16 February 2019
Climate change impacts becoming all too evident in the Solomon Islands.
In January this year torrential rainfall caused widespread flooding, landslides, the loss of many homes and other property damage and disruption to the lives of more than 100,000 people.
This last week 60 percent of people living in Honiara were without a water supply after Solomon Water closed off its Kongulai Pump Station on the outskirts of Honiara due to prevailing adverse weather conditions.
In a statement Solomon Water explained the closure of the Pump Station due to the high turbidity (silt and dirt particles in the water) experienced from the continuous rainfall during the past week.
Solomon Water does not yet have a water treatment plant to filter dirt out of the water in heavy rainfall periods.
Also last week rough seas and bad weather reportedly caused the MV Solomon Trader to hit a reef in Kangava Bay off Rennell Island posing problems not only to the vessel but also to the protected marine area since the ship was loaded with bauxite.
A few days ago, village people of Kwai and Ngongosila Islands in east Malaita had to be evacuated to the mainland due to strong winds and high seas that reportedly hammered the Islands.
Both islands are low lying and are increasingly threatened by sea level rise, salt water intrusion, loss of food gardens and threats to the livelihoods of the inhabitants.
One village spokesman said the islands are no longer safe for the people – and this despite all attempts to mitigate the intrusion of the sea water.
Today, it is said that the current bad weather, influenced by yet another regional Cyclone, “Oma.”, has started to hinder the pre-election arrangements in the country.
All flights to affected provinces have been grounded and all ships are weathering the storm in port.
The bad weather is affecting travel plans for intending candidates, who are required to register their nominations in person by next Wednesday.
We all know climate change will affect different parts of the Solomon Islands in different ways but in general the likelihood for more rainfall, more unpredictable weather, higher temperatures, coastal erosion and increased risk of disease is becoming all too common.
If such climate change trends continue, and they are likely too, then decades of hitherto development gains will be further threatened and put at risk efforts to eradicate poverty levels.
It will be vitally important for a new government to put in place strategies and plans to ensure sustainable development in the country with sound adaptive policies and especially bearing in mind the sound scientific evidence that sea levels in the country are predicted to rise as much as 1 meter by 2100, increasing the level of risks to low lying coastal communities.
The rising sea levels will also expose coastal communities to coastal salt water intrusion and lead to decreased amounts of fresh water, risk to food gardens and health risks.
Rising temperatures may also lead to the increased likelihood of more intense and longer periods of rainfall, leading to an increased risk of flooding.
The likelihood of tropical cyclones developing may also increase along with increased storms and general bad weather out in the ocean, leading to increased risks to sea farers.
On land, risks due to these changes may include risks to human lives, properties, infrastructure damage, diseases and risks to certain economic activities such as tourism.
In terms of furthering its national climate change police, it is to be hoped the new administration will further aim to enhance the country’s adaptive capacity while pursuing a path of low-carbon development, based on covering finance, technology, vulnerability and adaption, however difficult this might be to achieve, as evidenced by the latest evacuations from Kwai and Ngongosila Islands.