Climate Change Threats To Water, Food Security Highlighted In Cooks

Northern Islands delegate raise concerns at national seminar 

By Melody Cargill 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, May 26, 2016) – Climate change’s threat to water and food securities were the main issues raised by key stakeholders from the northern islands during the second day of the “Brilliant Resilient” national seminar at the National Auditorium Centre.

Penrhyn Island executive officer said the issue had continued to be of great concern because of the constant drought the group was facing.

“Almost everywhere you see that the climate’s warming effects have a negative effect on our water sources and there is a similar story for our farms as well.

“The heat directly affects our food security and water which also relates to our health issues. Many of us have water tanks for storage of water as it is the cheapest but we may be moving towards desalination projects for our water because in times of drought, homes, hospitals and schools especially will need extra water.”

Wichman also said island people were facing sea level rises.

“According to the COP21 conference in Paris last year, the sea level is expected to rise a metre by 2100, meaning in about 84 years from now, most of the northern islands will either be gone or barely be there for people to live on.

“Traditionally, what we have done is protect our shorelines with tree trunks to aggregate the sand around them, but the sea is encroaching faster than we had expected because the currents and the waves are too strong now due to the change in weather patterns.”

Wichman said the best thing the people could do now was closely look after their food security and water sources because these were the basic things people need to live on in the islands.

“We need to empower the island governments and the people to be part of the implementation process, especially with the use of the resources, whether it is the budget or the SRIC project money and to have them integrated to the island government budgets under the government acts and the legislations.

Let them work on it themselves; that way we will build capacity, dignity and empowerment at grassroots level.”

Mangaia mayor Tere Atariki said he was happy to be part of the workshop discussing solutions for serious climate-related issues.

“This workshop has brought together all the new mayors and other government representatives from the outer islands to discuss on the challenges that we are already facing.

“Through this, we will be able to figure out certain issues and responsibilities relating to us, figure out what our top priorities are and hopefully have them implemented for further developments in the fight to adapt to the new weather change.”

Cook Islands News
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