Adapting to a Changing Environment

The Foundation of the People of the South Pacific International

Entry Overview

General Info
Email :
Organization Address: 
P.O. Box 18006, 49 Gladstone Street
Population Impacted: 
600 – 700 people live in Nanumea

The total area of Nanumea is 3.87 square kilometers, and approximately 10 kilometers long by 1.5 kilometers at its maximum width.

Major Occupations: 
Fishermen and Seafarers
Local resources the community depends on, and for what purpose: 
Coastal and marine fisheries resources are the major source of daily protein diet.
Local threats to resources: 
Leaching and contamination from the remains of World War 2 wrecked cargo ships, navy bombers and other military machines into the fresh water ponds. Land and water pollution, coastal erosion, destructive fishing and overfishing and global climate change
Climate Hazards: 
Global Climate change
Level of exposure to these hazards: 
Level of sensitivity: 
The atoll islands of Tuvalu have an average elevation of not more than 3m above mean sea level making the nation highly susceptible to global climate change. Grave concerns are being raised nationally, internationally and globally regarding the adverse impact of global warming particularly that of climate change and rising sea level rise on the survival and livelihood of the Tuvalu people. Tuvalu is destined to become one of earth's first nations to be washed away due to the effect of global warming, making the Tuvaluans the first complete nation of climate change refugees, banned from their home-islands, their culture, natural resources and striped off their identity.
Level of adaptive capacity: 
Fair Although the threat of climate change is very severe because of limited resources and being a low laying nation, the direct social and traditional ties and attachment of the people to their natural resources and livelihoods offer substantial opportunity for climate change adaption. The community of Nanumea, like other Tuvaluans, is continuously finding ways to adapt to climate change impacts and build resilience capacity against Tuvalu’s climate change dilemma. Nanumea is a deeply Christian community, where people culture, and tradition are intrinsic to their problems and solutions to their daily lives hence the social cohesion and community attachment is very strong. They are skillful island dwellers and sea fearers. They make a living mainly through exploitation of the sea, reefs, and atolls. Over decades they have been fighting climate change impacts. These are the major social and human resource strengths; on the other hand weak institutional, natural and economic resources compound them. Nanumea has a functioning island council (local government institution) though its adequate public service delivery is challenged by its geography from the central government based in the Funfatui atoll, capital of Tuvalu. Nanumea community generally relies on the daily catch from the lagoon and sea and a limited supply of root crops and coconuts. Rainwater is the only source of drinking water and families with less cash face problems accessing drinking water during drought periods from community water storage tanks. Groundwater is the only other water source for this community; however, pollution by saltwater intrusion and waste leachate has made groundwater no longer suitable for human consumption. Most families’ financial assistance and cash flow is supported mainly from wages sent home by community seafarers working abroad (mostly workers in the phosphate industry and shipping and cargo services).
Describe Your Solution: 

Solution: Integration of climate change adaption and disaster risk reduction with community based marine managed area process and approaches to build resilient coastal fisheries and island communities:  Case study: Momea tapu Nanumea MPA, Tuvalu. In 2007 the local island council accepted Nanumea community coastal resource management plan. Key priorities and outcome for the Nanumea Momea Tapu community Management action plan (2007 – 2009) were:  • Seek more information and knowledge on their island ecosystem health and livelihood impact. (Photo 1: Development of 12 community posters in local language on island ecosystem health)  • Strengthening of the traditional and island council governance capacity. (The project had benefits in strengthening local council and island leaders resource management and governance capacity in Nanumea through bottom up approaches and good governance workshops and training). • Reduction of marine environment pollution from human waste and other sources to manage water quality.  (The communities received funding for building compost toilet on the atoll island set water quality assessment and monitoring test over a period and set more water tanks). •   Closed marine area from fishing activities. (Community based marine protected area was set near the main settlement covering approximately 20% of their total reef area for the replenishment of their coastal fisheries resources, habits and protection of resilience reef areas with a buffer zone). Further more management leaders placed fishing gear restriction and carried specific species management. This was highly significant since this supports the goal of sustaining their daily protein and livelihoods in the face of climate change. Communities have defined management rules for their entire traditional area but for most part communities have defined management rule for their specific areas or for species of particular interest in their traditional areas.  • Focus on restoration of degraded areas (Communities conducted coral reef and mangrove restoration). • Safety during Natural disasters. (Communities have a mapped out hurricane and storm evocation centers and action plan during spring and king tides. They received various training on ways to respond and action under different types of natural disasters).   To support the wider stakeholder interest and new growing ideas of MPA networking across atoll islands from Nanumea Momea tapu MPA model, national levels events took place to link the Nanumea Momea Tapu MPA to national level coastal fisheries and climate change and disaster risk management planning.. Community leaders from Nanumea and other atoll islands took part in national level marine resource management efforts together with, fishermen associations, government departments and other NGOS partners. 

