Jamaica, like many other countries worldwide, is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. According to a report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the financial impact on the Jamaican agricultural sector is severe. With 20 percent of the labor force employed in agriculture, it has become critical for development projects to improve resilience to climate change.
Enter the Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH). Since it began in 2011, it has benefited more than 500 families in the Cedar Valley Region of Jamaica. The project’s goal is “to protect rural lives, livelihoods, and ecosystems in targeted Jamaican communities affected by climate change through interventions that drive adaptation and build resilience”. A key feature of the project is the inclusion of marginalized groups, namely women and youth.
The project takes a holistic approach to capacity building. By January 2014, the project had distributed 165 black tanks for rainwater harvesting, completed hazard mapping and vulnerability assessments of the community, trained farmers in sustainable agricultural techniques, established irrigation networks, and identified unused land for replanting.
A recent visit by the Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, led him to praise the project’s success in the area and said: “I want to commend [Ja REEACH] on their efforts at building resilience.” The Minister went on to congratulate the project for targeting young people and women while also ensuring community-wide benefits.
With the financial assistance of its seven partners, including USAID, Ja REEACH continues to improve the resilience of families in Jamaica and has was granted an associate award by Farmer-to-Farmer Leader for its dynamic approach to building communities resilience to climate change. The project is expected to grow and build resilience for more and more families throughout the region in partnership with the Jamaican government.