NEWS

All In Water

Barney Dunn’s ancestor James Dunn, arrived here in the 1900s from Ireland and settled in Toguru Settlement in Navua. Part of the land where he first settled is today underwater.
07 Apr 2017 14:04
All In Water
Mr Dunn explains how the seawalls were washed away by the rising sea levels. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Barney Dunn’s ancestor James Dunn, arrived here in the 1900s from Ireland and settled in Toguru Settlement in Navua.

Part of the land where he first settled is today underwater. The grave where Mr Dunn’s ancestors were buried is inundated with water during high tide daily. Their final resting place is now in shambles, and Mr Dunn believes the changing weather patterns and climate is a major reason behind it.

The settlement has been the focus of many international climate scientists.

“We have had people coming in from Germany and South Africa doing their research here. Every one of them has told us that what we are facing is a result of climate change. This rise in sea level, the disappearing of fish from our traditional fishing grounds, land disappearing, all this is what we have seen happening here,” the 51-year-old fisherman said.

In 1972, when Mr Dunn was in Class Four, he remembers walking on land next to his ancestor’s graves.

“That year, we had Peter Thomson (the now President of United Nations General Assembly) assist us to build a seawall. By that time, they did a feasibility study and decided that it would have been too expensive to try to save the graves so the sea wall was just after the graves.”

Today, the seawall lies in pieces along the shore.

“One of the researchers told us that within 20 years, the entire settlement will be gone. It will be all water where we are living now. One German researcher had out up pegs to determine how fast soil erosion was taking place. In one year, she noted that 1.5 metres of land was gone.”

Where the settlement was once filled with people, today, only four families live there. Big concrete homes are left behind unoccupied.

Barney explains that his cousins and siblings moved away because the area was not feasible for farming.

“Every spring tide, the water comes right up to my house (which is about 150metres away from the shore). All land here has had salt water coming in. We cannot plant cassava or dalo. Only things that grow here are flowers, coconut and breadfruit. So people moved.”

He said there has been talks by Government to relocate the families elsewhere.

This is what climate change does to people. This is the ugly face of climate change that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama will bring to the international community when he presides as the COP23 president.

 

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

Subscribe to E-Edition
pacific island top up
Air Nuigini
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
error: