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.
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