What way of life do people in your village expect for the future? あなたの村の人々は、将来の暮らしはどうあるべきだと考えていますか?


People have been talking about ‘sustainable development’. All human rights should be realized, which is universal standard ‘sustainable development’ must be about. We also know that the environment we live in and are part of has limitation in its capacity. ‘Sustainable development’ we think about, on the other hand, is specific to different given contexts. Geographic, cultural, demographic conditions have been shaping our ideas of ‘sustainable development’.

How do you think your village should go for the future generations? People in Qoma Island shared their lives and views.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASera lives with husband, three sons and nine grand children.

She started fishing when she got married. She goes to the sea when it is sunny, sometime by boat to fish, sometimes go around the reef in low tide to glean. She follows advice from her son when to go to the sea. When the weather is not good enough to go fishing, she weaves mats at home.

For the next generations she hopes that the village life will continue just in a way it is going on now rather than having changes.


Leba is from Beqa island, came to Qoma when she married. She usually goes to fish. She lives with her husband and four children.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe would like to see that the life style of future generations in the village will change so as to adapt to the changing society and economy. She wants her children to have higher education (university level) and better employment opportunities.

Her son wants to become a soldier and defend his country. Her husband wants the community to remain as it is, does not want change.


Milika has been fishing since she was a child. She goes to fish almost everyday. She has four children. She is proud of her two daughters who go to fish by themselves and are able to feed the family when their parents do not go to the sea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe has been serving the village as a health worker. She provides medicines to the villagers and takes the sick and injured to the hospital by boat to the main island when needed. She is sometimes invited to participate in the trainings where she gets information on health to share with the villagers.

She observed no change occurred in the fish, the catch and the sea since she started fishing.

She would like her children to do fishing like she has been doing and expects them to look after their extended family.





Changes are always happening in our villages in this globalised world. Information and knowledge on the facts, effects and consequences would be crucial for our conscious decision making on what changes to bring and prevent. Also as someone said, being aware is not enough, need to act.

What way of life do people in your village expect for the future? What has to be changed and what should be kept as it is?



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAQoma Island is located around 2 hours from the capital city, Suva by bus and then 3 minutes from the shore by boat. Qoma consists of three islands. Most of the houses are located in Nabulebulewa (concentrated in around 100m x 100m) which is connected by a bridge to the biggest island, Qoma Levu where some houses are located on the lower part and higher part has been cultivated for crops. Qoma Lailai island is on the other side of Qoma Levu.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow is the life in Qoma Island?

§  50 households live in the island. They also have a village hall, a church and a kindergarten.
§  They are connected t o the grid. Gas cylinders, woods and coconut husks etc are used for cooking. Rain water is harvested in a tank by each household.
§  They boat to the main island for schools and hospitals.
§  Boat transfer to and from the main island is managed by a family (50c/ way)
§  There is a small glossary shop run by a family.
§  Waste water from households is not treated, released to the sea. Garbage is segregated and buried or burnt in the island.



§  Most of them go fishing. Both men and women go and fish by boat. Men tent to go further while women also gather around the reef. “We go and fish when we want to eat”.
§  Big fish are sold while smaller ones for home consumption. The village chief decides the size of fish which should be returned to the sea
§  Both women and men sell fish at the market or to the middle persons. The price is usually fixed without harsh negotiations with the buyers.
§  Farming: They plant root crops (cassava, yam, sweet potato) for their consumption. They have few vegetables.
§  Mat making with pandanus leaves for village functions and household use is done mostly by women but some men do, too.



The village has several committees which everyone voluntarily gets involved in, e.g. youth, women, church, education, water, fisheries management. Each committee discusses the issues and brings to the town hall meeting with the village chief. Village chief is usually a man chosen by men.

The village decided: don’t dump the garbage in the sea; don’t cut the mangroves (for fire wood – replaced by cutting trees); replant mangroves from inner sea to the outer to prevent the waves. Mangrove replanting is usually done by men in the village.



§  One of the current problems is the increase in the fuel cost for the boat (benzene). When it is high, they do not go far but fish around the coast.
§  Some villagers said the size of fish is getting smaller and the catch is less than before. They suspect it is because more people from outside the village come to their sea and fish at night without permission.
§  They put the sea wall with coral rocks to prevent waves, which has been washed out.
§  Some observed high tide is higher than before and low tide is not as low as it used to be.
§  Coral bleaching is still observed (according to the research done by university students)






Fiji’s internal and external challenges


Damages caused by the twin floods in 2012 cost Fiji government US$39mil. Donors provided 6.5mil to assist its humanitarian response and recovery. (Humanitarian Bulletin Pacific – OCHA)

Overall aid assistance to Fiji increased in 2011 and reached 5.2% of the total government budget. Its major donor countries used to be Australia and EU while China significantly increased its assistance after the 2006 military coup and China is projected to be the largest donor for 2011. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation)

At the global discussions and negotiations on climate change, I would expect Fiji, as part of AOSIS and a member of Pacific Island Forum, to advocate for significant emission reductions by the historical and current major emitters while expecting larger financial contributions to be made by the historical emitters as their climate debt.

