How to Help People in TuvaluTuvalu is a tiny Pacific nation with a population of about 10,000 people. While the population may be small, the people of Tuvalu face significant threats, with the foremost being climate change. Tuvalu sits only two meters above sea level and some experts think the group of islands could eventually vanish if sea levels keep rising. It is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world when it comes to being affected by climate change.

Here are some ideas on how to help people in Tuvalu:

  1. Encourage your representatives to support cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
    Climate change is already beginning to affect Tuvalu. While emergency response to flooding and other natural disasters is important, the most important long-term solution is for countries all over the world to make swift cuts in emissions, until the world reaches what scientists say is a safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – 350 parts per million.
  2. Donate water or other necessary supplies in the event of an emergency.
    When Tuvalu has experienced flooding or other weather disasters in the past, several humanitarian organizations have responded promptly. However, climate change also exacerbates droughts. One of the biggest problems that can occur during a drought is a lack of safe, clean water. Many on the island will have to ration water. A household of six to nine people is allotted just 40 liters of water per day. This means that basic water needs are only just being met in these conditions.
  3. Express the importance of keeping the U.S. in the Paris climate accord to the White House.
    In 2015, Enele Spoaga, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, asked European leaders to help save Tuvalu ahead of the negotiations for the Paris climate accord. Spoaga warned that a climate that was even 2 degrees celsius warmer would mean that Tuvalu would eventually disappear under water. Later that year, leaders from around the world agreed to take steps to limit future global warming. However, President Trump has recently said he wants to take the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. Since the U.S. is a large, highly industrialized and influential country, the effects of it leaving the Paris climate accord would be devastating. If you would like to help protect Tuvalu from the effects of severe climate change, consider calling the White House and expressing your concern about this issue.

Tuvalu is in a uniquely frightening position, since its very existence is under threat from climate change. However, as people realize the dangers of climate change, more and more will hopefully seek to learn about how to get involved to help people struggling in Tuvalu.

Brock Hall

Photo: Flickr

Tuvalu refugees represent some of the first waves of climate refugees. Huge numbers of Tuvaluans have been displaced after watching their island home between Hawaii and Australia be eroded by rising sea levels, intensifying natural disasters and soil degradation from contaminated groundwater. With no official recognition of climate refugees, Tuvaluans are increasingly threatened by the loss of their homes and hung out to dry by wealthy neighboring countries unwilling to accept their refugee status. Here are ten facts about Tuvalu refugees.

10 Facts About Tuvalu Refugees

  1. The island nation of Tuvalu has its highest elevations at just 15 feet above sea level. Experts predict that if sea levels were to rise by just three feet, many of the most populated areas of Tuvalu would be severely damaged, if not completely destroyed.
  2. Funafuti, the most populous island of Tuvalu, has suffered from severe droughts, water shortages and contaminated groundwater due to rising sea levels in recent years. The effects of these conditions on agriculture have translated to widespread malnourishment and displacement.
  3. Climate change experts predict that Tuvalu might become completely submerged underwater between 30-50 years from now if current trends continue. There is a general consensus that Tuvalu and similar nations will no longer exist by the end of the century.
  4. Already, one-fifth of Tuvalu’s population of 12,000 have left their homes to relocate to larger islands, where croplands are still fertile, or to neighboring New Zealand. As a result, the Tuvaluan community in New Zealand has nearly tripled since 1996.
  5. Life is difficult for Tuvalu refugees who have legally immigrated to New Zealand, with just more than half of Tuvaluan adults employed. Those who have immigrated illegally face even more economic and social hardships. Tuvaluan immigrants also worry about losing their cultural identity, as their children are born in highly developed host countries.
  6. Reports on climate trends have predicted 200 million “environmental refugees” by 2050, essentially one out of every 34 people on earth. Other estimates of future climate change migrants range from tens of thousands to one billion in the next 50 years.
  7. Climate refugees are not yet considered refugees under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. Consequently, there are “no current provisions for their protection and assistance” according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.
  8. A landmark 2014 ruling by New Zealand’s Refugee Court granted legal residency to Tuvaluan Sigeo Alesana and his family after they appealed for asylum, citing climate change and overpopulation among the reasons that made life “untenable” on their native island. The court acknowledged the presence of climate change as a factor in the case, other factors affecting the family, such as an elderly mother who needed care, would have been enough to grant them asylum regardless. As a result, this case won’t open the doors for other climate change refugees from island nations. New Zealand has allocated Tuvalu only 75 annual slots in its visa program for Pacific workers.
  9. As the intensity of natural disasters and storms in the region increase, experts worry that if a natural disaster similar to Hurricane Katrina were to hit Tuvalu, it would cause irreversible damage. Tuvalu has few exportable natural resources and a GDP that relies heavily on the sale of collectible stamps and its internet domain suffix, .tv, nothing that could help its rebuild after large-scale damage.
  10. The Tuvaluan government has considered using its $100 million in reserves to purchase a new homeland for the small population, but legal and political obstacles threaten this plan. Moving could affect Tuvalu’s right to sovereignty as a nation, its fishing rights and the government’s ability to continue providing public services after financing such a move.

