< Alofa Tuvalu: Small is Beautiful. Assistance à nation en voie de disparition. Assisting tuvalu, a disappearing nation



overviweTuvalu is one of the earth’s tiniest independant nations, the most vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise because of its size and isolation. Its 9 islands, averaging less than 3m in elevation and sizing from 0,5 to 5 km2, 26km2 all together, are disseminated over 1 million km2 of territorial waters.
Independant since 1976, this 30 years young nation, still in the process of learning how to manage its meager human and financial ressources, is suddenly in the forefront of a planetary stake : climate change.

Tuvalu the first sovereign nation threatened with becoming totally inhabitable is the symbol of what awaits us all. It is also, because of its recent consomption habits and its traditional relation to nature, a perfect candidate to become the first whole country fossil fuel free.


In 2003, when Alofa Tuvalu’s initiator Gilliane Le Gallic, a journalist, producer and director for 30 years, makes a first trip to shoot « Trouble in Paradise : Tuvalu a disappearing nation » with co-director Christopher Horner, most of the tuvaluan population is unaware of the climate change threat, as most of the world. Le Gallic makes the decision to help Tuvalu beyond the film with an assistance plan, « Small is Beautiful » (SIB),  and a motto : « we are all Tuvalu ». 

In 2004 SIB (which will be selected as one of Unesco’s « Education Decade for Sustainable Development Remarquable Actions ») gathers the Tuvaluans around its objectives : Helping Tuvalu survive as a nation, and if possible allow Tuvaluans stay on their ancestral land. By assisting Tuvalu become the first replicable model of an environmentally examplary nation, the plan contributes to Tuvalu’s future survival, and helps solve some of Tuvalu’s urgent waste and energy problems.

SIB is a international decade long communication campaign using the concrete and reproducible activities implemented in Tuvalu as communication tools for a worldwide audience. The ultimate objective is to participate in an active, global movement to create tools for safeguarding our environment and hopes of a solution for us all. This is being achieved by a combination of local and international activities for raising awareness on sustainable solutions for reducing emissions, changing individual habits through education, participating in campaigns for the application of international directives such as a Climate refugees status. Parallel activities include studying appropriate adaptation solutions and planning for worst case scenario per identifying a new homeland where the nation of Tuvalu can be resettled.

Early 2005, Alofa Tuvalu, a French-Tuvaluan NGO, was born to host the project. Since then it has built a dedicated international membership and support, including several hundred residents of Tuvalu’s islands ranging from working folks to ministers. Alofa Tuvalu’s active members’ primary intention is to push solutions forward, not to make money. Most have been  volunteering and when needed, investing their own capital.

The NGO is at first using the film « Trouble in Paradise » as an education tool towards a mature audience. The film is aired on television, in festivals and used in conferences worldwide where the audience can also discover Tuvaluan handicrafts and music. As a related side note : The only Tuvaluan musicians ever copyrighted were registered by Alofa Tuvalu at the French copyright company in 2004.

In 2005, to reach a younger audience, Alofa Tuvalu develops multimedia education events based on « Our planet under water » a comic book’s (today in 13 languages).


At the request of Tuvalu’s government, the National Energy Study, examining Potential for Renewable Energies is completed in 2006. After presentation to Cabinet and members of parliament, the audit recommendation are included in the country energy policy and the Renewable Energy Training Centre, (the most requested intervention at community meetings), is discussed in Parliament. Tuvalu’s government entrusts Alofa Tuvalu coordinators and specialists with implementations.

From then, surfing on the country’s unique rythm, climate conditions, national reshuffling or other regional parameters such as the Fiji coup or the tuvaluan vessel being declassified from international list, Alofa Tuvalu’s specialists’s have been progressively implementing Small is Beautiful’s first step : Tuvalu national center for training on RET, highlighting the importance of combined renewable energies in climate change issues, a partnership with TMTI. The Center is intended to ensure dissemination of these technologies across the nation, to become a maintenance hub, a resource center for Tuvalu and beyond. The NGO’s investment and faithfullness to its commitment gained the trust and friendship of the successive governments and its people.

In Tuvalu, the NGO multiplies communities consultations and awareness seedlings with radio interviews, individual and small groups discussions, distribution of organic seeds, small workshops about gardening, horticulture, biogas, energy efficiency. These regular campaigns helped Tuvalu to gently and progressively discover the amplitude of the threat and start thinking about some of the solutions. This impact is invisible but not questionnable. The affiliate local association is created in 2006.

