Island communities in Madang are facing a bleak future as they struggle with the impacts of climate change and rising sea levels.
The problem is being compounded by an ever increasing population and the severe shortage of building materials.
Two years ago, EMTV News visited Panudau – a small island with a population of 400 people. Back then, the village graveyard was being washed away and the island was under threat of being cut in half by the sea.
Last year, the island received funding for a sea wall that now extends along the worst hit part of the island.
It’s a small but important community effort that has stemmed the erosion of the shoreline – at least for now.
“There is now a lot of awareness,” says Didik Kasas, former resident of Panudau Island.
“The people are building sea walls and they are talking about moving but there is no real effort to move off the islands.”
Madang is a beautiful province. The coastal area nearest to the town is dotted with dozens of islands, sheltered from the open sea by rows of reef formations that extend out to towards the ocean. Panudau is just one of those many inhabited islands.
“This is nature we can’t fight it,” says Kasas. “When the waves come and the shoreline start being washed away, people are starting to think.”
On the sheltered side of the island, a lot of work has gone into protecting the houses that sit dangerously low. Hand made sea walls receive dedicated attention every day.
Kasas admits that what really needs to happen is a concerted relocation of people before it’s too late.