Considering its economic structure and geographic features, Moldova is highly vulnerable to climate change and is exposed to disasters due to hydrometeorological phenomena and natural hazards. While drought and floods are among top hydro-meteorological hazards caused by extreme weather and climate events, due to current and projected abnormal high temperatures leading to water scarcity, the incidence of forest fires is increasingly posing a threat to natural ecosystems, agricultural systems and human settlements.
In Moldova’s climate, induced disasters are occurring more frequently and on a recurring basis causing economic losses valued on average at 4 million US dollars per year. Between 1990 and 2015, Moldova experienced eleven droughts that caused significant yield declines in crops and pastures. A severe drought in 1994 resulted in a 30% decline in GDP and a 26% decline in agricultural output. The catastrophic drought of 2007 impacted 90% of the country’s territory, and 80% of the rural population (the majority of whom were women) were affected by reduced harvest. Total losses amounted to 1 billion USD. The 2012 drought severely affected crop production in the Central and Southern regions and caused estimated losses of about 1.25 billion USD.
It is widely accepted that rural women are disproportionately affected by fires since women are mostly engaged in cooking using unsafe cook stoves and collecting firewood in ecosystems that might be at high risk of fires. In the rural areas, poor and low-income households are also highly exposed to fire risks due to lack of proper fire prevention measures and adapted techniques, education and awareness.
Climate scenarios indicate the country is strongly trending towards becoming more arid. This will intensify droughts as well as fires. Unfortunately, rural communities experience a capacity deficit in terms of fire prevention, preparedness and timely response mainly due to the liquidation of over 400 equipped and capacitated firefighting units following the extensive privatization process in the 1990s. Subsequently, the intervention radius of 3 km (according to norms) increased to up to 10-15 km in urban areas and 40-50 km in rural areas (where 70% of the total number of fires occur). It resulted in increased response time and lower awareness of fire risks among rural population, subsequently leading to considerable increase in loss of life, material damage and affected ecosystems.
The country is highly vulnerable and exposed due to its dependence on rain-fed agricultural production, which is tied to climate, making it the most vulnerable of all economic sectors. This is primarily due to limited resources and capacities to plan and put in place water storage facilities for irrigation needs in rural communities, especially since climate projections show larger rainfall events in the future, which could feed such facilities. Because of the projected decrease in surface water availability by 16-20% by 2020 due to climate change, the water supply for all users requires adaptation options to reduce the vulnerability of rural communities related to water stress.
The project is supporting implementation of climate-smart water management solutions for agriculture, flood management and fire prevention and expansion of community-based rescue/firefighting teams in selected rural communities of Republic of Moldova with the purpose of reducing the exposure and vulnerability of rural communities to climate change and disaster risks.
The overall objective of the project is to increase resilience and adaptive capacities of rural communities to climate change and disasters through improved water storage infrastructures and disaster risk reduction measures.
- Create an enabling environment for local resilient livelihoods through improved climate-sensitive planning and climate-smart agriculture approaches at community level to increase water availability for agricultural livelihoods and protect from floods;
- Enhance local disaster risk reduction capacities in a decentralized manner through establishment of capacitated community-based rescue and firefighting brigades with access to resources for response and recovery needs.
- 990 smoke detectors installed in vulnerable households from 5 target districts to reduce vulnerability and exposure to fire events;
- An information campaign on disaster risk prevention measures was conducted in 5 districts of Republic of Moldova and reflective vests, leaflets, calendars and other information materials were distributed to increase awareness of the local population on fire events and other climate-induced disasters;
- 100,000 Euros were leveraged from the Estonian Ministry of External Affairs for the rehabilitation of 5 local firefighting stations to enable quality rescue and firefighting services for a population of 58,714 people;
- 10 agricultural producers were selected for the establishment of precipitation accumulation basins as a result of a public competition and who subsequently will have access to irrigation and increased climate resilience;
- Cooperation with the UNDP-Czech Trust Fund and the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations was set up for the purpose of introducing new normative acts and European practices on firefighting volunteering in Republic of Moldova.