Locals face starvation as their Island home sinks
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (CNN) -- Facing starvation from rising sea-levels and low food supplies, residents of the tiny Pacific island of Takuu are calling on Papua New Guinea for assistance.
The last supply ship to the island arrived in January and since then the 2,500 residents of Takuu Island are enduring a worsening food crisis, escalated by a rising sea-level that has rendered many farms unproductive.
Takku Island, also known as Mortlock Island, belongs to the Bougainville province of Papua New Guinea and is dependent on supplies from outside the island for food and daily necessities.
Sione Paasia, president of the Port Moresby based "Association Na Takuu" warned of "an impending starvation on Mortlock if relief is not sent soon or sea transport service does not resume immediately."
A rising sea-level, measured at two meters per year, is worsening the food supply problem, washing away soil from many farms.
Salinity on the island has also increased, reducing crop output, particularly of swamp taro, the islanders' main food.
Takuu Island Chief Avo Sini sent a message two days ago requesting assistance from the Papua New Guinea government.
"Since the Atoll Queen left Takuu in January 2001, no other boat or ship has visited the island," Sini said.
"Takuu is short of rice … gardens have been affected by the sea level rise. There are some people who are in danger of not having anything to eat at all," he said.
Takuu getting smaller and smaller
Takuu is at risk of sinking completely off the map.
The island has been shrinking significantly from a rise in sea levels due to global warming and movements in the earth's continental plates.
Teatulohi Mathinaho, member of the Association Na Takuu and senior lecturer of University of Papua New Guinea, has been studying the problem for 15 years and visited the island in January.
"I've been away for four years and I couldn't recognize some parts of the island. Some areas is getting smaller and smaller," he said.
The Association has been set up for one year to address the issues affecting Takuu, in particular the rising sea level.
They have also been urging the Papua New Guinea government to assist with the food shortage problem compounded by a lack of supplies being delivered to the island.
Last ship since January
The island relies on one ship which belongs to the Bougainville provincial government for all transportations and supplies. But the ship has been under repair in Australia since early last year.
Occasionally, other boats supply Takuu but services have been unreliable.
Mathinaho is not sure how long people on the island can survive without support from the outside.
"Last year, there was a period of no transportation for 6-7 months. People survived resorting to their own food crops," he said.
The Association has called on the Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister Michael Ogio -- who represents Takuu island in parliament -- to look into the crisis.
"We think the government should at least relocate the people to another island or to the main island of Bougainville," Mathinaho said.
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