Climate change is a great challenge facing Fiji. However, understanding climate change and its effects is something that most people in rural settings and outback isolated locations do not understand. This is the situation on Kia Island, an isolated island in Macuata Province. While people in urban settings and communities are exposed to information about climate change, most people in rural settings as Kia simply believe that it is the wrath of God.
With a little understanding and more patience, Community Centred Conservation a conservation NGO based in Yaro village on Kia, started to instil facts and information with the help from the island youth. In 2011, C3 established a small conservation group, the Reef Rangers. The group includes all the students who attend the only school on the island, Kia District School, the teachers, C3 staff and every youth and school leavers who wishes to be part of the group on a voluntary basis.
In early June, I worked with the Conservation Ambassadors to conduct a a one hour lesson in school on the topic “Effects of Climate Change on Kia’s Marine Resources”. This is a sequel to other climate change lessons carried out in the past under the following topics- What Is Climate Change? What Causes Climate Change? Effects of Climate Change on Terrestrial Ecosystems. This most recent lesson included information on changes in the island foreshore due to coastal erosion; changes in the nature of ocean currents, where fish distribution and migration is affected and the changes in coral life due to increases in ocean temperature and acidification.
As most of the Conservation Ambassadors dropped out from class 8 to form 6, I conducted workshops to help familiarize them with the issues that they were going to teach. After carrying out lessons in school for more than 4 years now, most of the Conservation Ambassadors are now able to carry out workshops and information sharing on their own in their home villages.