This plan is in a public consultation phase. All stakeholders and partners are encouraged to participate and provide inputs to improve the plan. The plan has simply 3 main objectives:
- Stop pollution
- Clean the Lagoons
- Restore the Lagoons
An underlined objective from the implementation of the plan is consider direct benefits to the education, awareness, wellbeing and livelihoods of the communities while achieving the 3 objectives and implementing the plan.
29 July 2023 – Chief of Solwota makes speech to Ekoftau and British High Commission and VCAN on the status and challenges of the Erakor Lagoon Restoration Plan
5 June 2023 – Chief of Solwota makes a presentation on the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan to the National University of Vanuatu and AUF
29 May 2023 – Minister of Climate Change and Environment and authorities visit to Erakor Council of Chiefs and Erakor Lagoon
27 March 2023 – Solid Waste Management Course starts at Ekoftau
27 November 2022 – French Minister of State for Europe, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Francophonie support the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan
20 October 2022 – Ekoftau new compost toilet is a model to all communities to prevent Swage leaks to the Erakor Lagoons
15 October 2022 – Ekoftau Environment and Wellbeing Association contributing to the Education, Awareness and Livelihoods of the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan
7 October 2022 – Cynthia, 11 years old a Young Hero from Ekoftau participates in a children book launched in Europe, Amsterdam by Plastic Soup Foundation
In Back to the Plastic Age, children go on an expedition to the Plastic Age with Professor P.V.C. Pipe, a Plastic Age expert from 2132. He tells young kids everything about the plastic problem: which plastic types existed, where in the world people suffered from plastic pollution, and which young heroes tackled the plastic problem.
In each continent, we have selected three young heroes who took action to tackle the plastic problem. These young heroes demonstrated, went on strikes, started petitions, developed robots, organised cleanups and much more.
Some background on Cynthia and her friends fabulous work:
In spite of the May 2019 decision from the Paramount Chief to ban fishing in the Erakor Lagoon to Save the fish population from Overfishing , in early 2021 another ecological disaster has happened at the Emten Lagoon: fish dying .
At this time of the year families are financially focus on finding funds to pay school fees of their children, environmental issues were not really the priority, the Community adults have lost already their energy, after so many previous attempts to raise awareness to get businesses, community and government working together to Save the Lagoons.
But children are not indifferent to the ecological disasters that compromise their Future.
- Children’s analysis of the problem: its causes and consequences (March 2021).
- Children went talk load and clear in the local media on the need to Save the Lagoons
- They proposed a plan to “Save the Erakor Lagoons”:
As a result of the children’s activity from November 2021 “The Voice of the Erakor Lagoons”, the Paramount Chief of Erakor as directed the Erakor Bridge Committee to assist the Chief of Solwota to devise the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan,
6 October 2022 – Toti Lagoon Acoustic Band makes environmental awareness at FESTNPUAN
24 September 2022 International Coastal Clean up Day
Chief of Solwota of Erakor with support of Vanuatu Climate Action Network (VCAN), Vanuatu Police Force (VPF), Port Vila Municipality, Shefa Health Province, Erakor Express disposal removals organise a clean up of the Emten Lagoon margins
Not so successful… because at same time that more that 150 volunteers were cleaning up, there were many trucks disposing waste in illegal dumping sites. This happened despite of the request to environmental authorities of support from Erakor Council of Chiefs to enforce environment regulations, prior to the clean up.
Chief of Solwota proposed to use organized same transport used to dispose the waste from clean up to help landlords to dispose their illegally disposed waste in Etas, the Port Vila. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and illegal waste were being disposed at same time as the International Coastal Clean up activity.
