The captial Island of Kiribati, Tarawa from above. Both Kiribati and Tuvalu consists of coral atolls only a few meters above sea level at their highest point and hence they are vulnerable to sea level rise.
Tawaa Tebunang stands underneath dead coconut trees. Water inundated this land during king tides and rising sea levels. They have lost many crops including coconuts, pawpaw, pandanus, banana, tarto, fig, and others. The ground is now too saline to grow food. Tanikabaai Village, Kribati.
Kids playing in king tide waters that surround Losa Telesias house. Both Kiribati and Tuvalu consists of coral atolls only a few meters above sea level at their highest point and hence they are vulnerable to high tides and sea level rise. Funafuti, Tuvalu.
Sakalia Teasi fishing. Fishermen on the island of Funafui say that increased temperature, storms, coral bleaching and over fishing is casing a reduction in fish stocks. “It is getting very difficult to catch fish now,” says Chairman of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network, Tafue Lusama (not pictured). “When I grew up, my grandfather and father used to teach me the shift from one season to the other and how it affects the movement of the fish in the sea from place to place. Those have been upset because of the changing weather patterns. The cost of fish caught around our islands has become very expensive. It is cheaper for a person to walk into a shop and buy a tin of fish … which is processed thousands of miles away … than buying fish from a local fisherman.” The cultural and health implications of this is enormous.
Fuel drums are being utilised as sea walls providing protection against coastal erosion, southern Funafuti, Tuvalu.
Tiontaake Atanati stands on land where coconut trees once stood, they have all been washed away by the sea.
The majority of the population in Kiribati and Tuvalu live in simple dwellings.
Vila Kauapa distributing water. The desalination plant provides people water in times of drought. For a standard size tank of 1000 gallons cost $16 to fill. This is the only desalination plant on Tuvalu and it doesn’t meet the demands of the people.
The community of Bikenikora Village, Tarawa, Kiribati at church Sunday. “It is a true thing. The sea level is going up,” says Eria Maerere, a local community leader. “People are starting to think
about migrating to other countries. A lot of our people have migrated to Fiji, to New Zealand, because of what they think is
going to happen. Some people panic and don’t know what to do. They talk about it every day. Our hope is that God will have
mercy on us on the low coral islands. I’m asking God to work with the big countries to show more mercy to us, to consider
our situation … I ask … if they could put us somewhere in their minds.”
Teuga Patolo standing in king tide waters that surround her next door neighbours house. Funafui, Tuvalu. Both Kiribati and Tuvalu consists of coral atolls only a few meters above sea level at their highest point and hence they are vulnerable to sea level rise.
Vailupe Manetia (8 months) sleeps in the family home. In Tuvalu people live in simple concrete dwellings with tin roofs. They collect water from the roof in water tanks for those that can afford tanks. The government is developing water policy and legislation to ensure that houses are built with water tanks and from 2007 the government have been providing one free water tank to each household. The tanks are donated by foreign aid.
“Our culture and our traditions are so valuable. They are part of our identity. We cannot leave that behind,” says Niu Ioane (not pictured). “Our country, though small, is peaceful and it is beautiful to us. We cannot just get up and leave.” Funafui, Tuvalu.
Reverend Tafue Lusama, pictured here with his daughter Sunema, is a church and community leader and an advocate for local and international action on climate
change. “All our traditional skills which have maintained our people for years are all upset because of the changing weather
patterns,” he says. “I’ve been travelling from country to country advocating and campaigning on the issue of climate change,” “The passion, the force that keeps megoing, is the realisation that what I received from my ancestors, I won’t be able to hand down … to my children and my grandchildren.” Funafui, Tuvalu.
Ekewi Nabubura (42) brings water to her vegetables. She and her husband have expanded their garden and have increased their income by selling
produce to schools. However, access to water is a problem throughout Kiribati. “There’s never enough water,” says Tearei Maerere, a school teacher
living in Bikenikora village. Tearei explains how her village relied on a local well to water their gardens. With salt water intrusion it was no longer useable.
They have asked the government for more water but it is yet to come according to Tearei. “This is Kiribati. This is how we live … When you stay still you
cannot survive. We have to use our hands, our minds, our strength, our energy … you have to be strong … But we still need some help,” says Tearei. Tarawa, Kiribati.
