Fiji Times Logo

Fiji Time: 12:11 AM on Tuesday 22 April

/ Front page / News

A new lease of life

Rakesh Kumar
Wednesday, December 11, 2013

THIRTY families of Vunidogoloa Village on Vanua Levu will each own newly-built houses as part of the government's effort to counteract climate change in the country.

The houses, which are fully-funded by the government through the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development, will be handed over to the villagers by Christmas.

The existing village being affected by the effects of climate change and sea level rise. Government has now relocated them to a safer and higher location away from the sea.

Vunidogoloa Village headman Sailosi Ramatu said about 140 villagers were looking forward to moving into their new homes.

"We are happy that government has listened to our plight. All 30 families have agreed to move to the new site and we are told that before Christmas, we will move into our new homes," Mr Ramatu said.

He said in the past, village elders had requested previous governments to help them in their plight but only this government had listened to their plea.

"Since 1963, our village has been facing climate change difficulties. They had been asking previous governments to relocate us but no one helped. We took our concern to the district office in 2007 and this government stepped in quickly to help us."

Government has spent a total of $310,000 to relocate the village to the new site.

Savusavu district officer Inoke Roko said climate change had become a reality for many Vunidogoloa villagers who had faced the full brunt of this phenomenon during Cyclone Ami in 2003.

"In 2003, during Cyclone Ami, Vunidogoloa Village was very badly affected because during high tide, sea water was pushed in the village that flooded the whole village," Mr Roko said.

Mr Ramatu said villagers provided timber to build the houses and the government further assisted them through the provision of water tanks.

"Water tanks will be provided to us on Saturday this week," he said

Mr Ramatu said the villagers had planned to organise a big feast on the day the new homes would be handed over to them. Government is also assisting the villagers improve their living standards through helping them start fish and cattle farming.