Protecting coastal communities and building resilience to coastal erosion, damaging storms, hurricane winds and storm waves is one of the priorities of government to address disparity amongst the Rural and Urban communities.
Its protection is equally important for current and future generations as it provides a home for thousands of Fijians.
This was highlighted by the Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy during the ground-breaking ceremony for the Nabukadra Seawall project in Rakiraki yesterday.
Minister Reddy said the impact of climate change is evident and protecting communities along the coastal area is essential as most Fijians reside along these areas.
He said the project will be a source of relief for the villagers in protecting their environment, and enhancing their economic benefits and building resilience.
Dr. Reddy reiterated that while the world is facing an economic crisis, innovative thinking is vital for delivering services to the communities.
“At the Ministry of Waterways and Environment, we have adopted the theory of change to do “More with less” amidst the COVID19 pandemic and hence have started the transition from “grey to green” – from traditional concrete masonry to nature based-boulder type seawalls for coastal protection,” he said.
Meanwhile for 88 year old Niumaia Talei, the initiative by the Ministry is a timely effort to safeguard their village.
“I have been living here since I was born, and I have witnessed that this place has been sinking over the years especially after the cyclones as a result of coastal erosion,” said Mr. Niumaia.
“The construction of this sea wall will bring relief to us and this will be of benefit to the young and future generation.
Mr. Niumaia acknowledged the Ministry for responding and acting swiftly to their request to protect the villagers within one month’s time.
“Minister Reddy only visited the village once and our request was heard by him, and within a month, protection works commenced in the village,” he said.
Meanwhile a nature-based solution, hybrid sea wall will be built by the Ministry of Waterways and Environment to address coastal erosion in the Nabukadra village with bouldering work, land reclamation, mangrove and vetiver planting as a first and last line of defence.