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

Being unable to answer in due time the hundred of emails of all kinds received each week,
in order not to discourage anyone's willingness, we are making available this
« frequently asked questions & answers » section.

Www.alofatuvalu.tv gathers most informations that we've got. We thank you to make sure your request
is not covered on our website or in the FAQ before requesting individual answers.

When all the planetary ecosystem alarms are ringing, our only duty is ACTING to postpone, not only Tuvalu loss of land, but humans'extinction as a whole.

Alofa Tuvalu





There are many ways to be of help in the climate issue. The basics are :

- Do your share :
by acting daily
by getting and keeping yourself informed
by getting ready : all daily actions for adapting are basically the same as for helping with. It starts with reducing consumption and reducing waste (energy, water, food etc) but also : storing candles and matches, sugar, pasta, dry fruits,… fresh water in bottles to regulary renew…
by disseminating information, passing on your knowledge

You can also :
- become a member

- help us disseminate the « Our planet under Water » comic book (available in many languages) :
by downloading it, linking it to your website, blog, facebook page etc.
or by ordering hard copies for free displaying at schools, universities, festivals, at the bottom of your christmas tree etc. (The liflet itself is free, assisting on handling & shipping cost coverage is appreciated).

- buy a copy of the « Trouble in Paradise » documentary to show your relatives and friends and/or contact us to set up a screening and debate in a public place that you know about.

- see also :
Comic books guidelines for new translations & « Our planet Under Water Big Top event »

Examples of individual or collective initiatives done after getting to know about Tuvalu: screening with or without debate with or without Alofa Tuvalu specialists or members, photos exhibitions, class presentations of all kind, slide shows, play staging, radiodrama, fundraisings (Oiseau du bonheur, Hunamar,
Branksome hall, au fil des Milles…)



On our website, information is disseminated in different pages.

-On climate, you'll find some info and analyses documents on international negociations in the « Why » section.
The « Links » section is quite thorough too.

- On renewable energies : we share our onsite experiences in the section « in Tuvalu »
(National energy Survey 2005-2006, Amatuku micro-model 2006-2010 (biogas, biodiesel, bioethanol, gasification, Biogas in Nanumea (2009-2012). Also see our videos about training workshops on our Youtube channel

All these relatively simple technologies can be reproduced. They are well proven technologies and can be adapted to local conditions. Mainly for the first pilot, it is recommanded to be assisted by a specialist.
(also see « reproduction »)

For individual or co-owners/collective projects, in French speaking countries, we suggest to check the ADEME website and to ask them for advice. ADEME is one of the major specialists in the waste and energy fields.



As we are seeing more and more elsewhere in the world, Tuvalu is experiencing changing and increasingly erratic weather patterns. Flooding due to sea level rise, increasing ocean temperatures and pending ocean acidification threats on marine resources sustainability, longer droughts, stronger winds, cyclones… - are putting Tuvalu's vulnerable environment under pressure and affect the freshwater supply as well as local food production.

In June and July 2003 while shooting "Trouble in Paradise", we had not observed the "sea water coming up through the ground", a phenomenon occurring since 30 years and described by Hilia Vavae, the met officer.
Bubbles spurt out from the ground and within half an hour, the water spreads and forms ponds, not to say lakes. Hilia first noticed the phenomenon at the end of the 80's at king tides only.
Since 2000, it started happening at any monthly high tide… Additionally, when the big winds and/or heavy rain come, the lagoon waters submerge the road and land.

In 2006, we filmed the highest king tides ever.
During 3 days, that year, the tide was 20cm higher than the forecasts.

Imported rice has steadily replaced traditional root crops such as taro and pulaka, which have become difficult to cultivate due to the infiltration of saltwater. As time goes on, the pressure on marine resources is increasing.

In 2009, we were witnesses to a 3 weeks storm. We never had seen this. Since then, temperatures never went below 30°c during our stays, often raising to 33 even at night.

To address the local food production issue, the Tuvalu marine life documentation and training work, a 7 year endeavor, is meant to help the people sustainably manage their marine resources. Seeds distribution and awareness about gardening is also part of our ongoing activities. (See "in Tuvalu")

As the primary source of fresh water, the rain – which can come and go in minutes, or last for days on end during the winter rainy season – is also critical for survival.

Tuvalu would not have been able to cope with the 2011 9 months drought without overseas' assistance (desalinisation plant lending, maintenance, water bottles shipment…). A National State of Urgency was declared and huge water restrictions were put in place. With 20 liters per day per family (often over 10 people) Tuvaluans found back their ancesters way of life on how to save and reuse a single drop of water. Same as with energy, increasing efficiency is of paramount importance.

