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