By Kinikoto Mailautoka, WISH Fiji Catchment Coordinator
Recent implementation of clean water infrastructure in Naqarawai Village was the first large-scale intervention for Namosi District led by the WISH Fiji project. This initiative will improve drinking water quality and supply and reduces the risk of water-borne infections in the community.
The first step in the implementation process consisted of analysis of WISH Fiji baseline survey results in partnership with Naqarawai village in order to plan for the most effective and feasible community-based interventions. The Naqarawai village Water and Sanitation Safety Plan (WSSP), developed in collaboration with WISH Fiji in 2020, was the platform used to discuss evidence-based improvements to drinking water, sanitation and waste management for the Upper Navua sub-catchment community.
Establishment of a reservoir was the major intervention identified to ensure consistently clean and safe water supply to the village. The reservoir provides the village with the ability to store, strain and distribute clean water and laying of new pipelines was seen as the best way to boost supply to the community.
A collaboration between the Namosi Provincial office, Provincial Administrator Namosi, Water Authority team in Suva and Navua, WISH Fiji staff and the community then paved the way for successful implementation of the water intervention project at Naqarawai Village. Officers from the Water Authority of Fiji initially surveyed the infrastructure in place and made assessments on the defects observed, then determined the materials that needs to be purchased in order to improve the current system. The Namosi Provincial Office took the initiative of relaying the message to Upper Navua community leaders and communities that the water intervention project will begin with Naqarawai Village.
Training was provided by Water Authority officers before the Naqarawai water committee and community began water infrastructure work, which consisted of digging up areas for laying of the new pipelines and leveling the area for a 10,000 Liter tank and reservoir. Materials for this work was procured by WISH Fiji staff and the Provincial Administrator Namosi monitored the implementation of the project.
This project is the first water infrastructure intervention implemented in Fiji using the WISH Fiji co-design model and demonstrates the achievements that can be made in less than one week when there is community ownership and cooperative inter-government partnerships leading the work. A major achievement of this project was overcoming COVID-19 restrictions and the challenges faced by WISH Staff to move across containment areas, with most of the logistical support arranged and agreed virtually.
Once the project has been completed and implementation success evaluated, the infrastructure and village water action plan will be officially handed over to the “Vanua” and Naqarawai water committee. This official handover will consist of presentations from Local Government partners, especially Fiji Water Authority, providing further training to the water committee of their roles and responsibilities in maintaining the improved infrastructure. An endorsement will then be signed by the Vanua, Provincial Administrator, Provincial Office, Water Authority and WISH Fiji, giving Naqarawai Village ongoing oversight of their new water supply infrastructure.