Impacts of climate change on women - Solomon Star News

Impacts of climate change on women

01 December 2013

Women on Marau in East Guadalcanal have been facing numerous problems related to climate change.

The issue is becoming a global problem and it is the low lying islands such as Alite in Marau that is seeing and experiencing the evidence.

Although there is little evidence on coastal erosion, food for consumption has become a problem for them.

Here women of Tawa’ihi Island share their hardship faced today as oppose to over many years ago when food can easily grow even on coastal land.

The Island is big enough to play host to three separate village communities.
The women expressed and recalled those days when harvests from their food gardens and catches from the sea were plentiful.

Janet Puiri’au, a woman originally from the Western province, married to a man from that Island and settled there since 1981.
She told the Sunday Star of what women on the island have experienced now and questioned why the situation has become today.

Her story revealed the women knew very little about climate change until recently. Yet they knew nothing about what causes climate change.

“We heard about climate change and living on an island raises more questions to us,” Puiri’au said.
“We started to experience shortage of food on the island unlike in the past, salt water intrusion to where we use to do gardening is becoming evident during extreme high tides.
“This has put the rich soil fertility on where we use to do gardening at risk,” Puiri’au added.  

“Sweet potato, cassava, yam and taro in the past we use to plant them on the island but after year 2000 we start to experience and see sea water coming out from inland where we used to plant.
“Today we have to travel to the main land to do gardening.”

She said gardening on the main land also cost them.
“We pay $30 for a small piece of land for a new garden whilst replanting on the same plot cost as $20.”

She said this is another burden, having to have money before we do gardening.

Ms Puiri’au said since experiencing such extreme happenings they have notified the responsible authorities through their village elders.

Emily Okai, a women in her 50’s who settled on Alite Island since 1974, expressed similar sentiments on food gardening.
She also shared the experiences of harvesting sea food along the coastal reefs, but which is no longer the case today.

“In the past we use to fish and collect sea food along the nearby coastal reefs, unlike today we have to search further out.”

She said there may be other human factors related to this decrease together with what they thought of as impacts of climate change.
“We have had some form of control over sea resources for sometime but overtime the declining sea resources remain a surprise to us,” Okai said.

She added clam shell, which they used to find everywhere on the reefs, have now almost reach a state of extinction.
“You cannot find clam shells any more on the reefs up there,” she said, pointing out to the ocean.