Ms Monifa Fiu, manager of the Rotary Pacific Water for Life Foundation, joined Suva East this week to report on some of the NGO’s recent challenges and successes. Established in 2007, Rotary Pacific Water is the flagship project of Suva East, and aims to provide safe, clean drinking water to rural communities in need all over Fiji. According to Fiu, only 47% of Fiji’s population have access to improved (treated) water and these are mainly urban inhabitants. Most rural communities rely upon wells, springs and creeks for their water.
Monifa, who hails from the island of Rotuma, joined Rotary Pacific Water (RPW) just a few months ago, but has quickly gotten up to speed with the organisation’s many procedures, requirements, and projects. RPW has completed 218 water and sanitation projects to date, benefiting more than 60,000 Fiji citizens in more than 200 communities and schools. These projects are completed at an average cost of $27,500 FJD per project- though not all projects are so costly. The minimum cost of drilling a new borehole in Fiji, however, is $14,000 FJD; add on electrical works, pumps, and pipes and it is clear why these projects tend to be the most expensive to set up. As Monifa notes, however, many communities can not manage the ongoing costs of fueling and maintaining boreholepumps, so RPW is looking into alternative options, including solar and mechanical hand pumps.
In addition, the project is working closely with Fiji government to ensure that they abide by the new legislative requirements for water projects. As of 2012, all new water projects must include a sanitation component and water source management plan as well. While these elements are critical to the sustainability and success of a water project in a community, they also contribute to higher project costs.
Monifa has numerous challenges ahead, but with support from Etika, Amar, and RPW’s experienced board and technical committee, she can lead the organisation on to even greater achievements– bringing access to safe, clean water to every corner of Fiji.