Much community and infrastructure development in Kosrae over the last few decades has occurred within the coastal margins. However, much of the area in which this coastal development has occurred is susceptible to coastal hazards, such as long-term coastal change and episodic coastal inundation. The effects of climate change and, in particular, sea level rise are likely to exacerbate the threat of inundation to coastal developments and loss of infrastructure such as sections of the road network. The areas most vulnerable to coastal inundation include the coastal area between Malem and Utwe (Figure 1). The community, road, and infrastructure in the area face numerous inundation events, with coastal homes in Malem and Utwe (98 houses plus businesses and amenities) exposed to regular over-wash. The effects of this over-wash include flooding of homes, damage to vehicles, and blockages/breaching of the road, cutting off villagers from homes, work, and access to amenities.

The SPREP-executed Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience: Pacific Regional Track (PPCR-PR) aims to strengthen integration of climate change and disaster risk considerations into ‘mainstream’ policy making and related budgetary and decision-making processes. In light of the coastal threats being faced along the Malem to Utwe coastal corridor, the State Government of Kosrae, in tandem with SPREP and the PPCR-PR, is developing a proposal to establish an interior road that links Malem to Utwe, by-passing the need for citizens to rely on the existing 4.5 kilometre coastal road for access while ensuring the safety of people in the coastal area. A secondary but important objective in the road project is to protect the long-term wellbeing of the Kosrae community by facilitating the relocation of families by opening up the interior.

Paula Holland
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