13 September 2023, Port Vila, Vanuatu - A significant step in the right direction for the Vanuatu’s transport sector was taken last week with the official handover of the new Vanuatu Road Design Guide from the Climate Information Services for Resilient Development Planning in Vanuatu (VanKIRAP) Project to the Vanuatu Public Works Department (PWD).
The new guide incorporates the projected impacts of future climate change into the nation's official manual of road construction, so that PWD's road engineers can factor in projections for climate-related impacts, like extreme rainfall and sea level rise into the planning, construction and maintenance of the nation's road network.
PWD Director, Mr Henry Worek, accepted the updated Vanuatu Road Design Guide from VanKIRAP consultant, Mr Robert Hardy, who produced the guide, together with Mr Montin Romone, Director of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD), and Ms Moirah Matou, from VanKIRAP's Project Management Unit, during a ceremony held Friday 8 September at the PWD headquarters in Port Vila.
PWD's Acting Principal Road Engineer, Mr Nathan Tabi, said the new guide “will be a huge help to Vanuatu's road maintenance.”
In the past, he said most roads were not designed or built to cope with the kind of extreme rainfall that the country has started experiencing in recent decades due to climate change.
“On most of our roads, we’ve never considered drainage as part of our maintenance. With this guide, we now understand that drainage is fundamental to our work,” said Mr Tabi.
The Guide’s author, Mr Robert Hardy, described the guide as a historical shift: “As road engineers, the big thing that has changed for all of us today is that historically, as engineers, we’ve always designed roads based on historic rainfall. But now we have to start thinking about what’s going to happen to rainfall in the future”, he said.
Future climate projections for Vanuatu indicate a very likely increase in the amount of rainfall that of extreme rainfall events will bring. To produce the new guide, VanKIRAP and its partners provided these future climate projections to allow road engineers to plan for the higher amounts of rainfall that Vanuatu is likely to experience as the climate warms.
For the past two weeks, 15 PWD road engineers from Vanuatu’s six provinces have been assembled in Port Vila for training on using the new guide to plan and build climate resilient roads. This has included field training where the engineers have studied examples of climate resilient drainage culverts and other road construction techniques.
VanKIRAP's Project Manager, Ms Moirah Matou, said this means the “new Vanuatu Road Design Guide will help PWD to continue to serve our nation despite the challenges we face under a changing climate.” At the handover ceremony, the provincial road engineers from Vanuatu’s six provinces were presented with training completion certificates, including four female engineers.
The new version of the Vanuatu Road Design Guide was delivered by VanKIRAP. VanKIRAP is managed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with the Vanuatu Government, and funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
For more information, please contact Mr. Sunny Kamuta Seuseu, VanKIRAP Acting Manager, at [email protected]