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Jun 3, 2016

Suporting Independent Initiative in the Recovery Efforts

Dear Donors and supporters,

A first matter of our relief work was the massive clean up that was required: trees blocked all the village footpaths and trails between the villages (there are no cars on Moturiki), and trees had also smashed into houses.  During our first visit, the communities requested chain saws, so we returned to Suva and bought three heavy duty excellent quality "Stihl" chain saws and distributed one each to the three villages.  We overspent the budget badly, but thankfully the funds came in later from your donations!  

Uluibau village borrowed the other two saws and used them to mill timber for reconstruction of houses, using the trunks of the felled trees- in particular the local "vesi" timber which is so strong and insect proof.  Many homes have now taken shape, with local timber and recycled tiber and with donations of roofing iron and nails from international aid agencies through the Fiji Government.  This has allowed us to place our focus on agricultural restoration, which was not getting any support from other agencies, rather than on building materials. 

Thus far we have been able to provide much needed sweet potato cuttings (a short three-month crop), pumpkin seeds, and peanut seeds to the villages.  We have also ordered and paid Fiji Agriculture for the transport and procurement of ten thousand improved coconut seedlings for rehabilitation of the damaged coconut plantations, which should arrive from Taveuni later this month. 

We also have a strategy to focus on small scale home poultry production, as we have additional resouces in our other Global Giving project:  Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment.  We are now plannig a workshop for women from Moturiki Island, Tailevu province, and Koro Island on Happy Chickens for the disaster areas.  

Thanks again for your continued support!  

Austin, and the Corals for Conservation team

Jun 3, 2016

Successful Happy Chicken Workshops!

Happy Chicken Workshop: making feeds!
Happy Chicken Workshop: making feeds!

Dear Friends,

As mentioned, with the recent Fiji Cyclone Winston Disaster, the NGO community has decided to promote the Happy Chicken project within their community rehabilitation work.  We therefore carried out our first Happy Chicken workshop for the NGO sector, the first week of May here at the Sustainable Livelihods farm in the Sigatoka River Valley.  Twelve participants came from four organizations, plus three nearby farmers also attended.    

It was an exciting workshop for the participants, and we all learned so much  A Happy Chicken handbook draft was circulated to the participants and the participants at the end decided to create  a "Happy Chicken Association", with a facebook page!  https://www.facebook.com/happy.chicken.association/   Please visit and like the page, and see the photos and more detailed information about chickens!  

Just this week we distributed eight dozen chicks in the Sigatoka area, and we also sent four dozen three week old chicks to Caqalai Island for the newly trained poultry farmers of GVI to raise. That site will soon become a taining site for the cyclone damaged villages.  With the cooler weather, our hens are coming into their heavy laying season, so that up to 18 dozen chicks will be hatching per week July through October.  A formidible task to distribte them all, so we are relieved to have other NGOs behind us and working with us now!

Turning to the country of Vanuatu, where Cyclone Pam devastated the islands a year ago in March.  As reported, we completed our first fact finding and training trip in November, but we have unfortunately been prevented (by a lack of legal biosecurity protocols between Fiji and Vanuatu), to send our improved island chicks to the needy communities there.  But we have now been told that the export can happen from September!  We have in the mean time decided to bring 2-3 trainees from Tanna Island for intensive training for 1-2 months here at the sustainable livelihoods farm, to carry back the chicks and skills to Vanuatu with them when they return home.  They will also be trained in the use of small home incubators, which we have ordered, and on their return they will help set up small hatcheries with at-home mothers (with reliable eectricity), as a livelihood and community service.  These trainees will become the trainers and breeders for their island.  This is a very exciting deveopment, and will be the subject of a future report.

Lastly, Fiji Biosecurity has finally given us permission to bring in eight heritage breeds of chickens from New Zealand, for local breeding trials: the famous Rhode Island Reds, Black Australorps, Plymouth Barred Rocks and the like! This will alow us to increase production of the highest quality free range birds, that do well in the tropical conditions of he Pacific Islands. AND lastly the SPC is buying us some new incubators- US $5K worth!  Will wonders never cease....

Thanks and kind regards to each and every one,

Austin

Jun 3, 2016

The Kiribati Coral Work Begins!

Dear donors and supporters,

This is a short report to let you know that I leave on Wednesday for the much anticipated coral work on Chirstmas Island (Kiritimati).  The island is South of Hawaii and is part of the island nation of Kiribati (pronounced Ki-ri-bas.  This part of the Pacifc has suffered the worst bleaching in recorded history, with over 90% of the corals now dead, and thus the entire cosystem is severely damaged.   

But on the bright side, a few corals have survived and it will be our job to find them and collect bits for inclusion into a nursery of hot-water adapted bleaching-resistant super corals!  I pray that the weather remains calm and that we can find these rare gems efficiently. 

You can find Christmas Island Kiribati on Google Earth, to get an idea of how big it is!   The nursery sites will probally be located right inside the West Lagoon near one of the passes, with good access, good water cirulation, but protection from storm waves.

A local hotel is providing free accomodation for the one week stay, and I am donating my time to the work. 

I will send out an update in July, hopefully with lots of photos. 

Here in Fiji we must wait out the active death and recovery phase the corals are going through on Moturiki now, removing coral predators but leaving the corals untrimmed  so that we don't add any more stress.  When the water cools off in August (we are in the southern hemisphere), then it will be time to create the nurseries in partnership with GVI and the Motutriki community. 

Regards to you all,

Austin

 
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