Tokelau well represented at Pacific Water and Wastewater Conference in Apia this week

Apia, 9 August 2017
Tokelau is participating at force in the 10th Pacific Water and Wastewater Conference and Expo that is currently being held in Apia, Samoa from 7 – 11 August 2017. The Hon. Kelihiano Kalolo, Tokelau Minister for Economic Development, Natural Resources and Environment (EDNRE) contributed to the conference by making a statement to the 3rd Ministerial Forum on the second day of sessions.

In his brief speech, Minister Kalolo highlighted that as a small island nation, Tokelau is at the brink of a changing environment. Unlike in neighbouring volcanic islands, Tokelau’s water supply is still at the household level. Rainwater harvesting from roofs is the primary source of water in Tokelau hence water supply a vital indeed.

Tokelau is extremely vulnerable to unpredictable weather patterns and rising sea levels, and very susceptible to land inundation and droughts. Such events can pose a high risk to water infrastructure initiatives. A slight change in the global climate will have adverse impact on the nation of three atolls – yet it has contributed the bare minimum to the bigger scenario of global warming.

Hon. Kelihiano Kalolo, Tokelau Minister for EDNRE.
Throughout its history, Tokelau has had experienced severe water shortages, long spells of droughts, as well as land inundation from tropical cyclones. With such events becoming more frequently in the global climate, the worst is anticipated. The Minister placed major emphasis on customers and community, for utilising the best available data and insights to find solutions. He sought support from regional and international partners to carry out feasibility assessments and resources.

Some of the challenge may also lie with people’s misconception of the value of water, in Minister Kalolo’s opinion. There is a widely held belief that water is free when it’s actually not. He stressed the importance of conserving water.
He ended his presentation with citing a traditional prayer for rain:
Tui Tokelau e
Fanake la ki to lagi
Ni tai malama
Ni tai malino
Ni tai ua
Ni tai manuia
[God] Tui Tokelau
Ascend/rise to your heavens/skies
Seasons of light
Seasons of fine days
Seasons of showers, rain, squalls
seasons of blessings

Participants in the Ministerial Forum sessions.
Tokelau was one of 11 Countries participating in the Ministerial Forum, comprising Deputy Prime Ministers of Samoa and Cook Islands; other Cabinet Ministers from Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati, Niue and Republic of Marshall Islands, and representatives from Tuvalu and American Samoa.

Keynote speaker was Ms Charmina Saili, who linked the Sustainable Development Goal 6 on drinking water for all, to developments in the Pacific, and how progress was being made there.
Keynote speaker Charmina Saili.
The Minister of EDNRE was supported at the conference by EDNRE officials Ms Petelema Eti (Manager of Economic Development), Leuta Tamoa (Tokelau Young Water Professional ), Solonaima Mei and village representatives Aleki Sakaria and Panapa Gaualofa.

The conference takes place all week. The first day (Monday) was devoted to young professionals, the remainder of the week will see a variety of formal papers and demonstrations given. The Tokelau Deparment of Economic Development Natural Resources and Environment is well represented by a handfull of staff participating.
HeadTable-450 Impressions from the Plenary session in the morning:
Head table and dignitaries in front of a sea of red-clad participants.
[text and pictures by iapi]