There is no doubt about it. Negative impacts of climate change are already being felt in Samoa.
Fortunately young people are becoming aware of these impacts and more importantly, they recognise they will inherit the world of tomorrow and must therefore be part of the solution and decision making processes of today’s climate action.
The Youth Climate Action Network of Samoa (Y.C.A.N.) has initiated climate actions in their communities. The small group has initiated climate actions in five villages since they became an official body earlier in the year.
Last Saturday, Alama Ta’ala Fepuleai focused his climate efforts on habitat restoration and rehabilitation.
Parts of the forests in his village have turned to open forest due to logging which took place some years ago. Some of these areas were never recovered. The coastal village is also affected from erosion as parts of the coastline are eroding even though it has a seawall.
The coral reef is severely impacted by the high densities of the crown of thorns starfish or alamea, which was also reported to suffer coral bleaching from the high sea surface temperatures in early 2015 and 2016.
Three hundred native plants (200 for the forest and 100 for the coast) were planted by the community to kick-start the aim of planting three thousand (3000) plants in the area by 2017 to restore the native forest and also to stabilize the coast. A total of 275 alamea were eliminated using the bile salt injection method to relieve the pressure on the corals.
Three presentations were also carried out on: climate change, crown of thorns starfish and forest, so that the young people from Pu’apu’a Primary School and the community as a whole have a better understanding of the many impacts of climate change and the link to the climate actions taking place.
Matavai - Safune
From Matavai - Talafiti Paiaaua together with the Matavai Youth Group have already planted six hundred (600) native trees in Matavai to restore the forest which was affected by the fire and drought which was exacerbated by the El Nino Event in 2015. He has also managed to successfully replant mangroves in the mangrove site in his village.
Earlier in June he initiated the installation of eleven rubbish stands to minimize the waste issue in his village as most of the household waste is dumped behind houses. Since the installation, more and more people are valuing their waste by stopping the dump of waste behind their houses and using the Government’s waste collection system.
In August, he carried out an awareness programme for his village targeting the young students from Safune’s Primary School. The awareness was based on climate change and waste management and how the two connect. He also distributed four hundred (400) native plants during the awareness programme to his community so they may help and continue the rehabilitation efforts of the affected forest.
In August, Sueni Tau from Auala initiated a rehabilitation programme for the mangroves in his village. The mangrove site was threatened with waste and unsustainable use. Sueni understands the role of mangroves in building resilience to climate change and also in sustaining livelihoods.
For his initiative Sueni carried out an awareness programme on climate change and the importance of having healthy mangroves for resilience and livelihoods.
With the help of young men from his village they also built 13 rubbish stands which were launched during his initiative to help with managing waste in the mangrove. A mangrove clean-up was also undertaken where the young people, women, village elders and chiefs all took part to help with the rehabilitation efforts.
Sefo Faitoto’a from Gataivai initiated a waste management programme.
A depression in his village was regular site for his village to dump most of their household waste and before long it became an unofficial mini landfill attracting flies and from time to time had a foul smell. For his climate action, he initiated the installation of rubbish stands in his village to avoid people from continuing the use of the depression as a dump site.
With the help of his fellow youth, they managed to build an initial 17 rubbish stands in his village. He also made sure an awareness programme was carried out to inform his village of the impacts of dumping waste within their village and also how waste contributes to climate change.
Since his initiative, waste from the depression has depleted as regular visits by his youth to remove the rubbish to be taken to the Vaiaata landfill was completed. His village has also stopped any further dumping in the depression and are using the rubbish stands for their household waste.
Vailoa - Faleata
Margaret Crawford from Vailoa initiated a climate change and mangrove awareness programme for the youth in her village.
She wanted to make sure her fellow youth peers were aware of the negative impacts of climate change and the importance of mangroves and its role in adapting and building resilience to the impact of climate change. Vailoa is part of the biggest mangrove area in Samoa where many depend on for their livelihoods. She wanted to inspire the youth in her community and convince them that youth must work together in building a resilient community.
Prior to all the initiatives, the village mayors, elders, pastors and fellow youth showed their support for these young individuals and their climate actions. All of the communities were very grateful for these young people for addressing the issue of climate change and also taking steps to make solutions for their villages. The communities were also grateful for the various organisations for supporting the initiatives being undertaken by young people.
The Y.C.A.N. would like to thank the United Nations Development Programme through the Global Environment Facility - Small Grants Programme. Without their tremendous support and commitment, the youth’s climate actions would never have been realized.
Another supporter who has made a significant contribution is the Ministry of Natural Resources of Environment through its Forestry Division and the Division of Environment and Conservation. Other supporters for the Y.C.A.N. include the Pacific Forum Line, Digicel Samoa, Samoa Conservation Society and the Amoa Resort.