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Call from Kiribati
5.09.2009

The Kiribati Government wants people to eat healthy, traditional food. But their gardens are being ruined by salt water.



Pelenise Alofa Pilitati holds public cooking demonstrations to teach people how to cook using beans, nuts and lentils.

She said the lessons were part of her "climate change adaptation programme" to help people whose gardens were threatened by tidal surges and sea-level rise. Otherwise, "people live off rice and tinned food".

She said salt water was already seeping into the earth near her home, polluting the underground freshwater supply and affecting the roots of plants.

Kiribati is officially 4m above sea level, but Ms Pilitati said most people lived "at eye level" with the sea.

The Kiribati Government has been working to educate people so they can move overseas if sea levels one day swamp the low-lying atolls.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has said New Zealand would support such countries if it came to relocating people but he hoped it would never happen.

Ms Pilitati was helped to New Zealand by Oxfam to advocate for tougher cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

She has called for Australia and New Zealand to pay for an adaptation fund to help Pacific Islanders pay for protection measures such as seawalls.

By New Zealand Herald

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Ocean rise threats small island nations
Small island developing nations, which contribute least to climate change but are under imminent threat of inundation due to rising sea levels, appealed to the United Nations yesterday for immediate measures to be taken to ensure their survival.

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