TUVALU: January on a sinking island

In addition to spending three lovely weeks working with the UNDP in Fiji this IAP, I also traveled to Tuvalu for one week to conduct research on my thesis, tentatively titled “Post-Island Futures.” The project is still in its infancy, but my time in the Pacific was an amazing opportunity to get perspectives on the ground from people living on a an island only a few precarious meters above sea level.

Flying into Tuvalu from Fiji, it’s staggering how delicate the island is; the capital of Funafuti is on an atoll where the lagoon to land ratio is over 100:1. In many places, you can hear waves from both sides of the island. The question of what can be done for a nation like Tuvalu, with no land more than a few meters above sea level, is complex and highly politicized; through my thesis, I’m interested in how design can engage these kinds of sticky territorial issues while considering uncertain futures. Stay tuned!

A Funafuti islet from above

A Funafuti islet from above

Algae bloom associated with biological waste

Algae bloom associated with biological waste

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Waste washed in from lagoon during King Tides

Vaitupu community hall; Modified traditional construction

Vaitupu community hall; Modified traditional construction

Woven coconut leaf wall covering

Woven coconut frond wall covering

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Seaside grave site

Flooding associated with King Tides

Flooding associated with King Tides

Ocean

Ocean

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Airport runway as playing field

Airport runway as playing field

Lagoon and Sea

Lagoon and Sea

Flooding associated with King Tides

Flooding associated with King Tides

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Palms, pandanus, fish, taro, and breadfruit are the traditional Tuvaluan staple foods.

Flooding associated with King Tides

Flooding associated with King Tides

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