshop which was held 23 to 25 April, 2014 in Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is conducting a series of activities to enhance scientific and technical capacity to support climate change adaptation in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS).  These activities include the development and delivery of new or enhanced products and services that focus on climate issues critical to the region and respond to unique user needs.

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The Meeting Plenary, International Conference Center, Majuro, RMI (Credit: Dennis Hwang)

To support RMI decision makers who are preparing for and responding to climate conditions that affect fresh water resources, a team of researchers is gathering relevant resources that may provide early warning and descriptions of potential impacts to the RMI area in one place – a web-based “dashboard” with real-time updating. This effort is a collaboration between Pacific Climate Information System (PaCIS), Pacific RISA, the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center (PICSC), and the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC), with support from USGS, University of Guam, Pacific ENSO Applications Center (PEAC), and NOAA.  Product development will focus on the collection and aggregation of information from disparate sources and the tailoring and transformation of that information so that it is specific to sector and locale, and targeted to the nature and timing of decisions. Pacific RISA supported the development of the drought dashboard prior to the workshop by conducting interviews with high-level decision makers in RMI who manage freshwater and community during drought, and compiling the results into a report identifying key characteristics of the stakeholders, their climate-sensitive decisions and information needs, and the broader contextual factors that influenced drought management decisions.  A semi-structured interview protocol guided discussions with interviewees to identify their main responsibilities and duties, specify key decisions affected by climate variables, determine current understanding of climate impacts and use of climate information, and identify climate information needs for managing drought and fresh water resources.  At the workshop, key findings of the Pacific RISA report were presented to the plenary and utilized as a spring board to initiate discussion of climate stories from the local decision-makers’ perspectives.

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Pacific RISA uses a multi-method approach of interviews, workshops, and surveys to characterize what climate information decision makers need.

At the workshop in Majuro, local knowledge was combined with specialist technical advice to identify accurate, timely and regionally-relevant content that helps to preserve fresh water resources and minimize the impacts of drought.  As a result of the dialogue, the user community is better informed about the current state of knowledge of climate variability and its impacts, and the provider community is better informed about what problems and questions are most relevant and better able to match products and services to user requirements.  Click here to view the workshop proceedings.

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Dr. Mark Lander and Duncan McIntosh prepare the table for a community mapping exercise.

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