22 September 2022 – Chief of Solwota request support of Businesses, Communities and Authorities to Save the Erakor Lagoons and participation in the International Costal Clean up
25 and 26 August 2022 – Open Day from Ekoftau Environment and Wellbeing Association
Show case of skills of the Ekoftau Community (Erakor Bridge)
19 August 2022 – Ekoftau Wellbeing Association win award in recognition of its work for the Community and Erakor Lagoons protection
10 June 2022 – Students of University of South Pacific and National University of Vanuatu learn about the community activism of Erakor Bridge Community to Save the Erakor Lagoon and visit the community
Included on the Program of the Vanuatu National Environmental Week where the Erakor Council Chiefs participate with 3 major activities:
- World Bicycle Day
- Seaside Community Cleanup
- Visit to Erakor Bridge
4 June 2022 – Seaside Communities (Futuna, Tongoa, Police, Paama, Legan)
Following Bibingo Play, under a broader Erakor Bridge childrens’ initiative The Voice of Erakor Lagoons, the Chiefs, Youth and Pikinini of Seaside accompanied more than 50 volunteers of Erakor Village and implemented a major clean up. Municipality supported with 120 x 70 litters, transport of the rubbish and exempt the gate fee landfill of Etas to remove the rubbish of from the margins of the Erakor Lagoons, as per the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan, objective 1: STOP Pollution. This was the first 5 community to actively organized a clean up under the Plan. They were chosen to be the first as they live just close to the waste water plant not functional since 1993, as per local habitants of Seaside Legal. The fact that most of the children recognized Bibingo and even sang some of its songs shows the importance of making a pre-awareness before the community clean up to support the community leaders about the importance to keep the Erakor Lagoons margins clean.
Due to the degradation of the Erakor Lagoons, biodiversity loss, caused by pollution, overfishing, and impacts of climate change, the Erakor Council of Chiefs approved in February 2022 the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan. This open plan, in consultation, is not funded and welcomes partnerships and contributions from stakeholders (communities, authorities and businesses and NGO’s). The main expected outcomes of this 2,5 years (coinciding with the end of a 5 years fishing ban declared by the Paramount Chief in May 2019) are: 1. STOP pollution, 2 CLEAN and 3,RESTORE the Lagoons, while improve education awareness and livelihoods of the communities who live around the Lagoons (23 km). On the implementation of the plan, phase 1 STOP pollution, the Seaside (Futuna, Tongoa, Paama, Police and Legan) communities agreed to engage with the Lagoons Restoration Plan. Following a theatre drama played by the Natonton theatre group in 20 May – Bibingo The Voice of Erakor Lagoons the Community of Seaside determined June 4 as the date for a extensive clean up on the hills from the Hospital towards the Erakor numbawan Lagoon.
Over 70 volunteers from Erakor crossed over the Lagoon by boat and transport provided by the Vanuatu Police Force and join more than 150 people and leaders from seaside to carry a significant clean up with support of the Plan’s partners Port Vila Municipality, volunteers from Vanuatu Climate Action Network and Vanuatu Environmental Science Society. 120 yellow municipality plastic bags of 70 litres full of solid waste were removed from the margins of the Lagoon and transported to the Municipal Landfill.
The Vanuatu Police Force crime prevention and community police unit commandant Superintendent Samson Garae announced the VPF members support to community clean ups on Wednesday’s sports day, namely to a further clean up with VPF boats support to finalise the clean up to remove the high number of dippers disposed in the margins and remove from the Lagoon a big swimming pool that flown to the Lagoon with the 2015 Tropical Cyclone PAM. The day ended with a debriefing on the clean up, next steps over lunch provided by 2 hotels located on the Lagoon Warwick the Lagoon and Poppies on the Lagoon. A group photo with all volunteers wearing yellow t-shirts sponsored by Cyber Pasifika was taken to end the happy day.
21 May 2022 – Meeting with Tokyo Community to prepare an awareness on the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan, community cleanup and Bibingo Play
Tokyo community receptive to join Restoration Plan of the Erakor Lagoons and attempt to improve the community waste management system.
Erakor Chief of Solwota happy to engage and present the Plan and to assist the Tokyo community offered an awareness with Bibingo Play and volunteers support on the clean up day to be decided by Tokyo Community.
