Tuesday 2 July 2013

PACC assists Cook Islands improve public infrastructure on Mangaia

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS  

2 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji -   A climate adaptation project to improve the strength and durability of Cook Islands port infrastructure on the island of Mangaia has been replicated in two other islands, says Paul Maoate.

Maoate is the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) co-ordinator in Cook Islands and is overseeing implementation of the project on the island of Mangaia. PACC is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). 

Maoate said two harbours in Mitiaro and Mauke are ‘following similar designs to Mangaia and there are moves now to also use the same design in the northern group.’

Mangaia, the second largest island in Cook Islands consists of raised coral limestone and is a narrow lagoon with a reef in close proximity to shoreline. It’s a coastal community made up of a population of approximately 300 people that is reliant on its wharf, import of resources, fuel, building material and goods and services for its community stores.

Its wharf, according to Maoate is not safe for vessels to load and unload supplies because of rough and unstable sea conditions.

“We are looking at climate proofing or strengthening the harbour to reduce remedial costs following natural disasters.

“Improvement designs include plans to accommodate safe usage during rough sea conditions. At present freight cannot off-load and on-load supplies of wind speed exceeds 15 knots, said Maoate.

“The harbour is the island’s main connecting point to Rarotonga’s shipping services. It is the centre-point for all cargo deliveries and the main launching and return point of the island community fishing vessels. Inter-island shipping vessel offload cargo onto the island barge that utilizes the harbour for docking purposes.

Future predictions based on the coastal calculator suggests that the whole Mangaia coastal front is prone to sea surges and in the next 20-50 years it can move further inland some 200 metres beyond where the current road is built.

“One of the possible options is for residents to relocate. It’s their decision and we will leave it to them. We also provide other options, which include strengthening their homes or building sea walls.
Another infrastructure under close scrutiny is the island’s airport runaway which is 15 metres above sea level.

“We are considering the option of relocating it because strengthening it is too costly. We can only do this with the support and participation of the local community, said Maoate.

An integrated coastal management policy will be prepared that will identify improved building design, future coastal protection, and relocation of residential homes, provide emergency road and improve the capacity of technical designers and village local planners.

“The PACC project has paved the way for government. It helps government identify the problem and puts aside funding to deal with the maintenance or overhaul of public infrastructures.

Mangaia has three main villages, namely Oneroa, Ivirua and Tamarua, all located along the coastal plains.

Climate resilient root-crops trialled in Fiji

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS 

2 July 2013, Nadi Fiji - Three varieties of climate resilient root-crops have been piloted in two communities in Fiji, thanks to the work carried out by the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) and Fiji’s Agriculture Ministry.

Village communities in Nakelo in Tailevu and Deuba in Serua are successfully planting three varieties of dalo, cassava and kumala, said Api Tuwai, PACC Coordinator in Fiji.

“PACC came in and introduced these crops that are resilient to high water table areas. The PACC project worked closely with the Koronivia Research Station that tested these root crops and PACC distributed them to farmers.

However, we are facing some problems with the distribution of these planting materials because of the demand.

“These two particular areas were chosen because they are flood prone areas and encounter severe rainfall all year round. They are prone to floods and also inundated from saltwater because they are near the coast.

Tuwai said the drainage system in these two locations existed more than 30 years ago at the height of rice farming in Fiji.

“After the rice industry collapsed, these areas were left idle. Most of the current farmers are small scale farmers going into commercial and semi-commercial farming and they are not able to support the maintenance of the drainage system.

“What we found with this project is that most of the drains have clogged water ways with flood gates that were not working therefore .

To fix this problem of clogged drainage, PACC is working on a model of drain that can easily adapt to changes associated with the climate in the coming 30-50 years, said Tuwai.

“From the data collected for Suva and Navua, predictions show that rain will continue to increase for the next 30-50 years. What we need to do is to adapt to these future changes.

“We need to have in place drainage system that can withstand the increase in rainfall. We need community partnership to maintain these drains.

“We need to remodel drain and floodgate to accommodate the increase in sea level and the rainfall intensity that is going to increase in 30-50 years, said Tuwai.

