The Watershed Interventions for Systems Health in Fiji (WISH Fiji) project is a collaboration between the University of Sydney, Edith Cowan University, Fiji National University, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, in partnership with the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Water Authority of Fiji, Pacific Community, UNICEF and World Health Organization.

In Fiji, rural communities are highly dependent on nearby water sources for consumption and other household activities. Outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as dengue fever, typhoid and leptospirosis are common in Fiji. Since 2005, there has been at least 20 reported cases of typhoid, a 27,000 case dengue outbreak between 2013 to 2014 and a three-fold increase in leptospirosis cases since Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.

 In sub-catchments of the Dawasamu, Waibula, Upper Navua, Bureta and Dama rivers, all of which had documented cases of typhoid, leptospirosis and dengue, we are:

  • Gathering baseline information on land and water use, water and sanitation infrastructure, water quality, ecosystem condition and recent suspected and confirmed cases of water-related disease;
  • Using this information to co-design and adapt targeted management interventions with local communities;
  • Working with local leaders and government agencies to improve health and watershed system governance; and
  • Monitoring the impact of these changes over time.
The five sub-catchments where the WISH Fiji project is being implemented.

The catchment activities are led by the catchment coordinators with field staff, who are closely working with 29 communities and over 300 households to collect evidence and detect the carriers of waterborne diseases.

Our aims:

Through these strategies, by 2021, we aim to

  •  Reduce the incidence of water-related diseases in people and downstream coral in five sub-catchments;
  • Empower communities to access and maintain their fundamental right to clean water;
  • Strengthen local connections to place to enhance environmental stewardship and to maintain cultural practice;
  • Develop a coordination mechanism for systems health governance between communities and government, and across commercial sectors; and
  • Facilitate approaches to sustainably finance and scale interventions nationally.

Achievement of these objectives will lead to improved health and well-being of people and ecosystems across Fiji, while also providing a global model for integrated island management.

The staff of WISH Fiji project operate from  the Fiji Centre for Communicable Disease Control (FCCDC), Mataika House in Tamavua and Wildlife Conservation Society at 11 Ma’afu Street in Suva.