20 May 2022 – A school of fish from Erakor Bridge “Voice of Erakor Lagoons” come to talk with Seaside Community to Save the Erakor Lagoons
As previously agreed (7 May 2022) with the Council of Chiefs from Tongoa, Futuna, Paama, Police and Legan, The Natonton Theatre Group has visited Seaside Tongoa and has played under a beautiful tree
In the end of the Play, People of Seaside signed a Pledge:
MI PROMISS LO SIDAUN LO WAN KANUE WITIM OL PIKININI, MAMA, PAPA, APU, BUSINESS, NATIONAL GOVERNMENT, MUNICIPALITY, SHEFA PROVINCE MO PADDLE LO SAME DIRECTION LONG SAVE ERAKOR LAGOONS BLONG YUMI
17 May 2022 – Meeting with Municipality Town Clerk and Health and Environment Officer
Purpose: Brief Town Clerk on the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan to present Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan and seek support, namely in the clean up.
Outcome: Town Clerk acknowledged Erakor Bridge efforts on environment beautification and a presentation done to the Urban Planning committee in 2020 Chief of Solwota briefly presented the Plan. Town Clerk fully support the initiative and committed to supported with anything possible: transport of solid waste, exemption of gates to ETAS and yellow plastic bags.
Town Clerk invited Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan committee to participate in Port Vila Day, 11 June at Sea Front.
Carlos informed the intention of the Vanuatu Cycling Federation to organise a cycling parade from Mele, Erakor and Pango to Seafront on 3 June. Town Clerk supported the initiative and granted exemption of fee to use Sea Front park and offer escort of Municipal Police to the Parade to be coordinated with Vanuatu Police Force which already are partners of the event.
Meeting Continue with Health and Environment Officer to organize further details of the Partnership between Council of Chiefs and Port Vila Municipality to implement the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan.
Councilors Sea Side: Fred and Diana Pakon. Need to organise a meeting to explain plan. Invite both to participate in the “Voice of Erakor Lagoon” Friday 20 May at 17 at Seaside Tongoa big tree.
Discussion on strategy to address pollution hotspots. Make a first warning, give time to fix and apply by laws and fines for pollution and littering. Encourage communities, businesses and authorities to participate in the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan.
Each community around both lagoons will decide the day of clean up and Municipality will previous advised to provide yellow bags and transport to dispose the waste.
Committee informed that wants to agree with the municipality on a strategy to improve waste management prior to the clean up in each area, to ensure that the waste is not disposed again in the margins of the Lagoon and communities. Some ideas were discussed:
- Engage Councilors
- Form a team between Waste Management Team of Municipality (discuss with officer waste management Sandy), Councilors and community representatives to be responsible to manage the waste management systrem;
- Provide an on line training to all areas community representatives appointed (at least 2 per area): youth, with reasonable studies and committed to community work;
- Courses to be delivered to both representatives and Municipality and Shefa province officers.
- Seek Vanuatu Climate Action Network which Erakor Bridge is a member for funding
- Tutors of the course to be identified
- Consider use of Municipal Council Room for training venue
- Solid Waste Management https://www.coursera.org/learn/solid-waste-management
- Waste Water and Sanitation https://www.coursera.org/learn/sanitation
Other Chiefs Activities and review of contacts with stakeholders
Set up appointment with Shefa Province due to no response to letter from 6 May
Set up appointment with Minister of Health due to no response to letter from 6 May
No response from Department of Environment to letter delivered on 6 May
No response from Shefa Provincial officer to set up meeting with Shefa Public Health since May 6
12 May 2022 – Meeting Department of Water Resources (DWR)
Purpose: 1. Seek information progress on the agreed fishing and swimming government ban considering average levels of e-coli bacteria 9X WHO safe standards. 2. Seek information on DWR reaction to pollution hotspots jointly identified at Erakor Lagoons on the 21 and 22 April, World Earth Day.
Outcome: 1. Waiting State Law Office; No expected data given to be reviewed.
