The island country of Tuvalu continues to punch above its weight when it comes to climate change resilience and adaptation despite its isolation and relatively small island size. With a population of just under 12,000, Tuvalu has become the global symbol of the fight against climate change.
The USP’s Pacific Ocean and Climate Crisis Assessment (POCCA) project team recently visited Tuvalu from the 11-18th April, 2023 as part of its mission to capture stories around how the utilisation of indigenous and local systems is helping communities in Funafuti and its surrounding islands adapt to the changes brought about by climate change.
Sharing their experiences, the islanders openly acknowledge the adverse impacts that climate change is having on their home island which includes saltwater intrusion, sea level rise, loss of land and insecurities to water and food supply.
Despite these impacts, the communities continue to develop resilience and adaptive capacity through the integration of modern, traditional and local knowledge and practices.
When it comes to water resource management, the communities in Funafuti and the outer islands have adapted to collecting water through rainwater harvesting and modern methods of storing water using large household water tanks as digging of wells to store groundwater for consumption is no longer an option due to saltwater intrusion over the years affecting groundwater quality and availability.
Also, the islands do not have significant amount of soil for agriculture, so composting using pig waste and leftover food scraps, or peels has been a common practice when it comes to gardening of their vegetables and crops such as pumpkin, cabbage, chilies and taro.
Through the documentation of these stories and local knowledge, the POCCA project is able to give voice to Pacific indigenous and local knowledge systems and how they can work together in harmony with western scientific approaches towards developing climate change adaptation and resilience measures.
Tuvalu is the second country that the POCCA team has visited, with Fiji being the first.
The POCCA Project is a three-year project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), New Zealand co-partnered by the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD), University of South Pacific (USP) and the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury (UC) under separate grant funding arrangements.