THE story of the people of Vunidogoloa in Cakaudrove, Northern Fiji, cannot remain untold. Until now, many individuals, organisations and governments have put themselves forward as the saviours of this community, the first in Fiji to be relocated due to climate change. But the painful truth is that the people of Vunidogoloa have been left largely to their own devices to deal with a calamity of proportions their forefathers could not have imagined.
An entire village has been uprooted from the land it has occupied for generations. A whole community has moved from subsistence fishing to agriculture because it has no option. And a generation has ripped thousands of cubic metres of timber from native forests in order to build homes which will withstand the ravages of time and the force of nature. When and as required, village elders are paraded before visiting dignitaries to tell the supposed success story of their relocation with the help of the organs of state. Nothing could be further from the truth.
.....to read more buy your personal copy at
DUST collects on the floor of the village shop. The door is locked, the windows shut tight and a collection of guttering, plastic pipes, nuts bolts, screws and nails are piled on the counter and the shelves. Outside the shop, grass has overgrown the cement culverts and drains which arrived over two years ago and are too heavy for the villagers to lift without the necessary machinery or lay without engineering expertise.
This is Vunidogoloa Village in Cakaudrove, the poster child for Fiji’s climate change relocation initiative. Last month Fiji’s military strongmanturned climate change champion, Commodore Frank Bainimarama told the United Nations his nation would issue a US$50 million “green” bond in coming weeks to help combat the effects of global climate change, the first developing country to do so.
Lauded by economists and climate change advocates, this financial ingenuity is expected to take the global green bond market to an estimated US$134.9million this year. According to a summary released by Fiji and the World Bank, Fiji’s bonds will be available in five- and 13-year maturities from November 1and pay coupons of four per cent and 6.3 per cent.
.....to read more buy your personal copy at
SO, two regional NGOs recently failed the test of an independent assessor appointed by international donors. One NGO claims to be the umbrella of all Pacific civil society organisations and claims as much to the international community in order to secure maximum funding. The organisation has not been shy to muscle in on other civil society organisations to claim funding or actually hijack concepts which are marketed to overseas donors as their own intellectual property. The second has been busy in the area of trade and commerce. Both organisations were recently marked down by a regional assessor who was commissioned by a European funder whose outgoing Pacific head was close to the leaders of the NGOs. Incensed that her favourites had not fared well in the reporting process, the Hitler-like donor trashed the reports. So much for good governance.
IT took Jacinta Ardern just 80 days from taking over as leader of a political party to becoming New Zealand’s youngest prime minister. When she replaced Andrew Little as leader of the Labour Party, many political commentators saw her as a breath of fresh air but did not believe she would be able to wrest power from the National Party.
After a whirlwind campaign the Nationals under former Prime Minister Bill English held the greatest single majority in Parliament. Weeks of political manoeuvring saw the Greens Party sign a confidence and supply agreement with Labour and confirm four of its MPs would be in government but not in the cabinet working on key campaign areas such as climate change, conservation and women.
The Labour-Greens deal included making New Zealand a net zero emissions economy by 2050, a substantial investment in alternative transport options such as walking paths and cycle ways, overhauling the welfare system and committing to protecting New Zealand’s 3000 threatened plant and wildlife species.
TONGA goes to the poll on November 16 to elect their 17 People’s Representatives in the Legislative Assembly. That is 12 months earlier than planned, after His Majesty King Tupou VI dissolved parliament in September and ordered fresh elections.
When the Supervisor of Elections closed the registration of candidates in late September, a total of 86 people had confirmed their interests to run from the 17 different constituencies. That is 20 less than the 106 that stood in the 2014 elections.
Fifteen candidates are women, fighting to win seats in parliament. More than 57,000 people have registered and interestingly the field of candidates include some new high-profiled locals who had served either in the civil service, regional organisations or the private sector. That makes the battle for the parliamentary seats more exciting. The ‘Akilisi Pohiva led Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands have named 17 candidates to contest the election.
IN death, Papua New Guinea journalist, Rosalyn Evara, has shone the spotlight on an issue which often escapes notice in regional news coverage – violence against women. A victim of domestic violence for several years, this outspoken woman highlighted daily the ills of the nation and was regarded as an advocate for justice and good governance.
Evara was respected by colleagues, the public and legislators alike for her professionalism and fearless journalism which often exposed the darker side of business in PNG. Trained at the highly-recognised Divine Word University, she began her journalism career at Word Publishing before joining the Post Courier in 2002. Working through the ranks and the major news centres of Lae, Madang and Port Moresby, this promising journalist became bureau chief and later business editor at the News Limited-owned Post Courier.
At 41 when she died suddenly, Evara was on track to becoming the first female editor of one of the region’s largest and most influential newspapers. But behind the professionalism , national recognition and success lay an awful secret which many Pacific women journalists also hide.
