For decades, villagers of Naividamu in Macuata watched helplessly as coastal inundation continued to claim their homes.
The sad reality of relocating inland on three separate occasions in the past is nothing but a painful situation for the villagers.
However, a new lease of life was given to them today after Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka
commissioned a newly-built 300-meter seawall in the village.
The seawall is a combination of human-made and nature-based solutions, aimed at maximizing protection against coastal inundation.
While addressing the villagers in the Fijian language, Prime Minister Rabuka acknowledged the support of the vanua and its people for working with government in completing the seawall.
As Fiji continues to lobby for more climate financing, the Prime Minister urged the villagers to take ownership of protecting their homes.
He encouraged them to protect the environment just as nature takes care of them.
He further emphasised that climate change is real and caused by human activities such as industrialisation, which leads to greenhouse gas emissions that deplete the ozone layer.
Prime Minister Rabuka further highlighted that there was an urgent need to plant more trees, mangroves, and vetiver grass for extra protection given their strong ability to absorb and contain tidal flows.
Also in his address, the Prime Minister told the villagers to always take the first step in further developing their village instead of relying on government all the time for financial assistance and further support.
For this, he added that it was also important for the villagers to link up with government ministries and relevant stakeholders to be aware of the processes and procedures in place, at the same time, know the updates of their requests.
The seawall was constructed at more than $25,000 by the Ministry of Waterways.
About 800 vetiver grass and 1200 mangrove plants have been grown on site.
Village elder, Mr Pita Ramasima said their prayers have finally been answered, adding that the project would benefit about 250 villagers.
He thanked the government for “making this project a reality”.
He said that the new seawall has given them a glimpse of hope and the will to continue working together to develop their village and also to protect it from climate crises.