MAJURO, Marshall Islands—Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak opened yesterday the Coastal Causeway Project in Woja Island, Ailinglaplap, as part of the country’s efforts to build resilience to climate change.
The project has involved constructing a rock causeway combined with soft engineering measures, such as tree planting, to strengthen the vulnerable and narrow road link between the two parts of Woja Island.
The project is part of the European Union-supported regional €11.4-million Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States initiative, implemented in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the government of the Republic of Marshall Islands.
Speaking at the opening of the causeway, Loeak said the strengthened and elevated road link meant there was now a safe passage between the two parts of Woja Island.
“When it comes to climate change, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, with its low lying and scattered atolls, is especially vulnerable, and sea level rise is one of the greatest challenges we face today,” he said.
“Until now, the communities living on the two different parts of Woja Island had to schedule their daily activities, such as getting to school or to the health clinic, around the state of the tide. At high tide, they had to make their way through what was often waist-deep water to get to the other side of the island.
“The government of the Marshall Islands is especially pleased to see this project implemented and constructed by the Ministry of Public Works, with support from the European Union and SPC, so now we have the capacity, to tackle further similar projects with the help of our development partners,” he said.
The European Union Ambassador for the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs, said: “This is a good example of the European Union supporting governments and communities to implement their own priorities in partnership with regional organizations.
“In the Pacific, the European Union has been, and will continue to be, a longstanding partner in the fight against climate change. We have translated our words into action with approximately €250 million worth of ongoing climate and disaster and sustainable energy-related projects.”
The Director of SPC’s Geoscience Division, Professor Michael Petterson, congratulated the government and people of the Marshall Islands for effectively implementing this project despite the challenges resulting from remoteness and transportation issues.
“This is an excellent example of building capacity to address climate change impacts. As we know, sea level rise affects all of our Pacific Islands so initiatives such as these are vital to build resilience through practical efforts,” Petterson said. (SPC)