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Tuvalu first country in the region to install Early Warning Systems (EWS)
8:03 pm GMT+12, 19/04/2017, Tuvalu

The first four islands in Tuvalu, Niulakita, Nukulaelae Nukukfetau and Vaitupu have just completed installing Early Warning Systems (EWS) under the National Adaptation Programme of Actions better known as NAPA 2, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
 
The future impacts of climate change and the challenges related to adaption is an urgent priority issue for the Government of Tuvalu. The project brings together several government departments, Environment, Fisheries, Rural Development, partnering with Telecom and Meteorology working together collaboratively to implement the various activities.
 
Tuvalu Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga says “for small islands like Tuvalu with big oceans between the islands, communications is extremely important, it’s critical. I am thrilled that we have managed to install this Early Warning System. It will provide feeling of security amongst the people particularly those on the outer islands”
 
According to Kate Morioka, Climate Change Policy and Disaster Coordination Unit (CCPDCU) in the Office of the Prime Minister, “It’s climate change which underpins all of the goals of the national sustainable development strategy. So there is a high level commitment for government to make sure that climate change efforts are not only undertaken at the national level but right down to the community level”.  
 
The EWS falls under Component 2 of the project, focusing on “disaster risk management and improving access to disaster early warning systems for people on the outer islands. This includes establishing multiple communication channels both at the national and outer island levels, to ensure reliable communications in the face of intensifying cyclone events in a changing climate and building community capacity to take advantage of the improved communication system”. Tuvalu becomes the first in the region to install the Early Warning System (Chatty Beetle) using external sirens.
 
Acting Director for Environment, Moe Saitala says, “NAPA 2 is very important given the remoteness of each island from the main island of Funafuti. Sometimes we have trouble with our broadcasting network when there is heavy rain and especially during the hurricane season.  Telecommunication can also stop now and then and contact with the outer island becomes a problem. So the early warning systems installation is seen as a very important component”.
 
The first installation of the EWS took place on Niulakita, the southern most outer island and the only one of the four islands to have a Met station. As the island was without communications for about a month it was recommended that installation begin there to allow Met data to be sent to the Met office in Funafuti immediately to test the system. The test was successful. Niulakita was followed by Nukulaelae, then the central islands of Vaitupu and Nukufetau completed the first phase of installation. The remaining installations will take place in the northern islands of Nui, Nanumaga, Niutao and Nanumea later in May.
 
“When we looked at the needs in Tuvalu we saw that communications was very a important part, especially 24 hour urgent, fully available communications for reaching the last kilometer, the last island, reaching the last mile. And so we looked at the communications side to strengthen, to improve it but also to give us a backup in case the regular communications are out of action or in the middle of the night when we need to get an urgent warning to the islands we can do that by the new alarm systems” says Colin Schulz, NAPA 2 project engineer and consultant.
 
In addition to the installation of the EWS, another adaptation measure was the distribution of solar powered radios for each household on all of the islands. This will ensure that people are well kept informed and no longer need to rely on electricity and batteries to power their radios.  
This project has been confronted with some major challenges according to Soseala Tinilau, NAPA 2 Project Coordinator. ‘The Early Warning System equipment and material is very specific so procurement has taken longer than expected and something beyond our control, added to that is the intermittent shipping to Tuvalu, causing further delays, the remoteness of the islands and transporting materials. But fortunately the EWS will be installed on the all the islands well before the project ends in 2018’, he says.   
 
For Prime Minister Sopoaga, “NAPA 2 is a big and important component, and an important step towards and overall long term adaptation plan for Tuvalu”.  
 
The installation process is carried out by COMTECH, a Communication Technology company from Fiji. Mick Cornish, Managing Director of COMTECH said, there were quite a few challenges especially with shipping and transportation and the ‘aluminum poles needed for the installation were not available off the shelf either in Fiji or New Zealand and had to be made specifically and because it was a relative small order in the scheme of things they had to wait for the aluminum factory in New Zealand to manufacture a special run for NAPA 2’.
 
Training technicians and the Kaupule (local island council) on the use of the system was an integral part of the EWS process on each of the outer islands.

For more information contact Larry Thomas: Email lariotomasi@gmail.com  Mobile Phone: 7437669


SOURCE: NAPA TUVALU/PACNEWS


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