Worldwide : In 2005, A website is designed and a comic book, « Our planet under after », is released in French, the first of a long series.. It becomes one of the tools for the first children big top events the association put together to educate the world youth. Trouble in Paradise is shown in many countries, including Canada, Vietnam, Greece, Brasil, Iran. It is awarded the 1st prize at a Guadeloupe Festival and 2nd price at the Santa Cruz festival. ….  In 2006 more « Big Top events » allowed to sensitize thousands of children in France. « Trouble in Paradise is aired in Romania, California, Colorado, Oregon, Kosovo, Brasil and twice in Canada. English, Tamoul, Vietnamese, Thai versions are published to be disseminated within schools. Film and comic books are also used at the Montreal UN conference on climate .Both years, members of the association participate in multiple conferences and festivals in Europe as well as in the US.


Focusing initially on biomass, the NGO implements the first pig manure biogas digester (and piggery) on a coral island are implemented.

- During the 8 weeks construction : 40 people, including 4 instructors are trained and 4 publics workshops introduced around 200 people to biogaz technology (It is to be noticed that Alofa Tuvalu’s policy is not to lure people into workshops by offering food and drinks or worst.. indemnity. Participants have to be interested by the subject not by the food.)
- radio programs : first 3 months series of short daily programs about energy efficiency, RET, waste, another way of life are produced by Tuvaluans for Tuvaluans « 100 little things to help Tuvalu… and you »
- Tuvaluan translation of the comic book. (printing provided by SOPAC/PIEPSAP)

International communication via press releases and website sparkled requests of reproduction from France and French territories, Toamotu, Senegal, Madagascar, Tristan island, North Africa, Africa...

Worldwide : Amongst Trouble in Paradise 1st broadcastings: Russia, Sweden, India... Reairing in France and French territories ; 2 European documentaries focusing on Alofa’s activity  are released worldwide. 30 events and conferences, including in Belgium,  Samoa and Portugal where the Portugese version fo the comic book is released...


- Biodiesel and ethanol production: 1st step public benchscale demonstrations. In front of a 200+ audience, and most of Tuvalu’s Government.biod

-Training on gasification tools and methods.

- Public Workshop on gas production from the prototype gasifier built by TMTI engineers from equipment available onsite.
- Testing in a French lab of the pre-selected biodiesel unit, discussion with a US lab about a small  commercial gasifier

- Following the energy study recommendations : implementation by TEC & Sopac of an anemometer on the capital island.

- Local communication : Public screenings & Debates around «  Trouble in Paradise » and « An unconvenient Truth ».
News & daily radio programs series, Distribution of the Tuvaluan Comic book to schools, USP & high school classes, Distribution of a  biogas leaflet. Worksops and campaigns brought many reproduction requests.

Additionnally, the GoT & TEC with European and Japonese financing implement a 40 kw pilot solar project

Worldwide: The comic book Flemish version is released at the International Weather Forum in Brussels. Trouble in Paradise major 1st broadcastings : Tahiti and California… Reairng in France and Germany. 21 conferences including  Belgium, US,  UK, Samoa 1, Apia, and 5 big top events in France.…International press releases & videos from workshops are posted on Youtube for reproduction purposes.

In September, Cabinet unanimously approves the PM’s offer to appoint Gilliane Le Gallic as Tuvalu honororary consul in France.


Set up of the smallest Biodiesel & Gasification Unit found on the market. Units arrived after 3 months shipping. These small units are able to provide the whole of the electricity required in Tuvalu outer islands. The biodiesel unit can transform 60 liters of  oil into biodiesel each 8 hours. The gasifier unit can reduce up to 70% of the diesel required.

Training of 6 engineers and teachers to the 2 technologies

2 Public workshops gathered more than 200 people including 2 ministers and many GoT, communities, churches representatives. TMTI engineers demonstrated the quality of the biodiesel and gas produced.

Biodiesel and todi ethanol FS - resource availabilty, production, replanting, distribution, logistics, economic production/use of todi ethanol in small fishing boats on all islands -

News & daily radio programs on national media, biodiesel and gasification dissemination (local & international)

Since the implementation/training and after the first workshop, the TMTI team was able to successfully demonstrate, without the overseas team and without their chief engineer and main engineer. Alofa Tuvalu is exchanging with the units suppliers outlining specific needs and requesting spare parts and updates to allow a sustainable use.

The last 2 years demonstrating, training and communication campaigns about biodiesel/bioethanol, gasification production already lead to a few reproduction requests in Tuvalu and worldwide. 

Additional activities in 2009  : Solar ovens & an electric scooter were imported for future demonstration ; seedling of a model house project with TuCan ; Preparing and participating in COP 15 in Copenhagen with the Tuvalu delegation. Restitution of the bibliography gathered about marine life in Tuvalu before launching the Marine Life inventory and mission on site.

