Daily Express

Proud villagers forced to leave their homes by rising sea level

- From John Ingham Environmen­t Editor in Solomon Islands

ON a rain-soaked tropical island known as King Water, rising sea levels are forcing villagers to move to save their lives and their property.

In the village of Iriri more than 100 islanders have moved to higher ground in the past decade.

The same is happening across the Solomons, just south of the equator, including in Kolopakisa, a village which has seen nearby islands sink beneath the sea in recent years.

These villagers are experienci­ng first-hand the climate change at the heart of Prince Charles’ visit to the Solomons at the weekend.

Many Iriri villagers have swapped the convenienc­e of the old shoreline on Kolobangar­a in the western Solomons for a trek to new homes.

To reach them you have to walk half a mile inland, on through jungle vegetation then across a creek where crocodiles lurk and up a slope where a new village is springing up.

One of the villagers, mother of four Jelmah Pae, 42, said: “We used to live by the sea 10 years ago.There was a tsunami in 2007 but even at other times the sea kept coming up

FOR many Britons climate change can seem a little remote, something that may happen in the future.

We are even a bit ambivalent about it. If we have a glorious record-breaking summer or hear talk of Yorkshire replacing Bordeaux as the claret capital of the world, well, that’s the sort of climate change we like.

And when we have storms more severe and more frequent, and devastatin­g flooding with ever

higher. We cannot drink good water there because the sea makes the freshwater dirty. But now we are up here we feel a little bit safer.”

Village chief Kendric Edison, 37, said: “The sea comes in and floods the houses much more often than when I was a child.We also get more bad weather than we used to.

“We can see the sea level is rising. It comes 50 metres inland with high tides. It affects our crops because the greater destructio­n, many still argue it’s a blip, part of the natural cycle.

But in the past three years I have been to the frontline of climate change from the Arctic to the

sea salt kills them, so people are moving further inland.”

In Kolopakisa on Santa Isabel Island in the northern Solomons, elders are encouragin­g families to build homes higher up the hill. Among those moving is father-ofthree Rolly Hana, 29, a guide at a nearby hotel.

We watched him and his daughter Shirley, eight, carry a log up the hill where he is building a new wooden

tropics. On the Solomon Islands this week, 10,000 miles from home but a former British possession nonetheles­s, I have met people whose lives are already being blighted by climate change.

I have seen islands that have gone and others that soon will, because the sea level is rising and storms are getting more intense.

Sea level rise is predicted to reach 3ft – or even 10ft by some – within 80 years depending on whether the home on stilts. He said: “I have lived in this village all my life.When I was a child there was an island about 100 metres away.You could shout to people on it. Now it’s 200 metres away and they can’t hear you.

“We’ve lost 10 houses on the sea front and we keep moving back.

“I’m now building a new home for me and my family up on the hill.

“The elders will not let us build right by the coast any more.”

world cuts emissions of greenhouse gases. Many islands are little more than 3ft above sea level.

But the Solomons’ 600,000 inhabitant­s did not cause this.We in the developed world did, with our industrial­isation, throwaway culture and love affair with the car.

So when Prince Charles gets back he needs to use all his influence to bang heads together among world leaders. If he could do that it would be a world-changing legacy.

 ??  ?? Rolly Hana and his daughter Shirley building a new home; right, villager Jelmah Pae
Rolly Hana and his daughter Shirley building a new home; right, villager Jelmah Pae
 ?? Pictures: JONATHAN BUCKMASTER ??
Pictures: JONATHAN BUCKMASTER

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