2. DWR explain that there is a Water Task Force coordinated by Department of Environment with Public Health of Ministry of Health as member. The instruction need to come on effect for the work to progress.
Chiefs informed DWR that Paramount Chief requested a meeting with Ministry of Health to discuss Lagoon pollution issues and overcome unnecessary delays in Stop Pollution, including from the dysfunctional since 1993 Vanuatu Central Hospital wastewater plant, which quick fix is only 4 million vatu (1 new truck) as per current affairs VBTC current affairs report
7 May 2022 – Meeting with SeaSide Tongoa Council of Chiefs
Draft map, under discussion with area's chiefs
Chief of Sea Walks from Seaside Tongoa to Tokyo community to identify pollution hotspots and prepare meeting with Chiefs of Number 3 and Tokyo to organise community cleanups on Lagoons’ margins.
6 May 2022 Letters to Authorities
- Department of Environment Protection and Conservation
- Department of Water Resources
- Port Vila Municipality
- Shefa Province Health
- Shefa Provincial Government
6 May 2022 – Erakor inputs in the SWAP design input
Email sent to participants in SWAP design project to consider activities that create a direct impact in Waste Management systems, rather than investing more in data collection on waste and more studies.
Example of activities proposed:
- Building of garbage bins made in Vanuatu (no need to import garbage bins);
- Support partnerships between communities, private sector and authorities (Municipality and Shefa Province) to improve waste Management.
- Improve rubbish collection systems, managed by community entrepreneurs Eg. Pango Greenforce Creation of local employment
- Production of compost with organic waste by communities, backyard gardens and community beautification projects
- Funding of Lagoon cleanups (provide food and refreshment only would be a great incentive with major impacts – refer to Mele Rivers clean up;
Links shared with design team to demonstrate the over investment in studies, consultancies with little impact:
3 May 2022 – Chief of Solwota invited to participate in the SWAP design input
SPREP experts made a presentation from Samoa to inform that Department of Environment Protection and Conservation (DEPC), Shefa Province and Municipality will be responsible for design and implement a SPREP project SWAP (Committing to Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific) .
Ifira and Erakor were asked to be present to be consulted.
Ifira representative suggested that funds could be managed by communities as communities know better to manage Natural Resources. SPREP representatives from Samoa promptly respond that DEPC will be managing and deciding where to spend the funds.
Erakor Chief of Solwota said that it as already provided the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan and that would appreciate any support from Authorities. Mele communities participation was suggested as waste management is not in place and rivers are used to dispose waste.
SPREP representatives sad that it is very important to collect data, for decision making on Waste Management.
Erakor informed that there are already an extensive investment in studies and collection of data and very little improvement on waste management systems. Erakor is collecting data with a free app named TRASHOUT. This will assist the STOP and CLEAN phases of the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan.
Meeting ended with the commitment that a email would be sent to the participants with the design of the project.
21 and 22 April – Earth Day 22 of April, theme Invest in Our Planet: ALL TOGETHER NOW. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet
Despite of confirming their presence orally and in write, the following entities did not participate: Ministry of Heath, Public Health Director and Shefa Province Offices, Fisheries Department, Safe Water Association and CEO Tourism.
Logistics: Chiefs requested a government contribution for fuel from Department of Fisheries and Water but didn’t received any response. Big Thank you to boat owners Franko and Murray and Vanuatu Police Force, Maritime Wing for providing their boats and fuel! during the 2 days (Erakor + Emten) of the awareness and identification of Pollution Hotspots. Thank you, managers and staff, of Le Lagoon and Holliday Inn for providing refreshments to all participants
- Slow ride across both lagoons with stops and awareness to all swimmers, fisherman who were on the water to explain them that the waters are polluted at a level of 10 X worse than the accepted safe standards determined by the World Health Organization, as per information provided by the Department of Water Resources.
- Inform population of the current fishing ban in place and announced by Erakor Paramount Chief since 25 May 2019.
