First Fiji Village Relocated to Escape Threats of Climate Change

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Written By: Emma Websdale

Rising sea levels have flood houses and farmlands, forcing the Fijian village of Vunidogolo to relocate, the first community to face such a move under the country’s climate change program.

2207288985The effects of climate change, including increased seawater flowing into villages of Fiji, forced the Vunidogolo community to leave their compound this week, after high tides damaged crops and houses.

Cost of the relocation has so far accumulated to over US$879,000, which covers the construction of 30 new houses, farms and fishponds for the new village site.

Speaking at the launch of the Vunidogolo village relocation project, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said about 676 communities around Fiji currently are threatened by the effects of climate change. Threats include loss of coastal land as well as infrastructure damage due to erosion and flooding caused by sea level rise and storm surges.

Of these 676 communities, Bainimarama said that 42 have been identified at high risk for relocation in the next five to ten years.

Estimates from the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have revealed that the effects of a warming world will result in sea levels rising between 26 and 82 centimeters (cm) over the next 100 years.

During an online debate this January, co-hosted by humanitarian news provider AlertNet Climate and the Development Knowledge Network, the question was asked: “What can we do to make sure that migration remains one of a number of resilience and development-enhancing choices, rather than a last-ditch survival option?”  

The ensuing discussion shone light on a number of current efforts, particularly that of the Nansen Initiative. Launched in October 2012 by the governments of Switzerland and Norway, the Nansen initiative aims to support policymakers by offering protection across international borders for people displaced by natural disasters, including those caused by climate change.