Ecological Costs: 
None known
Ecological Benefit: 
Improved habitats and ecosystem health Increase in the number of fish . Decrease in destructive fishing practices. Regulations of Spear guns used.
Economic Indicators used to measure benefit: 

Difficult to measure in an isolated country.

Community/Social Cost: 
None known
Community/Social Benefit: 
Community hygienic and heath improved through improved water quality and drinking water availability.. Local traditional governance structure strengthened.
Community/Social Indicators used to measure benefit: 
compost toilets installed water tanks installed Quarterly community meeting. Biannual TANGO and Fisheries department project visit to the island
Economic Cost: 

The total funding from FSPI ‘s project over 5 years was approximately 350, 000 USD for this work. 

Economic Benefit: 

Case study Momea tapu Nanumea MPA, Tuvalu achieved, with results in improved fisheries within the MPA.

Ecological Indicators used to measure benefit: 

Biannual reef monitoring  20% of the community reef area closed for MPA  

What were/are the challenges your community faced in implementing this solution?: 

Challenges:  • Ecosystem changes due to climate change  Shifting base lines of the ecosystems. The continuous occurring natural disasters require continuous biological and socio economic monitoring and assessments of the community management actions.  This can be challenging in cases of limited financial and technical resources.  • Lack of funding support for the future work. Despite Nanumea Momea Tapu community based natural management plans being developed and informally endorsed and accepted by the local council, the administration of the locally managed MPA had been often pulled simultaneously in several directions by the strain of funding and this was seen as continued risk to the success for developing state like Tuvalu. From the time of funding and non funding phases it was clearly noted that a legally recognized governance arrangement between the traditional and modern governance was needed to  allow communities to directly excess donor aid funds allowing the establishment of community based sustainable financing mechanism for development was needed.    Solutions  • Government policy framework implementation The Tuvalu National Adaptation Programme of Action  (NAPA) for climate change Disaster Risk Reduction, provides communities and NGOs with an overarching policy framework with various streams nested at national and international level. This calls for governments sectors to implement integrated approaches and provide policy platforms to advocate for innovative financial mechanism for resilience capacity development for marine and coastal resource management and fisheries at national level that is integrated with climate change.  • Sustainable financing mechanism for island based development funds based on the policy framework. The question arises of how civil society groups can access development and aid funds nationally and regionally.  To access aid funds nationally and regionally, the community groups need to become legally registered entities with appropriate accounting and banking systems. These financial mechanisms are normally under the jurisdiction of other legal framework mainly related to fiscal policy and national financing system. From this  seven year project , it been realized that governance mechanism and instruments need to adopt a ``middle-ground'' approach, which combines top-down and bottom-up approaches creating consistency and facilitating financial sustainability of community based efforts.  As the communities are major players in decisions making,  are the resources owners, and implement the resource management action plan a required form of legal mandate is needed that facilitates funding for further development after donor aid has ended. These strategies necessitate governance reform and legal co-management arrangements and agreements. Currently Mr Alefeio is strongly engaged with the Tuvalu Fishermen Association and the Fisheries Department in further understanding and development of the needed governance reform process and legal capacity. 