Worldwide : Trouble in Paradise re-aired in all French speaking countries and is being shown in a week long festival/conferences in Toronto in September. The same month Alofa Tuvalu is participating in a forum in Scotland… and, in december, is part of the Tuvaluan delegation, as responsible for Tuvalu booth at the COP 15 in Copenhagen. Comic books : Releases of the German version at an Unesco Forum in Bonn and the Tahitian version at a 1st big top event reproduction in the Pacific. The Danish and Japanese versions are released for COP 15. Press releases,  articles, and Video sequences are made available to media and international NGO’s (France, Australia, Germany, US, Korea) and used at public conferences and on youtube.


- Coordination of the 1st King Tides Festival, an event that occured in February 2010,

- Conception and implementation of a children workshop, « ka lofia te Paneta » about climate, renewable energies, biodiversity, gathering 20 Tuvaluan specialists and hundreds of children.:::ALOFA-TUVALU:PROJETS:1_SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL/Etude RETs/Micromodèle:TRIP 2010:ech prepa with sarah & biogas repro in nanumea, trip 2010:biogas repro nanumea trip aout sept 2010:fr sarah Picts & reports Biogas in Nanumea, élections et atelier with USP:picts b

- Building of a plastic biogas digester prototype for reproduction in Nanumea, by Sikeli, AT’s biogas specialist. Bricks were too problematic and too expensive to ship to the outer islands. Sarah and him made the trip in 2010 and 2012 to Nanumea to implement 4 digesters.
- Workshops on solar ovens amongt women communities and electric scooter demonstration
- Restitution of the todi ethanol study and replanting recommandations by Sarah
- Public screening of the King tides festival vidéos
- Onsite mission for the Marine life project in Nanumea, Nukulaelae and Funafuti, training and brief restitution to the kaupule’s by AT specialists, Dani & Sandrine.

Worldwide : Amongst the most important events AT participated to : In 2010, at the Bonn Climate Talks, Alofa Tuvalu Paris office acts as Tuvalu booth keepers promoting the country’s efforts to reach “the fossil fuel independency by 2020” target while Clemmie is representing the NGO at the “European and Pacific Responses to climate change in the Pacific” conference in Berlin. In Tahiti, Melton, Tuvalu Climate Change officer and AT General Secretary represents Tuvalu and Alofa at the 22nd French Polynesia Congress of Communes. In Fiji, in December 2010: Sikeli was invited to present AT’s work at the International Conference on Renewable Energy & Climate Change The same day, the Nanumea biogas implementation was presented in Paris and the Spanish version of the comic book was released for COP 16.

:photos newsletter 2011:Bruxelles_IMG_1248_lgt.jpgIn 2011: in the UK, several events (conference, biomass exhibition, screenings etc) occurred, in Nottingham and in London. In Los Angeles, Chris Horner is invited to debate after “Trouble in Paradise” screening by "wesaidgotravel.com", a network of sciences teachers. In Brussels, at the "Climate Migrants" seminar 3 countries were represented: Peru, Mali and…. Tuvalu. Gilliane held a half hour conference while Fanny participates at a roundtable on Biodiversity and people of the world and to the association Forum in Paris.

Amongst yearly activities in Tuvalu : Over the years almost everything implemented has been filmed with what has become Alofa Tuvalu’s 3rd eye -- the video camera. All steps of Alofa Tuvalu’s work are systematically covered as well as ceremonies and cultural activities. As a result Alofa Tuvalu team is often treated as « members of the family », camera and all. Each year, Alofa Tuvalu gives back the pictures it took during its Traditional pictures exhibitions at the Vaiaku Hotel and videos are distributed to the people. Organic seeds are also regurlarly handed out to the capital and outer islands gardeners.

More versions of the comic books are being finalized for printing : Chinese, Taiwanese, Spanish, Arabic, Polish & Indi. All 15 printed versions are available for free downloading on many websites. It is to be mentionned too that via its website Alofa Tuvalu answers, each week, hundreds of requests on every topics from media, students and general public.

Alofa Tuvalu is one of the most active associations in Tuvalu and without any doubt the most productive NGO about Tuvalu worldwide. These combined actions and repeated local and international campaigns generated an unprecedent attraction for Tuvalu. Today the symbolic concept is anchored into the communities, within the gouvernement, and in the global collective inconscient as well.. Today the « We are all Tuvalu » and exemplary nation is used by all… and, becoming fossil fuel independant by 2020 is one of the Got’s official objectives.