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Plea for sea wall

Mere Naleba
Saturday, March 03, 2018

VILLAGERS on the island of Ogea in the southern Lau Group believe relocating their village because of the effects of climate change is a harsh solution.

Village headman Lolohea Napau Kaulotu said the villagers had heard and discussed relocation plans with government officials who visited their island almost on a yearly basis, but they believed a better solution to the problem would be the construction of a sea wall.

Mr Kaulotu said many villagers constructed houses and spent a lot of money building their houses.

"If you look around the village, you will see concrete, wooden houses and if you know how hard it is to get to Ogea then you will understand why most of these people are not ready to move anywhere else," Mr Kaulotu said.

"We feel that building a sea wall is the best solution to our problem."

Mr Kaulotu said the first line of houses located by the beachfront of Ogea Village often had sea water reach their doorsteps whenever there was a high tide.

He said the village green filled up with sea water, making it almost impossible to have backyard gardens as the soil is infiltrated by sea water.

"Here in the village we can't grow anything anywhere near our homes, but our farms because it is located far from the village, it is not affected by sea water," he said.

Mr Kaulotu said while they were aware that climate change was real, the villagers would need to be convinced to relocate.

He said for the past three months their population had been stagnant at 120 people because most travelled to Suva at the beginning of the year for education purposes and would not return anytime soon.

"The usual number is 200, but it has decreased because most parents travel with their children to Suva when they finish Year 8 for Year 9. So they stay in Suva until the end of the first school term," he said.

Ogea Island is one of the eight Islands located in upper southern Lau. It is a coral island with an area of 13.3 square kilometres, surrounded by the sea and rocky mountains.

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