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OceansWatch helps out after Solomon Islands Tsunami

by Chris Bone on 14 Feb 2013

OceansWatch Solomons Islands directors and members have quickly stepped up to help victims of the recent Tsunami in the Solomon Islands.

Chris Bone, OceansWatch founder reports that two OceansWatch Solomon Islands directors are already in Lata, capital of Santa Cruz Island. Dr Simon Salopeke is volunteering at the hospital and Lawrence Nodua is helping restore telecommunications. Ben Angoa, a Community Health Nurse arrives Saturday to assist too.

OceansWatch members are also keen to help and plans are for two OceansWatch Expedition lead yachts supported by about five OceansWatch members yachts to head to the area as soon as the risk of hurricanes has dissipated. OceansWatch already has a program in the area but this Tsunami will change the work priorities.

Chris Bone says that the help OceansWatch provides will be more about long term resilience than 'Aid' which is covered by other organisations, more suited to the role. OceansWatch will however be running a fundraiser for some people on nearby Fenualoa Island where an OceansWatch programme has been running for 3 years. Donations can be made by http://tinyurl.com/yd3mn9a!clicking_here

Over the last three years that OceansWatch has been visiting the area to help the community Joe Nokali has been an active member of the OceansWatch Reef Guardian team. The Reef Guardians are not paid for the work they do monitoring and 'guarding' the reef, they are just a bunch of community minded folk who step forward to help maintain their environment. Joe is an active participant in the program and helps with the reef monitoring that the Reef Guardian team undertake every month.

Unfortunately Joe and his disabled sister live on the most vulnerable part of Fenualoa, an area that over the living memory of the community has lost about 300m to erosion. OceansWatch can not be scientifically certain of why this erosion has taken place but we can see the results, most of the graveyard near Joe’s house has washed into the sea! The locals attribute the erosion, all of which has happened in the last 50 years to sea level rise and changing weather patterns, in other words they are likely to be victims of Climate Change. OceansWatch has started to help the community mitigate this erosion by developing a nursery of vetiver grass, which has a huge root system very resilient to erosion.

The main Island of Santa Cruz bore the brunt of the recent Tsunami but it also reached Fenualoa, where Joe lives. OceansWatch has still not had a report back from their friends on Fenualoa but one thing they do know is that the wave swept through the villages and Joe and his sister lost their homes.

OceansWatch is NOT an Aid organisation, however in this case we want to help our friend and his sister to get housed again as soon as possible. Joe has no 'job' as such and like 95% of men on Fenualoa Joe is a fisherman and subsistence farmer. He will build his house again and one for his sister but buying the materials will cost him a relative fortune and we doubt that he has any savings at all to cover this disaster.

Materials for a house will cost about NZ$320 each. Joe and his sister will also have lost pots and pans and bedding as will some of their neighbours. As we have not had a full report yet we want to set an initial target for a fundraiser of NZ$2,000. That will be enough for Joe and his sister’s house and some cooking utensils and other essentials for them and a few of the worst effected neighbours.

OceansWatch New Zealand will collect the money and send it to our OceansWatch Solomon Islands account to be spent by OceansWatch Solomon Islands directors specifically for Tsunami relief on Fenualoa Island. Donations can be made by http://tinyurl.com/yd3mn9a!clicking_here





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