Lae Atoll

LAE: Calm water

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Number of Islets: 20 Population: 347 (2011) Land Area: 0.56 square miles Lagoon Area: 6.82 square miles Yacht permit fee: Free Mayor: Anderson Kattil

Water for Lae

In 2012, members of the Church of Latter Day Saints chartered the sailing vessel De La Mer to assist them in taking equipment to create a catchment on drought-stricken Lae (see above slideshow). This effort was backed up in 2014, as the following story by Karen Earnshaw shows:

A Lae family poses with their new water catchment. Carpenter Jeffrey Andaya is at left. Photo: Dustin Langidrdik

A Lae family poses with their new water catchment. Carpenter Jeffrey Andaya is at left. Photo: Dustin Langidrdik

July, 2014: Lae Atoll is the first of four communities to receive a much-improved supply of fresh water thanks to funding from the international climate change group USP-EU Global Climate Change Alliance and the efforts of Dustin Langidrik and Jeffrey Andaya.

Dustin, who is a graduate of RMI-USP and the Fiji School of Medicine, was the project implementer. “During the drought last year, I worked with IOM (International Organization for Migration) as a surveyor to monitor water quality in various atolls including Ailuk and Wotho. I finished with IOM in March and then heard that they needed someone for this project.” He applied for and got the four-month contract.

Lae has a population of about 350 and was judged by the local project body the National Project Advisory Committee (NPAC) as being one of four areas in severe need of water assistance. This evaluation also identified the specific sites on Lae for the six catchment tanks. USP Majuro’s climate change representative Tamara Greenstone Alefaio explained that NPAC went through a “thorough vulnerability assessment process to select all the sites.”

The materials for the project, including six 1,500 gallon catchments, were loaded onto the government ship Aemman and Dustin met the ship in Kwajalein. “The project carpenter, Jeffrey Andaya, had already been picked up by the Aemman in Namu.”

The first item on the agenda was to hold a community discussion, so that everyone on the island understood the project. “The people, and particularly Mayor Anderson Kattil and the Acting Mayor, were really supportive and helpful. Everyone was happy we were doing this project and it ended up that many people helped with the work and gave us food. ”

Because the majority of the houses on Lae are made of natural materials and have thatched roofs, the next step was to build shelters for four of the tanks. “The shelters have two jobs,” Dustin said, “to keep the sun off the catchments and to collect the water using guttering and pipes.” The next step was to build wooden forms for concrete bases. “The other two tanks were put next to houses that were tall enough and had metal roofing.”

The next village to be the recipient of water catchments will be Majkin on Namu. “We hope to do that later this month,” said Dustin. Following that, in an as yet undecided order, will be catchments for Jenrok in Majuro and the main village on Ailuk Atoll.

“I will also be going back to Lae to do a follow-up monitoring of the system and will eventually do that with all of the sites.”

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