Tackling two sides of the Samoa story – it’s more than climate change

The 2009 tsunami forced the villagers of Solosolo, on the north-east coast of Upolo, Samoa, to consider moving inland. But rising sea levels isn't the only issue. Image: Samoa Observer

By Marj Moore in an editorial in today’s Samoa Observer.


There are always (at least) two sides to a story.

And one of our Samoa Observer front page news stories today [Rising sea, sand mining see Solosolo village relocating, by Pai Mulitalo Ale] has elements of that truth.

The partial relocation of villagers of Solosolo to higher ground should not be simply placed under a headline of Climate Change although that has been the catalyst for many of the villagers to move.

And the Climate Change label, if you belong to one school of thought encompasses so much more, including natural disasters such as tsunamis as well as global warming caused by increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels, and of course the associated rising sea levels.

But for many years while Samoa has joined in the worldwide clamour about big countries harming the smaller vulnerable countries such as ourselves, our own citizens have been contributing to the problems with our actions.

As well as featuring news stories on the subject, this newspaper has commented a number of times about the huge trucks on the east coast road seen thundering towards Apia with their loads of beautiful, white sand mined from our beaches.

In fact in 2011, the former Cabinet Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Manualesagalala Enokati Posala, denied allegations that a brick-making company run by his wife was mining sand illegally from Lotofaga, Safata.

Manualesagalala said there was nothing illegal about the operations and his company had a permit from the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment that allowed him to mine the sand.

However, villagers disagreed and said that the sandmining had seriously eroded the village’s natural beauty and landscape and caused the evacuation of families who lived close to the shoreline.

One villager stood on the coastline and pointed to about 20 metres out to sea saying the village used to be there and there were homes built there.

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