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Small Islands Voice Global Forum

Are tiny islands viable in the 21st century?

When we talk about small islands, perceptions of the word may leave one in doubt as to the actual size of a small island. The Pacific region, for example, is divided into three archipelagos: Micronesia (tiny islands), Polynesia (many islands) and Melanesia. In these island chains, the actual size of an island varies. In Micronesia, the island that I am originally from is about 0.7 square miles. This figure includes the fringing reef that surrounds four tiny, tiny islands situated to the north of the Eastern Caroline Islands. How to sustain a population of more than 300 on an island that is less than one square mile?

The major challenges to these islands are transportation and communication. Some of these islands can only be accessed by field trip ships. Depending on the ability of the state government, the ship might not be able to keep its monthly schedule. There are times that the ship will not visit these islands for more than two months.

Some of these islands can be reached by small plane, with limited space for the essentials needed to sustain the population. Local farming takes more than six months to yield enough for the population. Political and economic changes and trends put forth challenges that island people have to adjust to. People on these islands depend on SSB (Single Side Band) radios to communicate with the capital cities and between islands. Solar power was introduced and now people enjoy the brightness that allows their children to use a better source of light to do their homework and study.

Health and education services from the government are very minimal due to transportation limitations. With migration from the small islands to the main islands increasing, the small island governments will end up with a population that is susceptible to failure because of a lack of leadership. Leadership development training for the people living in outer islands is a must. The islanders need to be aware of the world around them, what their potentials are, how to maximize these potentials and then figure out a plan that can sustain their resources.

Hope I am making sense. Thanks for sharing and the opportunity for me to share.

Further note: These issues discussed by Jimmy Rainer are not confined to Micronesia. Other very small islands around the world are experiencing similar problems.

Messages In This Thread

Are tiny islands viable in the 21st century?
Jimmy Rainer -- Friday, 18 November 2005
Choosing a simpler lifestyle
J. Bungitak, I. A. Economides, G. Nakamura, K.D. Pillay -- Wednesday, 30 November 2005
A pattern of small island dependency
T. Chilton, P. Hehanussa, W. Johnson -- Tuesday, 17 January 2006
What kind of viability?
Paul Roughan -- Tuesday, 31 January 2006
Developing alternative industries
S. Kauka, E. Smith, E. Tamasese -- Wednesday, 15 February 2006

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