Back to Magazine
Homepage



Tuvalu braces for the future


One sweltering day in the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu, a Tuvalu Red Cross Society team heads off to Funafala Islet, a 45-minute boat trip from the main atoll, Funafuti. The eight families living on Funafala have no way of communicating with the outside world. If there’s a cyclone, storm surge or a medical emergency, they are stuck.

On Funafala, the Tuvalu Red Cross delivers a solar-powered satellite phone and trains residents in its use. Together, they draw a map of hazards in the environment, such as the directions storms normally arrive from. They discuss what resources the community has to cope with such disasters.

In related programmes, pairs of volunteers visit older people or people with disabilities to check on their well-being. The Red Cross, which is a National Society in formation, has identified the people who might need help to evacuate in a disaster. Volunteers plant pandanus trees on the coast, pick up rubbish and educate children about the environment. Next to Tuvalu Red Cross headquarters is a shipping container stocked with blankets, sheets and 20-litre water containers.

Preparation is essential. More frequent and more severe storms, erosion, salty vegetable gardens, contaminated groundwater and rising sea levels are a fact of life for the 10,000 people who live on nine bumps of volcanic rock that peek a bare five metres above sea level.

Tataua Pese, the climate change and disaster management officer with the Tuvalu Red Cross, says, “There are many ways we can assist people to stay and look into the future. If we want to assist the next generation to see the beauty of the islands, we had better keep working, not give up and go to live in other countries.”

Rosemarie North
International Federation editor
Red Cross Red Crescent magazine

Tuvaluans depend on the sea for food and transport.
©GIORA DAN / INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION

Their lifestyle and health is already threatened by rising sea levels, more ferocious storms and leaching rubbish dumps.
©GIORA DAN / INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION


Their lifestyle and health is already threatened by rising sea levels, more ferocious storms and leaching rubbish dumps.
©GIORA DAN / INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION

First-aid training is essential on atolls that are cut off by storms, as is communicating needs.
©GIORA DAN / INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION

The tiny country’s traditional way of life is threatened by climate change and environmental degradation.
©GIORA DAN / INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION

The Tuvalu Red Cross Society’s Tataua Pese trains people on Funafala Islet to use satellite phones to summon help in an emergency.
©GIORA DAN / INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION

Chemicals from rubbish leach into the sea, damaging the fragile coral reefs that are the country's foundations.
©GIORA DAN / INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION


Top

Contact Us

Credits

Webmaster

2008

Copyright