Living with this threat for many years now, some Tuvaluan people may seem resigned to their relative powerlessness. And there can be no mistaking that unless existing trends are addressed immediately the very future of Tuvalu is at stake. And with it, if nothing is done, the future of humanity. Tuvalu is the symbol of what awaits us all, that's what "Small is beautiful" is about.



On the short term, planting coconut trees or more surely mangroves, as Tuvalu Overview, the Japanese NGO has been doing in Funafala, by retaining the sand, delay the issue..
Some may believe that seawalls can be of help. However, it is widely known that they dont last. They prevent the natural flow of sand and may accelerate erosion.

On the long term, if Tuvalu's land is submerged, there is no miracle solution but only 2 possibilities :

We suggested a couple of years ago, artificial islands, higher than the existing. The project passed Cabinet. It is a realistic but colossal and long term job that requires the population and successive governments commitment, a serious Feasibility and cost study and an analysis of land ownership. Alofa Tuvalu initiated meetings in between Tuvaluan politicians and dredging companies that work/worked in Dubai and elsewhere. We offered our help to search for funding. The country leaders were not ready yet.

- Find/buy a land where to resettle the nation and its people

Apisai Ielemia, Tuvalu's PM in 2008, declared in Poznan COP : « Tuvalu's culture would not survive a migration »
For info, after WWII, people from Vaitupu (the closest island from the capital Island, Funafuti) bought a Fijian island, Kioa and have been residing there since. However, the Island is still part of the Fijian nation.

For the Tuvaluans who can afford it, they are considering living in Fiji, New Zealand, Australia…
A work agreement is in place in between New Zealand and Kiribati, Tonga, Tuvalu (Pacific Access Category, PAC). It allows citizens of these countries to go and work during several months (6 to 9 or more if the contract is renewed). They get a temporary visa. Tuvalu quota -75 people a year- is never reached. Most people dont want to leave their country and many amongst those who'd like dont meet the required conditions (fluent English, being in good health, have an exemplary attitude…). They may, under certain conditions, get the New Zeland nationality… However this does not protect the nation of disappearing. Around 3000 Tuvaluans have settled in New Zealand, some of them are born there.
For more infos : http://newzealand.govt.nz/
Here are the PAC requirements

Education and health conditions, are some other reasons why Tuvaluans temporarely reside overseas, either in Fiji or New Zealand. However, traditions and culture are very different and life conditions require a severe adaptation.

Australia, as many other countries, dont even want to consider accepting migrants.

Last but not least : wherever Tuvaluans end up, to this day there's no official « climate refugee » status and the nation of Tuvalu is at risk of disappearing as a whole, with its traditions and culture. Tuvaluans dont want be called « climate refugees » anyways and want to do everything in their power to stay on their ancesters land.

For more infos about adaptation, migration and climate refugee see the "links" section.



Locally, apart from our concrete projects (see "in Tuvalu") we act as advisors on many subjects.
Amongst regular awareness activities about waste and other environmental topics: screenings and debates as well as workshops with children, working with other NGOs, such as Tuvalu Red Cross, organic seeds distribution, assistance on agricultural projects, distribution of medicine such as pain killers and antibiotics that hospital and outer islands clinics are always lacking…

Internationally, we nourish the ambition to contribute to an active global movement through a set of concrete and reproducible actions. We hope our awareness campaigns and training is helping changing people's mind, encouraging reproductions and actions to reduce green house gases emission etc.

However, it's easy to understand that whatever we (a few human) do, it is still far from enough considering the number of people still denying the impending disaster (on that field we recommend the Greedy lying bastards documentary with Reverend Tafue Lusama and Gilliane (Alofa Tuvalu President) in the cast)



At the international level, since 2004, our continuous campaigns allowed most of the world to hear about Tuvalu, Climate Change and Climate refugees…

In Tuvalu :

Our national energy audit finalized in 2006 fed the country energy policy.

For 6 years, implementations and exhaustive training sessions have taken place on all biomass energies (biogas, biofuel, ethanol, gasification) with our main Tuvaluan partners : TMTI (Tuvalu Maritime Training Institute). Training on Marine biodiversity took place as well with the Fishery Department.

Several hundred people have been introduced to biomass valorization.
After a pilot unit made of bricks, our biogas specialist designed a simple plastic digester more adapted to local conditions. After being tested in Fiji, 4 of them were implemented in the most northern outer island, Nanumea.

In Tuvalu, people have taken ownership of the projects and more biogas digesters are in the making for other outer islands, starting with Nanumanga.

Same with biodiesel and gasification: the energy department is requesting a tour of the outer islands with our equipment and trained engineers

Nationally, in 2009, the Tuvalu government officially set up the target of energy independency by 2020.

