Dealing With Climate Change in Samoa
Clay Trauernicht and Patricia Fifita (both NREM) organized the American Samoa Extension Climate Forum with partners at American Samoa Community College (ASCC), similar to the climate forum for Extension personnel that they organized last year at UH. Jonathan Deenik and Jensen Uyeda (both TPSS) also presented and attended, drawing on their prior experiences working on the island. Both of these forums explored Cooperative Extension’s role in helping farmers and landowners better prepare for natural disasters and other climate-related hazards. Held in Pago Pago on June 20th and 21st, the Forum was a collaboration between the ASCC and CTAHR to communicate the best available climate science and identify adaptation strategies within the local food production and forestry sectors. Hurricane Gita hit American Samoa hard in March 2018, destroying homes and wiping out most of the commercial taro crops on island but also generating wide interest the Climate Forum. The event drew over 65 participants, including ASCC Extension faculty; representatives from the National Weather Service, NOAA, National Parks, American Samoa EPA, and the Coral Reef Advisory Group; and approximately ten farmers, who were also high-ranking matai (or titled chiefs) representing the districts and villages they oversee. The first day of the Climate Forum began with presentations by content experts on local weather and climate, current work in community and farm resilience, and the latest downscaled climate projections. The second half of the day consisted of a panel discussion by Extension faculty from Hawai‘i and American Samoa addressing how Extension programs and clients use climate information and can better respond to climate-related threats. This was followed by an overview of locally relevant climate-related tools and resources and a facilitated group activity and discussion of the threat posed by climate and weather events to valued resources and the actions available to increase the resilience of those resources. The second day, Jonathan and Jensen provided an interactive workshop on the role of soil health in long-term farm productivity and climate-impact mitigation and the application of novel and low-cost technologies to respond to climate variability and increase efficiency in crop-production systems. After the workshop, participants toured the Extension facilities at ASCC, with guided demonstrations of farm practices including irrigation management, agroforestry, aquaculture, and deep-litter pig farming (the outcome of a prior project by Glen Fukumoto, HNFAS). Clay and Patricia are preparing a summary of the information presented at the Forum and the opportunities and challenges identified by participants for Extension to support climate adaptation in American Samoa. Short videos clips highlighting the perspective and experience of local Extension professionals and farmers are also currently under production. The event in American Samoa is a continuation of a project that has delivered parallel Climate Forums for Extension faculty in Hawai‘i, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in 2017 with funding from the Pacific Island Climate Change Cooperative, the USDA SW Climate Hub, and the USDOI Office of Insular Affairs.