- From Wendy Flannery at the Climate Frontlines Collective.
On Thursday 14 February the FoEB Climate Frontlines collective hosted a public information evening with 3 Pacific Island women in Australia for a program focusing on micro-finance for climate-change-related sustainability projects, organised by Sisters 4 Sustainability. After participating in the Canberra conference of the International Society for Human Ecology and Sustainability, they completed the rest of the initial stage of the program in Brisbane. The Frontlines information evening was an opportunity for them to share with a wider audience both the challenges their communities are facing and the creative responses they are involved in developing.
Olivia Aripa (pictured above with Maureen Jane (4EB) and Lolia), a great grandmother, nurse, midwife and a respected elder from the Popondetta area in Papua New Guinea, described how extreme rainfall events have destroyed many crops, as well as plants used for producing handcrafts for daily use and income generation, making it very difficult for the women to provide for their children. The impact on local infrastructure has meant that some basic services, such as access to school for small children, are no longer available. Olivia has initiated a number of programmes to help the local women and children adapt to these changing circumstances and is seeking help to expand a small flower marketing business to support the programmes financially.
“It’s war”, said Senolita Vakata, describing the struggle against the impacts of climate change on Ha’apai , a low-lying group of islands in the Kingdom of Tonga. Traditionally, people have settled in coastal areas, for ease of access to the sea. However, their houses are now flooded with sea water on a regular basis and their coconut palms dying with their exposed roots – due to coastal erosion – being burnt by the sun. Senolita has been able to access resources to help the people build new houses away from the coast, but this will depend on the allocation of land under the government-controlled land holding system. In any case if they do move inland, they can only hope to eventually meet the encroaching sea on the other side of the island.