Tegua Island - victim of rising sea levels
Tegua, an atoll in the Vanuatu chain of tiny islands in the Pacific Ocean off Australia's west coast, is fast becoming the world's first community to be forced out by rising sea levels brought on by global warming and climate change.
In 1993 Australian scientists recorded sea level rises in the South Pacific of 6 mm per year. Vanuatu's metrological department records storms that have hit the nation since 1941. Jotham Napat, the head of the department explains that the number of storms have gone up 300% from five in the forties to an average of 15 per year.
The impact climate change has had on the island and its only settlement Lateu is hard to ignore. Reuben Seluin, 63, Leteu's village head says: "At the end of the Eighties, our village was flooded for the first time. Nowadays it happens every other month."
The villages had never heard about global warming until a government representative visited the island in 1998. They had at that point become
eligible for UN relief funds.
Plans are under way to utilise a £27,000 relief payment to relocate to higher ground and more Lateu and its 60 inhabitants some 300 meters further inland. A total of six communal houses has been build and the island is now also able to receive weather reports thanks to a new satellite-based radio system.
"We love our island. We will stay here always," concludes a defiant Mr. Seluin as he and his family prepares to move their belongings further inland and escape global warming for now.
30th August 2006
Beach on Tegua
Vanuatu - click to enlarge