The Fiji National University (FNU) has been commended for its role in the fight against climate change by the Minister for Rural, Maritime Development, and Disaster Management, Honourable Inia Seruiratu following the visit to a project site at Vugalei in Tailevu.
Minister Seruiratu visited the FNU’s Team Climate-U Participant Action Research Project (PARG) research site at Nadaro village in Tailevu, where university staff have been engaged since last September in community projects which include tree planting, water source enhancement via borehole and piping, alternative water sourcing and improvement work, drainage improvement, solar light installations and water tanks installation.
The Climate-U Project Head and FNU team lead, Professor Unaisi Walu Nabobo-Baba said they have had great help from supportive individuals, partners, community groups, NGOs, including Integrity Fiji and Rise Beyond the Reef, church groups and a number of government ministries, including the Ministry of Forestry, Ministry for Rural, Maritime Development, and Disaster Management, the Tailevu Provincial Council and the Commissioner Central’s office.
The Climate-U Project is part of an international alliance where universities engage in climate projects in 13 different universities led by University College London (UCL) via Professor Tristan McGowan. Research with Real-World Impact is one of FNU’s Pillars.
“Climate change affects all of us, and we all have to take responsibility for it as well. Academic institutions like the Fiji National University (FNU) play a significant role in combating and coming up with innovative ways to fight climate change. It is good that FNU has been given that responsibility, not only for Nadaro but also for the Tikina Vugalei, and we hope that this partnership can be strengthened. People can also be empowered with the knowledge, skills, and innovative ways to fight climate change,” stated Hon Seruiratu.
The Minister and Fiji’s COP 23 Climate Champion further noted: “For us, every village, every community, is our priority because the government wants to ensure that no one is left behind. There are a lot of challenges in terms of development and the environmental issues we face, such as climate change and disasters, and we need to empower the people so that they can be more resilient and be in a better position to adapt to the changes.”
Prof Nabobo-Baba who is also the Dean of Humanities and Education said the university is committed to fighting climate change through approaches that empower people to do the right thing and equip them with the required knowledge and skills which they can use to help adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change. She noted the FNU Team has been documenting traditional knowledge and values of local Nadaro, and Vugalei groups in relation to climate change mitigation and resilience. The project recognises the many good things that can happen with great enabling partnerships that can have multiplier effects for our peoples such as that with the Honourable Seruiratu and the government.
“The total possible budget for this UCL funded project is FJD $78,000, which includes $48,000 for the climate change project and $30,000 for further research on traditional knowledge. When we do get full funding from the University College of London, we’ll be able to do more things and hold more workshops,” commented Prof Nabobo-Baba.
“The work on the renovation of the footbridge, footpath widening and renewal, borehole enhancement, and solar lighting has begun after the visit by Minister Seruiratu. The Commissioner Central and a team of army engineers have now visited and begun the work.” Nadaro Development Committee Chair Isei Tuvou reported.
“FNU is playing a critical role in the village, and we (villagers) appreciate the work being undertaken. In the past seven months, we have dug up some drains for the village and provided piping for water connection to every house from the borehole. I have been married here for 35 years, and I am finally happy water is coming through pipes now-it’s so much easier for us mothers,” Loraini Bui Tuvou, a Nadaro resident highlighted.
Woman Leader, Eliza Qereqeretabua said she is so happy to see many good things happening after 40 years of being married in Nadaro village.
The village headman, Manueli Tokabobo, happily noted that the FNU Climate project had brought a lot of good, including piped water. He adds the visitation of government ministers to the village and other ministries and NGOs, including Rise Beyond the Reef by Semi Lotawa and other stakeholders and FNU partners, is so appreciated- and so much learning and impact are seen already.
The project is expected to be completed in early 2023.