SPC Geoscience Division

Tuvalu acts to climate proof its people

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The small Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu has been the focus of climate change impacts for years.  The four reef islands and five true atolls that make up Tuvalu only just break the surface of the surrounding Pacific Ocean and have an average height of 1 metre above sea level. Tuvalu’s geography and location poses many challenges to the people that live there.

The atolls are regularly inundated by high tides and storms and freshwater is scarce. The contamination of groundwater from septic pollution, salt water intrusion and piggeries means rainwater is the only reliable source of drinking water. Population growth and development has resulted in food security issues and problems with waste management.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 December 2010 11:59

Footprints - The Newsletter of the Pacific Disaster Risk Management Partnership Network - May to December 2010

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I bid all our readers ‘Seasons Greetings’ as we move closer to Christmas in 2010. This has been another busy year and the Pacific DRM Partnership Network continues to evolve and provide services and support to the Pacific island countries to address issues of vulnerability and risk.

So much has been done by so many in 2010 and we hope to bring you some of the exciting stories in this issue of ‘Footprints’. As we wind down this year and move into 2011 there will be a number of changes that will be experienced. SOPAC as an independent regional intergovernmental organisation will from 1st January cease to function as a separate organisation and becomes the ‘Applied Geoscience and Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

Last Updated on Friday, 03 December 2010 13:41

Satellite technology used in Tongan election

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Satellite technology has been used in helping to define voting districts put in place for the first time for the recent election held in the Kingdom of Tonga. The election was held on Thursday, November 25.

The technology was utilized by the  Royal Constituency Commission tasked with the responsibility of organizing voting districts throughout the country.

The Commission created an electoral boundaries map that defined the voting districts, based on the distribution of population.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 16:59

2010 Pacific Islands GIS/RS Conference opens

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Close to 200 participants were told by SOPAC’s Director, Dr. Russell Howorth, that the development of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing will continue to be a major part of the SOPAC technical support service work programme.

SOPAC provides assistance to 21 island countries in the Pacific region through applied geoscience and technology.

Dr. Howorth was speaking at the 2010 Pacific Islands Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) Conference being currently being held in Suva, Fiji.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:00

Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment Meeting, November 18 - 19, Suva, Fiji

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SOPAC will host the second project meeting on a joint initiative by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and SOPAC on Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing.

The purpose of the meeting is to review progress in collecting building, infrastructure, population and crop data to determine the level of risk faced by Pacific island countries.

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 November 2010 10:01

Weatherman Rajendra Prasad Joins UNESCO

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Former Director of Fiji Meteorological Services, Mr. Rajendra Prasad has been appointed the National Programme Officer for UNESCO/IOC. Mr. Prasad will be based in Suva working within the SOPAC’s Disaster Reduction Programme.

His primary responsibilities are to initiate and oversee activities related to the development and implementation of the Pacific Tsunami Warning system both at regional and national levels for two years.

Mr. Prasad will be involved in Disaster Risk Reduction activities for both UNESCO/IOC and SOPAC.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 November 2010 17:20

Regional Review of Progress in Disaster Risk Management

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Six Pacific island countries are in the process of reviewing the progress made in relation to their disaster risk management action plans and strategies.

The Cook Islands, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are carrying out the reviews to determine advances made towards disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery as well as the management of hazard risks.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 November 2010 07:50

Kiribati Addresses Sanitation Problems

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A recent outbreak of typhoid in Kiribati highlights how water borne diseases continue to be a major threat in the Pacific islands, especially in low-lying atolls. The capital island of Kiribati, Tarawa, has also received almost no rainfall over the last three months, putting additional stress on limited water supplies.

However, recent actions by Kiribati to put in place a National Sanitation Policy means it is showing the rest of the Pacific the way forward to address these problems.

Mr Riteti Maninraka, Secretary of the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities, said that having a National Sanitation Policy and Implementation Plan in place should provide direction on how the nation will work with the community and development partners to help solve its sanitation problems in Tarawa and the country’s outer islands.

Last Updated on Monday, 22 November 2010 12:45

Continental shelf issues addressed by SOPAC

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A SOPAC-organised workshop, supported by technical partners and funded by AusAID, is taking place in Sydney to help Pacific Island countries develop their Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) submissions to the United Nations.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an island country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends 200 nautical miles from its coastal baselines, which is calculated from the lowest tide levels. Article 76 of the Convention sets out criteria upon which an island country may establish an Extended Continental Shelf that extends beyond the 200 nautical mile limit.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:00

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Exploring for deep sea minerals and possible exploitation in future presents an emerging new economic opportunity for Pacific Island countries. But this opportunity must be balanced against protection of the ocean environment and preservation of rare and fragile ecosystems and ocean habitats.

Dr Russell Howorth of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) emphasised this point in his opening address at the Regional Training Workshop on Geological, Biological and Environmental Aspects of Deep Sea Minerals, saying that ‘the precautionary approach must prevail.’ Dr Howorth is Director of SPC’s Applied Geoscience and Technology (SOPAC) Division.

The workshop, held recently in Nadi, was organised by the EU-funded, SPC Deep Sea Minerals (DSM) Project and is part of the technical assistance provided to the 15 Pacific-ACP (African Caribbean and Pacific) states.

The 15 states are the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

He said that DSM Project team members have already completed 13 national stakeholder consultation workshops across the region, with plans to visit the remaining two countries, Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste, in September.