Comoros

Location

Moroni
Comoros
11° 40' 59.88" S, 43° 16' 0.12" E
Capital City: 
Moroni
Languages: 
Comorian, Arabic, French
Category: Social
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Net enrollment ratio in primary education 55.5 MDG Database
Seats held by women in national parliament, percentage 3 3 3 3 3 3 UN Stats (MDGs indicators)
Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above) 68.48999999999999 73.59999999999999 World Bank
Category: Land
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Agricultural land (1000 Ha) 145 147 147 147 148 148 150 150 150 FAO
Forest area (sq km) 80 75 70 65 60 55 49 44 World Bank
Forest area (% of land area) 4.3 4.03 3.76 3.49 3.22 2.96 2.63 2.37 World Bank
Category: Tourism
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
International tourism receipts (% of total exports) 15 9 11 16 21 24 27 Development Data Group, The World Bank. 2008. 2008 World Development Indicators Online. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Available at: http://go.worldbank.org/U0FSM7AQ40.
Category: Demographics
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Country population 540,327 551,857 563,633 575,660 587,944 600,490 613,606 628,410 643,571 659,098 World Bank
Population annual growth 2.1114 2.1114 2.1114 2.1114 2.1114 2.1114 2.16078 2.38399 2.38399 2.38399 World Bank
Maternal mortality ratio (modeled estimate, per 100,000 live births) 390 360 340 World Bank
Category: Indices
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
HDI - Human Development Index 0.423 0.424 0.425 0.425 0.426 0.428 UNDP International Human Development Indicators - Calculated based on data from UNDESA (2009d), Barro and Lee (2010), UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2010b), World Bank (2010b) and IMF(2010a).
Category: Economy
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
GNI per capita, PPP (current international $) 970 1,010 1,040 1,060 1,060 1,120 1,150 1,180 1,180 1,300 World Bank
ODA received as % of GNI 9.25 12.48 12.94 7.57 7.27 5.92 7.59 9.53 7.0099999999999998 UN Stats (MDGs indicators)
Workers remittances (current US$) 12,000,000 12,000,000 12,000,000 12,000,000 12,000,000 12,000,000 12,000,000 12,000,000 12,000,000 UN Data
Category: Energy
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Electric power consumption (kWh) World Bank
Combustible renewables and waste (metric tons of oil equivalent) World Bank
Fossil fuel energy consumption (% of total) World Bank
Category: Climate Change and Sea-level Rise
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), thousand metric tons of CO2 (CDIAC) 84 88 92 99 103 110 121 121 MDG Database (CDIAC Data)
Category: Freshwater
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Improved water source (% of population with access) 92 95 95 World Bank
Category: Biodiversity
Indicator 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source
Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.7 UN Stats (MDGs indicators)

Climate Change

In 2002, the Comoros submitted an initial National Communication entitled ‘Convention-cadre des nations-unies sur les changements climatiques: Communication nationale initiale’ to the UNFCCC. This was followed in 2006 by the submission of a National Action Programme of Adaptation to Climate Change (NAPA) to the UNFCCC.

The current and possible impacts of climate change are likely to undermine several decades of efforts made against poverty and economic precariousness, which still represent major concerns for the Comoros. The agricultural industry already experiences difficulties due to higher temperatures, changes in rainfall and rain intensity, and the emergence of new crop pests. The country is also exposed to cyclones, rising sea levels, and the increasing vulnerability of coral barriers. These changes are liable to provoke disruptions in this archipelago, where most of the population lives along the coast and the economy and living conditions are largely dependent upon tourism and fishing. Climate drift is particularly likely to disrupt development efforts, especially strategies for food security and poverty reduction. This is exacerbated by the lack of uniform building standards, with much of the country’s infrastructures being built less than 6 meters above sea level. These low-lying areas are also among the most population dense in the country and have a greater incidence of poverty than other areas. Degraded soils can also be found in those zones where coastal erosion is highly marked. The possible anticipated impacts of climate change include an accelerated reduction of agricultural and fishing production, an increased saline intrusion in coastal aquifers, a 20 cm rise in sea level by 2050 with the destruction of 29% of roads and works by flooding, a loss of cultivable lands and mass movement of citizens to high ground, and the disappearance of reefs and beaches with tourist potential. Major constraints to Comoros’ ability to adapt to climate change result from restricted access to financing, technology and human capacity. The predominately English literature on adaptation mechanisms creates an added language barrier to adaptation.