Lessons learnt from the PACC project were shared with regional participants attending the 2nd Pacific Meteorological Council meeting in Nadi this week.

3D community based geo-spatial topography mapping system empowers local community

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS 

2 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji -  A community-based geo-spatial topography mapping system using 3 Dimensional (3D) model has empowered the people of the island of Epi in Vanuatu’s Shefa province to make informed decisions on road designs better suited for coastal communities impacted by climate change.

While this model is still at its infancy in terms of its use in the Pacific, the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change (PACC) project has piloted the new tool in Vanuatu working with the communities on the island of Epi.

Sharing lessons learnt from the project, PACC assistant co-ordinator, Ian Iercet said the Epi project was successful because of the full participation, at all levels, of the local community.

“We ensured that the community participate fully in the decision making process. We also wanted to incorporate traditional knowledge with science to work out the best solutions for the community, Iercet told PACNEWS, a member of the Pacific Media Team 2013.

Building the model was totally the work of the community - students of the local high school, women, village elders and chiefs.

“We used cardboard to cut out contours and traced them using carbon and glued them to form the different layers of the landscape of the island.

“We asked community leaders to identify areas where the impact of climate change is happening and how they’ve addressed these problems using traditional knowledge. We then try and incorporate these traditional form of action with the science, said Iercet.

He said they found that bringing various communities together led to better consensus building on issues that affect their livelihoods.

“At the end of the exercise, community leaders agreed to consider relocation of coastal villages and the high school to higher ground. This decision was by consensus.

“Even before we developed the 3D model for the community, the islanders have used their own hand tools to cut roads in higher ground. We have already surveyed the land and before the end of the year, we will build the road on the island, said Iercet.

To show their commitment, chiefs and leaders in Epi publicly offered their resources such as sand, coral, water and quarry materials free of charge from royalties or any other form of payment, to build new roads for the island.

Chiefs on the island also assured they will not claim compensation for any damage or removal of fruit trees or commercial crops such as kava and peanuts from their land, if the road relocation goes through their land.

“The chiefs of Epi could foresee the impact of PACC project in terms of building their resilience and adaptive capacity far outweighs the compensation in the long run, according to a report on the project by the Vanuatu PACC team.

Iercet said the 3D Modeling is a very cost effective tool that saves money and time as assessments are based on the local knowledge of community members.

Lessons learnt from Epi Island will be replicated in the other outer islands in Vanuatu.

Pacific Meteorological Council comes of age

2 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji - Pacific meteorological directors have met regularly over the past 20 years but it was only in 2011 that the Pacific Meteorological Council was established.
The PMC, which has convened for its second meeting in Nadi from July 1-5, originated out of the 2011 Pacific Regional Meteorological Services forum (PRMSD).  The PRMSD first met 20 years ago in 1993 in Port Vila, Vanuatu to discuss how the National Met services can be best supported to effectively contribute to strengthening the resilience and security of Pacific communities.
In 2011 three key milestones took place – the establishment of the Pacific Meteorological Council; the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Meteorology Strategy and; the establishment of the Pacific Meteorological Desk Partnership.
The World Meteorological Organization’s Representative for the Pacific, Henry Taiki says the change in name was necessary to give the PRMSD forum a more formal arrangement.
Taiki says the change in name not only improved met services but it has also brought about a new sense of confidence. 
For Regional Met directors, the changeover to the PMC has meant different things.

“It brings a sense of togetherness amongst Pacific Nation countries in terms of meteorology, not only that we’re looking into the more high level stuff, it also brings how things impact on the ground – from the forecasting side of things into some of the presentations on the tropical cyclone effects. It’s in this kind of forums that we have the expertise and it’s a very good idea. It is a meeting that brings about the various elements that are involved in the pacific”. - Misaeli Funak   Fiji, Manager Forecasting Services

“At first RMSD which was the regional met service director meeting was just a meeting. PMC is a subsidiary body of SPREP so it’s got a more decent meetings”. -
Reginald White  Director – Marshall Islands National Weather Service Office

Kiribati hopes to secure funds to re-open four closed weather offices

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS

2 July, 2013, Nadi, Fiji -  The Kiribati Meteorological Service hopes to secure donor support to re-open four of its weather offices now closed due to obsolete equipment.