Describe the community-based process used to develop the solution including tools and processes used: 

• Include any assessments that were completed (e.g. socio-economic, ecological, threat, and/or vulnerability assessments) • Include information on how the most vulnerable stakeholder groups in the community were included the decision making process. • Include partners/organizations who were involved in supporting the solution and their roles. • Length of implementation. • Include current management systems used to support the solution.  The Tuvalu Association of Non Government organizations (TANGO), a community-based umbrella organization for NGOs, with its regional partner The Foundation of the People of the South pacific International (FSPI) conducted a pilot research project over a period of 5 years on establishing and strengthening community based locally managed marine areas. This project was kindly funded by a French initiative, Coral Reef Initiatives for the Pacific (CRISP) in 2005. Zaidy Khan regionally coordinated this project with locally managed marine area specialist Dr Hugh Govan at FSPI and project officer TANGO, Semese Alefaio. To get the project started in Nanumea,  Mr Alefaio, conducted various dialogue among his national partners, and conducted project site level meetings and interviews.   The participatory rural appraisal (PRA) and participatory learning and action  (PLA) tools were used to facilitate community process in this pilot study. PRA and PLA tools are a set of approaches and methods that enable local members of the Nanumea to share, enhance and analyze their knowledge of life and conditions on their island natural resources status and actively participate in decision making. The idea of using participatory learning tools was to ensure that members of the community (leaders, women, youth, fishers, disabled members and other stakeholders) voices were heard equally, within a structured learning process). Furthermore, the tools helped in analyzing leadership role and power dynamics were integral to reflect in the decision-making process.  Table 1 list out the community processes that took place through out project phases.  Respecting peoples knowledge and experiences as a starting point was of fundamental importance through out the project phase. Entering in customary owned communities like Nanumea required a series of local protocols to be understood and respected and obeyed upon.    Community Steps 1. What is the Livelihood issues and situation?  2. Why these problems and what can we do? 3. Can the community agree a way forward? 4. How can we tell our plan is working?   Facilitation steps  1. Situation analysis  (capacity building  Education and outreach)   2. Learning & Awareness Discuss traditional and scientific information important for understanding issues and planning actions. 3. Action Planning 4. Monitoring plan  Tools to community process . • Sequences and chains of interviews, community dialogue  • Transects / entho –biographies  • Informal Mapping and modelling in which people us the ground floor, sand, paper to make social demographic, health and resource maps  • Historical profile / timeline (trend analysis)  •  Diagramming (Seasonal calendar / time lines /  • Education and Outreach  • Stories / portraits and case studies  • Integration of Ecological / traditional and scientific knowledge in finding solutions  • Stakeholder analysis • Problem trees -  (power ranking tool / Action plan / matrix Link to Resource Management action pla

Climate hazard of concern: 
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the ecosystem affected?: 

Establishment of the Momea tapu Nanumea MPA provides enhancement of fisheries stock, habitat improvement and reduction in overfishing.Healthy coral reef ecosystems and coastal areas, including mangroves reduces the vulnerability to climate change by supporting community livelihoods, while acting as physical protection to reduce the impact of hazard events. Nanumea communities reported evidence of improved coastal and marine habitat and increase in numbers of fish seen in and outside their marine protected area after 4 years. Furthermore communities started spreading the benefits of locally managed marine area process and approaches across the other atoll islands who then became interested in developing such management approaches.  

How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the ecosystem affected?: 

Healthy coral reef ecosystems and coastal areas, including mangroves reduces the vulnerability to climate change by supporting community livelihoods, while acting as physical protection to reduce the impact of hazard events. Nanumea communities reported evidence of improved coastal and marine habitat and increase in numbers of fish seen in and outside their marine protected area after 4 years. Furthermore communities started spreading the benefits of locally managed marine area process and approaches across the other atoll islands who then became interested in developing such management approaches.  