Comoros: National Action Programme of Adaptation to Climate Change (NAPA)

Natural and Environmental Disasters

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is included in the Comoros Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and is also institutionalized into the policies of the Ministry of Transport, Posts and Telecommunications and Tourism; Ministry of Health, Solidarity and Gender; Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Industry, Craft and Environment; Ministry of National Education, Research, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports; and the Ministry of Land-Use Planning, Urban Planning, Housing and Energy. Natural Risk and Vulnerability Assessments have been partially conducted in the Comoros.

The Comorian population is highly vulnerable to natural hazards, both ecological and anthropogenic, and its resources do not enable it to respond to disasters effectively. The Comoros is at risk for volcanic eruptions, cyclones and floods. As the majority of the population lives near the coast the effects of a tsunami would also be catastrophic, though one has yet to occur. There are neither early warning nor evacuation plans in place to mitigate damage in the case of a tsunami. Cyclones are the most common environmental hazard, occurring typically between November and April each year and creating 1,000 disaster victims on average annually. Volcanic eruptions have also occurred semi-regularly, and a government-sponsored National Volcanic Observatory has been established to monitor the country’s most active volcanoes. Eruptions occurred on Grande Comore in recent years, and such eruptions are often accompanied by earthquakes , landslides and explosions, often causing a shower of sand and ash that invades almost three quarters of the island. There have also been rapid movements of the population in response to these disasters. Hurricanes or tropical storms come every year with varying degrees of magnitude and cause enormous damage. They are the origin of floods that leave some families without shelter or sustenance. Cholera epidemics are common in the Comoros. Malaria is endemic and is the leading cause of mortality. Shipwrecks and airplane accidents are also common, with at least 100 people loosing their lives each year in illegal crossings between Anjouan and Mayotte.

Report on the Status of Disaster Risk Reduction in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) Region
AIMS Regional Synthesis Report for the Five Year Review of Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for Sustainable Development in SIDS (MSI+5)
Rapport sur le suivi et l’application de la strategies de Maurice MSI+5

Waste Management

The Comoros lacks an organized system for the proper collection and management of waste and sanitation. This constitutes a major health risk.

Population growth and urbanization have brought a substantial increase in the amount of household refuse, untreated hospital waste, and transportation-related trash such as waste oil and dumped cars. Management of waste water and rain water is becoming a major source of concern in both urban and rural environments. The problem is particularly acute in the majority of towns that have not been able to devote the necessary resources to deal with the difficulties caused by these factors. Piles of rubbish in town centers also constitute a form of visual pollution that creates foul and fetid smells which are bothersome to inhabitants.

AIMS Regional Synthesis Report for the Five Year Review of Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for Sustainable Development in SIDS (MSI+5)
Union of the Comoros: Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper
Rapport sur le suivi et l’application de la strategies de Maurice MSI+5

Coastal and Marine Resources

In 2009, the Comoros submitted its Quatrieme Rapport National sur la Diversite Biologique (Fourth National Report on Biological Diversity)  to the Commission on Biological Diversity.

The coastline of the Comoros is highly varied with low hills, cliffs, islets and atolls. A variety of different materials make up these landscapes, including lava, black or white sand beaches, pebbles, blocks and coral reefs. The biological diversity of mangrove swamps, coral reefs, beaches, herbariums and underwater plants is enormous and constitutesa potential tourist attraction. Currently sand, coral and stone coastal mining for construction as well as mangrove destruction are underway. These activities cause environmental degradation and speed the process of coastal erosion. The richness and biodiversity of both marine and land resources is seriously threatened by various human activities as well as natural phenomena.To combat this process of degradation, several coastal villages have begun the construction of retaining walls. In addition, ecologically important sea-level habitats such as coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves and beaches are threatened by changing climate conditions, and additional degradation has a direct link with the high population concentration and economic infrastructure along the coast. Other practices such as fishing by destructive means, pollution discharge from pesticides, and the dumping of sewage and solid waste all increase the vulnerability of marine biodiversity. At sea, fishing techniques such as the use of toxic substances or dynamite pollute the water with substances that are extremely harmful to marine ecosystems and contribute to over-fishing along the coast and the destruction of corals. Conversely, the sea is at once underused by local fishermen, who do not have the means or access to the appropriate technology to efficiently and safely make use of the Comoros’ rich marine resources.

