Communities in Temotu Province rely on traditional knowledge to fight hunger.
The outlying islands of Temotu province, commonly known as the Reef islands, face multiple disaster threats; storm surge and sea level rise, tsunami, poor communications infrastructure and little land for crops and gardens.
As a result – food insecurity threatens to leave people dangerously hungry. So, preparation is everything, and fortunately traditional knowledge is helping.
“(They are) very small islands,” explains Edith Dagi, from the Temotu provincial council of women.
“They don’t have gardens. They have very small spaces where they plant banana. They have few breadfruit trees and other fruits, mostly coconut trees. And I think that’s their main food. They live by fish and coconut’.
Based in the provincial township, Lata, she says that without access to radio, television, the internet or other telecommunications, communities rely on “reading nature” and traditional knowledge to survive.
“They preserve food; like they preserve clam shell and other shells too,” she said.
“They dry fish for times when they cannot go find food because of the weather.”
But with the changing weather patterns, it is not as easy to predict storms as the forefathers used to do. Solomon Islands Meteorological Service investigated traditional practices in nearby Makira Province in 2018.
“The communities are saying that when there is bad weather, their crops get destroyed,” said World Vision Operations Manager in Solomon Islands Vatina Devesi.
“For instance, the riverbanks are the fertile places. that’s where the communities grow most of their crops, but when flooding comes, it takes their crops away.”
So, food drying, a traditional skill in Reef islands communities not common in many other areas, may prove lifesaving.
As part of the COVID response, World Vision is working is helping to create formal programmes on food preservation, processing and preservation, aquaculture, and food garden demonstration.
This story was produced by Aaron Kearney, published at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on 20 August 2021, reposted via PACNEWS.