Food crops being sent to remote islands hit by Tropical Cyclone Pam

Fast-growing vegetable seeds are being sent to some of the most remote parts of the Solomon Islands, which were badly hit by Tropical Cyclone Pam. The seeds – SBD$3,000 worth of fast-growing Chinese cabbages such as pak choi and tsoi sum –  were this month flown to Lata, Temotu’s capital, then shipped to the remote Tikopia and Anuta islands that were badly impacted by the Cyclone.

This supports the Government’s food security and livelihood recovery work, which involves a ‘cluster’ group of relevant ministries and other organizations. The Livelihood Cluster is working alongside the Temotu Provincial Government, which is implementing the early recovery plan that the Provincial Disaster Committee is finalizing this month, supported by the Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP).

“Through this cluster system, all supporting bodies – government and non-government organizations – are working together to direct and distribute help where it is most needed,” said Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Risk Resilient Development Director Sipuru Rove.

“Providing these seeds will be part of short-term recovery after Tropical Cyclone Pam,” said Mr. Rove.

“Our main priority is making sure people have enough to eat. Affected households can use these for food crops in the short term and, if there happens to be a surplus, they could also sell the excess vegetables to earn an income to meet other basic needs for their family,” said Mr. Rove.

Communities in Tikopia and Anuta islands – the most remote group of islands in Temotu province – are being sent the seeds by air then, because the islands are so remote, are being sent the seeds by air then by sea for the last part of the journey given the islands are so remote.”

“Tikopia and Anuta islands are the furthest group of Islands in Temotu Province, East of the Solomon Islands. Both Islands are much closer to Vanuatu, thus felt the force of Tropical Cyclone Pam,” said Mr. Rove.

“Fortunately, no deaths were recorded in the Solomon Islands, although food security was severely impacted.”

Agriculture training will be provided along with the seed delivery. Agriculture field officers for Temotu Provincial Government are travelling to Anuta to conduct training and also provide demonstrations on growing risk-resilient vegetables in the longer term, with the support of PRRP.

In addition to the vegetable seeds, provided by Live & Learn Environmental Education (LLEE) and with support from PRRP, food gardens around Santa Cruz – Temotu’s main island – are planning to provide planting materials to affected islands such as Anuta, which can only be reached through a two-day boat trip from Lata. Some have already been provided.

This includes risk-resilient demonstration plots, known as Knowledge Hubs, providing seedlings, soil, and other planting materials on a continual basis during the recovery phase.

“Ultimately, we commit to support local community and government to establish Knowledge Hubs in other provinces,” said PRRP LLEE Coordinator Hellen Maebuta.

“The hubs can then help those remote communities share information, crops and other information to other communities and to government, to help our people become more disaster risk-resilient.”

PRRP works with Pacific Island nations and their people to consider the risks they face from climate change and disasters and include those risks in their usual plans for development. Communities can become more resilient to climate change and disasters if routine government, community and other planning takes these risks into account.

This risk governance approach is delivered through a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and international non-government organization Live & Learn Environmental Education (LLEE), and supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). PRRP is being delivered in four countries: Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.