Uniting Church President seeks prayer for Tuvalu
Uniting Church President, the Rev. Alistair Macrae, has written to church members calling for prayer for the Uniting Church’s partner church, Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu.
Tuvalu is facing water and food shortages due to five months of continuous drought. This is seen as a direct impact of climatic changes and rising sea levels.
Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu has asked for support in equipping their churches to face these difficulties both in the short and long term.
Mr Macrae said:
I write to invite you and your congregation to pray for our partner church Te Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu (EKT, The Christian Church in Tuvalu) and for the people of the Pacific nation of Tuvalu.
With the highest point in the country only five metres above sea level, Tuvalu is one of the most environmentally vulnerable Pacific nations and now it faces the impact of climate change and changes to ocean levels.
Last week we received a request for prayer from the Rev. Tafue Molu Lusama, the General Secretary of EKT. He told us that the Tuvalu Government had declared Tuvalu to be in a state of emergency due to a water shortage as a result of six months of drought.
Mr Lusama wrote: “Most severe are the southern islands of Nukulaelae which are experiencing a difficult time with water shortage and local food as well. The coconut tree tops have started falling off, breadfruit trees are dead, banana plantations are dried up, and even the traditional pulaka pits are rotten all because of the drought. [Pulaka or swamp taro is a Tuvalu staple food].
“Here on the capital, Funafuti, the government has sealed all the water catchments on the island and whatever little water that is left is rationed to all people at a ration of about 20 litres per household.
“On behalf of EKT I appeal to you for your prayers as we face this critical challenge due to climate change. EKT is trying to do what it can to assist the people most affected, and we need you to stand with us in our efforts.”
Rainfall and rainwater harvesting is the primary source of water supply in Tuvalu. Most families have low capacity water storage tanks attached to small areas of roofing sheets providing the catchment and shelter for an external kitchen area. These tanks which usually provide sufficient drinking water for normal demands are empty.
While the majority of islands have wells, ground water quality is often poor and is seldom used for drinking and mainly for feeding and washing pigs, and flushing toilets. During periods of low rainfall the ground water quality deteriorates and becomes more saline.
It is expected water storages will be empty in a matter of days.
The Red Cross and New Zealand and Australian governments have provided portable desalination plants and ships containing water are on the way.
I am encouraged by the faith of the Christians in Tuvalu and the way in which they are responding to this current crisis.
Mr Lusama wrote: “It is always true that we believe and have faith in the love of God and God’s providence, and a divine intervention, we do not have doubt in those; however, we also believe that we have to ask ourselves what causes these kind of events, and we believe that this is only the tip of the iceberg that Tuvalu and other small vulnerable island countries will face in the near future due to the negative and destructive impacts of climate change.”
In addition to prayer, if members of your congregation would like to offer financial assistance for the church in Tuvalu, UnitingWorld will be supporting their leadership to establish a project to help vulnerable people at the grassroots level adapt to the climate changes they face, build their resilience capacity, and understand what they are experiencing on the ground as a result of climate change.
This project will enable people to reflect on, and respond actively to their experience.
To find out more about UnitingWorld’s Climate Change Community Education Project and Tuvalu Appeal go to the website or call 1800 000 331. You can donate via the website, phone or by mail, using a downloaded form.