Erakor Bridge Community won a 2020 award Youth leadership in environmental sustainability and conservation presented in a meeting of Environment Ministers of the Pacific (SPREP)
The Erakor Bridge Community is located in a peri urban area of Port Vila. Few families are landowners, the majority are original from all islands of Vanuatu. With the social diversity, and increase of population, there has been social conflicts, waste issues and the degradation of environment. Due high to unemployment, there was overfishing, pollution in the lagoon and hygiene, sanitation and health issues.
In spite of the community leaders’ efforts to manage the challenges, it was due to the Erakor Youth voluntary initiative that the positive social and environmental change started. Social conflicts are decreasing and there is steady recovery of the fish population, replantation of mangroves started since 2014.
Through the Erakor Youth, programs such as re-planting, awareness on waste management and building community garbage bins were carried out. Systematic clean ups both on land and in the lagoon were carried out. The community members are involved in building pollution traps and using the canoes to collect the plastics from the lagoon. The group also organized a clean up as part of their celebration of World Environment Day in 2018 which involved 25 schools and more than 2000 people came together to clean up Port Vila.
The group also raised awareness on the overfishing of the butterfly fish which resulted in the Erakor Paramount Chief banning the fishing of butterfly fish for 5 years in 2019.
There is now renovated sense of unity and pride within the community. In 2021, a site that used to burn waste and a landfill was chosen to build a community multipurpose centre by the Youth of Erakor Bridge. The group continues to advocate against the pollution levels in the Erakor Lagoons and organised an Art exhibition in the centre of Port Vila named “The Voice of the Erakor Lagoons”.