West Sepik coast hit by climate change

National, Normal

The National, Friday, June 3rd 2011

WEST Sepik officials be­lieve greater coastal and inland flooding are the result of climate change.
They told a recent workshop organised by the Of­fice of Climate Change and De­velopment and the Sandaun provincial administration at the Vanimo Beach Hotel that this and malaria vector borne di­seases were major hazards impacting the communities living along the coastlines and in remote areas.
They took delegates on field trips to affected areas on the West Coast to see the impact,  such as Lido village, for example.
OCCD measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) and national communication director Gwen Sissiou told  participants the same was happening in other coastal communities.
“Some of the islands are on the verge of disappearing within the next decade or so, especially the Car­te­rets on Bougainville, whose people are likely to become the world’s first climate change-affected re­fugees,” she said.
“Kairiru and Robin islands just off Wewak, Bipi Island and other six surrounding islands in Manus are among others in danger.
“What used to be hunting and farming grounds and fishing camp sites for people are being washed away,” Sissiou said.
She said many small creeks running into the sea on the West Coast road in Vanimo disrupted traffic there during frequent heavy rains.
The workshop heard that malaria cases in the province had risen drama­tically in remote areas, with villages in the Vanimo-Green and Aitape-Lumi districts the hardest hit, provincial government officials said.   
Deputy provincial ad­mi­nistrator Tobias Welly said: “We do not have to go very far to see the effects of climate change, look at the beachfront here just outside the Vanimo Beach Hotel.”