Skip to main content

Living with the tides

Tao Tao Langafoa (19) and her grandmother (who says she’s over 30) and some of her cousins at their house on Funafuti. Photo: Klima Tuvalu

Tao Tao Langafoa lives with her family in a house right by our place. She moved to Funafuti from Nuitao, one of the outer islands, about one year ago to do her foundations at the University of the Pacific.

When I have finished my foundations, I want to study something about the environment. I want to know how we can adapt to climate change, she says.

She says that she feels how climate change is affecting the island: the water rises and the sun gets hotter.

The water washes away the sand on our beaches. Now there are almost no beaches left here on Funafuti.

Tao Tao doesn´t know whether she will have to move from Tuvalu when she gets older. She lives on one of the spots where the seawater is seeping through at full- and half moon.

We call it ”Taisala” – water that is less salt than salt water, explains Tao Tao.

Rising tides are not only washing away the Tuvaluan coasts. It is also seeping through the porous atoll ground, salting the soil and the ground water. Tao Tao´s house is built on poles, to prevent the salt water from entering the house.

Tao Tao´s grandmother has lived here her whole life. She tells us that they used to stay further in on the island, and that this spot was used to plant banana trees and breadfruits before. The house was only built in 2009, and that was when they started to see the salt water.

There was a lot of banana trees, says Tamila. But we can´t plant ”water plants” anymore, the soil is too salted.

Today, the family only plants coconuts in their garden. For the rest of their food, they have to go to the shop or to one of their neighbours.

Lan Marie is a member of the international youth climate movement currently working in Tuvalu on the climate change awareness project Klima-Tuvalu

Originally published on Klima-Tuvalu