Macedonia is already facing the effects of a changing climate. Recent droughts are affecting water supplies and stunting crop yields, and climate models suggest that summer heat waves will intensify and winter rains will continue to decrease in the coming decades.
To help address this threat, USAID’s Climate Change Resilient Development (CCRD) program offered climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation training to Milieukontakt Macedonia (MKM), an NGO funded by USAID in 2013 to help municipalities integrate climate threats and responses into their work.
MKM sited an initial project in Pehchevo, where changes in climate had contributed to a massive forest fire that destroyed vegetation in a key watershed.
“The entire forest around Pehchevo was burned out,” said Igor Slavkoski, MKM’s executive director. “Heavy rains came, and then erosion – so drinking water was muddied.”
MKM organized a municipal meeting, where citizens identified and discussed local climate vulnerabilities. Together, they agreed to focus on the water supply.
Restoring vegetation helps to moderate water flow, both in times of abundance and in times of scarcity. Citizens worked together to replant forest around Pehchevo. Within months, they had replanted much of the surrounding forest area and replaced a main reservoir valve.
“Thanks to this project, we continue to drink water from the taps,” said a local engineer, Jasminka Pashaliska Andonova.
The $3 million project, which was funded by USAID as a pilot project integrating climate and governance, will reach 10 municipalities by the end of 2015.
According to Milieukontakt’s Slavkoski, this work will be sustainable over time because it brings together a broad cross-section of citizens and citizen groups to engage in actions that bring tangible impacts.
For USAID’s CCRD program, this is just one of many climate challenges being addressed across 34 countries.
CCRD is a four-year initiative that will end in 2015, after demonstrating many successful climate change adaptation and integration activities worldwide. CCRD is led by Engility with partners including ICF International and Stratus Consulting.
CCRD applies USAID’s “development first” approach to climate change. It examines a country’s existing economic goals and identifies both climate and non-climate stressors affecting those goals. CCRD then partners with officials and other stakeholders to implement climate-resilient development projects that respond to those stressors.
In the case of Macedonia, CCRD helped MKM and local communities assess how their development goals might be affected by climate risks and begin to identify and implement options for reducing those risks.
The results of the work in Macedonia will be assessed by an external evaluation, also funded by USAID. The external evaluation included a baseline survey, before the program began, measuring the knowledge and attitudes of citizens, civil society groups and municipalities about climate change and its expected impacts in Macedonia.