MCCA, with ECD and the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) undertook a scoping mission to three towns of the Northern Chin State (Falam, Hakha and Thantalang) with the objective of selecting one where to conduct one climate change vulnerability assessment.
The town will be now selected and the assessment start immediately. But it is already clear that heavier rains, erratic rainfall patterns, increased temperatures, stronger winds are already causing a peak in landslides, destruction of houses, failing of crops and reduced productivity (Pictures Sukun 2017).
The team met with great support from the Chief Minister of the Chin State, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Mining, and both State and Township authorities.
Once selected, the study will start engaging with communities in the selected township.
Tune in for more information in the next weeks!
For a little more information…
The initial findings
The scoping mission concluded that all three townships share a profile determined by 1) increasing heavy rainfalls in shorter amount of time (shrinking of the wet season); 2) decrease in annual precipitation; 3) stronger winds, reportedly originating from the Rakhine region 4) erratic rainfall; 5) increasing average temperatures and unseasonal high temperatures.
All these features have typical associated hazards, common mostly to all townships, with the important caveat of a different geological conditions. These are 1) Landslides; 2) Strong-winds with destructive power; 3) Water shortage in dry seasons; 4) pests and diseases for livestock, crops, and increasing water-born disease vectors (mosquitos) at high altitudes; 5) forest fire.
The impact varied greatly considering the following main factors: 1) quality of the environment (i.e. deforestation and water shortage); 2) geology; 3) diversification of farming systems; 4) urbanization rates and associate land-use planning; 5) local capacities; 6) remoteness from the regional markets and activities; 7) Migration
Awareness and first-hand experience of CC effects exists, some experienced through disasters (increased rainfall over shorter amount of time, deforestation, coupled with unplanned urbanization, and unfavorable geology, and poor architecture and drainage caused tens of destructive landslides). However, only one township showed some level of environment stewardship. No specific adaptation measures were recorded, in agriculture, infrastructure, and livelihoods other than the projects initiated by a number of NGOs and the UN, with the notable exceptions of the field visits led by GAD in Hakha which showed efforts of upstream reforestation, drainage canals, and effort to enforce building regulations.
The team analyzes the abovementioned criteria to establish a preliminary vulnerability rapid appraisal. The typical equation that establish risks and vulnerability profiles, defined as Hazard x (Exposure + Sensitivities) – adaptive capacities as extracted by IPCC AR5, shows that whereas all three townships share the same climatic profile – with experienced changes in rainfall and temperatures averages and extremes – the likelihood and intensity of the hazards are dissimilar as concerns rapid on-set disasters. This depends on basic conditions (the geology of Hakha and Falam expose the towns to higher risks of landslides) and the existing stressors, i.e. deforestation (very high in Hakha and Falam, but not sizeable in Thantalang) and rapid unplanned urbanization (high in Hakha town, not a current issue in Falam, and non existant in Thantalang). Further, the exposure cannot be compared as this is absolute for each township: however, higher concentration of people and assets in Hakha town can result in higher losses and damage. Finally, the socio-economic sensitivities are similar across the three townships. However, Falam seems to possess a more diversified menu of livelihood sources, also due to easier access to the regional market, which is not the case for Hakha, and definitely not for the remote Thantalang. Migration rates and consequent remittances are similar. In terms of environment and eco-system quality, Thantalang presents lower sensitivity due to a better management of several eco-system services (in particular forest), while both Falam and Hakha present trends of significant environmental degradation. Finally all the three townships share similar inadequate housing and basic infrastructure to the changing climatic profile (stronger winds, heavier rains, prolonged dry-seasons). However, Hakha town presents a mix of unfavorable geology, concentration of inadequate and ill-located housing, poor or inadequate drainage that put several thousands at risk.
Selection of the township
By the first week of September the joint team will propose the township to ECD and to the State Government, and initiate immediately after.