Marshall Islanders Abacca Anjain-Maddison and Tina Stege showcased the community-based work of the Rita Reimaanlok committee at the Milstein Science Symposium in New York City. Held at the American Museum of Natural History April 9 - 11, the conference brought together local resource managers, scientists, policy makers and other leading conservation practitioners to present and analyze real-world case studies of social and ecological resilience on islands.
In their presentation, Abacca and Tina highlighted initiatives such as Rita Reimaanlok's water quality testing program and shoreline protection program. Landowners and community leaders from schools, churches, and local government have been at the forefront of these efforts. Rita Reimaanlok is building resilience throughout the Rita community, strengthening the ties of people to each other and to the environment in which they live.
The concept for Rita Reimaanlok was originally conceived as part of a 2011 Asian Development Bank project which focused its efforts on water security, identifying two target sites for its work. First, was the airport catchment and reservoir and second, Rita Village. Community leaders and landowners consultations were paramount from the inception of the project.
The opportunity to share the work of Rita Reimaanlok with others who come from and care about islands proved invaluable. As Tina remarked, "It is so exciting. We are meeting others, like us, who recognize that well-informed and active communities are their own best stewards."
Abacca added, "When we were asked to define resilience, we suggested the Marshallese phrase, Enra bwe jen lale rara. Coming together, caring for each other, working in community - that is resilience."
- Release and Photos by Mark Stege
Tina Stege, Jenny Newell, Eleanor Sterling, Abacca Anjain-Maddison at the American Museum of Natural History after a case study presentation given on Marshallese experiences of community-based climate change response.
Tina Stege and Abacca Anjain-Maddison join conference participants in a break-out session following their presentation.