TUVALU, Nanumea Atoll - June 2008
Refurbishment of a handicraft center and the establishment of a two-acre lagoon-based mangrove nursery/reserve and the planting of 1,000 mangrove seedlings along a one kilometer (.62 mile) coastline for a duration of 10 years
This remote, small island nation is located in the South Pacific Ocean about 813 miles south of Tarawa, Kiribati and 638 miles north of Suva, Fiji. Its nine atolls have a total land area of under 10 square miles with the highest elevation above sea level of only 16 feet. A major threat to Tuvalu's subsistence is the degradation of both land and marine resources. Sea level rise caused by climate change is a major contributor to this degradation and loss of biodiversity and natural resources. Mangroves are an important resource which enhance local fisheries, handicrafts, firewood and provide protection from tidal and storm surge. The Tuvalu National Council of Women (TNCW) has long recognized the importance of mangroves and the need for better lagoon and coastal protection for Tuvalu's small atoll islands. TNCW, together with the Tuvalu Association of Non-Government Organizations (TANGO), has proposed an expansion project for the outer islands to replant mangroves and seedlings of Beauty Leaf Laurel in areas threatened by coastal erosion. Community members would like to refurbish their existing handicraft center by adding two rooms to use for training, meetings and handicraft production. The project will also engage women and youth in planting a two-acre lagoon-based mangrove nursery/reserve. A one-kilometer stretch of coastline will be planted to protect the main village area on Nanumea.
UPDATE June 2009 - As of April 2009, project leaders sent in a detailed timeline and map and are anticipating the start of the project for mid-2009.
UPDATE July 2009 - As of July 2009 over 1,000 mangrove seeds were collected from the Lakena islet and planted in a nursery established on Nanumea Atoll. More than fifty women from the community participated in the project and were so enthusiastic they planned to plant their own individual mangrove gardens at their homes. Building plans for the extension of the handicraft center have been completed and the community is now awaiting quotes for the materials from Fiji.
UPDATE February 2010 - As of February 2010 the project contact reports that women on the island have inspected the project site and found that some of the mangroves had been washed away by strong winds due to unusual high tides for this time of year. They have replanted the mangroves three times to replace those that had been washed away. The women have also faced a problem of keeping pigs away from the site, as attempts by the Local Council to have villagers keep pig fencing maintained has gone unheeded. Despite all the problems and difficulties faced by the women on the island in trying to control the pigs and monitor the project site every month they are still enthusiastic and work very hard to protect the plants from being destroyed. It was agreed upon by the Local Council and the TNCW president that the plan for the extension of the handicraft center should be checked by the Public Works Department. They expect to hear back about this in about a month.
UPDATE August 2010 - As of August 2010 the project contact reports that the handicraft center has started construction; the roof has been completed and the walls are halfway to completion. Remaining work includes the interior and other smaller jobs.
UPDATE January 2011 - Executive Director Duane Silverstein and President Ken Murdock visited this project as part of a Zegrahm Expedition in September 2010. The handicraft center is completed and guests were able to plant mangroves within the reserve area.