Balancing climate, culture, and community: Fiji’s relocation challenge

Click the image above to read the full visual story about climate-induced displacement and the challenges of relocation in Fiji. Photo by: Walter Gerard / Devex

Since Ratu Kavida Lalama was elected six years ago as Turaga ni Koro, the head of the Fijian village of Korolevu, he has overseen something unprecedented — the voluntary relocation of residents to a new spot, 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away and uphill from the coast. The reason: climate change.

“The rising of sea levels and increased flooding due to climate change was damaging homes and our families’ lives,” Lalama said, who made the decision to relocate along with two-thirds of the village’s 100-plus residents.

Korolevu has been located for generations on the coast of Fiji’s second-largest island of Vanua Levu. Residents had to cross a river to get to the main road in order to go to school or to access health care. That river has become increasingly treacherous as water levels rise.

But the move has come at a cost — the loss of their traditional, daily connection to the sea.

“Before when we were staying in the old Korolevu, we would go fishing every day. At the new Korolevu, sometimes we only go fishing one or two days a week,” Lalama said. This, along with a lack of financial resources, is why some villagers have remained at the old, flood-prone location.

Continue reading and explore the full visual story on the choice that many communities across the Pacific and around the world are facing with relocation.

Visit the Turning the Tide series for more coverage on climate change, resilience building, and innovative solutions in small island developing states. You can join the conversation using the hashtag #TurningtheTide.

About the author

  • Nithin Coca

    Nithin Coca is a Devex Contributing Reporter who focuses on social, economic, and environmental issues in developing countries, and has specific expertise in Southeast Asia.

Join the Discussion