Quatrieme Rapport National sur la Diversite Biologique

Freshwater Resources

A project on waste water management and water resources has been implemented in the Comoros and a water consumption charter prepared and widely disseminated.

There are essentially three sources of freshwater: surface water, groundwater and rainwater harvesting. Rainfall varies greatly from island to island and within each island, as well as between seasons and year-to-year. For example, the soils of Njazidja are highly permeable whereas one finds loose soils that are sometimes impermeable on several other islands. The primary source of supply also varies from island to island. Anjouan and Moheli are dependent on surface runoff, while the population of Grande Comore sources mainly from the collection of rainwater and groundwater. During the 1980s, a UNDP project helped to build 22 wells that are still in use on the island of Moroni. These wells continue to be an important part of government water policy, and have provided a base for further multilateral support from partners and NGOs as well as local communities that have completed several water supply systems for these wells. Currently, water shortages persist but are offset by government initiatives. A water analysis laboratory is in operation and water quality monitoring has been strengthened to improve distribution of good-quality water and to reduce the incidence of water-borne diseases. Overall, water sources still often constitute a potential health risk for consumers as they are poorly looked after.

AIMS Regional Synthesis Report for the Five Year Review of Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for Sustainable Development in SIDS (MSI+5)

Land Resources

The Comoros has created a National Commission for Sustainable Development as well as regional commissions based on each of the three main islands. The Comoros is currently drawing up of a program for combating land degradation through the Ministry of Environment and Agriculture, as well as plans for the development of agro-forestry for improved management of soil fertility to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers.

The agricultural sector accounts for 40% of the Comoros’ GDP and employs a large percentage of the workforce. This is a source of vulnerability for the economy, as fragile soils vulnerable to erosion and tectonic instability coupled with zones of subsistence farming create a difficult climate for economic growth. High unemployment and high poverty rates persist, while comparatively high population growth, bad use of soils, inadequate institutional capacities and poor economic diversification add to this vulnerability. Traditional housing is made of cob or straw, which is not resistant to inclement weather, and is concentrated mainly in the coastal region. High population growth increases the need for land and drives deforestation to accommodate the population’s need for land suitable for housing, agriculture and construction. This leads to uncontrolled deforestation, loss of habitat and decreased fertility for some species, soil erosion, and drying rivers and water sources. These processes also take place in regions that would otherwise be good candidates to house future expansion of the tourism industry, which thereby erodes the future potential for success of this sector. Unemployment and poverty exacerbate this environmental degradation and natural resource exploitation. Implementation of a small UNDP grant project on land conservation is also underway in the Comoros.

Comoros. National Action Programme of Adaptation to Climate Change (NAPA)
Rapport sur le suivi et l’application de la strategies de Maurice MSI+5

Energy Resources

Currently, the Comoros lacks an overall energy “master plan”. The government has instituted a program called ‘Harnessing of Energy’, and has pursued policies to reduce the theft and fraud of energy.

The principal source of energy in the Comoros is wood, which satisfies 78 percent of the country’s energy needs, followed by hydrocarbons, which satisfy 20 percent of energy needs. Other sources of energy, such as electricity and butane gas, account for only a negligible portion of Comorian household consumption. Firewood remains the main source of energy for meal preparation; approximately two-thirds of households use it for this purpose. The main features of the energy sector are low overall consumption, which reflects a low level of economic development, market dependence on wood fuels, which contributes to land degradation, and a recent marked increase in imported petroleum consumption, which increases the cost of energy. Electricity production is mainly conducted through the use of thermal energy stations on the islands, and the energy sector experiences a low overall rate of return on investment of less than 50 percent. Added to this is a loss of approximately 45% of electricity production capacity due to fraud and technical deficits in the networks. These issues are exacerbated by the small size of the energy market, which restricts the possibilities for economies of scale, creates higher consumer prices, and limits the sector’s ability to attract financing to improve the production of existing stations. Studies on potential solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal energy have been completed and show great promise for future renewable energy investment, but currently are not exploited in any form.

