MORE than twenty participants representing the ACoM head office, Ontong Java and Sikaiana communities, Walande and Fanalei and representatives from the government are currently undergoing a three day Relocation Workshop being held at the Melanesia Leaf Haus, Saint Barnabas Provincial Cathedral.
Dr. Julia Edwards from the Pacific Conference of Church in Suva Fiji who has vast experience on relocation activities in the pacific for six years is facilitating the workshop that runs from 15th to 17th March.
She said the relocation activity is the last option that will be taken.
“This process is complicated because people will not want to move;” she adds.
The General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Melanesia Dr. Abraham Hauriasi who formally welcome the participants on Tuesday said sea level rise is taking its toll in the low lying atolls in our country and ACoM has made the decision to accompany communities concerned in dealing with the impact this is having on their livelihoods and prepare them for possible relocation at some point in the future.
Ontong Java atolls and Sikaiana in the outer islands of Malaita and Walande in the Southern part of Malaita are few amongst many that are now experiencing effects of climate change in their communities as participants share their experiences.
During day one presentation, participants highlighted Sea level rise, relocation of houses, reduce land mass and gardening areas, less harvesting of food crops, coral bleaching, tide change, strong and unusual winds and currents, unusual weather pattern and strong heat from the sun as few amongst many impacts they have experienced from climate change.
Rosalyn Sapivaka a female representative from Sikaiana said the people of Sikaiana no longer rely on root crop like swampy taro (kakake) because the soil is mixed up with salt water that comes out from the hole in the middle of the island.
‘We also experienced some kind of diseases that we think connected to the diet we have each day on the island,’ she said in her presentation.
The participants also learn from other relocation case studies elsewhere and to improve capacity of stakeholders to coordinate, prepare and respond to the needs of affected communities at the local level.
By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to understand the concept of climate change, and be able to explain the its main causes and impacts in the pacific and specifically in the communities in the Solomon Islands; share and reflect on their climate change experience on the ground; recognizing the different types of relocation and climate-induced migration; elaborate on lessons learned and good practice from relocation case studies elsewhere; identify different international relocation frameworks and articulate how each can contribute to the relocation process and to formulate a relocation action plan that include advocacy work and political action and that engages fully with affected communities.
The program is jointly organized by the Anglican Church of Melanesia together with the Pacific Conference of Churches.