Fanalei Islanders welcome Suidani’s visit

Elders of Fanalei receive Premier Daniel Suidani during his visit to Fanalei island as part of his southern region tour last week.
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THE People of Fanalei on small Malaita have welcomed the visit of Malaita Premier, Daniel Suidani to their community recently.

The Fanalei people, like those from Walande have been struggling with the effects of climate change (sea level rise) and although they had relocated to the mainland, the issue of land scarcity is still being faced.

Premier Suidani and team visited the two island communities and their relocated communities of Walande and Fouele and witnessed the happenings himself.

Canoe welcome at Fanalei.

An elder of Fouele, which is the relocated community of Fanalei, Joseph Leo said although Fanalei Island was not faced with a similar scenario to Walande., people are moving from the island due to continuous erosion.

Leo said since 1970, the effects of cyclone and other natural hazards have contributed to the gradual demise of Fanalei island, where only a few houses can be seen on the island today.

He said it is calculated that the coastline of the island is eroding at 2 metre per year and it’s an alarming rate, one that could see the island fully submerged soon.

Few of the remaining residences on the island of Fanalei.

Leo said as they are escaping sea level rise, another issue faced is population and soon they will be not enough land to host them in the piece of land they were relocated to at Fouele.

He said the population of Fanalei is 388 people this year and within the next ten years the number would have doubled and there will be no space for people to live in.

Leo further said although resettling from Fanalei Island to the mainland of Fouele began on a piecemeal since 1960, there is no proper planning on how the village should be structured.

The foundation structure of what used to be a church on the island of Fanalei that is now below the high water mark.

He said if the trend continues there will come a time when not enough space will be there for further building of homes, while the population of Fanalei/Fouele is growing.

Leo said these are impacts of climate change and they will continue to remain with the severe effects if there are no remedial measures taken.

On that note, he called on the premier and the government of Malaita province to see the challenges they face on how they could work together to address them.  

Kirio traditional dancers of Fanalei and Fouele leads the welcome procession of Suidani and team to Fouele last week.

Suidani said this is one of the reasons his team had visited Fanalei and Walande to bring the government to the people and discuss what they would do together on the issues.