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Villagers Fight Coastal Erosion

Villagers Fight Coastal Erosion
A villager stands on the site that once was washed away but has filled up again.
November 29
11:51 2014

Many coastal communities are facing the problem of coastal erosion but the villagers of Nayavuira, Ra province, decided to help themselves without waiting for the Government to help.

Houses near the shore in this village are the most vulnerable.

The coastline started eroding through constant flooding and strong waves bombarding its shores. Over the years they believe that a stream beside their village was adding more to the problem when it rains heavily and the village is flooded.

To solve the flooding, the villagers agreed at a village meeting to divert the stream by digging out another channel, said Rakiraki District representative, Ilitomasi Vana.

“It took us two solid weeks as all the men in the village came together and started digging another channel to divert it.

“That stream would flood the village every time it rained but now, thanks to the villagers’ effort, we are safer now,” he said.

Furthermore, for more than 20 years they had watched their shoreline eroding but did not really consider it a threat.

But as time went on, the waves would come in and flood houses near the beach, taking away valuable soil.

It came to a stage that the watermark was nearly at their doorstep. At a village meeting they agreed to build a seawall.

Mr Vana said they approached the Ra Youth Council’s committee which gladly came to their rescue and its members built the seawall.

“It was a simple three-foot high seawall. The volunteers just piled up stones without any concrete to hold them. We just fed them and did not pay them any money to do this.

“This shows how we culturally still treasure relationships as a tikina or province when there is a call of duty,” he said proudly.

Today, more than 10 years later the shoreline on the village’s side of the seawall that once eroded is now filled up again.

It is covered with grass, coconut trees and even pandanus trees that women use to make mats.

It is like a nature-made landfill which has moved up to the height of the seawall and it is one of the best ways to build seawalls.

“That was the shoreline,” said Mr Vana as he pointed to more than 20 metres away.

“Thanks to the efforts of our youths in the Ra province we are now planting coconuts and trees along the seashore that had been bare. This filled up again with sand brought in by the waves.

“If this was another type of seawall this would not happen because it would just hit the wall and take the sand and all living things away from the bottom of the wall.”

To further protect the village’s shoreline they have also planted mangroves and this week officers from the Department of Forests are helping the villagers plant more mangroves.

To strengthen the seawall bags of sand have been placed beside the seawall to weaken the strength of the waves as it crashes on to the seawall.

Villagers depend on their marine resources for their livelihood. The village is located in the Vatuira seascape which is one of the most vibrant and diverse in the country.

They have set up tabu areas to help generate income for the community apart from coconuts, sasa brooms, fish, cows and goats.

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