To enhance the design and delivery capacity of relevant institutions to mainstream climate change adaptation and sustainable development across programmes, the Government of Mauritius has set up an ambitious programme which does not only implement soft and hard beach protection measures and an early warning system in the highly threatened coastal zone, but also puts a strong emphasis on the strengthening of local engineering capacities. The partnership with a leading Indian University on Coastal engineering has allowed the University of Mauritius to set up its own MsC course, allowing local engineers to develop adequate technical solutions for each of the unique coastal sites.
The Republic of Mauritius' (ROM) stunning coastlines, with its white sand, transparent water and coral reefs, have allowed the small island to develop a vibrant tourism industry that accounts for a substantive part of its economy and formal employment. In spite of its remarkable economic transformation over the past 50 years, as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), the country (including Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega , and various small islets) is particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, especially in the coastal zone, where a convergence of accelerating sea level rise and increasing frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones (with more intense rainfall events, stronger winds and higher waves due to the degradation of coral reefs) has a high risk to result in considerable economic loss, humanitarian stresses, and environmental degradation. The visible and measurable effects of climate change in the coastal zone of ROM have become more apparent over the last ten years, reflecting increases in the rate of negative changes and an increase in the number of vulnerable sites. Sea level rise (measured in Port Louis) has averaged 3.8 mm/year over the last five years, compared to an average of 2.1 mm/year over the last 22 years. Local families are highly dependent on coastal livelihoods, such as employment in the hotel sector and fishery, but, due to the extremely high percentage of private land holding, cannot move to alternative sites. They remain the first ones to be exposed to adverse climate conditions and to suffer from long term impact of climate change. There is a lack of technical capacity in ROM to convert climate variability risk management into practical technical interventions appropriate for each vulnerable site. Each coastal site is unique in terms of driving factors, rate of change, and range of technical options. High level coastal engineering skills for proper assessment of each site and to design appropriate cost-effective interventions are crucially needed.
To protect the highly exposed communities living in the coastal areas from these adverse effects, the Government of Mauritius, with the technical support of UNDP, is carrying out an adaptation programme, which includes the implementation of soft and hard beach protection measures, the establishment of an Early Warning System for Storm and Tidal Surge, construction of a refuge centre to provide a safe haven for the coastal communities in cases of storm surges, other natural calamities and the improvement of the institutional framework for coastal management and training. A major focus is also placed on the development of engineering capacities that are adapted to the challenging context. In view of the lack of adequate capacities to address the new phenomena and unique conditions at each coastal site, a strong emphasis was put on the training and capacity building of local engineers, which also allowed to ensure sustainability of the project. As at 2017, 500 officials from the Government/Private Sector had been trained in the field of Coastal Engineering and Climate Change Economics.
In charge of carrying out this component, the University of Mauritius has established a partnership with the Department of Ocean Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), a leading multi-disciplinary facility specialized in research and teaching programmes in the protection, conservation and management of marine ecosystems. Short Courses on "Coastal Engineering" were imparted to approximately 50 local engineers from the public/private sector and university students. The University of Mauritius and IITM are therefore planning for a long-term collaboration in the design and implementation of other short courses on coastal engineering and joint supervision of PhD students. A follow up course on "Coastal Adaptation Structures (soft measures) -A case study of Mon Choisy" was taught by three professors from IITM in August 2014 and two postgraduate courses "MSc Coastal Engineering" and MSc "Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction" have been mounted in collaboration with the University of Mauritius. The capacity development component is part of an overall larger program of coastal engineering courses. It has also allowed to produce three “Handbooks on Coastal Adaptation” packaged as training modules for coastal communities, relevant Government agencies, and private sector stakeholders.
Supported by: UNDP and Adaptation Fund
Implemented by: Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Environment and Sustainable Development