The rising sea level is not showing any remorse for Navotua villagers in the Northern part of Yasawa, with traditional burial sites now inundated with water during high tide.
Village Headman, Ame Rokotuibau says they witnessed how seawater has slowly seeped into the burial site over the past few years, and villagers had to collect human bones from the beach and bury them further inland.
He adds the rising sea level is nibbling away at the beaches of their village, and not even the dead are allowed peace of mind, as waves are sloshing softly against the tilted tombstones covered with barnacles.
“Today, the trees are rotting on the surface. The soil around the roots is being washed away until they fall over. The high tide mark has further moved inland. The fields have become unusable for agriculture due to salinization. We have also shifted our burial site further inland.”
Rokotuibau says the fear they have now is that the rising sea level may one day consume the entire community.
He adds that sea swells have claimed several homes and they are worried that other homes along the shoreline would soon suffer the same fate.
“All we want now is the support from the government and relevant authorities to assist in constructing the sea wall. This will at least give us some hope to remain in this village for the foreseeable future.”
Rokotuibau has also confirmed that a proposed relocation site has been identified, and a discussion is ongoing about relocating the village to higher ground.