A Winning Game Plan
Why is the plan so important, you may wonder? Why now?
Two words – sustainable management! It’s the foundation of any smart resource management plan, the inspiration or the playmaker for a healthy environment.
A healthy environment, a healthy people, don’t you think so?
The Lomaiviti Natural Resource Management Strategy (the game-plan) took shape at a get together (formal kind) in the old capital, of public servants, non-government and community representatives, all those who have a vested role in resource management for the province.
The workshop was coordinated by environment NGO WWF South Pacific.So I thought before going any further to elucidate a point.
A natural resource management strategy deals with the way we interact with our natural environment, things like land use planning, water management and biodiversity (plant and animals) conservation.
We, Pacific islanders are after all critically dependent on our environment for a source of livelihood and as stewards we must ensure that we have resources for now and the future. It does make sense for we can’t just use and consume willy-nilly with no thought for tomorrow. What’s going to happen if we did? We’d exhaust our natural environment, the supply of natural resources that our businesses depend on, food security for our families and jeopardise the health of the national economy
There’s another critical reason –the human race needs to breath in clean air and unsustainable environmental practices tilts the balance of nature too much that it threatens our very existence.
NRM for all
Macuata province is the first to formally adopt an NRM strategy following planning workshops organised for all resource stakeholders in the northern township.
The iTaukeiAffairs Board plans to take the strategy concept to all provinces and will work with WWF South Pacific to implement this.
Lomaiviti province, in case you don’t know, is a group of Islands located in the eastern division of Fiji including mainly: Ovalau, Koro, Gau, Nairai, Batiki, Wakaya, Moturiki and Makogai; as well as many other smaller Islands.
On the 25th of January, an energetic WWFSouth Pacific teamof four led by Alfred Ralifo arrived at the Bureta Jetty in Ovalau. The three days workshop was due to start on the 29th but we arrived early to make sure everything went clockwork.
Our excited arrival at the jetty was somewhat dampened by a scene of an exhausted army of mangroves fighting off a wrecked, rusty boat that was making itself at home nearby. The dust filled bus ride to Mavida Hotel was uneventful and we finally arrived in the old capital to the bloody smell of fish. Yes, we are in Levuka!
Workshop participants that totalled 50 included chiefs and matanivanua of various districts, representatives of women and youth groups, NGO and government officials.
Most of these were billeted at Draiba village, a short walk from the meeting hall.
Their mandate was clear – construct the NRM for Lomaiviti province. The NRM must reflect environmental policies at the national and international levels. Simultaneously, it must also ensure that Lomaiviti people will be able to independently manage their food and natural resources in a culturally, socially and economically sustainable manner against the backdrop of climate change and other environmental challenges.
Day One opened with devotion and the motivational words of the Assistant Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs Board Timoci Namotu.
A quiet stillness descended as all ears clung to the words of Adi Ana Tagivetaua, the Assistant RokoTuiOvalau who shared the vision of the NRM strategy for the province. Many were trying to wrap their head around this new way of doing things but with the progress of the workshop, understanding dawned.A mix of presentations, group activities and discussions nailed the idea and as the days progressed excitement levels soared.
Day Two – the emotional sounds of Isa Lomaifilled up the meeting hall led by the strong voice of KelepiKomaisaivai the Provincial Administrator. Quite the entertainer, Komaisavai offered an earlier kava session the meaning of the word ‘isa’. Raucous laughter broke out as he ended with a new intonation of the word. That grog party was indeed hilarious.
And all too soon the last day arrived with the summaries and conclusions. WWF South Pacific Policy Officer Alfred Ralifo briefly outlined the newly constructed NRM.
Still in it’s infancy stages, the NRM will be further refined at another get together in March before an expected June launch date.
Moce Mada Vakalekaleka (a short farewell)
MesakeDrawaitu, the LomaivitiYaubularepresentative effusively thanked workshop coordinators for the game plan that will be a win-win for the people and the environment of Lomaiviti.
“Thank you Alfred and thank you UnaMalani, everybody is very happy after this workshop especially the chiefs and participants from the Islands...you guys did a great job!”
It was now time for the “Tatau” and Akanisi Cagi was already teasing the WWF South Pacific team about the predictable, regrettable amount of “Pouta” that was coming their way. The atmosphere was rather emotional during the formalities of the farewell grog party.
Moments later, the Draiba community hall was filled with incessant laughter and the different ways of calling “Naita”. Young peoplewere getting doped, stealing glances and trying to figure out facial codes and hand signals while the elders cracking jokes and exchanging comments. You wouldn’t want to miss it. After all, go Lomaiviti go!
Written by Mani Mua, a WWF South Pacific volunteer.