Based on these 10 facts about Tuvalu refugees, there are many hurdles for Tuvalu to cross both short term and long term. In the short run, Tuvalu should continue investing their reserves heavily in renewable freshwater storage systems and ongoing soil rehabilitation and protection programs. They should enlist foreign aid to help build one-time purchases, such as stabilizing bulwarks that prevent coastal erosion.

In the long run, Tuvalu should look to neighboring nations such as Kiribati who have established forward-thinking programs, such as their “Migration With Dignity” program, which involves training citizens as highly skilled workers who will then be welcomed into other countries because of their human capital when they are eventually forced to relocate. Tuvalu would do well to begin such programs as soon as possible, as the threats of climate change are more pressing and real for them than foreign leaders care to believe.

Saru Duckworth

Photo: Flickr

How are Climate Change and Hunger in Tuvalu Related?Once known as the Ellice Islands, the country of Tuvalu is a collection of nine islands located in the South Pacific Ocean. Though Tuvalu has a population of around 11,200, it is considered one of the least developed countries in the world. As a result, hunger in Tuvalu is a major concern for the people and their government.

The latest report on poverty headcount ratio conducted by the World Bank was in 2010, which stated that 26.3 percent of the population is estimated to live below the national poverty line. Additional reports conclude that 61.3 percent of Tuvalu citizens aged 15-years and up are employed. Thus, places where poverty is allowed to fester, increased rates of hunger are expected to rise.

Hunger in Tuvalu is considered to be a result of one of the biggest instigators in the country, climate change. Climate change is a constant concern for the people and the government of Tuvalu. Many political figures of Tuvalu are strong advocates for environmentalism and continuously campaign against climate change.

These politicians argue that climate change will not only contribute to increasing sea levels but will expedite the salination of soil that threatens agriculture.

According to U.N. reports, Tuvalu is expected to completely disappear beneath the ocean because of global warming. Moreover, salinization of the soil reduces agricultural output which detrimentally affects local farmers and the Tuvalu economy.

In Tuvalu, the largest export commodity within the country is the dried coconut kernels of coconut palm trees. Without enough land coverage or quality soil for agriculture, hunger in Tuvalu is expected to climb substantially within the following years.

The U.N. has even identified that hunger in Tuvalu is a result of climate change in the following released statement, “The diet of Tuvaluans is primarily based on the marine environment and a limited number of food crops. These will be seriously affected by climate change. There will be a number of impacts that will affect the food security of Tuvalu. These include coral bleaching, ocean acidification, saltwater contamination and sea level rise.”

In response, the U.N., as well as delegates of the Pacific Island States, have committed to reducing both hunger and climate change through the use of ratifying the Paris Agreement.

In 2016 during the annual debate at the U.N. General Assembly, Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoanga applauded and showed solidarity with the ratification of the Paris Agreement.

Prime Minister Sopoanga stated that “We must [now] ensure that the Paris Agreement enters into force [and that] it must be fully elaborated and operationalized as early as possible on real adaptation and mitigation.”

Prime Minister Sopoanga also brought to light the plight that climate change has had on the country of Tuvalu. The prime minister expressed that, “We pray that through these great halls of the U.N., our humble voice will be amplified by the conscience and goodwill of humanity for real urgent action.”

During the debate, Prime Minister Sopoanga expressed numerous times that the country of Tuvalu was fully prepared to meet the targets of the global development agenda in order to reduce climate change.

With continued efforts to ratify legislation as well as advocate against climate change, the country of Tuvalu should expect to see significant improvement in not only the integrity of their islands but also a reduction of hunger in Tuvalu.

Shannon Warren

Photo: Flickr