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2020 milestone: First six Fiji communities finish designing RISE infrastructure

8 December 2020

Last November, residents from Wailea settlement in Suva learned that they would be in the first group to be revitalised with RISE’s water and sanitation infrastructure. One year later, the community has finished their participatory workshops to design that infrastructure with RISE.

The end-of-year program milestone sees RISE Fiji having finished designing infrastructure with the first six communities out of 12.

Over the last six months, more than 1,200 men, women, youth and children came together to discuss water, sanitation and health. Together with the RISE Fiji team they mapped out the spaces where they feel green infrastructure – like wetlands, septic tanks and pressure pumps – will best suit.

Wailea community leader Isoa Ledua, 52, participated in the co-design workshops. Her investment in improving her community’s access to clean water stretches back to her childhood days spent in the water at Wailea.

‘Whenever we would go to school, we would go by boat,’ she says. ‘It’s the place where I would catch crabs, fish for maleya and other small fish called keteleka. It was our place of swimming’.

Click to watch Ledua's story

Today, Ledua says setting up informal drainage in Wailea is common, and the safe disposal of waste and wastewater from homes can be challenging.

‘Even for our shower at home, grey water is directly discharged onto the ground. So I’ve arranged stones beside my shower for drainage. I use an old oil drum as a septic tank, and I dug a hole to bury it and direct the pipe into the ground’.

Over one week, Ledua and her fellow community members learned about RISE’s infrastructure that treats household wastewater, improves drainage and stormwater management, improves path access in the community – designing all of this with the community as permanent fixtures of the neighbourhood that everyone can be proud of.

Wailea residents

Wailea residents share ideas on what infrastructure solutions may best suit their community.

The Water Authority of Fiji's participation in the workshops is an opportunity to explain to residents
their role in monitoring, operation and maintenance of infrastructure.

Josaia Tabaiwalu Wainiu is a junior co-design  facilitator with RISE. He believes that breaking  down each piece of infrastructure is critical to  enable the community to take ownership.

‘We need to let them know how the systems  work, what each piece of infrastructure does, and where it can be located,’ he says.

‘Community co-design workshops are so  important because we can design systems  that the community accepts and is happy with.  We need to let them have full  ownership so that it can be sustainable in the future’.

Josaia Tabaiwalu Wainiu's favourite part of co-design is engaging
with communities and listening to their views. 

Work will begin in the new year to develop  Detailed Engineering Drawings – the technical drawings that represent community aspirations for infrastructure that will serve as the  blueprints for construction.

For Alexandria Rounds, who helps draft the technical drawings, understanding the existing systems already in place is critical.

‘The technical surveys are what gives us a better understanding of how we are going to develop the RISE infrastructure using as much knowledge as possible  of the systems the community already has in place’, she says.

‘It helps us keep in mind the different challenges  that each community has – so we can design  infrastructure to address these issues’.

For Ledua, the future of Wailea is bright, and  co-design workshops are the start.

‘I think the workshops are a good thing for  Wailea, but it’s us, the community, that needs  to work together to see it through.

‘This project, once implemented, will improve  the wellbeing of the community. We all want  good livelihoods’.

Brainstorming servicing options that address community issues drives Alexandria.