Strengthening Coastal and Marine Climate Resilience through
Upland and Coastal Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Community Engagement

Grassroots4LaVie is making use of the Vetiver Education & Empowerment Project (VEEP) model as an Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) approach to take knowledge, education and training to communities about vetiver grass and the Vetiver System (VS), as a low-cost green infrastructure tool to solve a wide range of soil and water related challenges across Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago.

Vetiver root specimen 8-ft long being showcased at IAMovement office in T&T, grown in just 1-year through the IAMovement Green Fund ME-WE-GREEN Programme “Grow Your Roots” competition

Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is a strategy for adapting to climate change that harnesses nature-based solutions and ecosystem services. Vetiver grass and the Vetiver System (VS) is a nature-based solution which serves as a tool to stabilize land, reduce erosion, slow down runoff and recharge groundwater – thus working with both people and environment, as it helps to protect infrastructure and property, regenerate topsoil and reduce sedimentation affecting downstream river and marine environments in coastal areas. This also reduces stress on coral reefs and ocean biodiversity giving them a greater opportunity to thrive.

In a world of advanced technologies, farming and food production in the Caribbean are still very dependent on natural systems – healthy soils, stable lands, adequate and clean water and predictable weather.  The Caribbean, especially the small and developing island states, has seen the conditions and health of natural systems consistently undermined by decades of expansion for housing, industry, transportation infrastructure, and poor agriculture practices. In this weakened state, climate change impacts, particularly rising temperatures and sea levels and unpredictable and extreme weather events, displace biodiversity and disrupt ecosystem functioning. This in turn, contributes to destruction of infrastructure, agriculture, and lives and livelihoods in vulnerable communities, from landslides, floods and soil erosion.

Climate action calls for all possible responses, at all intervention levels, from national policy to community-based grassroots solutions. The EbA project, complemented by other climate resilience projects in IICA, and with partners, is designed to enable better policy responses and empower community-level actions – with a focus on nature-based solutions. The EbA approach, built on two inter-twined principles of ‘for the planet and for the people’, targets vulnerable communities, where the ground-zero impacts of climate change are felt the most. Its focus is to empower impacted peoples with knowledge to better adjust their lives, practices and livelihoods to the new climate change reality, using nature-based resources, tools and strategies within the availability and capability of the community.

The ‘for the planet’ side of the EbA coin can be summed up by ‘no soil left uncovered’.  The main users of soil – farmers, are encouraged to protect soil from the sun (extreme heat and water stress), wind (erosion) and intense rain (floods and landslides). Other land users – community residents, are encouraged to protect homes and community property and infrastructure in hilly terrain and close to riverbanks, from land loss due to slips and slides. The main strategies are promoting and teaching climate smart agriculture practices, led by IICA, and planting of vetiver grass in hedgerows, led by IAMovement. The green engineering aspect of the EbA needs to be integrated into the traditional grey engineering approaches.

The ‘for the people’ side of the EbA coin, can be summed up by ‘decent livelihoods’. Sustaining community-based climate action requires financial resources. The vetiver grass also provides an important resource to generate community-based income earning opportunities.  Youth and women, in particular, are being trained as crafters, to create a range of products from vetiver and to improve their skills to manage and grow small businesses, using leaves and roots harvested as part of hedgerow maintenance. The green livelihoods aspect of the EbA fits well within the artisanal and handicraft traditions.

As the specialised agency in the inter-American system for agriculture and rural development, the EbA projects fits well within IICA’s mandate and technical cooperation programmes in support of sustainable and resilient agriculture and communities.


Vetiver grass is a tropical and sub-tropical plant which grows best in sunny conditions and has a deep fibrous root system that extends up to 10 ft deep, making it a very effective tool for slope stabilization and erosion control.

Vetiver leaves and roots can also be used in many ways to make different types of handicrafts. Learn more here.

  • Land slippage and erosion
  • Property damage
  • Loss of topsoil
  • Loss of agricultural land
  • Infrastructure damage (raods, culverts, etc)
  • Safety of walking paths
  • Other damages caused by uncontrolled rainfall runoff

Learn more about the Vetiver System (VS) here.

What is the Vetiver Education & Empowerment Project (VEEP)?

