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April 24, 2019

‘Every individual is concerned’ | Spring Report from Ricky Imanakuan, Papua New Guinea


Having joined Cool Earth’s team as Project Coordinator in Papua New Guinea in August 2018, Ricky has been a committed and focussed force for good.

A keen environmentalist, he is dedicated to helping local communities protect their rainforest and increase their resilience to climate change in the process. Currently Ricky, and Gellie Akui Project Manager, are working on a report on the rising sea levels and how they are affecting the community of Gadaisu.

In March, Ricky, along with Jal Walther from CSC, travelled to Cool Earth’s newest partnership Sololo, in order to support the community with the building of their new resource and education centre. In his report, Ricky paints a vivid picture of the increasing number of difficulties and sporadic weather events faced in the area:

“During the March travel trip to Sololo, it was a most challenging and tiring trip that Jal Walther CSC Inc. Manager and I faced. The weather conditions were really bad throughout Milne Bay Province because of the changing weather pattern. We agreed that, despite the weather, Jal and I were keen to travel as far as we could and then walk from the point where the vehicle dropped both of us at the road breakage.

Ricky Imanakuan, Project Coordinator in a swollen river walking to Sololo in Papua New Guinea

It is very hard to predict weather nowadays. For March weather, it is sunny and rainy with strong winds blowing. But it will be sunny for couple of days then it’s going to be rain again, so the weather pattern is changing every now and then that’s why it’s very hard to predict. The unpredicted rainy periods have created a question in the lives of people as to when it will stop. Or will it continue?

The unpredicted weather patterns are creating chaos in the midst of the people and every individual is concerned.

If it continues, people worry how they can support their families when the heavy rains have washed away food gardens, bridges and roads are damaged which are the only means of linking services. When bridges and roads are damaged, it greatly affects the flow of services travelling to and from local areas and people won’t go to the market to market their garden produce.

Sometimes, we have a dry season, very hot during the day with a lot of sunshine and the air is dry. This results in flu or coughing as it is very cold during the nights. While one or two provinces are experiencing the dry season, other provinces will experience heavy rainfall consistently that greatly affects their food gardens, roads, landslides or other related natural phenomena. Also, sea level rising is now very common along the coastal area in Papua New Guinea. It is unusual for the people to experience the continued rise of the sea level.

Broken road in Papua New Guinea, showing the pipes that have been exposed by the heavy rain.

Many people don’t really know how to protect themselves from extreme weather. Warnings of extreme weather used to be announced through radio, television and newspapers by the National Weather Service. Because people really do not understand what and how severe climate change is, they often ignore the warnings. But when they go out to seas during strong winds many of them usually find accidents and sometimes death because they don’t know how to protect themselves in such weather.

One threat, for instance, some weeks ago I heard from the radio that the people in the Madang Province experience the sea level rising and it occupied their food gardens and coconut trees. They complained to their Provincial Government to do something to address such problems.

This bad weather is not affecting only Cool Earth’s partnerships in Milne Bay but throughout Papua New Guinea. It’s happening on news and we’ve heard it. This changing weather pattern is really affecting lives and many people are concerned about it.

We walked for 3 hours to reach Sololá, and after we returned to Alotau my feet were really swollen up.

But despite the bad weather conditions, the trip was successful. We have done all the activity as planned to support the community and returned safe.”

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