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Surveys bring new hope for drought stricken communities

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Survey brings new hope

19 Jul 2017 | Suva

People residing in two drought-prone sugarcane areas on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, are a step closer to accessing more reliable water supplies, following the recent completion of Hydrogeological surveys. The surveys, conducted by a Water Resources team from the Pacific Community’s Geoscience Division have mapped new sources of underground water in Qerelevu (Ba) and Nanuku-Wailevu (Ra).

The initiative, funded by the European Union and implemented through the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Micro Projects Programme, was carried out near a number of communities who are yet to be connected to the Water Authority of Fiji network and have a history of water shortages.

 

 

 

“Access to safe, reliable water for drinking and farming is essential for healthy, productive communities. Due to the increased demand and the impact of extreme weather events, this access remains a challenge for some communities. Sources of groundwater can be tapped to help meet demand, but it takes expert knowledge, specialist equipment and sustainable management.  The European Union is proud to support the process of turning these potential resources into a reality – now and for future generations,” said the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, Head of Economic and Social Issues, Coordination of Regional Programmes Section, Emmanuelle Guihenuf.

SPC’s Water Resources Adviser, Peter Sinclair said the surveys – which use sophisticated geophysical electrical resistivity equipment – have detected places where there are likely to be sources of fresh underground water that could be potentially tapped.

“The areas surveyed currently rely on a combination of collected rainwater, springs or shallow wells. During extended dry periods, collected rainfall is insufficient and the yield from the springs or shallow groundwater is reduced or dries up completely. Families and communities then rely upon water carting or sharing from those few neighbours with springs that maintain water flows,” Mr Sinclair said.

“Groundwater from deeper sources has the distinct advantage that it is less impacted by droughts and cyclones, and so it offers greater reassurance of a safe water supply. Under the Micro Project Programme’s philosophy of ‘build back better’, the information gained from these surveys will help these disaster-prone communities to become more resilient,” he added.

Identifying the sources of new water supplies is just the first step in the process but it is a significant one as the information can be used to develop future water supply systems as needed.

Pumping tests from the drilled bores would also need to be carried out. This would assess the volume and quality of water to ensure that the groundwater resource can be developed in a sustainable way and meet local needs.

“The best approach for ensuring safe and resilient water supply to rural areas is to work within the physical and social limitations of the communities for which the water supplies will be used, operated and maintained,” Mr Sinclair said.

Further surveys are planned for four selected communities in Ba, Tavua and Rakiraki later this year.

 

Media contact:

Martin Chong, MPP Project Coordinator, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or +679 337 9416

 

 

 

 

Newsflash

Nadi, August 7, 2012: After three years of hard work Pacific Island countries are starting to deliver significant results under a regional project that was set up to address some of the most challenging water and sanitation issues in the Pacific.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded Pacific Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Project was launched in 12 countries in 2009 to protect vital watersheds, manage wastewater and sanitation, assess and protect water resources, and improve water efficiency and safety. The benefits of the work are now starting to be felt in the region.

“When we started out water and sanitation issues were dealt with sectorally, with agencies only focusing on their small part of a bigger problem and not communicating or working together in a coordinated and efficient manner,” Marc Wilson, Regional Project Manager for the GEF Pacific IWRM Project, said. “By demonstrating an integrated approach through tangible on-the-ground activities, we’ve seen a change in that. Not just in the localised area of the demonstration project but in many countries nationally, and also regionally.”

“For example in the Nadi Basin there was little consultation or long-term strategic planning between different sectors but the establishment of the Nadi Basin Catchment Committee (NBCC) has changed that. We now have all the key players around the same table discussing and making decisions on water management and flood reduction strategies and the Fiji Government is looking at replicating this model in other important catchments like Ba,” Mr Wilson said.