For the last three months implementing partners Climate Change Cook Islands and ICT – both divisions from the Office of the Prime Minister – along with Telecom Cook Islands and local NGO Rauti Para, have been busy conducting tablet training for the over 60s (Rauti Para) in the Southern Cook Islands.
The tablet training, which hopes to build resilience toward the slow onset of climate change, is being held this week in Rarotonga at Te Atukura from 8.30am.
Several sessions of one hour each will be held throughout the day, and those who have registered and confirmed are asked to please be on time.
The climate change team will also be conducting random questionnaire interviews on Rarotonga in the next two weeks to gather climate change information from our Maori residents.
The project is funded by the European Union through the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)-implemented ‘Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States (GCCA: PSIS)’ project.
There are three components to this project. The first is the tablet training for seniors, the second is to produce a video documentary on the changes observed by the older population regarding climatic and hydrodynamic movements, and the third is to establish climate change indicators in support of the observed changes through a random survey.
Training began in Mangaia in late January, and has also included Mitiaro, Atiu, Aitutaki, and Mauke.
At the end of the tablet training on each island, four tablets were presented to the Telecom officer so the seniors can continue their learning experience.
This initiative aims to up-skill senior citizens in the Pa Enua to confidently use the tablet to communicate and access information on the web to assist them with decision making in building resilience to the slow onset of climate change.
Since the mature-aged remain in the Pa Enua, with some caring for their grandchildren, it becomes a priority to up-skill these seniors as they are the lifeline for the survival and sustainability of their island, their culture, and their future generations.
Although they possess local and traditional knowledge and practices that have worked in the past, their knowledge and skills may not be sufficient to meet or overcome the impacts of climate change.
The training will certainly open new horizons for them to communicate with their families and friends living abroad while encouraging the sharing of information and keeping their minds active.
The Rauti Para project is valuable and an historical moment for seniors in the Pa Enua as previous computer training has focused largely on Rarotonga, and the Pa Enua are often overlooked due to funding restrictions.
It is arguable that the existence and future survival of these islands may not depend on government or foreign aid, but rather on the ability of the Pa Enua seniors to interweave their traditional knowledge and practices with new knowledge that will ensure a more resilient population to both economic hardship and particularly the impacts of climate change.
Apart from the above activities the team also conducted climate change awareness presentations in Maori by Dr Teina Rongo. The people warmed up to the presentations in Maori and highly commended on the information shared by the Rongo, requesting more climate change awareness programmes in Maori on their respective islands.
The research component also gathered useful information regarding observed environmental changes that may be used as climate change indicators. For example, the loss of some marine and terrestrial species, less fish and smaller sizes, disappearance of salt crystals on reef flats.
Consequently, such changes have also influenced farming practices and the type of crops used to the extent that diets have also changed.
Interestingly, the team also discovered that after completing the southern islands, some changes appear to be consistent with those collected from the islands of Manihiki, Rakahanga and Penryhn. For example, the general decline in all target marine species, and loss of salt crystals on reef flats, was consistent throughout the Cook Islands. The latter is likely an indicator of sea-level rise. The results of the research will be analysed and published at the conclusion of the project at the end of June. – Release