Lily Pugameau studies at Fetuvalu High School on Funafuti. (Photo: UNDP)

Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world with a population of 12,000 located in the South Pacific. It has always been a warning alarm bell to our people on how vulnerable Tuvalu is to the impact of climate change.

“As youths struggling every day to face the reality of storm surge, sea level rise, drought and other impact of climate change, it gives us the courage to enter the Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project song competition,” said Lilly Pugameau who won the first-prize in the Solo Category of a song competition that was held during the World Environment Day in Tuvalu on Friday 25 June.

The song competition was organized by the UN Development Programme through the Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project (TCAP) and attracted youths from the islands including people living with disability. The competition had three categories – the solo, group and tik tok competition.

“It gives me great courage to compose a song that could express the vulnerable context we are living and how grateful I am to receive the support of the Green Climate Fund and the United Nation Development Programme for the development project on coastal adaptation on the three islands of Tuvalu”, Pugameau said.

The 16 years -old hails from Nanumaga, one of the target islands that was severely hit by Cyclone Pam in 2015 and TC Tino in 2019. “There were lots of disruptions caused by the storm surge which hit a few houses and gardens on my home island. Most of the plants were uprooted and have been destroyed by salt intrusion into the plants,” she said.

“I am hoping that TCAP will construct the coastal protection on my home island to give better protection to my beloved ones on the island. This coastal protection will give me hope that my home island will surely survive future storm surges”. 

Nanumaga after hit by storm surge during TC Tino in 2019. (Photo: Alielu Setema)

“The song I composed was based on expressing my sincere thanks to TCAP project. It is also expressing the threats which I face every day. I do believe that the song I have composed will be an awareness promotion to the project and it will go from generation to generation promoting the project work that have been implemented,” Pugameau said

She added that as a youth, they should participate in any form of assistance that could help their community. “I am using my talent of composing and singing this song for the TCAP project to encourage everyone engaged in this project to put every effort to fulfil the coastal adaptations plans and implementation. I do believe as a youth of today that our children’s protection and safety in the future depend on the development you are building today”.

Tueli Kavatia on Lofeagai beach during recess period. She is a Form 7 student at Fetuvalu High School. (Photo: UNDP)

Tueli Kavatia, who also participated in the Solo category won the second prize, and, as a lead singer, her band won the first prize in the Group category. She was grateful for the opportunity given by UNDP so that her talent can be utilized and expressed through singing. It has also encouraged her to continue to pursue her singing talent in the future and, more importantly, to express important issue. Tueli said “I do believe that singing can be a way of promoting an important event, a learning tool for youths and children by learning in singing the song. The message which could impact and make a change in a life could be sang in a song”.

Lasalo Laufou, a member of the Fusialofa Association (People with Disability), participated in the Tik-tok category competition category, showing his interest in dancing, and modern dancing fashion. Lasalo he did not win an award but received a participation gift. His participation has strengthened the partnership with Fusialofa Association and supporting the work of coastal protection implement by UNDP through TCAP project. 

Lasalo Laufou (male in red t-shirt) awaits his turn on Tik Tok competition during the TCAP Song Competition 2021.

The Tuvalu TCAP team were grateful to all the stakeholder partners especially the Department of Environment staff for rolling out the Song competition event. It is evident of the solid and meaningful partnership between TCAP and stakeholder partners. The team is proud that the project will be now promoted through songs by young talented youths who won the first prizes.

About TCAP:

Launch in August in 2017, with US$36 million financing from the green Climate Fund and $2.9 million co-financing from the Government of Tuvalu, the 7-year Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project is helping strengthening resilience. Implemented by the UN Development Programme in partnership with the Government, the project is focused on improving; coastal protection in key locations on the islands of Funafuti, Nanumea and Nanumaga. The project also strives to build the capacity of national and island governments and local governments and communities in adapting to climate change in the longer term.

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