Sylvia Vaclei sits in her simple dwelling. She lives with her brother and sister and they rely on tank water during dry periods. During droughts, the Integrated Water Resources Management, part of the Tuvalu government, educates the community about water conservation methods via radio announcements, including recycling of water for flushing toilets. There is a water rationing system according to the projected drought conditions where people can access government water. Funafuti, Tuvalu.
Dr Sikiliti at the Princess Margaret Hospital treating Penina Anitela during the non communicable diseases clinic, within the consultation rooms, every Tuesday afternoon. The doctors need to review sugar and blood pressure levels of people with “life style diseases” such as obesity usually associated with diabetes and high blood pressure.
“some times we have patients with both diabetes and high blood pressure, so the things we look at is how well their sugars and blood pressure is being controlled for the past few weeks and we have to adjust the tables they are taking, the medications they are taking for the sugar and blood pressure, or any other complaints they come up with like headache, blurred vision or tingling sensation in there feet, all the complications of these types of diseases”.
“one of the complications of diabetes even high blood pressure is vision loss, most of the people with diabetes if they are not well controlled, they’ll end up having all those sorts of problems."
During World War II American soldiers dug out pulaka plantions (once a staple food ) to build the airfield on the capital island of Tuvlau, Funafuti. These created “borrow pits” that are now full of rubbish, they are flooded at high tide.
Growing crops on Tuvalu is increasingly difficult. Salt water intrusion is contaminating ground water and soils, killing many plants. Hetagi Lotomahana stands in her pawpaw plantation. Just after the king tide the plantation turned yellow as salt got into the roots. She waters the plants as much as possiable hoping to flush out the salt and revive them. Funafui, Tuvalu
“According to my grandfather … the distance between the ends of the two islands (pictured in the background) was so close that if you threw a stone across, it would land on the other island,” says Eliakimo, who lives in a small nearby village. “Every year … I have been witnessing an increasing in the rate of erosion," [to the shoreline] “I am really concerned about the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. The mangrove plantation, started in 2007, [is] part of a joint project between Tuvalu and Japan. The purpose [is] to reduce the risk of coastal erosion. This is a protection measure for our shorelines. My message for world leaders now is to ask and to plead with them to … cut their emission rates to a level where we can be assured that we can be saved in our small island countries.” Funafala, Tuvalu.
Polapola Feli launches the weather balloon that measures temperature, barometric pressure, humidity and wind velocity at the Tuvalu Meteorological Service. In recently years Tuvalu has experienced water shortages and unseasonal droughts. The Director, Hilia Vavae says “There is actually an expectation of less rain in the future”. She explains that although the increase in temperature is small, “the impact is not small, the impact is big. It’s just too hot”. Funafuti, Tuvalu.
Berekita Tokintekai (20) from Butaritari is living here with her Aunt.
They have been experience flooding from the channel side but don’t know when it floods. They bought the water tank (behind her). When they have heavy rains it fills up and it is used for drinking water, they always have water from this tank. They have been unable to grow vegetables because of the saline soil. The tank costs about $900 . Her favorite colour is yellow. They have lost all their plants, started after salt water intrusion since 2003. Caused by the hotel building a channel and allowing the seawater to flood their lands. Now with sea level rise, the amount of flooding has increased.
Despite more extensive flooding in Tuvalu many people are in denial about the impacts of sea level rise. Faaui Siale, 60, (not pictured) says “I believe there won’t be any more floods, because of the covenant between Noah and the Lord God,” “They made a promise during those days that there won’t be another flood in the world.” It’s a belief shared by many of her compatriots. Recently, a survey conducted by the Tuvalu Christian Church found that nearly one-third of the population does not believe in climate change based on their interpretation of the Old Testament. In Genesis, Chapter 9, after the great flood subsides, God tells Noah there will never again be a flood to destroy the earth, and chooses the rainbow as the symbol of that promise.
The airstrip was built in World War II on ground previously used to grow the staple root crop, pulaka. It caters for a twice weekly air service to Fiji. During other times the runway is used as a recreational hub. In the late afternoon people play volleyball and train for soccer and rugby. “We use it as a place to relax" says Niu Ioane. When the king tides occur sections of the runway are flooded. Funafui, Tuvalu