PACIFIC journalists have called for an investigation into the death of Rosalyn Albaniel Evara – Business Editor of the influential Papua New Guinea newspaper, the Post Courier. Evara died last month after complaining of severe headaches. Days later at Evara’s funeral, an aunt claimed that the journalist was a victim of domestic violence and produced pictures of bruises taken after her death. Port Moresby governor, Powes Parkop, ordered the burial to be deferred and forced an autopsy which found the reasons for death to be inconclusive.
Parkop said, however, that he was not convinced and suggested a cover-up may be possible within the police and medical services. “I will refer this matter to the PNG Medical Board,” Parkop told public radio. “This is unacceptable.” His sentiments were echoed by the Pacific Freedom Forum, an independent regional organisation concerned about the rights of journalists. “We welcome the autopsy taking place, but challenge a preliminary finding that cause of death was undetermined”, PFF Chair Monica Miller said. “There are just too many witnesses to our colleague Rosalyn Albaniel Evara suffering severe domestic violence. “Photos taken after her death, and shown at her funeral, showed extensive bruising.”
THE Pacific journey for the next three years to maximise benefits and achieve positive impact on the lives of women and girls in the region begins now following a successful four-day conference in Fiji last month. More than 200 women from 21 countries and territories reached consensus in an outcome document which will be the guiding policy for advancing the Pacific’s gender equality agenda in the next three years.
Women leaders also discussed the economic standing of 4.5 million women and girls across the greater Pacific region. Despite making up half the region’s population, women continue to be economically under-represented due to discriminatory laws, and the social and cultural norms which place unrealistic expectations on their responsibilities for home and family care. Pacific Community director-general Dr Colin Tukuitonga said the conference covered some good grounds to strengthen political commitment and facilitate the enabling environment required to pursue gender equality.
WHEN Janet Ramo of Malaita in Solomon Islands started her business 32 years ago, she had one thing in mind - money. With $5 in her pocket, a sewing machine and two pieces of garments given to her by her husband, Ramo left no stone unturned but headed to the small town of Auki and started her business.
The 51-year-old mother of four makes close to $600 a fortnight as a seamstress, targeting working women in Honiara. Her theories are simple, work hard, never give up and believe in her dreams. Like other women vendors in Malaita, Ramo shared her untold stories of the struggles she endured to make ends meet for her family.
At the market, she said, her life was always at risk. “There are no security, and we have to sleep on the floor without proper beddings,” she said, while trying to contain her emotions. “Some women came with their children, without proper facilities, they have to sleep and eat at the market and return to their homes when their products are all sold.”
THE adoption of the Revised Pacific Platform for Action for Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights during the deliberations of the 13th Pacific Triennial Conference on Women and the 6th Meeting of Women’s Ministers convened by the Pacific Community (SPC) marks an important journey for the Pacific region. A journey which needs to tackle a dearth of social, economic, environmental and political challenges.
Minister Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Minister of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in Fiji, who chaired the conference, is pleased with the outcomes: “Apart from setting a roadmap on next steps, it also allows us as a government to measure what we have been doing so far, whether that is the direction that the region, as an entity, is taking and what it is that we can do differently and do better,” she said.
“We have identified some key challenges, as a government, from this particular meeting: data, the lack of data here in our nation, to drive and inform policy-making. We see that as a challenge and I am glad it has come out very strongly in the outcome document as well.”
QUIET coziness, regulars sit in velvety chairs, with old music plays over the speakers and modern storefront display of Bread Factory Café entices customers to stop in to enjoy the warm smell of freshly brewed espresso and sweet pastries. Located along Victoria Parade, Bread Factory Café, serves coffee, espresso, tea, smoothies, sandwiches, as well as Philoppino and Italian food and many delectable bakery treats.
Dressed in a toque blanche (traditional hat), white double-breasted jacket, and houndstooth-patterned, black, owner Israel Jason greets you with a smile, as you enter. Jason decided to open his bread shop and restaurant when he came to Fiji three months ago. Originally from Quezon City in the Philippines, Jason’s quest grew with a hope of achieving his dreams as a chef. Two weeks later he realised that starting a business in Fiji was his best option. “People loves bread in Fiji, “ Jason said with a smile. “Every time you eat bread, be it a bun, a long loaf, or part of a sandwich, I need to make sure my pastries are nutritional.” “I came to Fiji with a wide range of ideas, to work in a hotel or start my business.
PACIFIC Leaders presented a united stance on the pressing need for accelerated and ambitious global action on climate change as they joined world leaders recently for the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The Leaders spoke passionately on behalf of our island communities, with Fiji’s Prime Minister Bainimarama, who assumes the Presidency of the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in November, reiterating that at present “climate change is as great a threat to global security as any source of conflict.” Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill spoke of lost lives and devastated communities, of humanity’s future threatened, and the absolute need for reduced emissions if we are to effectively address challenges posed by a warming planet.
Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, reflected on island communities already at the risk of being submerged, who face losing everything, if the world fails to achieve the “well below 2 degrees Celsius” of global warming advised by scientists.