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Bauxite mine visit empowers group

Luke Rawalai
Thursday, November 30, 2017

MEMBERS of the Yaubula Management Committee who toured the Nawailevu bauxite mine on Vanua Levu described it as an eye-opener.

Organised by the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas, its executive officer Margaret Tabunakawai said last Friday this was done after they acknowledged that some provinces were going heavily into development that encroached on natural resources.

Ms Tabunakawai said to hear from the people themselves what transpired and went wrong was a learning opportunity for YMC representatives.

"One of the lessons they learned was agreements and the need to empower one as a resource owner, empowering them to ask the right questions and things like having an agreement with the relevant stakeholders," she said.

"Most important is the need to have the appropriate stakeholders at the very beginning of the development project, be it mining or any other project.

"Another issue relayed to us by Nawailevu landowners was that different organisations that came in at different times during the project created a sense of confusion because they were never together from the beginning."

Ms Tabunakawai said FLAMMA could help bring partners and stakeholders and facilitate platforms for talks with landowners, but she stressed that they would not influence the processes of decision making.

"Our concern and focus is more on the resource owners and ensuring that they are well informed," she said. "In Nawailevu we were told that they did not have advisers and whatever the mataqali heads agreed to was taken as gospel truth. This year we have communities that have not been working with us at all but we are assisting them by facilitating talks and discussions, for instance the Vio and Nacula electrification projects considering that they are not our member sites.

"Landowners can access our assistance to facilitate talks and we are ready to give them help."

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