Fiji – Rising Waters
In Fiji, villages need to move due to climate change.
The headman of Vunidogoloa village was born here in 1960 on a river estuary in Natewa Bay, on Fiji’s second-largest island, Vanua Levu.
Today, all that remains of his childhood home is the concrete bathroom foundation and three wooden stumps sticking out of the dark, muddy sand. The beach is just a few metres wide, precariously situated between a grassy elevation leading to the main part of the old village and the bay.
By 2006, regular flooding, soil erosion and the unabated rise of water surrounding their community forced the villagers to ask the Fijian government for help.
In January 2014, Vunidogoloa moved two kilometres inland, becoming the first village in Fiji to relocate because of the effects of climate change.
For much of the world, climate change is a catastrophe unfolding in slow motion, with consequences that can still seemingly be ignored.
But in island nations across the Pacific, climate change has well and truly arrived and is already posing an existential threat to communities.
Rising sea levels have swallowed up five of the Solomon Islands since the mid-20th century.
For Kiribati, a small island nation made up of coral atolls, rising waters pose a threat so dire that in 2014 the government purchased a 20-square-kilometre piece of land in Fiji, to be used to re-settle climate refugees.
Fiji itself has recorded a six-millimetre sea level increase each year since 1993.