Ueneta Toorua,  the only meteorologist on the island shared with regional colleagues in Nadi this week some of the challenges faced by the Met Office in providing timely weather information to its citizens.

He said the four stations in the outer islands are crucial in monitoring and analyzing data on what’s happening in these islands.

“Now we are looking for support and funding to reopen these stations, especially to get data for climate monitoring and climate analysis.

Toorua admits the weather stations were closed after the Met Office in Kiribati was nationalised. 

“Originally, the Met Office was fully supported by the NZ Met Service. When we localised the service, there was very limited funding to sustain the operation and maintenance of equipment in our weather office.

However, we are now seeking donor support o re-open these stations and replace the obsolete equipment.

“It’s very hard for us at the Met Office to figure out what the actual conditions are in these weather stations especially when there are no real time monitoring and data available from other stations.

“We have received some donated equipment from New Zealand to replace the old instruments. We are seeking more funds to buy extra instrument and transport them to the island stations.

This is another challenge as the cost of transporting the equipment to the outer islands is exorbitant.

“The government of Kiribati has committed some funds to assist with the transportation. This is not stopping us from knocking on the donors’ door to assist us with the costs.

Another of the gaps identified by the Met Office is the need to train young I-Kiribati to take up interest in meteorology and general climate service jobs.

“Our current problem is that we don’t have enough qualified meteorologists on the island to deliver weather forecasting and aviation information.

“We have engaged some graduates to work in projects with a view of confirming them to met service roles. At the same time we are looking at restructuring our Met Service to include career paths for young I-Kiribati that want to pursue a career in weather forecasting and climate services, said Toorua.

Tonga Met Services call on support from Tongan communities

By Sini Latu, Tonga Broadcasting Commission:  http://www.tonga-broadcasting.net

Right - 'Ofa Fa'anunu, Director, Tonga Met Service 
2 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji  One of the many challenges that the Tonga Meteorological Services is a lack of resources and qualified staff.
The Director for the Tonga Meteorological Service, Ofa Fa’anunu says the Met Service only comes to people’s attention when there is a cyclone or a natural disaster.
Fa’anunu who is the vice-president for World Meteorological Organization Regional Association Five says they need to get their services and weather related information out to the public.
He called on related sectors namely the media, communication companies and Non-Government Organisations for their help, while stressing the need for the dissemination of accurate information.
Tonga Meteorological Services has 26 staff – including Fa’anunu.
They operate and issue weather information in Tonga’s Met offices located at the airport zones of Tongatapu, Vava’u, Ha’apai and the 2 Niua’s.

Fiji Met Service working on new law

By Halitesh Datt, Fiji TV

The Fiji Meteorological Service is working on draft legislation to give it legal authority for its work.

The Acting Director of Fiji’s Meteorological Service, Aminisasi Tuidraki says work on putting together the bill has been done with the met service waiting endorsement from Fiji’s cabinet.

Meanwhile the Fiji Met Service is also looking to set up legal agreements with the organisations and bodies that it provides weather information to.

FMS Acting Director, Aminiasi Tuidraki says such agreements would give the service legal backing for its arrangement with stakeholders.

Pacific met services look for funding opportunities

By Asenati Taugasolo Semu, Press Secretariat of the Government of Samoa: http://www.savalinews.com 

2 July Nadi, Fiji - The 2nd Meeting of the Pacific Meteorological Council in Nadi, Fiji this week provides a window of funding opportunities for Pacific Island countries, including Samoa.

This is the view of the head of Samoa’s Meteorological Office, Mulipola Ausetalia Titimaea.

He says the meeting opens the door for discussions with donors.

“This is a window of funding for donors to help our met services offices,” said Mulipola.

