Aftermath of cyclone Evan

Battery powered radios and text messages relayed by mobile phones are among the most effective ways of warning scattered populations in the South Pacific of an impending climate change-related disaster, according to speakers at a recent event at EuropeAid’s Infopoint in Brussels.

The Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) is working to put these facilities in place to strengthen the region’s disaster preparedness.

As part of these efforts the European Union has provided funding to extend mobile phone coverage to some of the region’s outer islands, previously beyond the reach of mobile phones. Here, costs of providing network infrastructure typically outstrip potential profits making such investment unattractive to commercial operators.

The South Pacific region is vulnerable to natural hazards. In the low-lying Pacific Islands king tides are an ever-increasing threat. As sea levels rise, these highest tides can have catastrophic effects, destroying homes, businesses and farmland.

In December 2012, eight people died and 20,000 homes were destroyed when Tropical Cyclone Evan caused flash flooding in Fiji, Samoa and the Solomon Islands, among others.

And in March this year, the capital of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Majuro, was flooded for the third time in 12 months. Several homes were destroyed and almost 1,000 people sought shelter in temporary relief centres.

To read more about the GCCA’s work in this area, read a recent Voices & Views on EuropeAid’s