Climate Change | FIJI NEWS | NATION | NEWS

All Hands On Deck To Save Village From Climate Crisis

Two thousand mangrove seedlings have been planted along the village coastline to help tackle its vulner­abilities to future natural disasters.
31 Oct 2021 14:26
All Hands On Deck To Save Village From Climate Crisis
Vunitogoloa Village headman Joseva Manikiwai (right), with cousin Jope Nabure at the village mangrove planting site. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

The fight is an “all-hands-on-deck”  initiative of planting mangrove seedlings. Even the Vunitogoloa Student Association play an active role.

Two thousand mangrove seedlings have been planted along the village coastline to help tackle its vulner­abilities to future natural disasters.

VILLAGE INITIATIVE

Village headman Joseva Maniki­wai said if nothing was done, the village was at risk of going under­water every time there was heavy rain.

With a population of 442 people, mangrove planting has become the only way the villagers know to save their homes.

“We involve our children in man­grove planting so they have a real­istic understanding of the impacts of sea level rise and how climate change can take us down if no ac­tion is done,” Mr Manikiwai said.

“Mangroves are important to us because it’s a nursery habitat for many small fishes, and for us, that contributes to abundance of sea­food.”

Marine university students who are from Vunitogoloa have re­turned to the village and have since shared their knowledge on the im­portance of planting mangroves along the coast lines.

“They say that these mangrove forests reduce erosion caused by storm surges, currents and waves that try to break into the village grounds and we are taking that knowledge seriously,” Mr Maniki­wai said.

“With school students still on break, we do our best to get them involved in planting mangroves and teaching lessons on taking care of our environment.”

Villagers are hopeful that when the seedlings are mature enough, it will be transplanted and replanted in the village boundaries.

Mr Manikiwai is encouraging vil­lage elders and headmen around the country to take into account the seriousness of the climate cri­sis and take the necessary action to avoid future disasters on homes.

COP26 PLEA

Mr Manikiwai hopes that world leaders will take the necessary climate action towards saving our planet.

“I believe that it’s the small island countries that are being impacted on a daily basis when it comes to facing the threats of climate change,” he said.

“I hope the COP26 meeting will bring about realistic changes that will not only help big countries but also us here in the Pacific especial­ly in Fiji.”

IPCC REPORT

According to the latest Inter­governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report released in August, scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate and its widespread across the whole cli­mate system.

Some changes are already in mo­tion such as continued sea level rise, which scientists say are ir­reversible over hundreds to thou­sands of years.

IPCC Working Group 1 Co-Chair Valerie Masson-Delmotte said the report was a reality check.

“We now have a much clearer pic­ture of the past, present, and future climate, which is essential for un­derstanding where we are headed, what can be done and how we can prepare,” she said.

“The detailed regional assessment report includes a focus on useful information that can inform risk assessment, adaptation, and other decision-making and a new frame­work that helps translate physical changes in the climate.”

COVID-19 FIGHT

As Vunitogoloa villagers battle the climate crisis, it was also one of the first villages along the West­ern coast to initiate a ‘lockdown restriction’ within its village boundaries.

Vunitogoloa Village headman Joseva Manikiwai next to the village COVID-19 notice board. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Vunitogoloa Village headman Joseva Manikiwai next to the village COVID-19
notice board. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

 

Mr Manikiwai said the vil­lage Welfare and Emergency COVID-19 Curfew Monitoring Committee had a thorough dis­cussions on restrictions to be im­posed in the village.

“We wanted to be the first to take the initiative because the pandemic was a matter of life and death and we did not want to risk our families lives,” he said.

“We put up a Facebook page called ‘Vanua Vunitogoloa’ and we update people and our mem­bers on these restrictions and it was accepted quite well.”

Mr Manikiwai said only two positive COVID-19 cases were re­corded from Vunitogoloa.

“The villagers had contracted the virus from outside, but we were quick to isolate the family and made sure they were well cared for.

“As a leader, I have taught my­self to depend on God through all the seasons of your life and to be there when your people need you no matter the situation they are going through,” Mr Manikiwai said.

 

Edited by Rosi Doviverata

 

 



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