- Inform population on the government intention of enforce the chiefs decision to ban fishing, and also ban swimming for public health reasons
- Inform population of the Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan objectives (STOP, CLEAN, RESTORE) and the need to all population to work together with businesses and authorities to achieve the expected results
- Identification of pollution hotspot by Chiefs team and Authorities using GPS, photos and 2 mobile apps
6. Assist communities to initiate clean ups provide assistance on finding partnerships to dispose rubbish that is currently at the margins on the Lagoons in Etas landfill.
Some awareness and pollution hotspots findings:
Pictures Day 1 Erakor Lagoon
Pictures Day 2 Emten Lagoon
Next steps: contact with all entities invited that didn’t not participate to seek for support to the plan, namely Ministry of Health.
Make sure that Department of Water instruction area of ban coincides with Chiefs decision
12 April 2022 – Chief of Solwota send invitation to Authorities and Preparation of World Earth Day 22 April 2022
Marik Waoute (7640236) Chief of Solwota
Council of Chiefs of Erakor to: 1Director of Environment; 2Director of Fisheries; 3Director of Public Health Ministry of Health; 4Public Health Manager Heath Shefa Province, 5Director of Water Resources; 6CEO Tourism; 7Director Urban Planning (Greening Port Vila Master Plan) 8Commandant Maritime; 9Manager Le Lagoon; 10Manager Holiday Inn; 11VBTC; 12Safe Water Association
The Community of Erakor has been working hard for many years to ensure that the Lagoon is kept clean and beautiful to be able to receive attract tourists and economic activity for communities. There are a considerable number of attractions at Erakor, custom villages and particularly many hotels and resorts.
We received well the Government intention to open the borders. But we are conscious that there are major tasks to be done by all to preserve the positive image of the “Vanuatu’s Paradise Sustainable Development”. The current state of degradation of the Lagoons, pollution hotspots and pollutions levels are not favourable for tourism and may jeopardize government intentions.
The Council of chiefs has a Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan. We invited your organisation to actively engage and participate in the implementation of the Plan. There were already 2 consultation meetings with community, public and private sectors. You can find information here: http://storian.invanuatu.net/
As part of the Plan, we will commemorate the Earth Day 22 of April, theme Invest in Our Planet: ALL TOGETHER NOW. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet. https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2022/
As part of objective 1 – STOP POLLUTION – of Erakor Lagoons Restoration Plan, We invite you to join the activity of identification of the pollution hotspots and sensibilization of communities and business on the Erakor Lagoon Restauration Plan (RP).
We invite you to join us in a boat trip around the 2 Lagoons with the following objectives:
- Sensibilization of the Communities on the importance of the Lagoons Nature and Environment and the Restoration Plan;
- Recognition of the pollution hotspots (solid and waste water)
- Engagement of communities (chiefs and youth) to carry out RP
- Engagement of Business to carry out RP
- Engagement of authorities to carry out RP
Please confirm your attendance.
Departure: Le Lagoon pier to Erakor Island, 21 April at 9:00
Return: 16:00, same place
6 April 2022 – Chief of Solwota participates in Marine Litter Workshoop
SPREP through the AFD-Funded SWAP (Committing to Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific) Project will host a two-hour virtual workshop “Tackling marine litter: From coastal clean-up to decision making” to be held on Wednesday 6th April 2022 at 2pm Samoa Standard time
Suggestion to introduce Polluters Tax to control plastic waste was not known and “dismissed by experts” despite of its application by the United Kingdom since APRIL 2022. Tax Tabu…
3 March 2022 – Erakor Community Hall 16:00 – Meeting 2
- brief regarding the Erakor Lagoons Recovery Plan
- background of unsuccessful past attempts from Chiefs and Community (Children initiative: Voice of Erakor Lagoons) to engage local, provincial and national authorities to preserve the Lagoons and enforce environmental regulations to prevent pollution
- Chiefs and Community are tired and need stakeholders, partners and volunteers to focus on action rather than discussions and promises
- consultation of the plan is important, but the Lagoon needs urgently coordinated action
- This will be the last consultation meeting. Chief of Solwota will set up meetings with remaining stakeholders who have not participate in consultation, particularly with invited businesses who didn’t not respond to the plan
Participants and possible inputs:
Resident Lee-Anne Sacket – is willing to provide legal support to the constitution of a possible entity “Erakor Marine Management’ linked with Erakor Chiefs Council of Chiefs. Chief of Solwota to set up a meeting with Ifira Marine Management group and Lee-Anne to review current constitution draft. Agreed to make a Erakor Council of Chiefs brief/presentation, (with urban planner Shinji Mehta) on the environmental and planning regulations around the Lagoon.
