The Island of Lifuka in Tonga is at risk of disappearance under sea level

The low lying island of Lifuka in Ha’apai, Tonga is threatened by the increasing rising sea levels caused by climate change.

Lifuka is the mainland of the Ha’apai Groups with a population of about 700 people.

The island is popular with tourists and has 11 hotels.

According to a report on New Zealand’s One News last week, the foundations of some of the houses built on the beach have been eroded by the water and owners have moved inland for their safety.

Lifuka  inhabitants spoke to One News about how they reacted to the erosion of the coastline by the sea.

Mele  Hola Vi said people used to walk for about 10 to 20 metres before  getting  into the water but now their homes were only three to four metres from the sea.

Governor of Ha’apai, Lord Havea Tu’iha’anga, told One News that  many houses built by the beach in the past few years were now surrounded by seawater.

Climate change was one of the major topics at a meeting  of 15 Pacific Islands’ Economic Ministers in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa last week.

Lifuka is part of a project investigating how Pacific Islands communities cope with rises in sea levels caused by climate change.

Lifuka is part of the Pacific Adaptation Strategy Assistance Program (PASAP) being run by the Government of Tonga with the assistance of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Tonga Community Development Trust (TCDT).

PASAP national co-ordinator Fuka Kitekei’aho said Lifuka had been chosen because it had already experienced sea level rise as a result of an earthquake in May 2006.

The Tongan government published a Joint National Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in 2010.

You can see a video on the SPC project here: http://vimeo.com/53200521

You can download a copy of the plan here: http://www.preventionweb.net/files/18242_000922tongajointnationalactionp.pdf

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