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Empowering Hihifo Youth through Coastal Management Education and Leadership training

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10th May, 2018 Sixteen youth from Western Tongatapu (Hihifo) partook in a two-day training on “Leadership and Coastal Management”.  The training was held on 3rd – 4th May 2018 at Haátafu, in the Kalofiama ó Uesile Hall owned by the Free Wesleyan Church community.  Youth were selected from the project’s six pilot communities in Hihifo; Foúi, Haávakatolo, Kolovai, Áhau, Kanokupolu and Haátafu.

The overall objective of the training is to educate youth on relevant knowledge pertaining to their coastal environment (coastal management) and build their willpower (leadership) and resilience so they are confident to engage, drive change and make a difference (action) in their coasts and communities.  This training is the third of a series of trainings organised for the youth of Hihifo and builds on content that was covered in the previous trainings.  It is driven by the EU-GIZ ACSE project as part of its education and awareness programme.

The training was conducted by local consultants Mr Fuka Kitekei’aho and Ms Katrina Maú Fatiaki.  The first day of training focused solely on Coastal Management.  Participants gained new knowledge on coastal processes learning how wind, tide and land interact in coastal formation; coasts and communities; climate change impacts and adaptation measures on coastal environment and coastal management technologies.  In his session Fuka used real data and examples from Hihifo’s coastline to simplify ‘complex’ information and make it more relevant and meaningful to youth participants.  A site visit to Hihifo’s coastal frontage reinforced coastal management concepts for participants and allowed them to observe impacts of climate change and coastal measures in place, such as the rock revetment in ‘Ahau beach.

The second day was led by Leadership trainer Katrina Fatiaki.  Participants were introduced to principles of leadership and were guided on how these principles can add value to their lives in effecting change for themselves and for their coastal environment.  In an engaging and interactive session, youth were encouraged through dialogue and group activities to describe how acquiring these leadership principles can help them become agents of change and better stewards of their coastal environment.

Based on participants’ feedback the training was very informative and motivating.  The majority commented that information provided was relevant, easy to follow and understand.  ‘Aiveni Holoía, a youth participant from Kanokupolu shared how new knowledge in coastal management and leadership has changed his perspective and attitude toward his coastal environment.  “Sand mining is an issue with our beaches in Hihifo.  In this training I learnt that it takes a long time, hundreds and even millions of years for sand to form but for people who remove sand from our beaches, it may take them less than an hour.  If these sand miners have knowledge of these coastal processes, it may change their behaviour.  For me leadership comes through in being a role model, having standards, being accountable and doing the right thing.  As a coastal youth, showing leadership by caring for our coastal environment and beaches requires that I do something to address the issue of sand mining, not just talk about it but to ACT” according to ‘Aiveni.

The training wrapped up with a discussion on the next phase with the possibility of engaging this youth cohort to be “champions” in leading change by doing on-the-ground work to directly benefit their coastal environment and communities.


For more information, please contact Department of Climate Change phone # 26-514.


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