Marshall Islands dengue outbreak reaches capital
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 19 August 2019
“A dengue outbreak in the Marshall Islands has reached the capital Majuro, as the government maintains a state of emergency.
“Since July, there have been 150 cases of type 3 dengue in Ebeye Island, where the government has blocked some domestic travel.
“On Friday, the Health Ministry said it had also found two cases in Majuro and imposed similar travel restrictions, which prevent access to and from the outer islands where health facilities are limited.
“The cases in Majuro have not been lab confirmed yet but the ministry is treating them as dengue cases because of the number of cases already confirmed. Samples have been sent off-island are expected to be confirmed by early this week.
“Health secretary Jack Neidenthal said hospital beds in Ebeye were so full that cots were being sent over from the capital.
"The numbers have not plateaued yet," Mr Niedenthal said. "They are still going up."
“In 2011, during the last outbreak of dengue in the Marshall Islands, there were 1600 cases.
“Aggressive mosquito spraying and clean up work in Ebeye was helping to slow the disease's spread, Mr Niedenthal said.
“All public and private schools in Ebeye were cancelled last week and people were encouraged to stay indoors.”
Copyright @ 2019. Radio New Zealand
19 August 2019
Solomon Islands: More is needs to be done to identify commodity export markets, gain private investment and evaluate down streaming possibilities.
The Solomon Islands Government is seeking new ways of ensuring long term economic stability in the country and keen to further downstream processing.
With a major port facility in Honiara, an international airport and a new airport at Munda allowing for international air connections to Brisbane, the time is opportune for the SIG to place much importance on securing private sector investment and development in accordance with the aim of achieving more self-reliance, economic independence and sustainability. Foreign investment participation in the development of downstream processing ideas and plans should be given more focus, given the facility support of shipping and air services.
I recently suggested the idea of exporting banana chips and, in the past, have suggested growing and canning pineapples, marketing honey, cultivated fresh, leafy vegetables by hydroponics and marketing to regional markets, via the nearest air destinations.
All such suggestions would provide benefits to communities as part of down streaming planning. Similarly, manufactured wood products, handicrafts and fish canning could give income returns if given proper market evaluation and investment.
Actually, in terms of fishing processing, the Hon. Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, said in 2007 his government was aggressively pursuing downstream professing of its fish catch.
At the time Mr. Sogavare said the country earned 7 million U.S. dollars annually from its fishing industry but could earn 400 million dollars once it ventured into downstream processing.
He said the government would encourage small holder or tribal groups to venture into commercial fishing and sell their catch to a local canning factory until more factories could be established.
Mr. Sogavare said finance to assist small holders would be made possible through its guarantee scheme to be facilitated by the commercial banks.
He said to start with, the government would take delivery of 50 pump boats from the Philippines with a view to increase it to 300.
I doubt the proposals then put forward by the Prime Minister materialized, for one reason or another, but the idea of fish processing remains valid, I believe.
The Solomon Islands government has discussed changes to the logging industry, with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare looking to halt all round log exports by 2023 and a shift from round log exports to downstream processing is on the cards but it seems progress is still slow to get down streaming developments and returns for communities.
Once ideas, such as the one I suggested for banana chips is mooted, the Commodity Export Marketing Authority (CEMA) should step-up to make the pre-requisite evaluation and determine the potential for export in terms of its regulatory function.
18 August 2019
We must become better stewards of the earth and the environment or face the dire consequences.
At the end of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting held in Tuvalu last week, a communiqué was issued backed by the region’s nine smallest countries, declaring a climate crisis and calling for an immediate phasing out of coal, a commitment to reducing emissions to 1.5 degrees, and the replenishment of the UN’s Green Climate Fund.
Australia could not agree to stop using coal or to further contribute to the Green Climate Fund,
Matthew Wale, Solomon Islands Opposition leader, when speaking in the context of the whole Pacific family said:
"What a missed opportunity to really 'step up.' 'family' has been exploited for domestic Australian politics.”
"Pacific islanders were hoping for sincerity when we hear 'we're family.' We were mistaken," he wrote.
In the days that followed the Tuvalu gathering it has been said many of those attending left with a bitter taste and a disappointment over the outcome given the physical evidence of the impact of climate change in many of the smaller Pacific countries.
