Natural Hazard Risk
The Seychelles is vulnerable to a range of natural hazards, including tropical cyclones, coastal floods, and storm surge. An archipelago of 115 islands, about 100 of the islands are generally low-lying and the country’s main islands -- Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue -- have mountains with steep slopes. Tropical cyclones, combined with wind, flood, and storm surge hazards, have generated significant damage in recent years. In 2013, Tropical Storm Felleng brought heavy rainfall, which led to severe flooding and landslides causing damages and losses exceeding $8.4 million, or 0.77% of Seychelle’s 2012 GDP. Additionally, in April 2016, Tropical Cyclone Fantala passed near the Seychelles’ Farquhar Group, causing widespread damage to nearly all buildings and significantly impacting communities and livelihoods in the archipelago.
With an economy based primarily upon tourism and fisheries, climate change presents significant risks to Seychelles’ sustainable development. As flooding, coastal erosion and sea-level rising are growing issues, exposing about 80 percent of the nation’s economic development and livelihood concentrated along the narrow coastal zones to serious threats.
The Government of Seychelles has increased its natural disaster and climate resilience efforts in recent years. Following a 2002 tropical storm, the government established the National Risk and Disaster Management Secretariat in 2004 to provide permanent assistance to the National Disaster Committee (NDC). The NDC, restructured in 2006 to become the Division of Risk and Disaster Management (DRDM), is a multi-sectoral body that functions as a national platform for coordination and policy guidance on disaster risk reduction. In 2014, Seychelles adopted a disaster risk management (DRM) Act, which establishes the country’s first comprehensive legal DRM framework. The Act designates the DRDM as the national body responsible for preparing a national DRM plan and strategy and implementing an integrated emergency management and coordination system.
Additionally, the Seychelles Climate Change Strategy, formulated in 2009, sets preliminary guidelines for mainstreaming climate change into the country’s development. It also addresses related policy, institutions, capacity building, and civil society involvement.
To further advance its DRM and climate resilience agenda, the Government of Seychelles is prioritizing:
- Providing a strong institutional basis for disaster risk reduction at local and national levels;
- Identifying, assessing, and monitoring disaster risk and enhancing early warning;
- Enabling effective response capacity by strengthening disaster preparedness at local and national levels; and,
- Mainstreaming climate change considerations into national policies, strategies, and plans.
GFDRR has helped enable disaster and climate resilience efforts in Seychelles since 2007. Key areas of focus have included disaster preparedness, post-disaster recovery, and development of related legislative frameworks.
In 2007, GFDRR began supporting the Seychelles at the regional level through providing technical assistance in Sub-Saharan African for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in strategic planning documents and development policies. Activities assessed the level of disaster preparedness in health, tourism, education, and aviation sectors and provided disaster management training to the districts.
Additionally, GFDRR has supported activities to build disaster preparedness and response capacity in Seychelles. This includes the design of early warning systems and procedures, dissemination of emergency information, and disaster management training. Additionally, a series of contingency plans have been established for critical sectors, including health, education, and tourism.
In 2013, through the Africa Caribbean Pacific-European Union Natural Disaster Risk Reduction(ACP-EU NDRR) Program, GFDRR supported the government to conduct a damage and loss assessment after Cyclone Felleng. The assessment found more than $8.4 million in damages and provided the government with information needed to begin formulating a DRM framework. This information helped lay the foundation for creating Sub-Saharan Africa’s first World Bank-financed disaster contingent credit line in September 2014, with a reserve of $7 million to help foster a more stable macroeconomic environment in the country. Activities have led to government measures that are expected to benefit 87,000 people and rehabilitate and protect 500 kilometers of roadways from disasters.
In 2016, GFDRR, though ACP-EU-funding supported the government to conduct a post-disaster needs assessment after Tropical Cyclone Fantala. The PDNA report recommendations included that the government enhance policy directives and building standards for cyclone-prone islands, and strengthen weather monitoring and early warning capabilities. Following, a training funded by the ACP-EU NDRR Program and led by the EU, UNDP, and World Bank was held in May 2016 on PDNA methodology to build government and stakeholder capacity on conducting post-disaster assessments.
Going forward, GFDRR anticipates demand in the Seychelles for:
- Strengthening the country’s risk financing strategy in the context of building resilience to disasters and the effects of climate change;
- Capacity building for disaster preparedness and response; and,
- Integrating disaster risk reduction with promoting sustainable recovery.