“VEEP is a tried and tested model or approach to introduce the Vetiver System (VS) to communities where it can benefit”

The VEEP model can be varied and modified to adjust to particular project and partner scenarios and needs, but in principle entails the following elements which have been found to be most supporting of its overall success.

The Vetiver Education & Empowerment Project (VEEP) Model

  • Identification of key project implementing partner(s)/ individual(s)
  • Selection of project participants
  • Establishment of vetiver nurseries
  • Carrying out of technical project training modules (classroom and field)
  • Project site selections and carrying out of for Vetiver System (VS-EbA) interventions
  • Carrying out vetiver handicraft making and developing training
  • Co-creation of educational material with the local project leads/NGO (e.g. project brochure)
  • Production of short educational videos and/or high-quality documentary film
  • Green business development and livelihood opportunities

Learn more about the VEEP model here and here.

The VEEP model was originally designed by Vetiver TT Ecological Engineering Solutions Ltd and implemented with support from the GEF Small Grants Programme in the hillside farming community of Paramin, Trinidad, working alongside the Paramin Development Committee (PDC) in 2016-2017. It has since been adopted by IAMovement and replicated multiple times in other communities across T&T working with the IDB, CCRIF SPC, Green Fund, and in Grenada with Eco Strategies Grenada Inc. Through the IICA CBF EbA project it is being expanded further across the Caribbean to Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia and Tobago.

How the VS and VEEP fit into Grassroots4LaVie

The Vetiver System (VS) and Vetiver Education & Empowerment Project (VEEP) model were designed into the project ‘Strengthening Coastal and Marine Climate Resilience through Upland and Coastal Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Community Engagement’ as an Ecosystem-based Adaptation approach, given the very strong interconnectedness between people and nature within this particular solution. The Vetiver System (VS) refers to the best practices in the use of vetiver grass as a low-cost, green engineering tool which can be used to tackle a wide range of important soil and water related challenges, which are exacerbated by climate change; and importantly – soil and water related challenges which affect people – such as landslides; property, infrastructure and farm damage; topsoil loss; drought; and sedimentation of water-ways, to name a few. In addition, the vetiver plant species and VS approach can also bring a range of benefits, improvements and opportunities to existing conditions and sites – such as topsoil regeneration, soil moisture retention, and livelihood generation through the production and sale of sustainable handicrafts. The Vetiver Education & Empowerment Project (VEEP) model, which originated in T&T having been designed and developed by Vetiver TT Ecological Engineering Solutions Ltd – is a modality for introducing vetiver grass and the VS to communities and stakeholders, in a way which makes the knowledge and application of these solutions easily accessible and ‘sticky’. This method has been tried and tested in a number of communities across Trinidad since 2016 led by Vetiver TT and IAMovement, and through the IICA CBF EbA project is being brought to the regional level among communities across four (4) different Caribbean islands.

The main feature of vetiver grass which makes it a powerful tool for many of the above listed land and water improvement purposes, is its dense and fibrous root system, which can grow up to 10-feet deep within the first 2-years – where most tropical grass roots species grow to no more than 1-2 feet deep. Additionally, the tensile strength of vetiver roots has been tested and found to be significantly stronger than most other common grass species, by as many as 6-7 times. This makes it a powerful land retention tool capable of improving the geotechnical shear strength of soils. Vetiver grass is also a ‘C4’ plant – which means that it takes in an extra atom of carbon, as compared with 90% of other plant species which are ‘C3’. Not only does this provide added value as it pertains to extracting and sequestering carbon from the air – but additionally, this is what helps make vetiver leaves such a unique and strong material, which can serve a valuable purpose for the production of handicrafts, and for mulching through chop-and-drop methods in agriculture. These are just a few of the characteristics and uses of vetiver grass – many more of which are covered within the VEEP and VS training programmes being deployed across the project countries!

Project Countries

Click below to learn more about the IICA CBF EbA Project in:


IICA Blog posts

The Project “Strengthening Coastal and Marine Climate Resilience through Upland and Coastal Ecosystem-based Adaptation and Community Engagement” is funded by the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF) EbA Facility, supported by the Government of Germany through the German Development Bank (KFW) with resources from the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.



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