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RISE welcomes NZ$3m funding from the New Zealand Government

The New Zealand Government has awarded NZ$ 3 million to the Revitalising Informal Settlements and the Environments (RISE) program over three years, to help improve water and sanitation in informal settlements in Fiji.

The funding will go towards RISE’s civil works upgrades for six informal settlements in the Greater Suva Area. This includes the construction of streets, sewers, stormwater and water supply infrastructure. It also includes nature-based solutions like wetlands and biofiltration gardens – the water-sensitive technologies which mimic the earth’s natural systems and make RISE’s infrastructure more sustainable in informal settlements.

RISE Program Director Professor Rebekah Brown said the investment is an exciting example of regional collaboration bringing sustainable water infrastructure to urban communities. ‘We are thrilled with New Zealand coming on board as one of our newest partners’, she said. ‘This investment will go an enormous way in bringing tangible upgrades to Fiji communities and improving peoples’ lives’.

Professor Tony Capon, Director of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, which is leading RISE, welcomed the funds as a critical boost for the pioneering planetary health program. ‘This contribution will not only enhance RISE as a research program operating at the intersections of health and the environment, it will also directly benefit people living in our neighbouring countries in the Asia-Pacific region’, he said.

Support from the Fiji Government, across federal departments and statutory authorities, has been tremendous, with the Government pledging FJ$ 2 million to co-fund the upgrades of RISE’s first six settlements, with FJ$ 300,000 allocated in this year’s budget.

RISE complements the Fiji Government’s vision to supply safe drinking water and improved sanitation to every Fijian household, as laid out in its constitution. The Greater Suva Area contains two-thirds of the country's informal settlements, and together with Fiji and New Zealand support, RISE is working to transform the lives of more than 3,000 women and men, boys and girls living in those settlements.

The first six settlements in Suva to be upgraded will be randomly selected at the end of the year, when community representatives and RISE researchers will come together for a randomisation ceremony. The ceremony, which will follow best practice research randomisation methods, will determine which six settlements are upgraded in the first phase of the program, and the six that will be upgraded in the later phase.