Climate Change

Small islands, whether located in the tropics or higher latitudes, have characteristics which make them especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, sea-level rise, and extreme events (very high confidence) ♦  Sea-level rise is expected to exacerbate inundation, storm surge, erosion and other coastal hazards, thus threatening vital infrastructure, settlements and facilities that support the livelihood of island communities (very high confidence). ♦  There is strong evidence that under most climate change scenarios, water resources in small islands are likely to be seriously compromised (very high confidence). ♦  It is very likely that subsistence and commercial agriculture on small islands will be adversely affected by climate change (high confidence). IPCC 4th Assessment Report, 2007

Waste Management Project
Tuesday, 19 January 2010 13:37
The waste management project is a collaborative project between Australia Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Secretatiat of the Pacific Community (SPC), University of South Pacific (USP) and School of Environment and Agriculture University of Western Sydney.

Background

Whereas livestock production systems in Pacific Island Countries or Territories (PICTs) evolved using limited and vulnerable physical resources the animal waste is generally not collected or managed and is left to contaminate surface, soil and underground water, which is not a major issue still populations are limited. Yet, despite the vast majority of livestock in PICTs are owned by small-scale semi-subsistence farmers, size of livestock populations has increased considerably and has resulted in some high densities of livestock, especially pigs, without major modification of the farming practices (part from some PICTs who banned free range pigs). Consequent risks of environemntal pollution and human health concerns including zoonotic diseases (such as leptospirosis) placed livestock waste management as a priority in the Pacific region and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community was requested by the Permanent Heads of Agriculture and Livestock Services in the Pacific (PHALPS) to identify means to assist countries to address the problem.

Approach

Attempts have been made in various countries to make greater use of animal manure for production of methane and fertilizer for crop and garden production at village level. However, communities have not taken up the technologies proposed and it is important to understand the reasons for lack of acceptance to enable appropriate solutions to be developed.

Thus this project will approach the problem by using a team capable of examining the social and physical environments, and the relationships between livestock waste production and possible their possible use as crop manure in PICTs, in association with the communities, who will be implementing results from the project. Solutions developed will be “owned” by the communities and are therefore likely to be implemented. The problem will first be addressed in 4 target countries which are Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga and Tuvalu.

Proposed solutions will need to include various measures including technical solutions in association with possible use of regulation and incentives. Technical solutions might include bio-digesters, composting, drying and vermiculture but the possibilities on which to focus can only be decided after the survey and consultation with communities, and may vary between communities. Similarly regulation and incentives will need to be compatible with a community driven response and developed in association with the relevant government departments.

Facts about animal waste

This part has been written prior to the project starts and only presents some important facts about animal waste in the region as they can be found in the literature.

  • Animal waste composition depends on the species considered and within the same species mainly on alimentation and physiolgical status, housing and handling.
  • Average pig waste is made of only 10% dry matter and is usually rich in organic matter, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium but also contain a number of micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, sulphur, manganese, zinc and copper. A number of pathogen can also be found in waste, leading to public health concerns.
  • Animal waste can be used as manure, however, care must be taken when spreading manure on crop lands to ensure there is not a nutrient surplus and the dose and timing of application needs to consider the effects on the environment as well as considering effect on the yield and quality of the crops.
  • Animal waste can be turned into cheap energy trough transformation in biogas
  • Animal waste can potentially contaminate water and be source for a number of human infections. Drinking water is considered to be a significant transfer vehicle making open tanks, wells, creeks/rivers and water logged soils risk factors in areas where animal waste is not controlled. Recreational exposure (swimming, windsurfing etc) in rivers and saltwater lagoons has also been implicated as a pathway of infection.
    Water born infections include dysentery, typhoid and non-specific diarrhoea. Leptospirosis, caused by a microorganism which can pass to humans from animal urine is also a disease that can be transferred by contaminated surface waters.