Manus locals call on govt to help people on sinking islands

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday, June 7th 2011

A WEEK-long Environment Day activities on Mbuke Island, Manus, got off to great start yesterday with Mbuke Primary School students undertaking a clean-a-thon before planting of mangrove seedlings along the beach front.
Mbuke Island high chief Polongou Kusunan, his leaders and the rest of the community supported the students in their activities.
“Today we are marking World Environment Day and I am calling on the government to help our efforts to save our sinking island homes,” Kusunan said.
“For too long we have used our initiative to fight the effects of climate change and the fast rising sea levels that continue to threaten our livelihood.”
Kusunan said the government needed to lift its efforts in realising the struggles of the people in the face of the effects of climate change, fresh water security worries and other pressing issues affecting island people.
He officially opened the week-long activities on the island.
Minister for Environment and Conservation Benny Allan, who officially opened World Environment Day with Forest Minister Timothy Bonga last Friday in Port Moresby, encouraged the planting of trees as well.
World Wide Fund Manus marine officer Selarn Kaluwin said his organisation had supplied the mangroves seedlings for planting.
“This is part of the initiative of the Office of Climate Change and Development with its partners to plant two million mangroves and sea resistant plants before the end of this year,” Kaluwin said.
“Mbuke has already started this initiative and will do so in the other outlying islands.”
Sea Web International, a non-governmental organisation focusing on conserving marine resources by empowering communities to make informed decisions through its communications training programmes, started its three-day communication workshop on Mbuke Island yesterday.
Programme associate Francis Gabriel said: “We are running a project, the Community Educators Network, in Manus, where we provide community representatives with leadership and communications training and simple, poster-size presentations to conduct outreach on climate change issues.
“After our March workshop, community representatives began giving climate change mitigation and adaptation presentations throughout Manus.
“Our first workshop in September last year focused on communications and resource management.
“We have organised a June workshop to assess the impact of the climate change community presentations and discuss how we can help communities assess climate change risk and take action.
“We will explore helping community representatives document climate change actions to share with outside partners,” Gabriel said.