How has your solution increased the capacity of the ecosystem to adapt to potential climate changes?: 

• Human Health and protection. Waster Management practices developed during the project phase led to improvement of water quality of the resources and through more water storage tank the communities have access to fresh water.   During the MPA management planning identification and improvement on evacuation routes and evacuation plans for Nanumea communities was developed to prepare the communities form increased storm surge and flooding.  

How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the communities affected?: 

• Governance and Climate change Tuvalu Falekaupule Act ( 1997) is an established  local government system based on the traditional ways of decision making in Tuvaluan society. The island councils of chiefs and elders cooperate with the national government in community development project mobilization. They were invited during the project phases to national events and assisted in government policies and institutional reviews.  Even after the end of project phase, these processes have strengthened local councils and chiefs in taking lead action in negotiating technical and financial resource mobilization for their island communities under the global climate change crisis. Mr Alefaio and FSPI regional team focused on scaling up community based efforts to the national level by 2009. The team started activities as part of the Tuvalu National Adaptation Programme  of Action  (NAPA) for climate change Disaster Risk Reduction, and ensured that atoll island and civil societies groups were part of NAPA consultation processes.   

How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the communities affected?: 

The solution enhanced community livelihoods, by having positive impacts on basic needs of the community, food, water, health and shelter. The same vulnerable community of Nanumea 7 years ago, today is a more informed, educated, knowledgeable and healthy community who had increased capacity to climate change adaption and resilience. 

How has your solution increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to potential climate changes?: 

• Integration of traditional and scientific knowledge in finding solutions together at community and national level  Main- streaming of climate change impacts in community coastal and fisheries resource management has empowered the communities to participate in climate changes assessments and share their knowledge to provide useful climate-poverty, resource management information. These efforts had assisted in resource information mobilization, communication and networking.  Currently NAPA  (2012 – 2016) framework recognizing the need of strengthening community- based protection and management programmes on highly vulnerable near-shore marine ecosystems, recognizing the presence of a rich and unique community of marine life. NAPA identifies, implementation and or reinforcement of locally management marine and no take zone areas.    

Can this solution be replicated elsewhere?: 

 Yes. The locally managed marine area model has proven to be replicated at community and local governance level and Tuvalu had experienced a proliferation of marine resource management directly resulting from the initial pilot study in Nanumea.  The main factors that make this solution successful and innovative are:  • Local acceptance and the drivers of community livelihood enhancement by the local communities. Community cohesion, unity and legally empowered governance are the foundations for the success of community-based efforts. Stakeholder participation, education and understanding of how changing climate can impact local livelihood is critical in designing any economic incentives.  • Adaptive Governance arrangements which  Integrates  community, national and international priorities of climate change and disaster risk and coastal fisheries management into the local island council planning through chiefly community leaders traditional governance structures. Further more the project demonstrates that managing resilience requires an integrated approaches at all levels of governance and requiring policy and law reforms.  • Another aspect that made this project innovative is the fact the FSPI’s Coastal programme regional coordinator is now actively engaged in the adaptive capacity of MPA governance in the Eastern Caribbean. Based in Grenada Zaidy Khan and continuous to share the concepts of community managed marine areas, community development approaches, community mobilization and empowerment in MPA governance work developed in Grenada. In April 2013 with funding support from MacArthur Foundation, Ms Khan  coordinated an inter-regional exchange. FSPI Pacific Island team members from four countries met in Fiji with Dr Patrick McConney, Caribbean regional expert in resource governance and Regional Fisherfolk Network from the University of the West Indies, Barbados. This meeting brought together MPA managers and experts from two regions together to share ideas and innovations  in adaptive governance capacity.  

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