NATION

Nasau Village: Out of Sight and Under Siege

Sea inundation is a frequent problem when there are high tide occurrences, but for the past week, it has been quite unusual.
03 Jan 2022 16:18
Nasau Village: Out of Sight and Under Siege
Nasau Village headman Ionisio Navosese shows the depth of the seawater when the tide rises. The foreground shows the remains of a house foundation. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

79-year-old Lolo Marama has been around long enough to see the impacts of changing weather patterns.

Her heart breaks as she recalls the homes that have been lost or taken apart along the Nasau Village foreshore due to the rise in seawater level.

“Now as you look out, you can only see the foundations of the homes – others have gone underwater,” Ms Marama said.

“I have seen so many changes. Before, there were homes about 10 meters out from the current shore­line – but because of the rise in sea level within the past 10 to 15 years, homes have been destroyed and families have had to move further inland.”

The combined flow from the near­by river and the strong sea currents causes coastal erosion and loss of land was Ms Marama’s explanation of their dilemna.

79-year-old Lolo Marama tells about the constant changes shé's witnessed over the years.   On the right, she can only sit and watch the tide rise   from her living room.

79-year-old Lolo Marama tells about the constant changes shé’s witnessed over the years. On the right, she can only sit and watch the tide rise from her living room.

 

To address this, the first seawall was built in 1982 right after a Sun­day church service. However, as years passed, villagers noticed it had lost its durability and decided to build a second seawall in 1995.

Both now lie useless and are vis­ible at low tide.

“The current state of our seawalls

does not protect us anymore. The homes that are now near the shore­lines will soon need to be relocated further inland but for how long can we continue,” Ms Marama said.

For 80-year-old Laisana Tuivuso, her house is just a metre away from the shoreline.

“Seawater comes right into my home frequently when it’s high tide, this is after I’ve moved twice. It wasn’t like this before and I pray this does not continue as bad as it is now,” Ms Tuivuso said.

Village headman Ionisio Navosese said sea inundation is a frequent problem when there are high tide occurrences, but for the past week, it has been quite unusual.

“The sea water seeps right into the village ground, it is almost like we are going underwater,” Mr Na­vosese said.

“But with what happened last week, it was a new experience to see how the current was much stronger and it kept pulling the sand and soil,” he said.

WHAT THE SCIENCE SAY

Acting Director of Meteorology, Terry Atalifo, said the highest high tide for December was predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday.

A strong northeast wind flow on Tuesday meant that coastal com­munities located on the windward side would experience coastal in­undation. This is a result of wind driven waves and other factors, he said.

ASSISTANCE?

Efforts to get assistance from rel­evant authorities have been tire­some – but villagers remain hope­ful.

“With the effects of climate change we are experiencing now; our mangroves and seawalls can’t seem to take the pressure and we fear for the future.”

According to Mr Navosese, five homes have been lost due to the coastal erosion.

In 2004, a mangrove planting ini­tiative was set up to protect our shoreline from erosion.

“Our forefathers did not experi­ence the harsh effects of climate change like we are experiencing today, and we are doing all we can to save our land and for the future generation,” Mr Navosese said.

“Many years back, a non-govern­ment organisation visited us and donated mangrove seedlings to plant and we are hoping for strong­er defence coastline,” he said.

THE SEAWALL – A VILLAGE INITIATIVE

With the natural resources avail­able around them, Nasau villagers were determined to build their own seawall from scratch.

“It’s not an overnight job where we just collect rocks and stack it all on our beachfront,” Mr Navosese said.

“It has taken years of combined effort from everyone to do such a tiresome task of collecting heavy rocks from inland and bringing them to the beachfront.”

About a mile from the village, bamboo rafts were put together to carry the rocks. At the seawall site, the rocks were stacked up on top of each other. No concrete mixture was used to glue the rocks together. The mere strength of the currents over the years diffused the rocks to its current state.

Vetiver grass is another plant of­ten used to cushion the the effects of soil erosion and climate change.

“With a broken seawall, the man­groves and vetiver grass help keep the seawater at bay – but we are in dire need for a new seawall to really stop the seawater from coming into the village grounds,” he said.

Nasau Village headman Ionisio Navosese points to the remains of the first seawall built in 1992 lay in ruins because of the rising sea level. He stands next to the ruins of the second seawall, built in 1995. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Nasau Village headman Ionisio Navosese points to the remains of the first seawall built in 1982  because of the rising sea level. On his left is the ruins of the second seawall, built in 1995.  Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

 

RELOCATION OPTION

Three other villages located along the Navitilevu bay face the same dilemma – Veidrala, Navira, and Navuniivi.

Despite being part of the big Viti Levu island, access to these villag­es are only possible via a fibreglass boats.

It seems that because they are out of sight, utility services (we often take for granted) like phone, inter­net connection and power supply

remain an issue.

The rocky mountains that sur­round Nasau Village also hinder any plans of relocation.

“We will need large machinery to flatten the steep rocky mountains – but for now, all we can do is miti­gate and adapt to the impacts we are facing,” he said.

“All we are asking is for Govern­ment to please assist us in fighting the impacts of climate change,” he said.

YOUNGER GENERATION STEP UP

With a population of less than 100 people, Nasau village is home to a number of pro active youths deter­mined to address the changing

cli­matic conditions.

One of them is 17-year-old, Sione Mua. Since the second wave of COVID-19, he has spent more time in his village than in Suva where he attends Jeremiah Raibevu College in Tacirua, Suva.

“We can not sit around and do nothing because if nothing is done, our future is in jeopardy.

“I believe more people need to re­alise and understand that climate change is real, it is not a myth or a make-believe story.

“If people see things from the grassroot levels and how it is heav­ily affecting us, more work can be done to save our land and our fu­ture,” he said.

Last Saturday, Sione helplessly watched as waves crashed onto the village grounds.

“It was quite unusual compared to other high tides and if this con­tinues, I don’t know if there will be any livable and fertile land left for us.”

Sione is pleading for any form of assistance, even technical advice, to help them protect their village grounds.

HOW TO GET TO NASAU VILLAGE

Nasau Village is a two-hour drive from Suva along the picturesque Kings Highway.

From Namuaimada Village, you will take a 30 minutes boat ride to get to Nasau. On a clear, sunny day Vanua Levu and Ovalau are visible.

Despite being part of the big Viti Levu island, access to villages located on the other side of Navitilevu bay are only possible via fibreglass boats.  Photo: Nasau village/Google Map

Despite being part of the big Viti Levu island, access to villages located on the other side of Navitilevu bay are only possible via fibreglass boats. Photo: Nasau village/Google Map

  •  This story was first published on Saturday December 11, 2021 and appeared in the Fiji Sun Climate Watch column.


Fijisun Ad Space


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Win Christmas with Tower Insurance
Fijisun E-edition
Advertise here
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper