Villagers finance climate change project

Local villages and communities in Fiji continue to be resilient in the face of climate change by self-funding environmental projects.

Samuela Kuridrani, 25, founded Fiji’s first community non-profit organization called “Kai Ni Cola”, which engages as many as 2,522 villagers of Namatakula, a coastal village on Fiji’s main island Viti Levu, in initiatives to combat the effects of climate change.

“I never thought climate change would reach my village so fast. When I went to study in Australia, everything was good. Within three years, the storms have increased and the beach has eroded by three meters. The spot where I played as a kid has disappeared. When I saw the massive changes, I knew something was going wrong,” said Mr Kuridrani.

“We cannot wait for our government. It’s about our culture it’s about our history, our homeland. We have to do something.”

With a starting fund of FJD 500, he and a group of youths planted mangrove trees to stabilise the eroding beach. But within a few weeks, the strong tide washed away the roots of the young plants.

But that did not stop them from pursuing other environmental initiatives to help save their village from inundation.

“We took the name Kai Ni Cola from a women’s group,” Samu explained. “We continue to plant trees to protect our home. So far, we have planted over 300 mangrove trees and counting. We bring to life everything that we are losing,” he said.

One of the main visions of Kai Ni Cola is to “Be the Change You Want to See” and they are proud to have taken the initiative to always be the change that their village not only needs but for the world to see.

Kai Ni Cola members also conducted dredging along the river banks in Nause, which aims to deepen the river so that flooding does not occur along the river banks and spread to the village.

Piles of sacks filled with sand were assembled as blocks and temporary walls along the shoreline to control the erosion that has quickly escalated over the years due to rising sea level.

Kai Ni Cola funded these projects entirely on its own and hopefully with future assistance they can sustain their environmental projects.

Namatakula has set an example in motivating and inspiring other communities to help fight climate change.

This climate change reporting exercise overseen by the USP Journalism Programme is part of the Pacific iCLIM Project - Phase 2. It involves four student journalists from USP and Griffith University. The Pacific iCLIM Project is a partnership project between Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and Griffith University, funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The Project aims to enable better climate change resilience and adaptation planning in the Pacific by improving the discoverability, storage, access, and utilisation of climate change data and information.

Eparama Warua is a 21-year-old second-year student at The University of the South Pacific in Suva. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in journalism and literature and language. Warua is originally from Nasau, Navakasiga in Bua, Fiji. He has a keen interest in climate change and environmental reporting.