New road ends years of horseback rides to school for children

Caption: Mr. Iliaseri Natabadamu with other residents of Koroiveremo Settlement in the district of Nalaba in Ra at their newly upgraded community access road.

The daily horseback rides for the 12 grandchildren of Mr. Iliaseri Natabadamu are now history with the completion of the upgrade to their community access road at Koroiveremo Settlement in the district of Nalaba in Ra.

For about 15 years, the 63-year-old grandfather had witnessed his grandchildren get to school daily on horseback due to the unavailability of proper access.

“Before we only use the horse to travel to and from our home. My grandchildren travel daily on a horse to get to the spot where they can access their transportation to school. This is at least a daily horse ride of about 10 to 20 minutes on sunny and rainy days. In the afternoons, we have to go down again to the same spot on our horseback to pick up my grandchildren. This was a very hard time not only for them, but for me as well as their grandfather,” he said.

“In the past, whenever we go into town, our shopping would be offloaded at the village then we have to either physically lift our shopping all the way home or we use a bullock cart to transport our shopping from our village at Burelevu to our home here at Koroiveremo Settlement. Sometimes during rainy days, by the time we get home, the bags of flour and sugar are damaged as the packaging gets soaked in the rain.”

Ms. Sera Naula, a mother-of-two shared that the villagers, especially women and children faced a lot of hardships prior to the upgrade of their community access road.

“For us as mothers, we had to wake up really early to prepare our children so they could get to their pick up point on time for their transport to get to school. During adverse weather, our children would usually get soaked in the rain when they walk or go on horsebacks to get to their pick up spot to go to school,” Ms Nausa recalls.

“A few of us mothers usually go and sell vegetables at the market in Rakiraki, at least twice or three times a week. To get our farm produces to the market, we had to either transport it by horse or using a bullock cart. This was very challenging for us.”

To address this major challenge faced by the community of Koroiveremo, the Government, through the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management with support from the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Governance for Resilient Development in the Pacific (Gov4Res) project, worked with the community to upgrade their community access road to ensure that it was inclusive and took into consideration climate change and disaster risks both to and from the project. Risk management measures were identified and incorporated as part of the project implementation.

 “Previously I used to even worry about the safety of my grandchildren because when their transport doesn’t come to pick them up, they have to walk for at least 30 minutes along an isolated road to get home, but today I am so happy because with this new road, the transport picks and drops them right in front of our home. With this, I am now assured of their safety,” added Mr Natabadamu.

The project was completed in 2022 at a cost of more than than $60,000.

The joint development by the Government and the UNDP has brought much relief to many community members at Koroiveremo Settlement, especially for young mothers.

“The women in this community are all very happy because we can now have vehicles transport our produces to the market or whenever we go to town, we are able to travel by car and get dropped off at the doorstep of our homes. Also, now when we want to go to the hospital, accessibility has really been made easier following the completion of our access road,” Ms Naula added.

The community members of Koroiveremo have also established a roads committee to ensure the safekeeping and maintenance of the road infrastructure.

Caption: Ms. Sera Naula of Koroiveremo Settlement in the district of Nalaba in Ra with her son, Vilikisa Nagalu at their newly upgraded community access road.