Resident Michel Liliard – has ICT Geographic Information Systems background and is willing to provide support the stock take of all pollution hotspots in the Erakor Lagoons; Teach Chiefs to store GPS location with photos during the stock take and compile a GIS identification of sites for monitoring
Department of Water Resources – follow up the government decision to ban swimming and fishing in support of the Chiefs decision of 25 May 2019. Will communicate the Acting Director to make sure that the area of ban coincides with Chiefs decision
Initiate a stock take of the pollution hotspots, along with the chiefs, and exercise DWR authority to enforce Vanuatu’s legislation and by laws inform those who are responsible for pollution to stop. DWR to consider contribute with fuel for the use of Franko Boat
Shinji Metha – Support the Bibingo children on the singing skills for the Bibingo performance in the Vaturisu Arts Festival and Community Awareness’s. Provide her Technical Advice on Urban Planning. Agreed to make a Erakor Council of Chiefs brief/presentation, (with lawyer Lee-Anne) on the environmental and planning regulations around the Lagoon.
Franko Fariborz – willing to act quickly and stressed the need to Unite all Chiefs, Authorities and Community to Act, as we have no time. Offer the use of his boats to make a stock take of pollution hotspots.
Erakor Bridge Community (James Taho) – suggested that a more detailed plan should be developed to guide community inputs
24 February 2022 – Community Hall of Erakor Village – Meeting 1
Participants and possible inputs:
Greenwave Vanuatu: Produce of a digital petition to gain peoples support
Fisheries Department: Support the monitoring of the plan’s implementation on the wellbeing of the marine life; support the livelihood initiatives such as aquaculture (Tilapia production) while there is a fishing ban; provide environmental awareness’s to communities around the Lagoons
Vanuatu Tourism Office: support the Council of Chiefs Vaturisu Arts Festival, which will have some activities related to the Plan; Provide public recognition to all hotels and tourism business with good environmental and sustainability practices, including green house gas emissions footprint
Shefa Province: Enforcement of the environmental regulations and by laws
Ifira Marine Management: Assist the Council of Chiefs on the draft of the constitution and plan of Erakor Marine Management.
Vanuatu Environment Science Society: Provide assistance and support to the clean ups of the Lagoons; Provide information and awareness’s to communities around the Lagoons, namely on the Sea Grass and Dugongs
French Embassy: provide information on available grants / assistance to possible small community projects (eg. backyard gardens, building of toilets, aquaculture, etc,)
Members of Erakor Bridge Community, assistants of Erakor Chief of Solwota: continue to support and advice the Chief of Solwota; Deliver support to other communities around the Lagoons to initiate similar waste management initiatives, mentoring of youth of other communities, prepare the Voice of the Erakor Lagoons awarenesses, including “Bibingo” play of Natongton Theatre Group.
Engineers Without Borders: Continue to implement the “appropriate technology toilets” at Erakor Bridge, find means to scale up this project to other communities; provide awareness’s on Water Hygiene and Sanitation to communities around the Lagoons; Assist businesses with technical solutions related to waste water plants issues;
Private residents living on the Lagoon: fix any potential issue that may threaten the Lagoon (solid or water waste); providing their time, skills and resources to support the plan in activities such clean ups by joining clean up teams, diving to collect solid waste in the bottom on the Lagoon, dispose the waste collected; provide some food and refreshment to clean up teams; support the safeguard of the Lagoons by monitoring fishing activities and communicate to the Chief of Solwota Marik Woute Patrick 7640236; actively support the Council of Chiefs in this or other activities;
Paramount Chiefs gave a background on the Erakor Lagoons and the history of various attempts to engage with other provincial and national authorities.
