Sunday, April 14, 2024

ON THE RIGHT: Oistins vulnerable to climate change

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OISTINS IS A SPECIAL PLACE for locals and tourists alike. The area operates mostly as a fishing village and tourist hangout. It is home to a popular fish fry which turns into a hive of activity, especially on the weekend.

Aside from the culinary attractions, visitors can peruse the colourful stalls of the many craft vendors displaying their artistry in the back of the market area.

All this activity takes place in a small area known as the Bay Gardens which is located next door to the Berinda Cox Fish Market.

The fish market is an important hub for the community of Oistins as well as the country as a whole.

As with other communities on low-lying coasts, the area is at risk from the impacts of climate-related events.

Additionally, Oistins is at risk especially from water-related impacts, such as coastal flooding, sea level rise, storm surges and other hurricane-induced hazards.

With the economy of the area being highly dependent on fish stocks as an important natural resource, any impacts on the fisheries sector would have profound effects on community livelihoods.

Since Oistins is an important site for local and national-scale socio-economic and cultural activity, the impacts of any hazard would severely disrupt the prosperity and livelihoods of all who live and work in the area.

In addition, with tourism being the main source of income for the country of Barbados; adaptation to climate change in this community has national level importance.

The extent of socio economic as well as cultural activity that takes place in Oistins reveals a vulnerability that requires attention.

Making Oistins climate resilient will require a series of actions that build on each other over time. It will also require all members of the community to do their part in taking practical and positive steps to prepare for expected climate change impacts in Oistins.

The three goals are: build community capacity in principles of sustainability and environmental management; especially in areas of waste reduction and management and energy conservation and renewable energy technologies; increase disaster preparedness and risk reduction capacity through community education and planning; and enhance and expand livelihood strategies that make businesses more resilient to climate impacts and that increase earnings.

These goals seek, in the long term, to increase the adaptive capacity of the community’s systems (built, natural, financial and human) and reduce vulnerability to natural shocks, so that the environment can be protected and sustained for future generations.

Oistins is experiencing the effects of climate change in a number of areas: Storms and extreme weather have put infrastructure and livelihoods at risk, longer dry seasons and drought have led to water shortages, flooding has caused damage and interrupted business.

The community adaptation plan is expected to bring about in the Oistins community in the short to medium term: uptake of climate change adaptation measures within households and businesses in the Oistins community, increased resilience of key ecosystems in the Oistins community, livelihoods in the tourism, fisheries, agriculture and craft sectors are able to withstand climate-related shocks.

Strategies: encourage and support use of renewable energy technologies and energy efficient practices at both the community and small business level; build capacity among businesses in sustainability; improve waste management for the benefit of drainage and protection of the marine environment; encourage rainwater harvesting.  

Information taken from an Oistins community adaptation plan prepared by The CARIBSAVE Partnership with funding from The Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank. CARIBSAVE is a regional not-for-profit organisation that innovates, connects and implements practical solutions for sustainable development and climate change.

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