Caption: Namuriwai villager Mr. Waisea Raruku and his wife, Ms. Anaseini Bete at the small river that they previously used to fetch water for daily consumption.
For more than 50 years, villagers of Namuriwai in the district of Nakorotubu in Ra have had to source water for their daily livelihood from a small creek running by the village.
This decades of daily struggles ended this year when the Government, through the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management with the support of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Governance for Resilience (Gov4Res) Project worked with the community to provide them with an improved and resilient water source – enabling the villagers to have access to safe, clean and quality drinking water.
Namuriwai villager Mr. Waisea Rairuku was overcome with emotion when he recalled the daily struggles he went through with his forefathers due to the unavailability of a proper water source.
“We have been crying for clean water for years. We have been living here for 55 years and since then, we have been longing for a good water source for our children and grandchildren. That was a very challenging period for all of us,” recalled Mr Rakuru.
“In the past, we used the river to fetch water for cooking, drinking, bathing, and washing. Everyone had to go to the river for bathing – the young and the old. My mother who is now 88 years is a living story of the struggles our forefathers went through over the years. Before the completion of work on our new water source, we used to take her down daily to the river for bathing. She has to be assisted by two people daily whenever she goes to the river. It was a very hard time for all of us.”
The water project is envisaged to also eliminate the migration of villagers to urban centres.
“A lot of our families have left the village over the years because of the absence of a proper water source. With the completion of our water project, many of them are planning to return to the village because we now have a proper and improved water source,” Mr Rakuru added.
His wife Ms. Anaseini Bete said she had been married to Mr Saukuru for the past 45 years. The 65-year-old grandmother says, during these years she had witnessed firsthand how the villagers of Namuriwai had no access to clean and safe drinking water at all.
“When we used to drink water from the river, we, as mothers were always worried about our children’s health as we do not know the contamination that could be in the water that consume daily,” she said.
Ms Bete recalled that at one time, her concerns got serious when one of her nephews contracted typhoid for consuming water from the river.
“I am really very grateful that I am able to witness this new development in our village which would really help us a lot. I am thankful that I do not have to wait until I get old and frail to see this change take place in our community. I can confidently say that the improvement to our water source will really the standard of living in each of our households because not only will we be able to access water in the comfort of our homes, but we will also be able to improve our sanitation facilities in our homes as well,” she added.
This joint assistance by Government and the UNDP is expected to enable five families who live at Namuriwai Village to have access to clean and safe drinking water.
The implementation of the water project had also considered some risk-informed measures that would ensure the sustainability and resilience of this new development project.
Caption: Namuriwai villager Mr. Waisea Raruku and his wife, Ms. Anaseini Bete no longer have to rely on a nearby river to fetch water as they now have access to a more improved and resilient water source.
The Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management is responsible for implementing and coordinating development strategies that bring Fijians living in rural and maritime regions the same level of access to essential services and economic opportunities as anywhere else in the country. We coordinate and implement the Fiji Government’s rural and maritime development initiatives with a mission to empower Fiji’s rural sector. We also spearhead disaster risk reduction initiatives at national and sub-national level including disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. We have offices for each of Fiji’s 14 provinces including Rotuma, leading the Fiji Government’s rural development and disaster risk management operations.
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