Tuvalu, one of the small island developing states (SID) in the Pacific Ocean, is not a stranger to the threats of extreme natural disasters. The effects of climate change – rising sea-levels and warming oceans are making extreme natural events more frequent and severe.
Tuvalu is also comprised of low-lying atoll islands where the majority of its population sits at no more than two meters above sea-level. Coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion, storm-hazard pose as a continuing threat to its land, crops, livelihood, and people.
Tuvaluan’s dependence on natural resources, inadequate infrastructure and human resources, low socioeconomic status, and lack of institutional capacities are the reasons why they are vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
At international conferences on climate change, Tuvaluan’s have been very vocal about the challenges they are facing creating global awareness of the impacts of climate change on these low-lying atoll nations (Stop Tuvalu, 2019).
When Cyclone Pam hit Tuvalu on March 2015, almost half of its population were displaced, destroying their homes, crops, and livelihood. Their total losses were equivalent to one-third of its GDP at the time.
Climate models’ projections suggest that Tuvalu will experience more extreme rainfall, tropical cyclones will become less, but those that will occur will be more powerful and destructive. At the same time, sea-level rise will increase every year.
Tuvalu’s existing coastal protection measures are inadequate and would require urgent action if the low-lying atoll nation is to survive higher sea-levels, storm surges, and seawater intrusion.
With the assistance from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) of US$36 million and Tuvalu government’s counterpart of US $2.9 million, the country set up the Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project (TCAP) to protect itself from coastal hazards.
The TCAP will implement measures to reduce coastal hazards in the three target islands, develop a long-term coastal adaptation strategy, building the capacity of its national and local authorities, and invest in their youth as future stewards of Tuvalu.
Tuvalu and other low-lying atoll nations in the pacific oceans are certainly not alone in their fight against climate change. Through the GCF, the global community can extend assistance in the form of funds, and capacity building through skills and knowledge to help countries not only adapt to climate change but also thrive in their regions.
Hopefully, the assistance through funding, skills, and technology sharing will produce long-term and enduring learning for vulnerable countries resulting in self-reliance and self-sufficiency in them.
To know more about the Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project, click on the button below:
PHOTO CREDIT: By Stefan Lins – Flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1514523