Chiefs of Luaniua in the Ontong Java Atoll, are calling on the government to consider relocating their people to bigger islands to alleviate the impacts of climate change and rising sea level in their islands.
Chief Peter Kalali said his people were becoming climate refugees as the rising sea levels was eating away their Atoll every year and the island’s population was growing rapidly.
He saidthe effects of climate change had brought new challenges to the Atolls and the chiefswere worried, their people’s livelihoods in the long term remain uncertain.
” Our shoreline used to be far out, but now the ocean is eating it away,” he said.
” Our houses have been washed away, and some our our ancestors graves have also been washed away, we need help to protect these graves from the rising sea levels.”
Mr Kalali also said, food shortage and access to clean water were some of the new challenges affecting the people of Luaniua.
He is worried that the Atoll would be inhabitable in the not too distant future.
” We want to know whether the government can help us buy any piece of land in the bigger islands and provinces?,” he said.
“Our island’s population is growing rapidly and we want the government’s support so that we can move some people to the bigger and safer islands.”
SIBC visited Luaniua recently and witnessed the alarming reality of climate change in the atoll.
A number of graves have already been washed away by the rising sea level, and people’s food gardens are now inundated by saltwater, forcing people to rely on fish and coconuts to survive.
By: Lowen Sei.