Village on wheels.

A small island in Vanuatu is claimed to be the first in the world to have to move its community because of rising sea levels. Ben Bohane visits Tegua island.

"THE sea has its own ways. We can't control it," says Chief Reuben Selwyn as he stands on a thin wall of coral which is all that now separates his little village from the invading sea.

The destiny of Tegua island, home to 64 people in the remote Torres group of islands in far north Vanuatu, has always rested on the sea.

But for some years, the sea has been literally eating away this pristine coral island.

Chief Reuben, paramount head of the island and father of six boys and six girls, claims that at least once a year a combination of king tides and a surging sea whipped up by strong winds floods his village of Loteu. He remembers as a young boy he could walk 30 metres from his house and fish from a rocky beach platform. Now the platform is submerged and he has been forced to abandon his childhood home.

"I'd say the sea has come up 10 or 20 metres (horizontally) since I was a boy," he says. "I can't say if it's because of humans or because nature has its own power. But for us here we have no choice; early next year we will move into a new village further inland."

Tag : , .