The entire village of Solosolo - which has one of the few black sand beaches in Samoa - is moving inland at the face of sea level rise hastened by sand mining operations.
Source: Talamua Online
The seawall built years ago to stop the erosion is now sinking, with the village opting to relocate their families to higher ground - yet a few still want to reside on the coastal area.
To’omata Nora Leota, told media about the vulnerability of the village and people from the sea rise, saying the river on one side of the village is known to have swept the whole bridge with it during the rainy season.
“We saw the danger during the (2009) tsunami and we ran to the hills, and it was from then on that several families decided to relocate to higher ground,” said To’omata.
She took the media on a tour of the village and pointed to the impacts of the sea on the coastal area where the malae (field) was raised higher than the other.
Asked if the village was always like that, To’omata said “no, it is the work of the sea and the river,”
She pointed out a water pipeline supposed to divert the flow of the river to the sea; instead, it pumps sea water into the village during high tide.
“In the next ten years, the waves will be breaking here,” pointing to the particular area in the village malae. “When we dig the earth for graves, the seawater comes out first,” she explained.
To’omata said despite the decision to relocate, it was not until 3 years ago that the Minister of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa at Solosolo made the move to relocate and the rest followed.
Some churches are now well developed on higher ground with the exception of the 2 mainstream churches, the Catholic and CCCS whose churches are still in the coastal area, said To’omata.
She said 60% of the village has now relocated to higher ground and have asked for a grant to build a seawall to fend off the rising sea.
However, that too has failed as evident by the way it’s sinking slowly, and according to To’omata, sand mining has played a major impact in that area.
The village has approached the government Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment (MNRE) responsible for issuing licenses to stop sand mining because she believes “it’s destroying our village and our safety.”
Besides the sea level rise, Solosolo has few rivers flowing from the mountain which sometimes causes landslides after heavy rain. Villagers are known to have used canoes to cross the flooded rivers when they burst their banks.
To’omata said Solosolo is lucky to have a place to relocate to, and she hopes families still remaining in the coastal area will consider moving for their safety.