Aim to inspire other rural communities

NAMATAKULA villagers are defying the odds as they fight to hold out the strong impact of climate change on their village.

From having a beautiful beachside to now having a coastline that is slowly being depleted, the villagers have come together to fight climate change head-on with the little resources they have.

The organisation Kai Ni Cola, meaning the Tree of Life, has made a tremendous effort in educating and introducing simple techniques that can help the village be resilient to climate change.

It is evident that the villagers of Namatakula are resilient people as they quickly execute simple adaptation methods with the villagers planting 100 more mangrove trees to stop water surges from eroding what’s left of their coastline.

Kai Ni Cola director Samuela Kuridrani said, the main vision for the organisation was to have a healthy population and to be climate change resilient because it both worked together, with weather having a strong impact on people’s food chain.

“We have a lot of projects planned for the villagers and the first project we are working on is the river dredging process so we can recover our eroded beach and stop the strong water flow from the highlands to the river mouth,” he said.

“We are also planting palm trees, mangroves and corals so it can revive our coastline. We have two coral nurseries with over 300 corals which are directly planted and will then be transferred to our reef in the next six months.

“Priority for us is our coastline because we don’t want to be relocated because of climate change. The least we can do is try to adapt and we need assistance from Government in order to do it.

“You’ve seen the direct impact of climate change and in the span of four years there has been a massive change.

“After I did my degree and returned to the village, I noticed the change on our coastline and I thought to start this NGO which originally started from our women village group on reviving traditional Fijian medicine.

“We have now expanded the scope and looked into climate change adaptation, poverty alleviation, youth empowerment and wellness.”

He said the youth were the backbone of the organisation and were the ones implementing the techniques with the huge support from the community.

“We hope to inspire youths in other communities not to sit idle and wait for Government to assist because we can do small things like planting coral and mangroves to save our environment,” he said.

“Most people in the rural communities see climate change effects and its impact every day, but most of them do not understand what exactly it is and most people need to be enlightened about what climate change is, what causes it and how we can adapt to it.

“It was easy getting the climate change message across because the villagers have seen its impact especially how quickly it affects them.

“We have the school, Ratu Filise Memorial School, involved where children from the village are aware of what climate change is and they are making a difference with their own knowledge of the issue.

“To see our community, especially the young children making a difference in the village and trying to address the issue themselves, just motivates us to do more on fighting climate change.

“The whole community is united where we have the churches, the youths and the various soqosoqo working together to fight climate change.”

He said they wanted the future generation of Namatakula to enjoy what they once enjoyed.

“For us, social media has been a very powerful platform in getting our message across,” he said.

“Last year we had the opportunity of having my brother Tevita Kuridrani visit Namatakula with the Brumbies team and we took them to the beach to see the impact of climate change on our coastline.

“We used the power of social media to get our message across about the NGO and what we trying to accomplish,” he said.

He said there had been a lot of talk about climate change but not a lot of work had been done to address its impact.

“When I went to the COP23 event in Bonn, Germany, it was all about policies and nothing was focused on people out here in the communities,” he said.

“There, most people did case studies of people affected instead of being directly impacted by climate change themselves and it was hard to see that no one was saying anything about what they are doing on the ground to address the impact of climate change.

“I would like other NGOs to reach out to the communities and raise awareness about the issue we face and enlighten us more on how we can be resilient and weaken the impact.”

He said the organisation would continue to look for funding assistance, especially from Government if they could help in any way.

“At the end of the day, we can only do a lot with funding and we hope Government can support us with it, but we are starting small and we are using the resources we have with the youths and the village community working together by getting materials that are not bought to start our work.”

He said they hoped to inspire other rural communities to do something about climate change impacts and not wait for government assistance in order to do the work.

Village headman Etika Naquruilagi said they would continue the work the organisation had done because they had seen the immense impact climate change was having on their village.

“We will work together to build a resilient village and we are learning to adapt, but we hope Government can assist us in getting more done in the village.

The organisation is headed by a committee and is run by the village youth of Namatakula while being supported by Green Peace.

More Stories