Rising sea level puts villagers on edge

Weekender

By ISAAC LIRI
THE sea level is rising! The issue of global warming is not new and developing nations, including Papua New Guinea, are seriously affected by the phenomenon.
Living away from the coast or in cities like Port Moresby and Lae where urbanisation takes your mind off nature, one will not be able to experience first-hand the reality of how the rising sea level affects daily livelihood but can only read or hear about and imagine the implications.
People from Lese Kavora village in Gulf are being affected by the rising sea level. The shoreline is being eaten away by the hide tide and homes are flooded by water.
Village elders are saddened by the current state and the issue is being heavily debated to come up with solutions whether to relocate to higher ground or remain and block off the incoming water.
The experience of water coming inland from where the river meets the seas is not new, and the people of Lese Kavora once blocked it off in the past but this time around, the tide is huge and the people are dealt a challenge never seen before.
To block off the water, the affected families in Lese Kavora will have to work together.
They will need assistance from everyone, including Governor Chris Haiveta who hails from Lese Oalai, the neighbouring village.
The other option of relocating is possible, however, the move will pose other issues such as land disputes, and the older ones who have lived their entire lives in Lese Kavora are reluctant about relocating. They have so many memories of the village that the love involved is concrete, and the idea of moving them to a whole new place is unappealing.
Because my father hails from this village and visited home to bury his late uncle Joseph Ekari during the festive season, it came to my attention of how people were being affected by global warming.
My father’s younger brother Damien Liri, who I discussed the issue with, described to me how sad it was to see people being affected in such a way.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the issue because global warming is happening everywhere and we are just one case,” he said.
“I have been collecting some statistics.
“We have 81 houses in Lese Kavora, and these houses accommodate extended families so we there are about 100-plus people affected.
“The solution for our people is currently being debated by the village elders on whether to remain or relocate.”
While we ponder about how the people of Lese Kavora and other coastal areas around the country are being affected by the issue, we obviously come to the conclusion to realise that one day, much of our land will be under the sea.
Global warming definitely brings tears to the eyes of many. It hurts them terribly to see their land being overwhelmed.
I have come across similar experiences on Witu Island in West New Britain in 2010 and Madang’s Bilbil area in 2012 where the older generation shed tears over global warming.

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