Thursday, July 07, 2011

Our relatives on Mali Island

from w
In a workshop on 'climate change' some of our relatives from Mali Island off the coast near Labasa have complained about their difficulties in obtaining food sources these days - less fish, more pollution and so on. I really don't think this has much to do with 'climate change' though. Pollution and rubbish on the shores is a human problem and we all know how the Labasa Sugar Mill pollutes the river systems there! And people throw rubbish and plastic into the rivers too. Mining a sand bar also isn't a good look. Also the fish resources are perhaps less for other reasons, one being that off-shore foreign fishing companies probably sneak into the reefs to get their bait and take away the locals food resources. Other islanders such as in Lau also report less fish for the villagers so it is an important topic for discussion in Fiji.

From the Fiji Sun today:
Mali islanders face ‘devastating reality’

Villagers of a northern island are witnessing visible signs of climate change which is directly affecting their food source and livelihood. Islanders of Mali, an island off Labasa Town described the climate change effects as “a devastating reality.”

With so much concern over the impact of climate change on the island, three representatives from the district of Mali were part of a three-day workshop by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Pacific on climate change in Labasa this week.

Tikina Mali representative, Savenaca Koliniwai said the islanders depended on the sea for their source of livelihood and food.

Mr Koliniwai said there was a noticeable drop in the fish population in their fishing grounds, a significant signs of dead corals and mangroves, and the coastal shores were heavily polluted with plastics and milling timber waste. The Mali district had three villages on the island, Nakawaga. Ligaulevu, Vesi and the fourth on the mainland, Matailabasa. Mr Koliniwai said not only has climate change affected the islands flora and fauna, it was also the result of poor land use practised in the past.

He said many islanders had in the past practiced slash and burn farming and uncontrolled burning which had resulted in the survival of very little of the original native forest.

While all villages were located near the coast on flat tracts of land with easy access to the sea, Mr Koliniwai said life was now a struggle for most islanders.

“At this WWF workshop on climate change, Mali is well represented by the district women and youth representatives because we’re keen to learn strategic ways of combating the effects of climate change.”

“We mean business now in taking back what we learn to our villages and tell the people that it is time to change now and to think about our future.”

“We’re starting to suffer from the result of climate change with great contributions by mankind like us. The sea’s food-chain has been destroyed which is affecting us and our children now,” Mr Koliniwai said. He said it was time for the people to take ownership of projects that would help them protect the environment and ecosystem which they heavily depended on.

Tikina Mali women’s representative, Pola Vakayadra said their women were eager to work together in bracing themselves over the effects of climate change. “I’m so happy to be part of this workshop because I now fully understand the issue of climate change, its effect and what we can do to deal with and overcome it. I’m eager to go back and relate what I have learned to the women on the island,” Ms Vakayadra said.

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