Rotary tonga-review


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Rotary tonga-review

  1. 1. Tokangaekina e Fonua – Care of the Land Landcare in Tonga – The Popua Village Gardens Project A project initiated by Rotary Club of Frankston North and supported by the Rotary Clubs of Croydon, Phillip Island- San Remo, Nuku’alofa, The Rotary Foundation, District 9820, the Tonga Community Development Trust the Crawford Fund and Australian Landcare International. Tonga is a small independent Kingdom in the South Pacific. The Kingdom is an archipelago of more than 160 islands scattered over a distance of more than 600km in a north / south direction. The population is about 100,000 with a similar number of making up the Tongan Diaspora with relatively large populations in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Utah in the USA. Map of Tonga The completion of the Popua Village gardens project comes as the culmination of a long association of the Rotary Club of Frankston North with the Tongan community. The club’s first project in Tonga was the successful restoration of the farm machinery training building at Hango Agricultural College on the outer island of ‘Eua. This project was completed over the period 2001 to 2004 with volunteers and financial support from a number of Victorian Rotary Clubs. Following the completion of this work PP Bob Edgar made a number of trips to Tonga in search of a community project rather than one based on an institution. In 2008 travelling as a Rotary Foundation volunteer he spent 3 weeks in the Kingdom seeking a suitable project. He identified the needs of the Popua Village community through the Tongan Community Development Trust, a local NGO. A Rotary Foundation Matching Grant was obtained with the support of the Rotary Clubs of Croydon, Phillip Island-San Remo and Nuku’alofa. This provided for 20
  2. 2. domestic gardens and 20 poultry shelters for the village residents. Various organisational delays meant that the gardens were not established until 2011 and the poultry shelters in 2012. Implementation of the matching grant is complete and a final report has been submitted to the Rotary Foundation. Rotary funds provided for the locally purchased materials for the gardens and poultry shelters. The local community did all work with oversight by the Tongan Trust. Staff from the Tongan Ministry of Agriculture (MAFFF) provided technical training in soil management, seedling production and pest control. The participation of the local community members in both planning and implementing has been a strong feature of the project and this should ensure the long-term use of the gardens and poultry shelters. This is consistent with the Australian Landcare model. Members of the Rotary Club of Nuku’alofa inspecting a garden (Coconut fronds are to protect seedlings from strong sunlight) When the gardens were inspected in May 2013 it was found that all 20 were well maintained and had recently been planted with the 4th vegetable crops (2 crops per year). All poultry shelters were in use although some residents had low numbers of birds as they were still building their flock. The key role of the shelters is to protect the young chickens from predation by cats and dogs. The production of the poultry is also being improved through the introduction of improved genetic material through an FAO project. There is also the potential for the introduction of ducks that have a ready market in the increasing number of Chinese restaurants in Nuku’alofa. A Recently Planted Garden (May 2013)
  3. 3. The residents proudly identified their gardens and poultry shelters for the inspection with brightly coloured bunting. Members of the Rotary Club of Nuku’alofa cancelled their regular meeting and joined in the inspection. This gave a great boost to their links with the village community. Poultry Shelter and Garden (May 2013) The inspection was part of a 3-day workshop held with members of the local community and representatives from two other villages that are vulnerable to flooding from rain and storm surges during cyclones. The Crawford Fund provided funding for the workshop. PP Bob, Horrie Poussard (Australian Landcare International) and Oketi Faletau (Tongan Trust) led the workshop. The workshop was conducted in both Tongan and English. Participants reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of the Popua project and agreed to continue to work together sharing resources, knowledge and produce to make optimum use of the investment that had been made in their village. They also identified the potential for the introduction of tree crops (breadfruit, mangoes etc), the need for coastal protection activities including tree planting and rehabilitation of the mangroves in the lagoon. Fish are an important component of the local diet and mangroves provide for fish breeding and the protection of juvenile fish. They also identified opportunities for broader community involvement through the involvement of the school and church groups in the program. Workshop in Session MAFFF staff provided technical input to the workshop on topics including seeds and seedlings, tree crop production, mangrove rehabilitation, composting and livestock management. A feature of the certificate presentation ceremony at the conclusion of the workshop was the singing of two Landcare songs by the sixth grade children from Popua
  4. 4. Government Primary Schools. The songs were written by Fay White of Maryborough 25 years ago as part of the Victorian Landcare for Kids program. The songs have now been included in the Tongan primary school curriculum. The community is keen to register as the first Landcare group in Tonga - Tokangaekina e Fonua - Caring for the Land. This would give an ongoing focus for the work and serve as a model to other villages on the benefits of working together to share, knowledge, resources and produce. In this respect Landcare is consistent with traditional Tongan culture. Popua School Children The project has been well received by Rotary New Zealand and the Rotary Club of Nuku’alofa was awarded The Rangitoto, Preserve Planet Earth Trophy at the Rotary District 9920 Conference in Rotorua in April this year. While in Nuku’alofa Bob and Horrie met with representatives of AusAID and New Zealand Aid to explore opportunities for further support for extra work in Tonga and extension to other vulnerable villages. Although no firm commitments were obtained they identified the opportunity for corporate support, potential for the placement of an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development (AYAD) via AusAID to work in community development with the Tongan Trust and the possibility for further input from Rotary Clubs in Australia and New Zealand. Masao Soakai, Foundation Member, Amanaki president Rotary Club of Nukuʼalofa and PP Bob Edgar with the Rangitoto Trophy. Report of the award of the Rangitoto Trophy on District 9920 Conference website. The “Popua Village Gardens” project is registered with Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS). It was established with contributions from Frankston North and Croydon Clubs and remains open to further donations from other Clubs or corporate organisations. Project registration with RAWCS provides tax deductibility
  5. 5. and Designated Gift Recipient status for donations. It is proposed that project funds are used as incentives to follow up on some of the issues identified in the workshop including the provision of a reliable supply of vegetable seeds, purchase of tree crop seedlings from the Forestry nursery, work on the rehabilitation of coastal mangroves and some form of improved pig husbandry including repairing the fence around the school garden to keep out the pigs. Some additional gardens are also needed in the village. It is important that whatever aid is given it is within the context of promoting self-help to ensure on-going sustainability of the works. Achieving this takes time to achieve, as this project has well demonstrated but too many projects have failed because of over generosity on the part of the donor combined with failing to understand the real needs of the local community. The Rotary Club Frankston North extends thanks to all who supported this project including the Rotary Clubs of Croydon, Phillip Island San-Remo, Nuku’alofa, the Rotary Foundation and District 9820, the Crawford Fund and Australian Landcare International. The role of The Tonga Community Trust was key to the successful management of the project and for facilitating the participation of the village community. Special thanks also to Papiloa, proprietor of the Friendly Islander Hotel, for her hospitality and insights into Tongan society. Finally thanks to the people of Popua Village for their willingness to work cooperatively for the benefit of their community. PP Bob Edgar Rotary Club of Frankston North, District 9820 Phone 03 5486 2628 Mobile 0408 531 594