Climate change prevention and adaptation measures taken today will help us address the challenges of tomorrow
The Republic of Moldova is extremely vulnerable to climate change and disasters, taking into account its economy structure, climate and geographic features, the annual average economic losses constituting 2.13% of the GDP.
Disasters affect thousands of people, and first of all women who are vulnerable and exposed to risks, as well as the population living in rural areas, where the poverty is 7.5 times higher than in big towns. Agriculture is the most exposed of all the sectors of the country, providing opportunities for ensuring livelihoods for more than half of the country’s population.
At the same time, according to climate scenarios, the mean temperature in Moldova is expected to increase by 2–3° C by 2050, which will generate several acute climate phenomena and a higher frequency and magnitude of climate related disasters, such as droughts, floods, hail, and early frosts, respectively.
Climate change scenarios show that Moldova is prone to become more arid, which will intensify droughts and fires
Although droughts and floods are among the main hydro-meteorological hazards caused by extreme weather and climate phenomena due to abnormally high temperatures, the increasing incidence of fires is becoming a higher threat for the population of the Republic of Moldova. For example, according to the data of the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (GIES), in 2021 only, over 6,323 fire interventions were recorded, 60% of which happened in rural areas.
To enhance resilience and adaptation capacity of rural communities to climate change and impact of natural disasters, at the beginning of 2019, the United National Development Programme (UNDP) launched an innovative pilot initiative for the Republic of Moldova, in partnership with the GIES, with the financial assistance of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and Estonia. On the one hand, the interventions were focused on building several community volunteer firefighters posts in the most vulnerable districts of the country with high risk of fires, while on the other hand — on building rainwater collection basins.
Rainwater collection basins — an efficient climate change adaptation measure
Thus, 9 rainwater collection basins were built in Cantermir, Criuleni, Hincesti, Leova, and Ungheni districts, in the framework of the “Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction” project, with a total capacity of 119,159 cubic meters, which will allow irrigating 177 hectares of land.
The basins will have a threefold role to play: on the one hand, they will serve as a water source for agricultural land irrigation even in the most dry years.
On the other hand, they will be a water supply source for the fire trucks from the community firefighters’ posts. At the same time, they will ensure agricultural land protection from floods.
One of these basins, and namely the one from Antonești locality, Cantemir district was equipped with photovoltaic panels with a capacity of 24 kW for operating the pumps for irrigation. This will allow the farmer owning this basin to improve the cost efficiency for growing vegetables in greenhouses and in open field.
Community volunteer firefighters’ posts contribute to reducing the response time of fire extinguishing interventions
With the assistance provided by ADA and Estonia, and with the financial contribution of local and district public authorities, four community volunteer firefighters posts have been built from scratch in Pîrlița, Baimaclia, Sărăteni, and Sărata Galbenă localities, which will provide services to 65 communities with a population over 60,000 people.
Three posts have been equipped with new fire trucks for interventions during fires and related equipment.
Within these posts, 177 volunteer firefighters, that were selected from among local inhabitants, will work. They will be able to promptly intervene in cases of fires and emergency situations before the arrival of professional firefighters.
The volunteer firefighters have been trained by the specialists of the National Training Center of the GIES, based on a vocational training curriculum for such intervention groups, which was developed in the framework of the project.
All these will offer a possibility to the volunteer firefighters to reach out in remote localities much faster, the response time being reduced to 15 minutes. Until now, the intervention range of 3 km, according to the norms, has been increased to 10–15 km in urban areas, and up to 40–50 km in rural areas, where 70% of the total number of fires occur. As a result, the intervention time increased and less information was disseminated to the rural population about the risk of fires.
“A protected house — a saved life” — information campaign for saving human lives
Houses of 990 socially vulnerable families from 5 beneficiary districts have been equipped with smoke detectors, which can save lives, thanks to the project.
A broad information campaign on prevention, reduction, and response actions during fires and other emergency phenomena caused by climate change was conducted in partnership with the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations.
Reflective vests, brochures, calendars, and other information materials have been distributed in the target localities, and a public awareness raising video spot on fire prevention measures was produced. Climate change adaptation and disaster risk management priorities have been integrated in a participatory and gender sensitive manner in the local development plans of the five communities.
All the interventions supported from January 2019 to March 2022 by UNDP, ADA, and Estonia in the framework of the “Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction” project have contributed to raising awareness about disaster risks in the rural communities of Moldova, considering the impact of climate change, to become more acute in the next years.