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Climate change's critical impact on the lives of Vula’a people NOW

Our entire village of Hula was once an aquatic village. Homes were built on the water to avoid raids from warring inland tribes. The old Vula’a lighthouse used to be on headland surrounded by bush. As you can see, it has since been removed, and its foundation is now a relic spending most of the day submerged.

Apart from changing the physical appearance of our village environment, climate change is having a critical impact on the lives of Vula’a people NOW. More frequent extreme weather events and changes in weather patterns has resulted in less successful crops. Our women have to walk further and more often in extreme heat to their crops, and work longer and harder to plant, cultivate, and harvest crops that have less chance of surviving the weather.

A warmer climate has changed the temperature of the ocean, forcing our men to risk their lives to stay at sea longer and more often to catch less fish to feed more people. Longer and more intense periods of drought affect both farming and the availability of drinking water. Water is becoming unsuitable for drinking, and some families are ferrying water from as far away as Port Moresby, and/or drinking polluted water!

For a community that depends on fishing and subsistence farming to SURVIVE, a growing need to depend on cash money places immense pressure on those that may be working. Sadly, it is common for people to experience hunger, and theft is occurring more regularly.

The very basic needs for survival are physically harder to acquire. Villagers cannot simply turn on a tap when thirsty, or go to a supermarket when hungry. Life is not just hard, it is back breaking! As my Bubu has said in the past, “We cannot eat money.”

With a government that has demonstrated a blatant lack of care for its people, it is hard not to feel resentful, and easy to feel fearful and helpless. However, despite the challenges that climate change poses, Vula’a people are resilient in the face of adversity. Their ingenuity and determination is remarkable! People are acquiring new skills and are educating themselves on climate change.

Story Information:

Country: Papua New Guinea

Topic: Agriculture/ Food security

Photo or video credit: Nata Richards

Text Credit: Nata Richards

Date : 16 August 2023

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