Fiji, as a chair of G77, has now more role to play in the global climate change talk coordinating diverse positions, political relationships and economic interests including its own.

Disaster is part of our life

Torrential rains caused by tropical depressions caused widespread flooding in January and March 2012. The flooding caused significant damage, particularly to areas of the Western Division. The amount of damage totaled more than 39 million. The same areas were hit by the tropical cyclone Evan in December, which again damaged the roads, markets, houses, farms and others recovering from the earlier flooding.

Temporary shelter, Saravi settlement

“One thing you must remember, disasters such as floods should be part of your life and we should accept it now, because it will not stop and will continue to come,” Divisional Planning Office Western (Fiji), Luke Moroivalu said. (UNDP Fiji)

Same to you, Governments. You must remember disasters should be part of your life – legislation, policies and institutions need to be ready to make sure human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled in facing the flooding.

It is not only that you make sure the basic needs of people are met during the emergency but also, at normal time, you have to improve the situation of most marginalised sector in society, people in informal settlements, unemployed, landless, with disabilities, in remote areas without access to basic services, etc. who are the most affected when disasters occur.

Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT), at its lessons learnt meeting from the Fiji floods responses, reported the challenge of evacuation centers not having adequate access to water and basic sanitation and suggested the government to develop a criteria for the selection of evacuation centers to ensure they meet basic WASH needs. 

Another main challenge the Protection Cluster of PHT faced was the lack of an official protection structure within the authorities and the partners on the ground, which impeded a holistic approach.(Humanitarian Bulletin Pacific – OCHA)

Gangamma Devi, Nadi Municipal Market

Gangamma is one of the affected by the floods, deprived of her livelihood for a while. She sells vegetables in the Nadi municipality market since 2007. She is a mother of three children at home. When the level of rain water reaching higher she took her baby and sat on the rooftop of her house. She and her family were eventually moved to an evacuation centre.

 She recalled that the most difficult thing during and after the flooding was to secure food for her family. She needed cash to buy vegetables to sell at the market and buy food for her family. She could not come to the market because the roads to the market were damaged. “Only one packet of milk was distributed as a relief supply in a week, which was just enough for a baby for only a couple of days. Adult can eat other things but babies can only eat milk,” she said.

Ivamere Qio, Corociri settlement

Ivamere lives in Corociri settlement with her family including her 11 grand children. She and others in the settlement till the land lent from a chief of other village. Most of the crops were damaged by the floods but there were some crops and vegetables left in the farm which sustained the farmers and their families.

“We kept working on the farm, clear the land and plant again. Nothing special,” said Ivamere.

Fiji as a chair of G77

Ms. Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change visited Fiji and assured Fiji of its support during Fiji’s tenure as chair of the United Nations Group of 77 (G77).

“We (Costa Rica) have been chair of the G77 once and we know the challenges it brings to the table. It is very hard because the dynamics of the G77 now has really changed as it was five or six years ago…It is more fractured now and Fiji will have to bring all these developing countries together and also represent the group to development partners and umbrella groups,” said Figueres. (source)

Fiji enjoys another big support within G77 for its chairmanship through its close friendship and mutual interest with China.

China assured its support to Fiji’s chairmanship in G77:

Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, met Ambassador Peter Thomson in New York. Xie “took the opportunity to acknowledge Fiji’s effective work in maintaining G77 unity across the broad range of issues that the G77 is active on this year. At the same time, he assured Ambassador Thomson of China’s active and constructive role in supporting Fiji’s Chairmanship of the global body”.  (source)

Rain water harvesting, Qoma Island, Fiji

Fiji seems quite confident in expressing its prioritizing the relationship with China:

In a speech given on Tuesday to the Pacific Islands Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the Fiji High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mr. Solo Mara, argued that the Pacific Islands region has a ‘voice that is beginning to be recognized on the global stage’ as it emerges as a possible “geo-strategic political pitch for the super-powers, particularly China and the United States.”

On the other hand, the High Commissioner said China was a “sincere development partner” that has demonstrated a sustained commitment in the region and “stepped in when other western development partners, such as the (United States) and the (United Kingdom), withdrew.” From this perspective, he called “improved and closer relations with China … an inevitable progression” and said that China had been more effective than Australia at filling “the vacuum” left when other western development partners pulled out. (source)

China demonstrated its support for Fiji particularly following the 2006 coup in which military leader seized power from the elected government while major western donors were critical on the slow democratic process made by the interim government.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChina also shows its interest in other pacific island developing countries:

The White Paper notes that China’s grant aid has doubled since 2005, and it now has a much larger concessional loan program than previously (p.248). In late September 2012, Papua New Guinea obtained a $A2.8 billion loan from China to improve the country’s infrastructure, particularly to upgrade the Highlands Highway and airports. More broadly, China had pledged more than $600 million since 2005 in ‘soft loans’, offering long interest-free periods to nations such as Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands. It also stepped up its aid to Fiji. (source)


Money matters, as far as it is reducing the GHGs being emitted and accumulated, as far as it is to ensure all human rights of all people including the right to development. It is clear that human rights obligations cannot be met by each individual state. And it is clear that the development path of the country cannot be driven by small portion of people for their own interests with their political and economic power.