Chief Marik Woute presented the objectives of the plan and activities.
All participants presented themselves and express the willing to engage with the plan and support its implementation.
The participants got a copy of the plan (limited to 10 participants, as there was not enough copies).
Chief of Solwota committed to re-connect with each participant, get digital contacts to send the plan, discuss further with each stakeholder and volunteer the nature of their inputs / contributions to the plan, and means of implementation.
It is widely known that the Erakor Lagoons are in a process of rapid degradation, losing its natural resources and beauty. Many reasons may have contributed to this, from climate change, increasing of population, with direct consequences on the environment, such as the increase of pollution, overfishing, destruction of forests with increase of soil particles in the Lagoons, to the lack of capacity of the authorities to perform their duties to monitor compliance of with the existent environmental and urban development legislation and by laws. A considerable work has been done by the Erakor community – clean ups, waste management initiatives, mangrove plantation, environmental awareness’s, etc. – as recognized by the media nationally and internationally. But is becoming evident that communities cannot achieve much more without a broader cooperation with other stakeholders and a common vision from the private and public sector on the best way to Save the Erakor Lagoons.
The Erakor Council of Chiefs cannot passively accept the current situation, has a responsibility to preserve and improve the natural resources for the present and future generations. The Health and Safety of our Community and its Nature is not negotiable.
There are various parts affected by the recovery plan of the Erakor Lagoons: full communities who benefit from the livelihoods provided directly (fishing) or indirectly (tourism industry) by the Lagoons, individuals, managers of businesses and public entities who may not managing properly and legally its waste, and authorities that have responsibilities to look after the Lagoons environment, directly or indirectly by law.
This draft plan is an Erakor Paramount Chief tool to be discussed, improved, and reviewed by the Council of Chiefs. Once is approved, it will serve as an instrument to inform all stakeholders (residents, businesses representatives, local, provincial, and national public authorities) on what the Council of Chiefs expect from them, to make possible the implementation of the plan in a cooperatively manner. It is anticipated that some stakeholders may express their views on challenges to implement it, or further ambitions to improve it. The Land and Salwota Chiefs will then accommodating reasons to improve the plan and seek further review and approval by the Council of Chiefs, who will be regularly monitoring the plan’s implementation, reported and up-date it.
25 May 2024 is a major reference date for the completion of this plan, as is the end of a period of 5 years of a fishing ban declared by the Erakor Paramount Chief on the 25th May 2019.
The plan simply 3 main objectives:
- Stop pollution
- Clean the Lagoons
- Restore the Lagoons
It is important to note the order of the objectives which determine the sequence of immediate priorities and activities of the plan. An underlined objective from the implementation of the plan is consider direct benefits to the education, awareness, wellbeing and livelihoods of the communities while achieving the 3 objectives and implementing the plan.
Commitment to a long-term vision & respect for future generations – This is an absolute driving principle of the traditional community customary authorities. Individuals, private businesses and local, provincial and national government authorities may be driven by short term and immediate benefits and disregard the overexploitation of natural resources and pollution. This is a Paramount Principle which ALL stakeholders will have to consider and, if necessary, adapt their individual plans to ensure the success to the ERAKOR LAGOONS RECOVERY PLAN.
Partnerships & Community – All stakeholders have been benefiting of the existence of the Erakor Lagoons. Unfortunately, this is the main reason of the rapid degradation of the Erakor Lagoons. A situation in which not only individuals (also called a common), but also businesses and public entities with access to a shared resource act in their own interest and, in doing so, ultimately deplete the resource: The Tragedy of the Commons. It is fundamental that we ALL understand what led to the current situation of the depletion of the Erakor Lagoons, as a first step to make us all agree to put individual and common efforts to Save the Erakor Lagoons.
