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Vunidogoloa relocation mooted in the 50s

August 20
16:14 2014

Lack of funding delayed the relocation of Vunidogoloa Village in Vanua Levu. Talks to relocate began way back in the 1950s.

Eventually, it happened in 2006.

This was revealed by the village’s spokesman, Sailosi Ramatu, during a regional climate change workshop at the Novotel Lami Bay in Lami yesterday.

The three-day workshop, organised by the Pacific Conference of Churches and the Nansen Initiative, is attended by representatives of government departments, non-government organisations and civil societies.

“We started noticing the effects of climate change in our village a long time ago; back in 1956. There were talks about our community relocating but it didn’t happen then, not until 2006,” Mr Ramatu said.

The 54-year-old said it might have been because villagers were not informed enough on the issue. He reckons it was especially because there was no money to begin the work.

“The elders in our village back then were also unwilling to move to a new place, mostly because our old village site held so many fond memories for them and also because of their yavu (ancestral grounds/boundaries),” Mr Ramatu said.

He said their village was then situated at a place so vulnerable to both river flooding and rises in sea-level.

“Our village is situated on Natewa Bay, only a few metres away from the seashore and right beside it runs a big river. So when the sea level rises the river level also rises causing the village to flood often,” he said.

He said during this time his family and others as well had moved their homes to new sites within the village a number of times.

Mr Ramatu said in 2006 the 154 villagers finally moved to the new village site, two kilometres away from the old site.

“$250,000 assistance was provided through donors including state-funding and material assistance while $250,000 worth of timber was provided from our land for the construction of new homes,” he said.

Mr Ramatu said even though it was difficult for them to travel back and forth to the sea near the old village site to fish and collect seafood, the relocation had also been a relief.

“The old site is so far away from the main road. Now our village sits by the roadside of the main road and we’ve found it far much easier to catch buses and carriers and we are very happy with that,” he said.


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