The meeting is coordinated by Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) with support from the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICSRTE), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Deutsche Gesellschaft Für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

 Mulipola said the PMC meeting greatly benefits Samoa as it strives to achieve the Pacific Islands Meteorological Strategy (PIMS) 2012-2021.

He said these strategies include the public, marine and aviation areas with projects and activities the PMC hope to achieve within the strategy timeframe, and that council member countries have implemented their own projects.

“Samoa has just implemented an upgrade project for its Meteorological Service Office with assistance from the Government of Japan.”

Over the years Samoa’s weather forecasts have been accessible to people in Tokelau, thanks to the strength of the Samoa radio broadcast. 

Although there was no formal agreement for this, Mulipola, says things may change with Tokelau planning to set up its own met office. 

Menny Tavuto, Environment Manager, Tokelau
Tokelau’s representative at the PMC, Environment Manager, Menny Tavuto said a new office should be opened by the end of the year.

Tokelau, like other Pacific islands, is also eyeing this meeting as an opportunity to access donor funding.

“I am here to plead for funds and training to get our new office going. This is the first time Tokelau has been represented at these meetings,” he said.

“We are still at the drafting stage process for a Meteorological Service Office, and at the moment we have recruited only one staff member.

Meet Maria Ngemaes, Met Director of Palau

By Evan Wasuka, Pacific freelance reporter

Maria Ngemaes, Palau Met Services Director

2 July, Nadi, Fiji - She may be the only female taking part in the opening day of the 2nd Pacific Meteorology Council but Palau’s Maria’s Ngemaes is no stranger to regional meteorology. 

As the Meteorologist in charge of Palau’s National Weather Service, Ngemaes has worked more than 17 years in meteorology.

She holds a degree from University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a weather forecasting certificate from Guam.

As a regular face at regional meteorology meetings, she points out that the PMC is unique as it provides a chance for met services in the North Pacific to come together and network with counterparts in the South Pacific.

“It’s a great opportunity to come and share our issues as well as help each other in areas of similarities.”
As for the 2nd PMC, which is meeting in Nadi from July 1- 5, Ngemaes has been impressed with its format, particularly with the introduction of summarized country reports.

“In the past meetings, the country reports tend to be very long. People would lose track of what the topic is. Now that we have the agenda it is shorter more concise and interesting.” 

As a US territory, Palau receives its funding from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is responsible for funding her office and staff of nine.

One of the major developments underway in Palau is the construction of a new US$3.3million office complex for the National Weather Service.

Looking ahead Ngaemaes says the key areas that Palau needs support in are in addressing inundation, sea level rising and mapping.

“Along with these areas we need training for our staff to improve the skills capacity of our people.”

Better information management key to overcoming Marshall Islands drought

By Daniel Namosuaia, Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com

Mr. Reginald White, Marshall Islands Met Services Director

2 July 2013 Nadi, Fiji - Better information management and coordination has been the key to overcoming the recent drought in Marshall Islands at the beginning of the year.
Former Chairman of the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC) Reginald White said information management and coordination are the two key tools that enabled the Marshall Islands to overcome the recent drought.
Although the recent drought was not as severe those in 1992, 1997 and 1998, he said its impact was stronger due to the increase in population of the country over time.
More than 75% of the northern islands of Marshalls had low rainfall which affected crops, water and increased the likelihood of water borne disease such as diarrhea and pink eye.
It is estimated that it has cost more than cost USD$5 million to respond to the drought in the Marshall Islands, with White highlighting the quick response of donor partners; Australia, US, Japan and New Zealand.
White says information sharing between the Meteorological Agency and National Disaster Managers and Emergency has been important in responding to the drought.
"The Met Services provided advisories and warnings and emergency and disaster responders were able to coordinate and manage the information which make it easier for donor partners to step in with the much needed assistant," White said.
He stressed that involving the Met Services and Disaster Managers and emergency office is the way forward for the Pacific in addressing disaster and the impact of climate change on communities.
Meanwhile he said the situation of the drought in Marshall islands is improving now that rain is expected for this week and next week.
"However it will take time for the recovery of food crops and the water table since it has been mixed with salt. It would take another few months with more rainfall for conditions to get back to normal."