For almost two decades, the villagers of Naviteitei, Nasaga and Tai in Bureta District situated on Ovalau Island in the province of Lomaiviti, faced difficulties in accessing sufficient and an unpolluted supply of water from the dam to their homes. The problem as told by many, was the continuous clogging of the dam by sediments and debris, mainly soil and gravel that piled up in the dam and prevented flow of water. However, after the construction of the new dam that included a sedimentation chamber and a collection box in November last year, the villagers experienced a change that made their lives easier.
Reconstruction of the dam in Bureta District on Ovalau Island, last year. ©Zoom Fiji/WCS
“For the first time in over two decades, we received continuous supply of water during Christmas and this was a blessing,” said Salanieta Kilibau of Naviteitei village.
“Even our families and relatives who visited the village during holidays from towns and outer islands were surprised that we had uninterrupted and debris free water supply in our homes unlike the other times,” the 58-year-old added.
For what was of more relief to Miss Kilibau was that the women in her village no longer had to make tiring trips to the river with their laundry and dishes to wash.
“Before almost every day, I used to watch women and the children from our village carry their heavy loads of clothes and dishes to wash at the river nearby and I used to feel very sorry for them because despite having taps at their homes, they could not get enough water to wash and do their household chores. But now, life has truly become easier for them,” she said.
The new dam with additional features was constructed with support from Watershed Interventions for Systems Health in Fiji (WISH Fiji) project, Water Authority of Fiji and Lomaiviti Provincial Council, currently serves uninterrupted fresh water to more than 350 people from three villages, a settlement, the Bureta Airstrip, the local health center and a primary school.
To ensure that the dam continues to function, the chairman of the Bureta Water Committee, Jone Aukerea, said the committee members will conduct monthly inspections.
“We now have the dam with good services that provide us with the uninterrupted water supply, and we do not have any complaints however, it is our responsibility now to ensure that it continues this way, so we will do monthly inspections of the dam and if there are any problems we will try to address it quickly,” Mr Aukerea said.
Bureta Water Committee members with the staff of Watershed Interventions for Systems Health in Fiji, Water Authority of Fiji and Lomaiviti Provincial Council. ©Arishma Devi/WCS
In addition to this, the water committee bought a new set of distribution pipes to replace the leaking ones currently serving households from the reservoir.
Mr Aukerea also mentioned that during the Tropical Cyclone Ana in January this year, a pipe had disconnected from the dam that slowed the water supply. However, the problem was addressed quickly.
The project is generously supported by the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. WISH Fiji embraces an integrated approach by working with national and local government, rural communities and the commercial sector in Fiji to take a systems approach to health and well-being through focused action within five river sub-catchments with documented cases of typhoid, leptospirosis and dengue fever.