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Don't Believe In Climate Change? Take A Trip To Vanuatu

It's having a negative impact on the everyday life of islanders.

30/06/2017 9:58 AM AEST | Updated 30/06/2017 11:29 AM AEST
Tessa Fox
Lewie holds onto the dead leaves and stem of a yam vine. Yam is among the traditional food of Vanuatu, typically eaten every day in every meal. They have been unable to harvest yam this year due to longfella drae taem (an extended dry time).

Climate change is already impacting the lives of many in the South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu.

Three islands in particular, Nguna, Espiritu Santo and Tanna, show the varying consequences climate change can have. Each island is faced with a different situation, whether it be water scarcity, food shortages, or an increase in natural disasters. These varying scenarios all impact negatively on the everyday lives of the islanders.

There is also a vast difference between development funding and NGO involvement on each island. On Nguna, for example, it is noticeable how the community benefits from NGO support, whereas on the west coast of Espiritu Santo, it is a forgotten world.

Women are significantly more vulnerable than men in Vanuatu, due to their custom obligation of gathering food and water for the family as well as their denied role in decision making. Gender inequality is at a high level, particularly on the island of Tanna.

When dealing with climate change in these regions, the major solution is adaptation strategies. If women, who are closer to the affects of climate change, do not have any political representation, whether it be at public or national level, this then makes it difficult to come up with solutions for the community to pull through these adverse affects.

Tessa Fox
Lucy cracks open a stunted watermelon. There isn't enough water to grow their usual crops.

Tessa Fox
Original building of Loubukas Kindergarten destroyed in Cyclone Pam.

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Irrigated water from a nearby creek runs into this tank for the village to drink and wash.

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Mother of six, Flora, digs in her garden for Taro ahead of that night's dinner. The women of Vanuatu are extremely hardworking women. Preparation of family meals almost commences immediately after consuming the previous one.

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Island cabbage, part of Vanuatu's everyday diet, can no longer grow in Wusi.

Tessa Fox
Kids from Loubukas Kindergarten sing and dance under the cover of a UNICEF tent after their schoolhouse was destroyed in Cyclone Pam. They have been given until 2018 to rebuild it, through their own funding and no government support. If this deadline isn't met they will be shut down.

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The water resources of Middle Bush come from rain tanks, when there is rain, though is supplemented by a nearby creek; particularly for washing.

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This plantation used to be filled with water taro, though the Chief of Wusi has now taken it over for his copra plantation and grazing cows. Rice is bought with the money made from copra to supplement a diminishing traditional diet.

Tessa Fox
A Taloa man fetches washing water for his family. The community currently has to use hand pumps from a deep bore. They hope that one day they will have a solar powered pump system.

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Students guiding through their garden, where they use composted toilet waste to enhance their crops. They have seen an increase in production since fertilising. This type of gardening was also introduced through an NGO and is not found in traditional methods.

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