In the religious context of climate change, if one reads the prophesy of both Isaiah and Jeremiah, we are told about the dire consequences of failing to take care of the earth and the bible’s teaching has special significance to the Christian communities in the region’s smallest countries.
In the scientific sense of what climate change heralds, we know last year of the dire warning on climate change issued by scientists on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change saying we have 12 years before we reach a global warming tipping point, after which we all face significantly increased risks of drought, floods, extreme heat, population migration and poverty.
Climate scientists said last year we need to ensure global temperatures do not rise more than 1.5°C, because beyond that it will be catastrophic. The authors of the IPCC report said urgent changes were needed to address climate change, which they say were affordable and feasible.
“It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now,” said one scientist.
A clarion call indeed, but one that seemingly fell on deaf ears, according to what Mr. Wale was reported to have said.
Clearly for those most affected by climate change in the Pacific not enough is being done to address the concerns despite the gap between science and politics widening.
In respect of environmental protection in respect of plastic pollution there does seem to have been a shift towards recognizing and dealing with the threat but much more needs to be done.
Globally, people have produced 8 billion tones of plastic waste since 1950. Scientists estimate that between 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean every year.
According to recent reports in 2015, the packaging industry in global plastic waste generation, alone produced 141 million tonnes of it, sitting nearly 100 million tonnes ahead of any other sector.
The majority of the waste comes from food packaging and it is obvious that the excessive plastic used in food packaging is entirely unnecessary.
A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to break down and approximately 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags each year. While single use plastic bags are being phased out in some Pacific countries, notably in Vanuatu, it’s important to remember that the bags used to hold fruit and vegetables are still just as bad.
19 August 2019
The fallout following the Pacific Island Forum meeting in Tuvalu last week is continuing.
Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga, has been critical of the Australian Prime Minister’s conduct at the meeting, citing his attitude as “unfortunate.”
The Pacific countries wanted strict commitments to cutting down greenhouse gas emissions, a phase out of coal power stations, support in replenishing the UN's Green Climate Fund and a strong and united communiqué that they could take to international climate talks at the UN next month.
But Australia refused to budge on certain red lines, which included insisting on the removal of mentions of coal, a commitment to limit global warming to under 1.5C and drafting a plan for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
It succeeded. Late on Thursday night, a watered-down communiqué was released, although some are now questioning at what cost.
In an interview with Radio New Zealand on Sunday, Enele Sopoaga also threatened to pull Tuvaluan labour from Australia's seasonal worker programme in light of comments by deputy prime minister Michael McCormack, who was recorded as saying people from Pacific countries threatened by climate change - like Tuvalu - would survive because "many of their workers come here and pick our fruit".
Australia's high commissioner to Tuvalu is apparently being summoned to explain the comments.
Mr Sopoaga said, and he would cancel the programme if he wasn't satisfied. He would also encourage the leaders of the other Pacific countries - including Kiribati, Samoa and Tonga - to do the same.
The Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has also accused the Australian government of taking a "big step backwards" in its relations with the Pacific, after Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack was captured on tape saying island nations affected by climate change would continue to survive by picking Australian fruit.
Source of news reports – Radio New Zealand.
Tonga signs deal with EU to revamp energy law
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 17 August 2019
“Tonga's government is working on a new national energy bill after signing a deal with the European Union yesterday.
“A lawyer working on the reform says laws governing petroleum, electricity and renewable energy, will be integrated into one bill.
“Sela Bloomfield from Solutions Consulting House said new provisions regulating gas will also be included.
“Tonga has an Energy Road Map aimed at lowering the Kingdom's dependence on imported fuel.
“Ms Bloomfield said yesterday's signing was a real milestone for Tonga.
"The EU in the representative statement yesterday emphasised the recognition that a strong legal framework was just as important as the technical assistance on the ground. So, this is recognition of years of work of different parties, but also Tonga's strong commitment towards achieving its energy sector goals," said Sela Bloomfield.
“A government spokesperson said the contract is for around $US130, 000 and a draft of the Energy Bill is expected to be before Cabinet in June next year.”
Copyright @ 2019, Radio New Zealand