EU and UNDP support for adaptation to climate change: Inauguration of drainage works and protection structures to prevent flooding and enhance the community resilience to the impact of climate change on La Digue Island, Seychelles


8 October 2021

La Digue (Seychelles) – The Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Seychelles, the Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, and the French Ambassador were on La Digue to inaugurate drainage works implemented under the supervision of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). They also met with the local communities who will be responsible for the maintenance of the drains. The works have been implemented as part of the EU-funded climate adaptation to increase coastal protection and prevent flooding in the vulnerable areas of the island.

According to H.E.Mr Vincent Degert, Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Seychelles: "After nearly 2 years, I am very pleased to see that the activities we had planned under this project have been completed. And this despite the challenges imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. I wish to commend UNDP for their work in that context. The drainage works we are inaugurating today will contribute to the safety of La Digue communities and their resilience to climate change. The European Union has been a long-standing partner with Seychelles on environmental and climate change for several decades and we are committed to remain a reliable partner, in the spirit of the European Green Deal."

The drainage works, which have been implemented in 5 high-risk zones identified following technical studies launched as part of the project, aim at evacuating rain waters and preventing flooding. Actually, UNDP has found that the construction of these 5 drains has greatly reduced flooding along the coastal areas during heavy rains, enabling water to flow out quickly into the sea. They hence help to reducing future coastal risks for communities in La Digue, keeping them safe and resilient to climate change.

This activity is a follow-up to the shoreline management plan, which was launched in November 2019 in the presence of the EU Ambassador, as a key document to provide local communities and decision-makers with an appropriate tool for medium to long-term coastal planning. It is also complementary to the construction of 3 shore protection structures that allow to reduce beach erosion in populated coastal zones and help with the reduction of saltwater intrusion into freshwater channels. 

The drainage works, which have been completed in April 2021, represent the last activity implemented under this project. Initially, the EU has allocated a grant of 3 million EUR to the Government under the Global Climate Change Alliance + project, the EU's flagship programme in assisting vulnerable countries adapt to climate change.

The project, which has now been completed, has 2 main components :

1. Assist the Government in addressing flooding problems occurring on La Digue as the island experienced severe flooding in January 2013 following the passage of Tropical Storm Felleng. Key activities included setting up specific infrastructure to prevent flooding, actions for the prevention of soil erosion caused by high tidal waves, and surveys to test the salinity of the groundwater - caused by the infiltration during high tides – as it adversely impacts on the local crops. This component has been implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Seychelles since 2016.

2. Reinforce the capacity of the Ministry of Environment to better integrate climate change into policies. Key actions: assist the Government in the preparation of the first-ever climate change policy; assist the Government in ensuring that climate change is duly taken into considerations in the new National Development Strategy 2019 – 2021.

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