Accountability, Environmental and Social Responsibility – The Plan is not only a determination of the Council of the Chiefs of Erakor but is also an opportunity to all the stakeholders to participate with more ambitious targets and commitments to Save the Erakor Lagoons. Individuals, business, traditional and public authorities have the responsibility of not putting their individual interests above the public interest. The plan will ensure that all will be made accountable to Save and Restore the Erakor Lagoons. Monitoring the plan by the Erakor Council of Chiefs will clearly show the performance of all stakeholders in the plan’s implementation and remediate actions will be taken to encourage better performance.
The main stakeholders are Erakor’s Council of Chiefs, Department Environment, Department of Health, Department of Environment, Department of Fisheries, Department of Water Resources, Municipality. Shefa Provincial Government, Department of Forestry and Department of Agriculture.
Other, organizations, citizens, artists are encourage to participate in a professional or volunteering basis by sharing resources, technical expertise and time to support the plan’s implementation.
The Erakor Salwota chief, assisted by a nominated team will collect data from all stakeholders on the progress of the activities and will provide monthly reports on the plan and suggest possible adjustments.
There is a draft of a detailed activity plan (goal / phase of the plan, activities, indicator, targets, timeframe and responsibility). For the purpose of the Erakor Lagoons Recovery Plan consultation here is a summary of the plan:
0. Draft, Council of Chiefs endorsement, public discussion, inclusion of inputs from public, private sectors, communities and individuals (Meeting 1: 24/2/22)
1. STOP POLLUTION
Public announcement by authorities of interdiction of fishing and swimming for conservation and public health
Public communication of the approved plan after wide consultation
Identification of solid and waster water sources of pollution
Identification of urban development projects and pig farms which may be a risk to the safety of the lagoon, dumping and construction sites in the margins of the Lagoons.
Formal communication to polluters (private houses, businesses, communities, pig producers, VC Hospital,..)
Follow up on efforts from polluters to eradicate any form of pollution to lagoons
Assist polluters on technical solutions
Application of penalties
Community clean ups, particularly in water streams around 2 lagoons;
Stop immediately fluids from hospital wastewater plant into Lagoon and find temporary solution until waste water plant is proven to be safe for environment and public health
Building of nets to filter drainages water/outlets, engagement with chiefs and youth to main the nets and collect solid waste;
Building of appropriate Toilets
HEALTH & EDUCATION AND LIVELIHOODS (in all phases 1,2,3)
Engagement of volunteer experts, university students, to run sessions and build models / samples in various communities around the Lagoon
Building of floating stages made of plastic water bottles collected in the Lagoons – used as venues for awareness’s, education, education video projections.
Promotion of healthy kakae, back yard gardens, vertical gardens, fruit trees planting, beautification, agroforestry, permaculture, mangrove seedling for replantation, aquaculture, tilapia, aquaponics, nature-based solutions to improve air and water quality
Example of awareness’s topics: Water Quality impacts in Health and Environment; Impacts of Plastics and Microplastics in Health and Environment; Junk Food: 2 in 1 Sugar & Plastics killing the People and Environment of Vanuatu; Effects of burning plastics; Waste Management in Communities, ….
Training of appropriate Toilets for flooding prone areas (engineers without borders) – building prototype (Erakor Bridge Community Centre)
2. CLEAN THE LAGOON
Build of 4 rafts / floating stages; Organisation of youth groups and divers to clean the bottom of both Lagoons (8.5 Km from Club Hippique to Erakor island);
Maintenance of the water drainages outlets nets, Apply solutions and improve Waste Management systems in Communities around the Lagoons;
Expand appropriate toilets
3. RESTORE THE LAGOONS
Restauration of the margins, Plant Mangroves; Sea grass, Sea Cucumber, planting of fruit trees, community beautification projects,
All stakeholders are encouraged to participate on these activities and / or provide further ideas with commitment to the implementation of more activities