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USP Tuvalu Staff Conduct Vulnerability Assessment on Funafuti

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Dr. Lagi, Ms. Vasa Saitala and Ms. Teresa Drecala leaving Funafuti.

Staff of The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Tuvalu Campus were kept busy over the long Easter weekend conducting a survey while visiting the 30 islets of Funafuti to assess the vulnerability of the island to sea level rise. 

Led by Dr Rosiana Lagi, Tuvalu Campus Director, the team comprised two-part time tutors Ms Teresa Drecala, Foundation Social Certificate Tutor and Director of the Tuvalu Association for Non-Government Organization (TANGO) and Ms Vasa Tuisiga, Tutor for Certificate in Office Management and Director for Tuvalu Women in Maritime Association.

The trio were concerned about the impacts of sea level rise on the island and the members of the community and discovered that three of the 30 islets visited had been submerged. 

“Therefore Funafuti is now exposed to more impacts of storm surges and sea swells.  As such, sea water intrusion increases and the fertility of the soil is affected,” Dr Lagi explained.

“Consequently, food crop production is threatened so people are vulnerable to non-communicable diseases as now they have to rely on processed food rather than fresh crops and vegetables,” she stated.

Funafuti during high tide and on a rainy day.

However, according to Dr Lagi, the Funafuti Kaupule are trying their best to reverse the natural process by conserving six of its islets. 

As such, two new islets are forming around the conservation area and members of the community are fishing and consuming spillovers from the conservation area. 

“However, monitoring the conservation area against poachers is an issue as the area is large and it is costly to constantly travel and check the area. 

As such, researches of this kind can help the Funafuti Kaupule and the government appeal to organisations to suggest or fund instruments or people that can help the Kaupule address this issue,” she commented.

Furthermore, Dr. Lagi said the survey was an eye opener to something that will not only affect Funafuti but is an issue that the world needs to know so that appropriate action can be taken.

In addition, she said, it legitimises the need for USP to have more academic staff in the regional campuses so that they can assist the member countries in identifying and addressing relevant issues. 

“We are thankful that PACE SD will be funding a community research officer. Consequently, it will improve practice and promote sustainable development in USP member countries,” she added.

This news item was published on 26 Apr 2019 01:11:22 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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