tide turns on carteret islands

carteret island papua new guineaImagine living surrounded by sparkling tropical waters, but having no source of fresh water to drink. Imagine losing your crops in your garden, because the sea water keeps washing through. This situation has become all too familiar for the 2,500 Carteret islanders, living in the Bougainville province of Papua New Guinea.

Through The Intrepid Foundation, we have been supporting the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Asia-Pacific Program and their work with the Carteret peoples. The Carteret communities live a low-carbon lifestyle and yet they are bearing the full force of climate change. Coral atolls are geologically dynamic, but extreme weather events consistent with climate change have been creating havoc.

The Carteret Atoll is about 4 hours by motorised boat off shore from Buka. Originally it consisted of six low lying islands, but now has seven since the island of Han was split in two by the encroaching sea. Inundation from sea water has become more frequent and severe in the last two decade – from king tides, severe storms and sea surges. Following these events, natural resources which the local community has been dependent on for their livelihoods are increasingly decimated. Severe erosion, loss of land, the contamination of underground fresh water aquifers and sea water damage to food gardens and homes is worsening. These coupled with a rapid population growth and a slow but drastic tilting of the atoll from tectonic movement, has resulted in an estimated 60% loss in arable land and crops failure, leading to a near crisis situation.

Our donations through The Intrepid Foundation, are helping to support a small local organisation Tulele Peisa in Bougainville to work alongside the local Council of Elders to:
– empower the Carteret islanders to be able to make informed decisions for their future;
– support their exploration of potential relocation sites and their relocation and resettlement activities;
– help affected families to develop short and medium-term livelihood options; and
– support their advocacy on climate change, to help prevent more low-lying community casualties.

Tulele Peisa aims to relocate about 1,500 (equivalent to 150 large families) to higher grounds in mainland Bougainville. These families have been identified to be most vulnerable because they are experiencing hunger and are dependent on emergency relief supplies for much of their food supplies, so any donation you can make to assist this programme will be greatly appreciated.

The Intrepid Foundation – travellers making a difference
Help support great grassroots organisations via the Intrepid Foundation, plus find out how your donation can be matched* by Intrepid Travel!

* Donations will be matched by Intrepid Travel up to AU$5000 (or equivalent) per donor and a total of AU$400,000 each financial year.

* Photo by Pip Starr

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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