Suva, Fiji – Two years of training the children of Ra on the impacts of climate change has taken fruition as they are now taking a holistic approach in ensuring they contribute to reducing the impacts of climate change in their village.
Little Jacoro wants to be a civil engineer when he grows up. Either he wants to help his village by constructing a road to link it to the main highway, or else he wants to save his home from rising sea levels. Jacoro is from Nasau Village, one of four coastal villages located near Navitilevu Bay on the north shore of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu. Wave surges over the years before Jacoro was even born had eroded some 10 to 15 metres of Nasau’s waterfront. In fact at king tides or stormy weather, waves enter the Nasau Community Hall, which now sits right on the beach.
Recently and with help from Suva-based community development NGO the Partners in Community Development Fiji (PCDF), children in Nasau Village like Jacoro had helped in efforts to save the village waterfront. Called the Child-Centred Climate Change Adaptation project or 4CA for short, the project focusses on children and youth in building safe and resilient communities when it comes to reducing the risks that are associated to climate change.
“I helped plant mangroves,” Jacoro said shyly when asked what he has done about wave surges. “If we don’t plant mangroves, my village will be flooded,” he added.
Nacanieli Vunisa is the village administrator or turaganikoro of Nasau. Through a workshop PCDF held at the village community hall, boys and girls of Nasau decided to do climate change adaptation activities. Planting mangroves on the village waterfront was one of the agreed activities.
“We’ve seen how mangroves had protected the shoreline in the neighbouring village of Veidrala, so when PCDF asked us as to what adaptation activities we would like to pursue, the consensus among our children and youth was planting a mangrove sea barrier,” said Vunisa.
Getting children of the village organised, Vunisa said they completed mangrove planting in two afternoons. Eight months later, the benefits of constructing such sea barriers were visible. The once disappearing sandy beach has begun to form again and the young mangrove plants were growing fast.
“We wanted this to be a community proposed and community driven adaptation activity on climate change with children and youth members taking the lead,” said Watisoni Lalavanua, Project Officer of PCDF. “All we did was to hold awareness training for the young members of the communities and support them through seed money to pay for mangrove seedlings.
“That is really what we want to achieve. To bring about capacity building so that the children and youth takes the lead in climate change adaptation activities. We also wanted to encourage locally designed climate smart solutions. That is why we opted for a mangrove planting activity, because that is what the children and youth members of our coastal communities in Ra proposed.
“Next step would be to export this model to other districts in Fiji as well as to incorporate children and youth focused adaptation work on climate change in the national government policies and processes.”
PCDF is funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and PLAN Australia International (PAI) to implement the 4CA Project in Nasau and 5 other villages in Ra. Project outcomes were three-fold; to build the capacity of children and youth in climate change adaptation, encourage the use of locally-designed climate smart solutions and exporting this model to other districts in Fiji as well as incorporate children and youth focused adaptation work on climate change in government policies and processes.