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Piloting Climate Change Adaptation to Protect Human Health . A joint WHO/UNDP project funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). Project Overview.

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Piloting Climate Change Adaptation to Protect Human Health

A joint WHO/UNDP project

funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF)

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Project Overview

Goal: "Increase adaptive capacity of national health system institutions, including field practioners, to respond to climate sensitive health risks"

This project works directly with seven developing countries to design and implement practical measures to protect health under a rapidly changing climate.

China – Uzbekistan- Fiji- Barbados - Kenya- Jordan-Bhutan

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Project Rationale

  • Strong evidence of past and future climate change

  • Established links between climate change and health

  • Major health vulnerabilities to climate change in developing countries

  • Need for adaptation measures to protect human health under climate variability and climate change

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Evidence of Past Climate Change

Source: NASA, GISS, 2009

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Estimates of Future Climate Change

Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

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Climate Change and Health Linkages

Some expected impacts will be beneficial but most will be adverse. Expectations are mainly for changes in frequency or severity of familiar health risks

  • Modifying

  • factors

  • Health effects

  • Temperature-related illness and death

  • Extreme weather- related health effects

  • Air pollution-related health effects

  • Water and food-borne diseases

  • Vector-borne and rodent- borne diseases

  • Effects of food and water shortages

  • Effects of population displacement

  • Human exposures

  • Regional weather

  • changes

  • Heat waves

  • Extreme weather

  • Temperature

  • Precipitation

  • Contamination

  • pathways

  • Transmission

  • dynamics

  • Agroecosystems

  • hydrology

  • Socioeconomics,

  • demographics

Based on Patz et al, 2000

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Adaptation Project Pilot Countries

Seven countries in different ecosystem zones, representing different health risks from climate change

  • Small island developing states: Fiji and Barbados

  • Countries with highland areas: Bhutan and Kenya

  • Water-stressed Countries: Jordan and Uzbekistan

  • Countries with multiple vulnerabilities: China

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Vulnerabilities in Highland Areas

Main health risks in highland regions

  • Physical health hazards from changing patterns of precipitation, snowmelt, and glacier-lake overflows

  • Increase in vector-borne diseases (e.g. malaria and dengue) due to the effects of temperature on the disease transmission cycle.

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Vulnerabilities in Water-stressed Areas

Changing precipitation patterns are likely to affect the quality and quantity of water supply, and bring new risks through changing agricultural practices.

This may exacerbate two of the largest causes of global ill health:

  • Poor water and sanitation

  • Malnutrition

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Vulnerabilities in Small-Island Developing States

High priority risks in low-lying countries include:

  • Physical hazards (i.e. hurricanes, flooding)

  • Infectious Diseases (water and vector borne: malaria, dengue, diarrhoeal diseases, typhoid)

  • Salination of freshwater (decrease in water for drinking and hygiene)

  • Food Security (drought & land salination)

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Project Timeline and Budget

  • Design phase of one year

  • Implementation phase (Jan 2010 – Jan 2014)

    GEF funding US$ 4.5 million

    In cash and in-kind co-financing US$ 16.6 million

    Total ProjectUS$ 21, 159, 000


1 year


4 years

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Project Design Phase Activities (I)

  • Identify main health vulnerabilities to climate variability and change for each country, e.g.

    • Diseases associated with water scarcity

    • Storms and floods

    • Changing patterns of vector-borne pathogens,

    • Malnutrition

  • Examine current health policies to address these threats

  • Identify strategies, policies, and measures that would address the incremental health risks posed by climate change

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Project Design Phase Activities (II)

  • Identify barriers to implementation of the various strategies, policies, and measures

  • Assess incremental costs of necessary activities relative to the current baseline

  • Design a proposal to implement one or more actions for each country

  • Share information across countries and develop final project proposal

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Full Project Activities

  • Select long-term cost-effective and sustainable adaptation:

    • Strategies (e.g. cross-sectoral fora for natural disaster prevention)

    • Policies (e.g. for safe use of wastewater in agriculture)

    • Measures (e.g. preparation and prevention of disease outbreaks through health education, and early warning)

  • Implement these adaptations strategies, policies, and measures in the field

  • Synthesize and share the lessons learnt.

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Project Objectives & Outcomes


Increase adaptive capacity to respond to climate sensitive health risks in seven countries.

Four Specific Outcomes related to:

  • Early Warning and Early Response Systems

  • Capacity Building based on EWS information

  • Disease prevention measures implemented

  • Cross country cooperation on innovative adaptation centric health strategies, policies, and measures

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Expected National Project Benefits

Measurable increases in "adaptive capacity" to

climate sensitive health risks

  • Reduction in the burden of climate sensitive diseases;

  • Reduction of the effect of climate change on human health;

  • Better Integration of planning and implementation across sectors

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Expected Global Benefits

  • Improved knowledge of the links between climate, health, and adaptation options in the most vulnerable contexts.

  • Identification of adaptation strategies that other countries can use to protect human health from the impact of climate change.

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Project Organization Structure

Project Board



Senior Beneficiary:

Pilot country Government Representatives

Senior Supplier:


Project Assurance

Senior Technical Advisor


Senior Technical Advisor


Project Manager


Project Support

(Admin Assistant)

Barbados Steering group


Steering group


Steering group


Steering group


Steering group


Steering group


Steering group

Global Knowledge Management Component (WHO)

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National Level Project Partners

  • National Government Ministries (e.g. Health, Environment, Agriculture)

    • Agencies (e.g. Meteorology Agency)

  • NGOs in health and environment fields

  • Researchers

  • Health Practitioners

  • Representatives of most vulnerable community groups

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Global Project Partners

Global Environmental Facility (GEF)

  • Project Funder

    United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

  • GEF agency, provides broad expertise in adapting to climate change

    World Health Organization (WHO)

  • Executing agency for the project design phase,

  • Technical support for design, selection and implementation of health protection measures.

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Climate change adaptation is a new field.

The long term aims of the project are to:

  • Extend lessons from this pilot project to countries facing similar stresses, but with few resources,

  • Support broad aims of preventive approaches to protect health and,

  • Widen partnerships for health protection from climate risks

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For more information on Climate and Health Actions




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Early warning and response system with timely information on likely incidence of climate-sensitive health risks established

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Capacity of health sector institutions to respond to climate-sensitive health risks based on early warning information improved

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OUTCOME 3 Disease prevention measures piloted in areas of heightened health risk due to climate change

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Cooperation among participating countries promotes innovation in adaptation to climate change including variability