Union of the Comoros: Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, 2006

Tourism

The Comoros is not currently a member of the UNWTO, but in 1997 it did develop a tourism strategy. This strategy has since been updated and focuses on the benefits of eco-tourism to alleviate poverty.

Although the tourism industry is not well developed in the Comoros, 45 potential tourist sites have been identified and a master tourism plan has been prepared. Tourism is regarded as a sector with strong potential for economic growth and employment. As a cross-cutting sector, it impacts directly on other sectors such as transportation, the hotel industry, commerce, construction and public works enterprises, energy, agriculture, fishing, craft activities, and telecommunications. Currently, the hotel industry has a capacity of approximately 800 beds, well below that of other countries in the region. The quality of accommodation is also uneven, ranging from international comfort standards to the somewhat rudimentary facilities offered by establishments run by nonprofessionals and barely-trained personnel. The Comoros has only one training institute for the hotel industry. At the national and regional level, the Tourism Directorate and IOC/EU have provided support for training programs and seminars for young people. Tourism in the Comoros has evolved from business trips and expatriate visits in the 1980s to tourism for pleasure in the 1990s. Peaking in the early 2000s, tourism receipts have since declined due to changes in private operators in the tourism market and political instability. The government aims to increase tourism activities but is constrained by environmental degradation in some seaside areas, deterioration of public monuments and cultural sites, a lack of tourist infrastructure and transport options, expensive transport costs, and a lack of tourist offices and tourist guides.

Union of the Comoros: Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper

Biodiversity

The Comoros has not yet developed a dedicated National Plan for Sustainable Development, but it has instituted a Commission to pursue such a plan. It has also developed various national polices on several socio-economic and environmental sectors to guide sustainable development and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy. These include the National Policy on Environment and National Action Plan on the Environment, National Development Strategy on Statistics, a National Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction (SCRP: Stratégie de Croissance et Réduction de la Pauvreté), and a General Direction for the Environment for the Comoros (Le Direction General de Environment). The Comoros also submitted its Fourth National Report on Biological Diversity (Quatrieme Rapport National sur la Diversite Biologique) to the Commission on Biological Diversity in 2009.

The Comoros is classified as having a globally high endemic status and faces significant threats to its biodiversity. However, this biodiversity is still not well known and is therefore mismanaged and badly protected. The number of plant species is estimated at about 2,000 species on the three islands. The interest in preserving the biodiversity of the Comoros stems from the need to ensure the stability of the ecosystem and from the fact that several species, which are still unknown, have a potential use in science, agronomy and/or the pharmaceutical industry. The Comoros is also home to an egg-laying site for marine turtles which is one of the most important in the Indian Ocean and the 10th overall in importance around the world. Population increases have damaged the Comoros’ natural resources, leading to environmental degradation, and exacerbates the negative impact of natural events like volcanic eruptions, heavy rains, floods and droughts, which also contribute to environmental degradation. Turtles, dugongs and sea urchins live on seagrass beds, which are also an important breeding ground and nursery for snails, small crustaceans and fish. Despite this, there is only one marine park to protect and preserve Comorian biodiversity.

Comoros. National Action Programme of Adaptation to Climate Change (NAPA)
Quatrieme Rapport National sur la Diversite Biologique
Country Strategies: 
Title Programme Name Programme Description Year
PRSP - Comoros Union of the Comoros: Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper 2008
NAPA - Comoros Comoros. National action programme of adaptation to climate change (NAPA). Strategy Description 2006
NBSAP - Comoros Quatrieme Rapport National sur la Diversite Biologique Strategy Description 2009
NSDS - Comoros
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External Resources: 
Title Programme Description Year
Présidence de l'Union des Comores (Site Officiel) - official website of the President of the Union of the Comoros
UNICEF - Comoros
National focal point for sustainable development: 
Ministère du Developpement Rural, de la Peche et de l'Environment