There are reproductions and initiatives (small or big) around the world that took "Small is Beautiful"
as a model either concretely or symbolically.

In the making too: after introducing electric scooter and solar ovens, we are considering the implementation of a solar charging unit for scooters.

In 2013, the Tuvalu Marine Life study was published and was downloaded at 15000+ copies
within the three first months.



We usually don't reason this way but here are some possible answers :

- Tuvalu is the example of what await us all.
Our aim is not only to help Tuvalu but, via its example, to participate into a global movement to fight
climate change.

- In Tuvalu we do have an impact on climate awareness. In 2003, most Tuvaluans believe that God said there wont be another flooding (after Noah). Since 2003, local awareness campaigns (miscellaneous events, screenings, debates, workshops, radio programs etc) always included local church leaders. A few years ago, their view started shifting. In 2011, the local Climate Action Network' president became President of the church. The knowledge of the problem reached all islands of the archipelago.

- Alofa Tuvalu and it's plan "Small is Beautiful" widely contributed to the promotion of a petrol independent nation. In 2009, that became the Government goal for 2020. After a national energy survey made in 2005 at the government request, we were asked to implement its recommandations. We demonstrated the feasibility, access and economical and environmental benefits of biomass technologies such as methanisation, gasification, local biofuels for local consumption. Electric scooters, solar ovens, waste campaigns…. We were active in many different fields…. And our activities have been bearing fruits.

- After 6 years of training sessions, with undreds of concerned Tuvaluans, we are assisting in reproducing the technologies in the outer islands and the users do their own local communication and knowledge dissemination.

- Our president, Gilliane Le Gallic, was nominated Goodwill ambassador for the environment in 2009.
We are speaking to voice Tuvalu's concerns, and acting as whistle blowers.
We are part of the local civil society and have as much (or as little) power as any active NGO.

- Concerning the negociations, we have been helping, upon Government request, the country communication. That was the case in Copenhagen in 2009. We were part of the official delegation and for the first time, a Tuvaluan PM held a press conference. For a week, we received hundreds of journalists from every country of the planet.

- We ought to confess that we don't have much faith in international conferences
and it is not our intention or role to influence negociators.

- Globaly, we are feeding the Tuvaluan representatives with infos and they can promote the activities we are initiating, to show that the country is doing its part… Locally, we are proposing a variety of concrete solutions that can be reproduced elsewhere to try to have a positive impact on climate.

- Doing all this, we contributed for the world to find Tuvalu on the map. Our international campaigns and children awareness (Comic books in 14 languages) reached hundreds of thousands of people.

- This is basically how our influence gets illustrated. If we are proud to have done so much with so little means, we are aware that this is not sufficient. Humanity, with full knowledge of the facts, is driving into the wall…



The Tuvaluan people have been supporting the "Small is Beautiful" plan from the start in 2004, under one condition: "we need your motivation"… We dont claim to gather 100% of the people, this would be an impossible aim but the proportion is quite high. Onsite activities are very popular and gather many more people than any other institutional activities in Tuvalu, with one or two hundred people attending each time.

The people that were trained or who participated to Alofa Tuvalu activities are now initiating their own and promote them during conference either in Tuvalu or elsewhere. The idea that often comes back is "Alofa Tuvalu planted seeds. The Tuvaluan people helped them grow." The message and the purpose of the activities got through.



The NGO main office in Paris works with volunteers' assistance on a regular basis.
Trainees are welcome for a minimum of 2 or 3 months.

We will never refuse a hand on funding requests and partnership. Other activities range from debate on climate or related issues, to activity leading on awareness events (from booth keeping to workshops with kids…), daily office work (accountancy, correspondance) or video editing...

In Tuvalu, we prefer working with our tuvaluan members in order not to increase our GHG emissions.



We work with scientists and other specialists who are mostly benevolent.
So are we at the main office in Paris where we've got only one full time employee. For purchases and Tuvaluan salaries, we got several « Small grants » fundings from French or regional institutions (such as ADEME in France or French and US Embassy and PNUD in Fiji). Marine biodiversity activities received fundings from the Total Foundation and CRISP. When we don't have funding, our president is taking money out of her own savings. Our funders over the years are listed on the website.



Fundraising is not an easy task, mainly when we don't speak institutions' language…
Keeping momentum going when we are not on location is another difficulty, but we've learned to deal with it.
Shipping equipment and transport can also be a major problem. Tuvalu is very remote,
planes and boats are not always on schedule.
Amongst other issues: Saline environment on metallic equipment. Lack of equipment locally push people to use some components as spare parts for other equipment… Climate instability, political clans rivalry, volatility of professionals who can leave for several weeks, months or years for training or other businesses…



"Small is Beautiful" provides a model of proactive environmental stewardship to be replicated by local communities elsewhere.

