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Cyclones, storm surges and flooding are commonplace for communities across Fiji.

But the added influence of climate change means these disasters are becoming more intense, according to Naomi Jackson, a technical officer in oceanography with Pacific Community (SPC).

“We know that low-lying atolls and coastal communities are experiencing sea-level rise through climate change, and potentially extreme cyclones that will exacerbate the risk of coastal flooding and increase the likelihood of extreme waves,” Ms Jackson says.

It’s not just scientists sounding the alarm.

Drue village chief Ratu Paula Nakulanikoro says he’s witnessed the changing climate.

“Since the 1970s, we can see the difference in the strength of the cyclones we used to have then, and to the cyclones we are facing now.

“When Tropical Cyclone Keni happened [in 2018] I was at home.

“I crawled to a safe pathway under the house that I had prepared earlier and took shelter with the chickens and the dogs.

“I remember there were three waves that swept through the village — we all fled for our lives.”

Ratu Paula says when Tropical Cyclone Harold struck last year, he took his family to another house further from the ocean to take shelter.


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