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Traditional obligations stop climate relocation

Monday 8 February 2016 | Published in Regional

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SUVA – Their traditional obligations to the Tui Cakau will not allow the people of Vunisavisavi Village in Cakaudrove, Fiji, to relocate despite the impact of climate change.

This was made known to a US project team this week that played a vital role in relocating four houses from the village to higher ground following intrusion of salt water in the village on the south coast of Vanua Levu.

Speaking at the commissioning of the four new homes and the improvement works to existing homes, Vunisavisavi villager, Meredani Koco, told US ambassador Judith Cefkin that their traditional obligations remained paramount.

“We cannot be relocated because we have the foundation of the Lalagavesi in our village and we are obliged to look after it,” Koco said.

“It is a traditional duty towards our high chief bestowed upon us by God and it is important that we keep to it.

“But the help that the US government has given us will never be forgotten.

“For us Catholics, this is the Year of Mercy and the US government has shown mercy to us through this project.

“We thought at one stage that the rising sea level was from God. But after the experts arrived to help us, we do know that the impact of climate change is real.

“We also thank our Fijian Government for stepping in to find the assistance for us. For long we have longed for this help and it has finally arrived.”

Cefkin said earlier: “You sit on the front line of sea level rise, ocean warming, salt water intrusion and increasingly severe storms.” - Fiji Times