We share our onsite experiences. We use relatively simple technologies that can be reproduced. They are well proven technologies and can be adapted to local conditions. Mainly for the first pilot, it is recommanded to be assisted by a specialist. Depending to the locations and specific needs, our specialists can be contacted.

For individual or co-owners/collective projects, in French speaking countries, we suggest to check the ADEME website and to ask them for advice. ADEME is one of the major specialists in the waste and energy fields.

The film as well as the comic books provide the basis for discussions with children. For adults, apart from the film, we create short videos about our activities in Tuvalu, posted on Youtube when they are finalized.



"Our planet under water" the comic book is free.
Today, we give priority to electronic copies distribution. 14 languages are available online so far.

Hard copies are not necessarily available in every translation.
Apart from English and French we print in small quantities.

You can order hard copies of the following languages: French, English, German, Danish, Portugese, Flemish, Spanish from Alofa Tuvalu main office in Paris… When taken directly at the main office, the comic is given for free. If sent by mail, handling & shipping cost will be requested prior to sending.

Copies in Tuvaluan and English are available at the Tuvalu House in Fiji and at the Tuvalu Embassy in Belgium, where you also can find the Flemish version.

Spanish version is available at the same (handling and shipping cost coverage) conditions from Alofa Tuvalu counterpart in California. Requests can be sent to alofatuvalu(a)alofatuvalu.tv



"Trouble in Paradise" is available in English and French (plus an international version for tvs).
Alofa Tuvalu is allowed to use the documentary as an educational support under certain conditions.

To get a copy for private use only, you just need to send 35 euros by check, wire transfer or mandate to our main office in Paris. The copy is sent as soon as money is received.

Any use other than private is subject to authorization and copyright.
Our members also can act as key speakers after the screening.

DER (Documentary Educational Resources) in the US is taking care of english version's institutional
and general audience dissemination in the world.



The film airing started in 2004 in many European and Asian countries. It was one of the first time that the concept of Climate refugees was raised. The film was also advertized in over 200 festivals around the world including Iran. Worldwide press about the film helped raise awareness and put Tuvalu on the map.



Since 2003 we have accumulated thousands of pictures et video with the objective of creating a document database about the country, some kind of memorial for the Tuvaluans.

We supply often for free pictures about our activities with the objective to promote solutions.
Some have been edited into short videos. Giving them away usually does not require much work. However we appreciate technical and shipping expenses to be covered.

Requests that require research work or a specific editing are taken into consideration when the applicant offers to pay for the expenses occurred.

Catastrophic pictures, illustrating sea level rise in particular, are sold according to TV rates.



Our main objective is to actively participate in the Climate Change global movement by using Tuvalu as a symbol and an example with concrete local solutions.  We are not a travel agency, phone service or general store. For requests related to Climate, particularly for students, we are doing our best though to please everyone but cant get away from our goals to meet people's deadlines mainly when answers are expected within a few days.




Even if they wanted to, 11000 tuvaluans could not reply to millions of requests from all over the world. We are making a point not to disseminate our friends contacts without authorization, this is part of the trust's relationship we have. We do exceptions when the reason is clearly explained and relevant enough according to local specificities. We can forward official requests or invitations but never promiss an answer.

Requests for exchange with tuvaluan children:
As said above, Tuvaluans, and this includes children, are not that available… In addition, internet is not always reliable and very few kids have a connection at home. Primary school has one connection thru the principal. Only once did we manage to get a letter in response to a collective letter from a french school. It took us four month to get it back handwritten.

A good way of letting kids know about Tuvalu without unrealistic promesses is to download "Our planet under Water" the comic book about climate change & daily environment habits thru Tuvalu example.



This type of request is out of Alofa Tuvalu's object. We make exceptions for journalists who are doing a report about Alofa Tuvalu or other positive activities, not for articles already written thousands times.

We are also discouraging short trips as they accelerates the process by which low lying islands are slowly but surely getting submerged. Also, the situation with the planes is uncertain and many tuvaluans get stranded when too many palagis (foreigners) are on board… We would assist for stays of several months to help the country.



Stamps and postcards can be ordered thru www.tuvaluislands.com or tuvalu philatelic office 
We have a few to be exhibited and sold in our booths. If sent by post, we'll ask for shipment cost to be covered as well.



We'll never act as an intermediary to fullfill sand requests:
that would be cutting the branch on which Tuvaluans are sitting.